By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,104)
Live from in Orlando, Florida at Amway Center
Aired October 16, 2020 on Fox
[Hour One] The opening video aired and then pyro shot off on the stage. Michael Cole and Corey Graves were on commentary. Cole hyped ThunderDome and this episode being the season premiere…
Most of the Smackdown wrestlers (no Roman Reigns or Lars Sullivan) stood on the stage while Triple H and Stephanie McMahon stood in the ring. Stephanie welcomed viewers to the season premiere, then they ran through the previously announced matches and segments.
The wrestlers they mentioned in the matches stepped forward for a moment. The Street Profits were the last two introduced. Their challengers Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler attacked them from behind. A big brawl broke out between all of the wrestlers, who made their way to the ring or the ringside area. Montez Ford performed a flip dive onto Roode and Ziggler.
Lars Sullivan’s music played and he made his entrance. Sami Zayn, Apollo Crews, Kalisto, and Shorty G stood in the ring. Sullivan clotheslined a couple men at ringside. Kalisto dove at Sullivan, who caught him and destroyed him. Sullivan entered the ring. Zayn fled, then Sullivan beat up Crews and G.
Jeff Hardy hit Sullivan from behind. Hardy set up for a Twist of Fate, but Sullivan avoided it. Sullivan charged Hardy, and Sullivan ended up going through the ropes and landed on his feet.
Cole hyped Hardy vs. Sullivan for after the break and pushed the WWE Universal Championship match… [C]
Powell’s POV: As silly as the season premiere bit is, WWE is actually trying to make it feel like a big deal with the Kickoff Show (see my report on the main page if you missed it) and the opening segment. I’m never big on the wrestlers standing on the stage while management talks in the ring, but at least Triple H and Stephanie were hyping their matches rather than talking down to them as they did during The Authority’s run.
Cole pointed out the grainy image of Jeff Jarrett watching the match on one of the ThunderDome screens. Cole said Jarrett would be part of the Hell in a Cell Kickoff Show…
1. Lars Sullivan vs. Jeff Hardy. Sullivan tossed Hardy to the mat and then hit him with a sliding clothesline for an early two count. Sullivan went to the top rope and went for a headbutt, but Hardy rolled out of the way. Hardy fired away with punches and performed a jaw-jacker. Cole noted that Hardy was unable to knock Sullivan off his feet.
Hardy knocked Sullivan down with a Whisper in the Wind and went for a cover, but Sullivan kicked out aggressively. Sullivan stuffed a Twist of Fate and tossed Hardy to ringside. Sullivan followed him to the floor. Hardy tried to leap on Sullivan from the ring steps, but Sullivan caught him and tossed him back inside the ring.
Hardy hit a Twist of Fate and then went up top for his finisher, but Sullivan got to his feet. Sullivan pulled Hardy from the top rope and slammed him to the mat and scored the pin…
Lars Sullivan beat Jeff Hardy in 4:20.
Powell’s POV: A good win for Sullivan over Hardy, who can absorb this loss like he has countless others over the years.
Cole and Graves hyped the Universal Championship match and the return of Daniel Bryan…
New Day made their entrance while Cole hyped their history and how Big E is on a different brand than Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods… [C]
A Bianca Belair video package focused on her track and field exploits, along with her in-ring career…
The New Day trio stood in the ring and delivered a promo. They spoke about their run together and worked in some of their catchphrases along the way. Xavier Woods got emotional while saying Big E and Kingston took a chance on him and it has been the best six years of his life. Kingston recalled questioning if he wanted to continue wrestling when E and Woods approached him about doing something special. Kingston got emotional while he told E and Woods that they are his brothers. Woods said they were there to get it done one last time. E led a “New Day rocks” chant…
Powell’s POV: This definitely deserved a live crowd. Everything does, of course, but the special moments just aren’t as special as they should be. Barring a retirement or something completely unexpected, we know this won’t be the end of the road for the New Day trio. Even so, they took is seriously and made it feel like a moment. In fact, I’m surprised WWE didn’t dedicate some time to New Day’s final match on the Smackdown Kickoff Show.
