By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,114)
Taped December 22, 2020 in Tampa, Florida at Tropicana Field
Aired December 25, 2020 on Fox
[Hour One] The ThunderDome fired up and lightning effects went off on the stage, which displayed multiple Christmas trees and gift boxes… Michael Cole and Corey Graves were on commentary, and Greg Hamilton was the ring announcer. They went right to introductions for the WWE Championship match…
1. Roman Reigns (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Kevin Owens in a cage match for the WWE Universal Championship. Reigns wore a gold fingerless glove. Cole ran through the pinfall, submission, or escape the cage rules. The bell rang and then Reigns and Owens immediately traded blows. The broadcast team said the cage was used to keep Jey Uso out and to give Owens an even playing field.
Reigns was the early aggressor. He ran Owens into the cage twice, then hit a Samoan Drop that resulted in a two count. Owens fired back and clotheslined Reigns before following up with a senton. A short time later, Reigns performed a frogsplash onto Reigns for a near fall heading into a commercial break. [C]
Reigns performed a sit-out powerbomb coming out of the break for a two count. Owens rallied and got a two count, then Reigns tagged him with a Superman Punch for another near fall. Reigns flashed a look of disdain and then jawed at Owens before applying a guillotine through the ropes. Owens choked Reigns via the top rope to break the hold in a creative moment. Reigns went for a spear, but Owens kicked and Stunned him for a strong near fall. [C]
Reigns and Owens fought on the ropes. Owens superkicked Reigns to knocked him off the ropes, then went for a swanton, but Reigns put his knees up. Reigns speared Owens and covered him for a near fall. Reigns made a play for the door, but Owens grabbed him by the ankles to stop him.
Reigns smirked and told Owens that he’s always been better than him. Owens grabbed the cage door and pulled it so that it hit the head of Reigns. Owens rammed the head of Reigns into the cage several times. Owens tried to leave through the cage door, but Jey Uso showed up and slammed the cage door on Owens’ head. Owens still made a play to leave, but Reigns stopped him.
Owens went for a spear, but Reigns countered with a Superman Punch. Reigns went for a spear, but ended up eating another Stunner. Uso reached in from outside the cage and handcuffed the wrist of Owens to the side of the cage. Owens tried to stick his feet out and touch the ground, but he couldn’t do it because of the handcuffs. Reigns recovered and simply stepped through the ropes, taunted Owens, and then dropped to the ground to win the match…
Roman Reigns defeated Kevin Owens in a cage match in 25:35 to retain the WWE Championship.
Powell’s POV: Okay, clearly they need have a Hell in a Cell match to decide this once and for all. Oh wait, it’s an annual event. Plus, WWE creative books people to interfere in HIAC matches too. I really enjoyed the work of both men and the finish did put heat on Reigns and Uso, but all of the outside interference in WWE matches is tiresome. If only there were a babyface who gets along with Owens and could have countered Uso. Oh wait…
The broadcast team hyped Daniel Bryan vs. Jey Uso for later in the show… Asuka and Charlotte Flair were shown walking backstage… [C]
WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Asuka and Charlotte Flair made separate entrances. Flair said it looked like Christmas came early because the Empress and The Queen have returned to Smackdown.
Powell’s POV: Was Flair acknowledging that the show was taped? My calendar reads December 25.
Bayley made her entrance and boasted about her Smackdown Women’s Championship reign. Sasha Banks interrupted Bayley and noted that she’s the current champ. Bianca Belair made her entrance and boasted that she’s the EST of WWE. Carmella made her entrance with Reginald, who seemed to have lost his last name since last week.
Carmella said she was the only in the ring who was naughty and nice, and nice and naughty. She laughed. Banks took a shot at Carmella. Cole hyped the WWE Women’s Tag Title match as coming up next… [C]
2. Asuka and Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair vs. Bayley and Carmella (w/Reginald) in a Triple Threat elimination match for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles. Cole explained that if one teammate was eliminated, then the team would be out of the match. Cole also claimed that Carmella had five seconds to break a hold over the ropes, so apparently there are disqualifications despite the fact that it’s a Triple Threat match.
Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. Bayley hit her Bayley to Belly on Asuka for a two count heading into a break. [C] Bayley and Carmella worked over Asuka in the corner while the referee held Flair back from helping her partner.
A short time later, Belair did squats while holding up Bayley and then suplexed her. Belair covered Banks, but Flair broke it up for some reason. Belair performed a Glam Slam on Flair. Belair performed a spinebuster on Bayley for a two count.
[Hour Two] Banks tagged in and hit a frogsplash on Bayley and then pinned.
Bayley and Carmella were eliminated at 13:10.
Flair went for a figure four on Banks, who countered into a pin that led to a two count. Flair came right back and applied a Figure Eight. Belair leaned under the middle rope and tossed her hair to Banks, who used it to pull herself into the corner to make the tag. Fun spot.
A short time later, Flair was going for a Figure Eight when Banks ran in and performed a meteora, which Graves told us was legal in a Triple Threat match. Asuka cleared Banks to ringside with a Hip Attack. Bayley was still at ringside. Asuka threw kicks at Belair, who caught her leg, powered her up, and dropped her with a sit-out powerbomb for a near fall.
Belair looked for a tag, but Banks was down at ringside. Bayley was there to taunt Belair. Flair tagged in and performed the Natural Selection and scored the pin…
Asuka and Charlotte Flair defeated Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair and Bayley & Carmella in a Triple Threat elimination match in 16:55 to retain the WWE Women’s Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: Good work from the wrestlers, but the oddball rules were impossible to follow. Why would the referee block Flair from entering the ring at one point, but then we’re told that Banks later performing a move despite not being legally in the match at the time is acceptable in a Triple Threat? There were other conflicting moments during the match too, but hopefully you get the point. Oh, and the Natural Selection is still a terrible finisher.
“The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins were delivering a promo about the lumberjack match when they overheard Sami Zayn scolding a social media team member. Zayn wanted to know who authorized her announcing that his match would be a lumberjack match. The Street Profits had a gift for Zayn, a t-shirt that read “I Was Intercontinental Champion”…
Daniel Bryan made his entrance and was attacked on the stage by Jey Uso. Bryan was run into some of the gift boxes. WWE producers and referees ran out to stop Uso, who broke free and continued to work over Bryan. Cole questioned whether Bryan would be able to compete in his scheduled match against Uso… [C]
3. Daniel Bryan vs. Jey Uso. WWE producer Pat Buck and the referee asked Bryan if he was able to wrestle. Bryan indicated that he was, so the referee called for the bell to start the match. Uso was dominant to start while Bryan sold the pre-match attack. Bryan eventually came back and performed a back suplex on Uso from the top rope heading into a break. [C]
Bryan controlled the offense coming out of the break and threw his usual series of kicks. Cole spotlighted Bryan dropkicking Uso’s knee as the cause of the turnaround. Bryan set up for a running knee, but Uso put him down with a superkick. Uso connected with a second kick to a kneeling Bryan, then performed a top rope splash. Uso sold knee pain before making the cover and only got a two count.
Uso went for another top rope move, but Bryan was ready and applied his LeBell Lock, then transitioned into a half crab. Graves noted that Bryan’s hold was not on Uso’s bad leg, but then corrected himself and said it was actually the bad leg. Uso eventually got free, then fired punches and a headbutt. Bryan came back with a running knee and scored the pin…
Daniel Bryan beat Jey Uso in roughly 14:00.
Big E was shown firing himself up backstage for his title match… Cole set up the WWE vs. 2020 video… [C]
Powell’s POV: Another quality match. Bryan gets an against the odds win (due to the pre-match attack) and Uso continues to be put in positions where Reigns can chastise him for not coming through.
Backstage, Daniel Bryan was interviewed by Kayla Braxton. Bryan said he’s always looking for new things to achieve and new goals to pursue. Bryan said he has never won the Royal Rumble. He said he would put everything forth to climb that mountain, then officially announced his entry into the Royal Rumble match.
