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[2019-02-12-WWE-Smackdown] Daniel Bryan vs Kofi Kingston vs Jeff Hardy vs Samoa Joe vs A.J. Styles vs Randy Orton


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Gauntlet matches are an easy sell for me because no matter how you look at the individual segments, they all bleed together to form a cohesive whole that allows one to affect the next and so on. Same goes here as this match had a very simple goal from the outset: convince us that Kofi Kingston can leave the Elimination Chamber as WWE Champion. Towards that goal, we had an excellent opening segment with Bryan and Kofi going back and forth. Bryan, of course, looks amazing on offense with his brutal strikes and submissions. I also liked the rising sense of frustration from Bryan as he allowed his offense to escalate the more pissed he was that he couldn't put Kofi away. I enjoyed Rowan's brief interference spots but those were made extra excellent with Kofi's insane bumping. Bryan gets hoist by his own petard as his interfering heavy allowed just enough time for Kofi to recover to nail a Trouble in Paradise to counter the running knee.

Then, we get a brief segment where Kofi and Jeff trade high flying moves which was fun and didn't overstay its welcome. Joe comes in next and flexes his awesome badass douchebag character as he takes Kofi lightly the whole way through. We get more crazy bumps from Kofi off the top and to the floor. We also get the classic Hart-Austin '96 to finish to grant Kofi a believable win over Joe.

Joe's attack allows for more character moments as AJ tries to give Kofi the chance to take forfeit and Kofi denies him in a fantastic moment that really gets you to believe in Kofi and his quest to believably take the title home this Sunday. It was nice to see AJ play the heel in this segment as the fresh aggressor against the worn down iron man. Some of the bumps in this segment looked brutal like Kofi taking that snap backbreaker on AJ's knees as well as missing his meteora and crashing into the ringpost and to the floor. AJ locks in one of his most brutal Calf Crushers to get the tap out victory, leading to a standing ovation for Kofi's efforts.

The finish is exactly how it should have ended. They did it leading into the Royal Rumble and it's a nice lead into the Chamber as well. It's simple but the crowd was spent after Kofi's journey and it was a good close to the show. This match was all about Kofi and everyone played their roles perfectly to make him look like a legitimate contender. Excellent hour of TV wrestling and one of the best matches of the year.


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  • GSR changed the title to [2019-02-12-WWE-Smackdown] Daniel Bryan vs Kofi Kingston vs Jeff Hardy vs Samoa Joe vs A.J. Styles vs Randy Orton

Bryan vs. Kofi to start things off was very good. They got to have a pretty lengthy singles bout there, and it was awesome; Bryan brought the goods on the offense with his usual awesome submissions, knees & kicks. My favorite bits of their segment were the LeBell Lock, where they put just the right amount struggle to it, with both guys being active in their respective pursuits to keep it locked in & getting out of it + the chop exchange, which Bryan won by headbutting Kofi down & then punishing him with those kicks. The finish was great too w/ Kofi catching Bryan w/ the Trouble in Paradise. Kofi vs. Jeff wasn't interesting, but they kept it pretty short so it wasn't bad. Kofi vs. Joe wasn't as good as I probably had hoped, but it was still pretty good all in all - Joe was, for the most part, pretty boring w/ his submissions, but the one neck/head -crank one looked very vicious, and that I did like very much. His lariats looked real good too, and much credit for that goes to Kofi for bumping like a motherfucker for those. Kofi vs. Styles was my favorite segment of the whole thing; LOVED Kofi getting fired up about AJ not wanting to wrestle a man who had already wrestled 3 matches beforehand - those pushes & slaps were fantastic, and AJ answering aggressively was tremendous; his offense was so on point, with every kick & punch of his looking absolutely amazing. Oh & that backbreaker gotta be mentioned, too. Then the knee psychology was also terrific w/ Kofi selling it in great fashion throughout, and AJ being very brutal targeting it & eventually getting the finish w/ a fantastically violent looking Calf Crusher. Orton's bit afterwards was perfectly done too, because there was no need for him to actually wrestle a real, lengthy match vs. AJ after Kofi's whole story surviving the gauntlet, so it ended at the perfect time. Really good hour of TV wrestling. ***1/2

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For all the rightful negativity towards current WWE booking, here is a well laid out and totally competent hour of wrestling. Every segment here has a place and a purpose and serves to advance the story as a whole moving into the Network special. Quality varies drastically in terms of the participants, but again the solid booking serves its purpose and this is worked to highlight each player's strengths as much as possible. Unfortunately Kofi can't be helped, his offense will always look soft with pantomime selling. It's the style of work only Cena somehow transcends, amazingly enough. The good news is Kofi came to the campfire with 3 all-timers in Bryan, Joe, and Styles. Realistically in terms of consistency and output, Orton's not terribly far off. Even the Hardy showcase was brief, leaving plenty of time for the masters to turn the coal into crystal. Easy thumbs up all around. ***1/2

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