Backstage, Kayla Braxton approached Sheamus, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Cesaro about facing New Day in their final match together. Sheamus said they were grateful to give them the sendoff they deserve. Cesaro said they would take great pleasure in ruining their final moments together. Nakamura said it wasn’t just for now, it was goodbye to New Day forever. The heel trio made their entrance… [C]
The Fox NFL Sunday clip with Curt Menefee, Terry Bradshaw, and Tony Gonzalez making their predictions for the WWE Universal Championship was replayed from the Kickoff Show…
2. “New Day” Xavier Woods, Big E, and Kofi Kingston vs. Sheamus, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Cesaro. Cole noted that it was the first time in a year that all three New Day members worked together due to injuries. The AEW logo was on the screen in the front row briefly. Kingston was isolated by the heels heading into a break. [C]
The New Day trio rallied. Kingston took out Nakamura and Cesaro with a dive from the ring to the floor. Back inside the ring, Nakamura caught Kingston leaping from the ropes with a kick. Cesaro performed the Swing on Kingston, and Nakamura delivered a knee to the head.
Sheamus and Cesaro teamed up for one of their old combo moves on Kingston, but Big E returned to break things up. Kingston got the better of Sheamus, then tagged in Big E. Woods and E teamed up for The Midnight Hour on Sheamus and then Big E scored the pin.
Xavier Woods, Big E, and Kofi Kingston defeated Sheamus, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Cesaro in 14:45.
After the match, the New Day trio huddled in the ring. Big E told Kingston and Woods that they are his brothers. The trio hugged. Kingston and Woods held up their tag titles and raised Big E’s hands…
Cole hyped a contract signing between Bayley and Sasha Banks for their Hell in a Cell match…
Otis was interviewed by Kayla Braxton in the backstage area. Sami Zayn interrupted the interview and taunted Otis about losing Mandy Rose and Tucker to Raw. Zayn said Otis will probably lose his lawsuit to Raw. He said their are “winners and then there are Otis’s” in the world. Otis shoved Zayn to the ground…
Powell’s POV: An entertaining match. You had to know Sheamus was going to lose the match since he was also moved to Raw in the draft. Meanwhile, that Otis and Zayn segment left me wondering if Otis will somehow cash in his MITB contract on Zayn rather than go for one of the world titles. I don’t think it’s ever been done and I hope they don’t go down that road, but they do tend to make up the rules as they go along.
Daniel Bryan made his entrance dressed in non-wrestling attire while Cole hyped that it was his first appearance in the ThunderDome…
An ad for Raw hyped the season premiere with the newcomers via the draft, the Firefly Funhouse, and what’s next for Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton heading into their Hell in a Cell match… [C]
Daniel Bryan stood in the ring and led the virtual fans in Yes arm pumps. “Wow,” Bryan started. “You know I’ve watched it from home, but being her, seeing the faces of the WWE Universe in person, I love being inside the ThunderDome.”
[Hour Two] Bryan waved to his wife Brie Bella and their daughter Birdie, who were shown on one of the ThunderDome screens. Bryan said he was excited about some of the fresh faces on Smackdown, including Bianca Belair and Riott Squad, and people’s he’s excited to fight such as Kevin Owens, Aleister Black, and Apollo Crews.
Seth Rollins’ entrance music interrupted Bryan and he came out with a mic in hand. Rollins said he was thrilled that Bryan’s wife let him off Daddy Duty so that he could come to ThunderDome. Rollins said Bryan mentioned a lot of incredible stars, but he neglected to mention “the Savior of Smackdown.”
Rollins entered the ring and asked Bryan which side of history he would like to be on. Rollins said that when it comes to the greater good, Bryan is either with him or against him. Rollins said he assumed that a man of Bryan’s intellect would want to stand by him and mold the future of the industry in his vision.
Bryan said he’s all about making the future better, but Rollins’ vision seems a little shortsighted, self-indulgent, self-centered, and just kind of dumb. Rollins punched Bryan and then put the boots to him. “It’s not dumb,” Rollins barked at Bryan, who rallied with a clothesline. Bryan removed his jacket and threw kicks to the chest of Rollins, who ducked out of the ring before Bryan could deliver the grand finale kick.
Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio made their entrance and forced Rollins to retreat back inside the ring. Rollins asked Bryan for help, but Bryan left the ring. Rollins begged off.
Murphy ran to the ring and stood in the middle, then backed up and stood by Rollins, only to tackle him and throw punches at his head. Murphy blasted Rollins with a knee to the head. Rollins went to ringside and headed up the ramp. In the ring, Murphy offered Rey and Dom a handshake, but they both declined and left the ring…
Powell’s POV: The lesson here is that when you’re a 32 year-old man who may or may not be hooking up with a 19 year-old gal, you are probably not going to have much luck making friends with her father and brother. It might be legal, but the odds are slim that the dad and brother will approve.
Jay Glazer checked in from the Fox Sports set and spoke about some of the new draftees and teased the idea of Braun Strowman taking the WWE Universal Title back to Raw…
The Street Profits made their entrance for the tag title match. A pre-tape aired with Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins talking about the season premiere and how it wouldn’t be a party if they didn’t defend their tag titles. They still want the smoke… [C]
3. “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins vs. Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler for the Smackdown Tag Titles. The challengers were already in the ring and Ziggler’s awful entrance theme played. Ric Flair was shown watching on one of the ThunderDome screens. Cole explained that New Day and the Profits swapped tag titles. Roode and Ziggler roughed up Ford in the corner and ignored the referee, who disqualified them.
The Street Profits beat Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler by DQ in 1:30 to retain the Smackdown Tag Titles.
After the match, Roode and Ziggler hit a spinebuster and Zigzag combo on Dawkins, but Ford performed a cross body block onto both challengers…
Powell’s POV: The DQ finish was lame in terms of the way it was done, but it was also logical not to have the champions win clean on night one. After all, there’s very little depth in the Smackdown tag division, so they need to stretch out a program between these teams.
A sponsored video package focused on Bayley and Sasha Banks, and then Banks made her entrance for the contract signing… [C] An ad hyped Smackdown airing on FS1 next week (due to the World Series)…
Powell’s POV: It will never happen, but it would actually work nicely if WWE had a season finale, then took off the World Series week, and then came back with the “season premiere” the following Friday.
Bayley made her entrance and sat down at a contract signing table across from Sasha Banks in the ring. Adam Pearce was the moderator. Banks immediately signed, then told Bayley that she’s been waiting for this moment for a very long time. Bayley said she has too because she wants to get rid of Banks and continue her run as the longest reigning champion.
Bayley boasted about doing it all by herself. Banks took exception to that line and asked if Bayley was really going to say that to her face. Bayley said the look that Banks had on her face is the same one she’s had all along. She said Banks was waiting to to turn on her.
Banks stood up and told Bayley that if she wanted to turn on Bayley, she should have done it years ago. She said she stood by Bayley when she was left behind in NXT. Banks ran through some of their history, then noted that she helped Bayley every single time. Banks said she will end Bayley at Hell in a Cell. She said her name is bigger than Bayley’s title. She said taking the title from Bayley will be the icing on the cake.
Bayley stood up. Banks shoved the contract toward Bayley, who left the ring. Banks called Bayley a coward and told her to run away. Banks said there won’t be anywhere to run when they enter Hell in a Cell. “You will be signing this contract, Bayley, one way or another,” Banks said. Graves said the match isn’t official until Bayley signs the contract…
Powell’s POV: A solid segment with Bayley showing some fear of Banks. I continue to wish that we weren’t supposed to cheer Banks just because Bayley attacked her. Banks indicated that she would have remained loyal to Bayley in this segment, but is that even admirable considering what they did as heels?
Braun Strowman was shown warming up backstage while Graves hyped the WWE Universal Championship match as coming up next… [C]
Ken Jeong, Joel McHale, and George Kittle delivered video greetings regarding the Smackdown season premiere…
Powell’s POV: Two comedians and a guy that I can never seem to get on my fantasy football teams. By the way, Dr. Ken has only 98 fewer yards and the same number of touchdowns as Chris Herndon this year (no, Herndon is not on my fantasy teams).
