PWTorch editor Wade Keller presents a special Thursday Flagship edition of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast featuring a WrestleMania 36 Preview with ex-WWE Creative Team member and professional stand-up comedian Matt McCarthy.

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JUNE 25, 2019

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton

Smackdown Viewership Last Week: 1.27 (0.13 Decrease from previous week)

Arena, Items Advertised by WWE, and Show Start Time

WWE remains on the West Coast as they present Smackdown in the Moda Center in Portland, Ore. The arena has frequently played host to televised WWE events going back to 2004. Two PPVs have emanated from here including Unforgiven in 2004 and No Mercy in 2008. Smackdown appeared here in October of last year as well as Raw earlier this year in February.

Stomping Grounds is behind us and our attention is now on Extreme Rules which comes to us in less than three weeks on Sunday, July 14, a bit of a quick turn. This will be third PPV in a little over five weeks, which is typical when they run a Saudi Arabia show. Nonetheless, here’s what’s advertised for the show tonight:

Matches & Segments:

None at the moment

Storyline Follow-Up:

How will Kofi Kingston respond to Samoa Joe’s attack?
Who will be next to step up to Bayley?
Has Bryan & Rowan’s tag team revolution hit a roadblock?
How will Shane-O-Mac & McIntyre react to Undertaker’s return?

The arena’s website shows a start time of 4:45 p.m. local time with doors opening one hour earlier. They show two matches, which were shown on the website of the arena hosting last week’s show:

WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston (champ) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre

Samoa Joe’s Attack on WWE Champion Kofi Kingston

Kofi Kingston has been quite the busy champion as of late. He not only wrestled on both shows last week, but successfully defended his WWE Championship against Dolph Ziggler in a steel cage at Stomping Grounds. Here he is in a WWE exclusive following that match:

Last night on Raw, he appeared via the wild card (is that even a thing anymore) and faced Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens in consecutive non-title matches. Kevin & Sami were coming off defeating New Day members Big E & Xavier Woods at Stomping Grounds themselves. Kofi defeated Sami with a sunset flip into a leverage three count out of nowhere. Following that match Kevin called out Kofi and challenged him to a match, which he gladly accepted. Kofi defeated Kevin via count out after hitting an S.O.S. on the arena floor.

Kofi, thinking his night was done, was making his way back when Raw’s Samoa Joe attacked him from behind. The attack culminated in a urinage, or at least we thought. He then applied his signature Coquina Clutch until the referees pried him away.

Joe is coming off losing his U.S. Championship to Ricochet. He previously unsuccessfully pursued the WWE Championship towards the end of 2018 when A.J. Styles held the title and both men were full time on Smackdown. Their feud started just before SummerSlam and culminated at Crown Jewel in November. It appears Joe wants to take care of unfinished business and tonight, it appears Kofi will respond.

Frank’s Analysis: Despite the zaniness of the interview I love seeing Kofi wanting to take his championship reign seriously and wanting to reach the level of Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels. I also love the history upon which he calls with Dolph Ziggler. It makes what happened in the past matter, which is a lost art in WWE. Nonetheless, I thought for sure they’d move to Joe vs. Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship once we got past Extreme Rules. This is certainly a positive development as Kofi vs. Joe is a fresh matchup, putting the ridiculousness of the roster split aside. You just wonder now if they are going into a full-blown feud is Joe the guy to take the title off Kofi which eventually sets up Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe for the WWE Championship. I don’t know where Brock Lesnar fits into that picture but he’s certainly part of the equation as well if he’s not going to cash in on Seth Rollins.

Bayley’s Next Challenger

Bayley successfully defended her Smackdown Women’s Championship against Raw’s Alexa Bliss at Stomping Grounds, largely due to the inadvertent interference from Nikki Cross.

For the moment it appears Alexa and Nikki are moving on from that situation as they teamed up to defeat Naomi & Natalya last night on Raw following Alexa defeating Naomi. In a WWE.com exclusive following her retention over Alexa Sunday, Bayley essentially named the entire Smackdown women’s roster as potential opponents:

We’ll find out tonight in which direction WWE decides to go as we get ready for Extreme Rules.

Frank’s Analysis: I thought it was interesting Bayley named Liv Morgan first, playing off their history with Riott Squad. Unless I missed it, I don’t think Morgan has been on TV since being moved to Smackdown when WWE broke up the group. The one that stood out to me though and should have stood out to everyone is Charlotte Flair. It was Charlotte on whom Bayley cashed in her Money in the Bank contract on the same night of the PPV following Charlotte defeating Becky Lynch. I would imagine that match would be in line for SummerSlam. I don’t see either Asuka or Kairi Sane nor the IIconics. Morgan would be a good foil, but she hasn’t wrestled as I said, so how does come off being a contender? Ember Moon has been damaged but look if WWE wants to microwave a contender they will. I do like the pride Bayley is taking in being champion.

The Revolution of Daniel Bryan & Rowan

Daniel Bryan & Rowan continued their quest to revolutionize the Smackdown tag team division (well really the whole company’s division as there’s no more roster split). They defeated Heavy Machinery (Otis & Tucker) at Stomping Grounds to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championship in what was a really good match and good showcase for both teams.

