By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown on Fox
Aired live on January 24, 2020 from Dallas, Texas at American Airlines Center
[Hour One] Michael Cole and Corey Graves welcomed the audience to Dallas, and The Usos made their ring entrance. The show will open with the advertised six man tag. They were followed by Roman Reigns, and then the heel team of Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, and Robert Roode. We saw a brief video promo of Reigns winning last week and declaring the Falls Count Anywhere stipulation for their match.
1. Roman Reigns and The Usos vs. Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, and Robert Roode: Jey Uso started the match with Ziggler. They circled around until Jey hit a nice chop. Jimmy tagged in and landed a few blows, but Ziggler quickly scrambles to tag Roode. Jimmy and Roode traded punches briefly until Roode sent Jimmy out to the apron. He appeared to slip and fall to the floor, and then Ziggler approached and slammed him into the ring steps. The ref called for Jimmy Uso to be checked on, and medical personnel escorted him to the back after a brief exam…[c]
The show returned with Corbin and company working over Jey Uso. Jey started a comeback, but was shut down by a Corbin deep six. Reigns entered the ring and got in Corbin’s face, but the referee sent him back to the apron. Corbin then tossed Jey to ringside, and then jawed with Reigns so Ziggler and Roode could take some free shots at Jey on the floor. Ziggler then tagged in and hit a jumping elbow drop for a near fall. They continued to make quick tags to further isolate and damage Jey.
Eventually, Jey knocked Ziggler and Corbin from the apron, and took out Roode with a kick. He went to make a tag, but Corbin pulled Roman from the apron and tossed him over the barricade into the crowd…[c]
Jey Uso sent Corbin into the corner post shoulder first. He crawled for a tag, and Roman finally made his way back to the apron. Reigns got the tag, and Corbin backpedaled out of the ring. Ziggler came in and quickly got clobbered by a lariat. Reigns then hit a series of clubbing blows in the corner, followed by a big boot. Reigns paced around the ring and fired up the crowd for a Superman Punch. Corbin and Roode got involved, which led to Dolph superkicking Reigns. He then covered for a two count.
Ziggler dumped Reigns to the floor for Corbin and Roode to take some more cheap shots. The ref admonished them, and Ziggler followed outside to talk trash. Back in the ring, Ziggler delivered another jumping elbow to Reigns for a near fall. Ziggler then clawed at his face before tagging in Corbin. He entered the match and landed a knee and a right hand to Reigns, followed by repeated punches while Reigns was on the ground.
Roode then tagged in and tried to heel on the crowd. He did the glorious pose, and went for the DDT, but Roman countered into a rollup. He then pulled Roode up off the ground into an improvised Powerbomb. Jey got up on the apron and Reigns crawled over for the tag, but Ziggler pulled him from the apron and ran him around the ring into the barricade several times. He then tossed him over the announce table.
Corbin then tagged in and landed some heavy punches to Reigns gut. Ziggler entered and landed a neckbreaker for a near fall. Dolph then called for a Superkick, but got a Superman Punch for his trouble. Jimmy Uso then returned and got the hot tag, who landed some punches and a Samoan Drop on Roode. He then dove on Corbin at ringside, who flew into the announce table. Jimmy hit a superkick on Ziggler and splashed Roode, but Corbin broke up the pin.
Roman got involved again to brawl with Corbin into the crowd. Reigns hit him with a trash can a few times and they worked their way towards the stage. They ended up backstage. In the ring, Jey Uso took out Ziggler on the outside while Jimmy hit another splash on Roode to get the win.
Roman Reigns and The Usos defeated Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, and Robert Roode at 25:07
After the match, The Usos slapped hands with some people in the crowd. The announce team then threw to footage from last week’s show involving Kane, The Fiend, and Daniel Bryan. The Fiend and Daniel Bryan will have a contract signing later. Michael Cole will interview Lacey Evans next…[c]
My Take: A marathon opening match by WWE TV Standards. It was also fairly slow placed, but they managed to hold onto the crowd for the most part. This is a full house that cheered loudly for Reigns. Dallas must be a good market for WWE. The match itself was nothing to write home about, but it seemed more designed to kill time, and that it did.
Corey Graves threw to a video package of Lacey Evans journey to The Royal Rumble. It focused a lot on her win last week over Bayley. Cole stood on the stage, and brought out Lacey Evans. Cole asked her how it started with Sasha and Bayley, and why she called them out for her leadership. She called them bullies, and she wasn’t going to stand around in the back and talk about bullies.
Cole asked her about her upbringing, and what inspires her. She quickly broke down, and said her father lost his battle with addiction and depression. She said she wants to show people that there’s nothing they can’t accomplish if they set their mind to it, even if they are going through tough times. She held herself up as an example, having a rough upbringing and finding her way to WWE through the Marines. She wanted to show the crowd that she knows they are going through things, and she wants to inspire them to keep fighting to be their best.