Ring entrances for the main event took place. Ring announcer Greg Hamilton delivered in-ring introductions for the WWE Universal Title match. Jey Uso was shown watching on a backstage monitor… [C]
Footage aired of Fox Big Noon Kickoff host Rob Stone talking with Steve Austin via FaceTime. Austin spoke about giving a Stunner to Vince McMahon… Cole hyped Austin’s appearance on Saturday’s Fox Big Noon Kickoff show… Mark Henry and Rob Stone were shown watching from the ThunderDome screens…
4. Roman Reigns (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Braun Strowman for the WWE Universal Championship. Reigns was the early aggressor and got a two count, but Strowman kicked out aggressively. Jey Uso was shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. At ringside, Strowman performed a running shoulder block that sent Reigns over the ringside barricade. [C]
Reigns speared Strowman and only got a near fall. Reigns backed into the corner and then charged Strowman, who caught him in powerslam position. Reigns slipped away. Moments later, Reigns caught Strowman in a guillotine submission hold. Strowman ran Reigns into the corner, but Reigns held on. Strowman started to fade and fell to the mat. The referee checked on Strowman and called for the bell.
Roman Reigns defeated Braun Strowman in 10:40 to retain the WWE Universal Championship.
After the match, Jey Uso made his entrance and stood on the stage. In the ring, Strowman got to his feet, only to be speared by Reigns, who went right back to glaring at Uso. Reigns motioned for Uso to join him in the ring. Uso walked slowly to ringside while Heyman passed a chair to Reigns.
Reigns pointed to Strowman and said he was an example of how they feed their family. He said they can’t do that if he’s not at the top. Reigns said he didn’t want to do the same to Uso. “If I can do this to him, just imagine what I can do to you,” Reigns said. Reigns hit Strowman with chair shots to the back while Uso watched from ringside.
Several WWE referees and producers entered the ring. Reigns scared them off, then slammed the chair over the back of Strowman three more times. Reigns invited Uso to join him in the ring. “I love you, I would never hurt you,” Reigns said. Reigns said Uso was embarrassing him and he needed to prove himself. Reigns told Uso that he loved him and what he was doing made no sense.
Reigns kicked the chair over to Uso and motioned to Strowman while saying they are family. Reigns told Uso to do what he had to do, then turned his back and held his arms out. Uso considered hitting Reigns with the chair, then slammed it to the mat. Reigns smiled and approached Uso, who punched him, then dropped him with a superkick.
Uso picked up the chair and hit Reigns with it twice before the producers and referees stopped him from continuing. Reigns got back to his feet and hit Uso, who was tied up by the producers, with a Superman Punch. Reigns acted pained by what he did, then left the ring while his entrance music played. Cole thanked viewers for joining them on the season premiere of Smackdown…
Powell’s POV: It was nice to see Reigns add something new to his moveset. It wasn’t lost on Cole, who put over the guillotine choke as something he’d never seen Reigns use to win a match. The highlight was actually the post match angle with Reigns and Uso. Their storyline continues to be the best thing going in WWE.
Overall, WWE did a really good job of making the “season premiere” feel like a special show. The bells and whistles were fine, but they wouldn’t have mattered if this had been a poor show. Smackdown has definitely improved and hopefully they can build on this momentum.
On a side note, it’s interesting that Renee Young did her segments on the Kickoff Show from home. Perhaps that was the plan all along, but I can’t help but wonder if she’s in quarantine after her husband Jon Moxley worked the Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport event that was part of The Collective series of independent shows last weekend in Indianapolis. The promoters of the event have acknowledged “a handful” of positive COVID-19 cases that stemmed from the shows and advised fans who attended the shows to be tested. This is a story to watch, as Moxley worked Wednesday’s AEW Dynamite show after working the Bloodsport event.
Let me know what you thought of Smackdown by assigning it a letter grade in our post show poll available on the main page. Dot Net Members will hear my same night audio review of Smackdown coming up shortly. Have a great weekend.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Kenny Herzog discussing his journalism career, his new Outside Interference podcast, doing a feature story on CM Punk, pro wrestling in the pandemic, WWE talk on Retribution, The Hurt Business, Roman Reigns as a heel, and much more...