Sami Zayn interrupted Bryan and blamed him for having to defend the Intercontinental Title in a lumberjack match. Zayn accused Bryan of stooging to management to make it happen. Zayn said if he found it that’s what happened, karma would take care of Bryan at the Royal Rumble. Zayn said that when Bryan fails, he will be there to laugh in his face. “I guess Santa didn’t give him a PS5,” Bryan said. “Is that what the kids are into?”…
Cole and Graves explained the rules of the lumberjack match, then set up footage of Big E stealing the Sammy Award. The lumberjacks came out and stood around the ring. Big E did his new chalk/powder entrance and headed to the ring. [C]
Powell’s POV: I get a kick out of the NBA inspired chalk/powder bit, but why do it on the stage? Kevin Garnett always tormented the media members near the court when he did it. Big E loves tormenting Corey Graves, so why not have him do the chalk/powder routine right by the broadcast table? Obviously, it’s not a big deal, but it would make the routine a little more fun. Meanwhile, Bryan entering the Rumble match makes him a favorite and not just because he’s the first entrant. Reigns vs. Bryan at WrestleMania would be a blast.
Daniel Bryan, Asuka, Charlotte Flair, and the Intercontinental Championship match winner were advertised as the guests for Saturday’s Talking Smack on WWE Network… Sami Zayn made his entrance…
4. Sami Zayn vs. Big E in a lumberjack match for the Intercontinental Championship. Zayn carried his Sammy Awards to the ring with him in Owen Hart style. Funny. Big E roughed up Zayn briefly, but Zayn caught him charging and tripped him into the corner with a drop toe hold.
Zayn dumped Big E to ringside where heels that include Bobby Roode, Dolph Ziggler, Steve Cutler, and Wesley Blake took some cheap shots before dumping him back inside the ring. Zayn sent E back to ringside. Corbin had Cutler and Blake work over E again. Back inside the ring, E went for the stretch muffler, but Zayn reached the ropes.
Zayn ended up at ringside in front of the taunting babyfaces. E grabbed Zayn, who clotheslined him over the top rope. E regrouped and went for a splash on Zayn, who moved, causing E to crash and burn on the apron. The same group of heels attacked E, who tried to fight them off. Zayn performed a flip dive onto E. [C] An ad aired for Raw Legends Night on January 4.
Zayn was in control coming out of the break. Zayn went for a Helluva Kick, but E avoided it and dropped Zayn with a uranage for a near fall. Zayn tried to escape the ringside area, but the babyface lumberjacks stopped him.
A short time later, Zayn performed a sunset flip powerbomb from the ropes for a near fall. Zayn ended up at ringside. A fight broke out amongst the lumberjacks. Zayn tried to sneak away, but Apollo Crews caught him. Crews, Otis, Chad Gable, and The Street Profits carried Zayn back to the ring. E performed a belly to belly suplex and followed up with a splash. Big E hit the Big Ending and scored the pin…
Big E defeated Sami Zayn in 12:10 to win the Intercontinental Championship.
Afterward, E went to ringside and told Graves that he told him. Graves offered him a handshake, which Big E accepted. Big E returned to the ring. The babyface lumberjacks hoisted him up onto their shoulders, then confetti was shot off while a distraught Zayn leaned against the barricade while sitting on the floor at ringside…
Powell’s POV: As expected, the Christmas night show ends with a feel good title change. Good stuff. Zayn has plenty of conspiracies to complain about with the lumberjack match loss, and this felt like a big win for Big E. Overall, this was a strong and important episode for Smackdown. They get a lot of promotion during NFL games on Fox, but this was a rare chance to actually have an NFL game serve as a lead-in for Smackdown. That’s the reason they loaded up the show instead of running the usual holiday themed silliness we’ve seen in past years. It turned out to be a very entertaining show.
My Dot Net Members’ exclusive audio review will be delayed to Saturday due to the holiday. Let me know what you thought of the show by assigning it a letter grade below. Depending when you read this, I hope everyone who celebrates the holiday has/had a Merry Christmas.