Cole then turned attention to her daughter, and showed footage of Sasha and Bayley assaulting her in front of her daughter. She said she was proud of her daughter for standing up to them, but she would show them on Sunday…and then Bayley assaulted Lacey from behind. Refs had to separate them.
Backstage, Carmella and Dana Brooke were interviewed about the Women’s Royal Rumble. Carmella rattled off her career accomplishments, and said that’s what makes her the favorite on Sunday. Dana said everyone can read her wikipedia page, and said that she knows her worth and how far she’s come. Bayley and Lacey were shown brawling in the distance. Dana and Carmella eventually pulled Lacey away from Bayley after she threw her into a crate…[c]
My Take: Lacey really poured on the emotional appeal in her promo. It’s difficult to pull off being an inspirational and somewhat vulnerable babyface, but Lacey did a nice job of getting her thoughts out. She was essentially cry talking for the entire promo, which was somewhat surprising as I thought she’s collect herself and show some fire towards the end. We’ll have to see if the general audience rallies behind her, as they rolled out the full bingo card of life situations and family tragedies for Lacey there, and all of it rooted in truth.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross made their ring entrance. They were set for a tag match with Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. Footage was shown backstage of Mandy and Sonya having a conversation where they seemed to get back on the same page.
Just as the match seemed to begin, Lacey and Bayley made their way back to ringside and started a brawl. Refs entered to try and organize the melee. The show cut backstage to Elias strumming his guitar. Braun Strowman walked up and said “Let’s go to work” before heading towards the ring…[c]
My Take: The Women’s Royal Rumble is such an afterthought that the only hype it gets on this go home show is a couple of brawls and some low effort promos. It has been a really inexcusable lack of promotion over the last month for this match on both Raw and Smackdown.
Elias was in the ring when the show returned. He spoke about the Royal Rumble Match, and the winner facing a Champion at WrestleMania. He then said he would put his heart and soul in winning the match, and asked the crowd if they wanted to Walk with Elias. He then started a song called Texas Dream, where he talked about all the superstars he would eliminate in the Rumble. He then brought Strowman out to the ring. He made his entrance and fired up the crowd.
[Hour Two] Elias reminded Strowman that Sunday is every man for himself, but invited him to do a duet tonight. He polled the crowd, which supported the idea. Strowman warmed up to the idea, but they were interrupted by Nakamura and Cesaro. They made their entrance with Sami Zayn.
2. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura (w/Sami Zayn) vs. Elias and Bruan Strowman: Elias started the match with Cesaro, and jumped out to an early advantage with a Clothesline. He then did a Taker rope walk, and then jumped at Cesaro with double knees. Elias elbowed Nakamura off the apron, but Sami Zayn grabbed his legs, which allowed Cesaro to hit a lariat. Elias was dumped to the floor, where Nakamura hit a head kick. Strowman barreled around the ring and took out Nakamura with a shoulder tackle…[c]
Elias took out Cesaro with a mule kick and attempted to crawl for a tag. Nakamura tagged in and prevented the tag, first by stomping on Elias, and then by kicking Strowman off the apron. Nakamura signaled for Kinshasa, but Elias countered with a running knee lift of his own. Elias then made a tag, and Strowman quickly took over. He knocked Cesaro to the floor and then splashed Nakamura in the corner multiple times. He then landed a clubbing blow to the chest, but Nakamura was able to avoid another splash in the corner and hit a kick to the face.
Cesaro tagged in, and they double teamed Strowman with a Russian leg sweep. Nakamura then landed a running knee strike. Cesaro covered for a two count. Nakamura went for a chair at the timekeeper’s area, but Elias shoved him into the ring post to prevent using it. Strowman then hit a powerslam on Cesaro, and tagged in Elias, who landed a big elbow from the top for the victory.
Braun Strowman and Elias defeated Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro at 8:51
After the match, the announce team threw to footage of Daniel Bryan calling out The Fiend for a strap match at The Royal Rumble. Bryan was then shown backstage deep in thought. Elsewhere, Big E oiled himself up. He then had an assistant of sorts test out whether he was slippery. Kofi walked up and asked him what he was doing, and he said eliminating him won’t be easy if he’s greasy. Kofi said he would take care of his business tonight, but at the Royal Rumble, they would use the power of positivity to climb the mountain together again. But this time, they would do it for the kid Xavier Woods. They had armbands on with his initials on it….[c]
My Take: Another time killer sort of match. It was enjoyable, but has no real story impact for the Rumble itself. This show feels like WWE thinks they’ve already done the work of selling the PPV, or that perhaps it sells it self, because it completely lacks any sense of urgency.