Last night on Raw, Bryan & Rowan appeared and took part in a previously unannounced tag team elimination match where they teamed with Raw Tag Team Champions The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) and took on long time rivals/friends/frenemies New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods) and The Usos (Jimmy & Jey). Before the Usos secured the eventual win, Bryan inadvertently collided with Dawson. Later on, Dawson would retaliate giving Bryan an uppercut. This led to Woods rolling up Bryan for the win in Bryan’s home state of Washington, eliminating Bryan & Rowan from the match.

New Day last won the Smackdown championship from the Bludgeon Brothers (of whom Rowan was a member) on the episode following SummerSlam last year and held the titles until losing to the Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) on Smackdown 1000 a few months later. They would certainly want to get back in the hunt for the championship and we’ll see if that crusade begins tonight. You also wonder if the Revival could be lurking as anything is possible with the very loose wild card rule.

Frank’s Analysis: I thought Sunday was a great showing for Heavy Machinery, and thus I hope WWE keeps their momentum going by getting them some wins on TV. I don’t know how they do that since Vince McMahon doesn’t care about the undercard of the company. Bryan and Rowan could do something with the Revival in a champion vs. champion scenario for Extreme Rules to pass the time as you would think they’d save New Day vs. Bryan & Rowan for SummerSlam. Then again, there’s a lot of time between now and then, so it may be hard for WWE to hold off on that match.

Drew McIntyre & Shane McMahon Response to the Returning Undertaker

Roman Reigns (wild card) took on Shane McMahon & Drew McIntyre in what originally was a two-on-one handicap match that turned into a two-on-one where Shane & Drew would be allowed in the ring at the same time. I’m old enough to remember this used to be called a tornado tag team match. This time, Roman was on his own.

Roman took out Shane initially but was then attacked by Drew. Roman fought back but eventually capitulated to Shane & Drew double teaming him with the steel steps. Roman was set up for a coast-to-coast when a familiar Undertaker bell tolled. As the lights came on, it was indeed the “The Deadman” Undertaker standing in the path of the Shane. Shane went after ‘Taker but was treated to a chokeslam. Drew then went after the Deadman but got a nice boot to the face, several punches, and a clothesline over the top. Shane then got the same. ‘Taker stood in the ring and gave his familiar kneel as his music played.

We later found out that Undertaker and Roman Reigns will team up to take on the tandem of Shane & Drew at Extreme Rules. There’s a lot of history entangled in this match. Undertaker defeated Shane in a Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania in 2016, and then lost to Roman Reigns in the ‘Mania main event the following year. It was Undertaker’s last “scheduled” WrestleMania match and the one where he laid down his hat and coat in the ring, seemingly to retire only to appear a year later and have an impromptu match (disaster) with John Cena. Drew of course has recent history with Roman Reigns. He doesn’t have much with Undertaker, but he did face him on an episode of Smackdown in 2010 when he was the Intercontinental Champion during his days as the “Chosen One.”

Frank’s Analysis: Undertaker did look sharp last night which was good to see. If this version of Drew was around nine years ago my mouth would be watering for a one-on-one between these two. Now as of this writing I have not heard the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Post Show after Raw last night, but I wouldn’t be surprised if people speculated on that happening for SummerSlam. We all know what happened with Undertaker and Goldberg at Super Showdown. Here in 2019 if you want to use Undertaker the right way, put him against Drew. You need somebody that can carry the match and Drew could do just that. I think a victory over ‘Taker would do wonders for Drew and give him a bragging point unlike what they did with Baron Corbin and Kurt Angle.

Not Advertised for Follow-Up:

What’s next for Dolph Ziggler if anything following another unsuccessful challenge to Kofi Kingston?
Miz and R-Truth reunited their Awesome Truth team from 2011 and lost to Elias & Drew McIntyre in a tag team elimination match. Boy these elimination matches seem to be a thing lately, don’t they? R-Truth was a guest on Miz TV last night. To make a long story short, he lost and regained the 24/7 Championship twice. Poor Drake Maverick.

Overall Thoughts on Tonight’s Show

Despite the craziness of rule changes and getting to impromptu matches which don’t even feel special anymore, last night’s Raw was overall a good episode. With ratings falling recently I would imagine that’s why we’re seeing the Undertaker. It wouldn’t surprise me at some point if Triple H inserts himself into matters especially heading towards SummerSlam. As far as Smackdown tonight, I’m interested to see how they try to differentiate the show. With the wild card rule seemingly having no limits Raw feels like version one of things while Smackdown feels like version two. After seeing Kofi Kingston last night as well as Bryan & Rowan and Roman for the 10,000,000th time on Raw, I don’t know what I’m looking forward to seeing. Hopefully they have their ducks lined up because you can’t imagine them nor the FOX executives being happy with a 1.27 rating last week. Perhaps ratings don’t matter in the way they used to, but you can’t sell me on the notion that they don’t matter at all.

Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome. Thank you for reading!