Footage was shown of the opening match, in case you forgot already. Backstage, Corbin was interviewed backstage. Kayla asked him why Roman got the better of him earlier. He said they went toe to toe earlier, and promised to embarrass him all over Minute Maid Park. Corbin said Reigns would not make the Royal Rumble match, and he would go on to Main Event WrestleMania. After the promo, we got a Rumble by the Numbers video package that focused on some Rumble Records and wacky moments.
New Day made their entrance, and Graves said the Royal Rumble could be a break out night for Big E. Kofi is set for a match with John Morrison next…[c]
My Take: The Rumble by the numbers package always has interesting factoids if nothing else.
We got a Sheamus video package that recapped their feud. He said he would finish what he started at the Royal Rumble…
John Morrison made his entrance in the arena with The Miz, who had a microphone. Miz said last week Morrison made his return after 8 years, and rather than celebrate him, the crowd booed him instead.
He said he can’t understand why. Miz asked if it was by association with him because they think he changed? Well, he hasn’t changed, you can see that in his reality show premiere next week. Miz said Morrison beat Big E last week, and will beat Kofi tonight, and then they would win the Royal Rumble on Sunday. He then officially declared them for the Rumble Match.
3. Kofi Kingston (w/Big E) vs. John Morrison (w/The Miz): Morrison backed Kofi into the corner and shoved him. They then avoided each others strikes more a moment. Kofi then avoided a monkey flip and landed one of his own on Morrison. Kofi avoided a dive to the outside by Morrison, and then landed one of his own. Miz caused a distraction, which allowed Morrison to send Kofi into the ring post. Big E objected…[c]
Morrison landed a knee strike near the corner. He then went for Starship Pain, but Kofi rolled out of the way. Kofi then landed a springboard fist, and then landed some chops and kicks. Kingston then landed his chest stomp and covered for a near fall. Kingston then landed a boom drop, and fired up the crowd for Trouble in Paradise. Morrison countered with a wheel kick and got a near fall of his own.
Morrison placed Kofi on the top rope. Kofi knocked him down, but Morrison raked the eyes and hit a spanish fly for another near fall. Kofi recovered and landed an SOS for a 2.8 count. Morrison attempted a pin a moment later using the ropes, but Big E stopped the count. Miz ran around the ring while Big E followed. He then jumped up on the apron, but was kicked down by The Miz. Morrison took advantage with a forearm to the back of the neck, and then hit Starship Pain for the win.
John Morrison defeated Kofi Kingston at 10:32
After the match, Daniel Bryan was shown walking towards the ring…[c]
My Take: Morrison still suffers from the issue of none of his matches having the appearance of a fight, and the WWE match pace makes it more noticeable than it would be at a faster clip. The eventual Tag Team match between these two has potential, and I’m sure we’ll see more build for that in the Rumble Match.
Michael Cole was in the ring and outlined that the strap match can only be won by pinfall or submission. First out was Daniel Bryan, who got a big reaction for his yes chants. Next out was Bray Wyatt, who appeared via the Firefly Funhouse. He had a fax machine with a bunch of crumpled paper in front of it. He said he was trying to send the contract, but was having trouble with his machine. It might be a blessing in disguise, because no one should willingly tie himself to him. Bryan called him a sick man, and told him to come out to the ring right now.
Wyatt said he had been advised by his attorney Mercy the Buzzard not to come to the ring. Bryan said he had him figured out. He said he likes to live in his fantasy world, and all he ever does is run. He said he wouldn’t make the mistake of letting him get away again. Bray asked if he said mistake, which was apparently the word of the day. He said this was all about Bryan’s mistake of betraying him years ago, and said he would pay on Sunday. Wyatt said he wasn’t facing him on Sunday, so it was only fitting for him to sign the contract.
The lights went out and The Fiend appeared. He quickly applied a Mandible Claw and hit Sister Abigail. He then whipped Bryan with the strap. Eventually, The Fiend took a long enough break to grab a pen and stab himself with it, so he could sign in a bloody handprint. The crowd chanted “You’ve got issues” as the lights dimmed out again. Bryan was left with red welts on his back, and the contract was shown with a read smear. A replay was then shown of the strap beating. Bryan eventually got to his feet as the show went off the air.
My Take: I maintain that The Fiend makes the world title picture almost unwatchable. While the bloody hand print and horror movie aspects of his character have a certain charm, it would be best left to being an attraction rather than the focal point of a wrestling show. The story they are telling here also makes little sense, because they teased Bryan finding some kind of kryptonite for Wyatt, but it was revealed to be this fraudulent idea that Wyatt is always running away, which he has never really been shown to do. He’s done it precisely once. I have no doubt that Wyatt and Bryan will put on another good match, but the storytelling around it has been muddled and ineffective.