By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,115)
Tampa, Florida at Tropicana Field
Aired January 1, 2021 on Fox
[Hour One] Smackdown opened with a memorial graphic for the late Jon Huber (a/k/a Brodie Lee, Luke Harper)… A video package recapped Roman Reigns beating Kevin Owens in a cage match to retain the WWE Universal Championship…
Michael Cole and Corey Graves were on commentary, and Greg Hamilton was the ring announcer. Cole welcomed viewers to the first Smackdown of 2021 and plugged the insurance company sponsor…
Roman Reigns, Paul Heyman, and Jey Uso made their entrance. “As the face of WWE, let me start by saying, Happy New Year,” a smiling Reigns said. Reigns said 2020 was a tough year, but when you are the head of the table and the tribal chief, you make it work.
Reigns said he’s now wearing a gold glove because everything he touches turns to greatness. Reigns said Heyman is the most honest and genuine man he’s ever done business with. Reigns said Uso is a prime example of what he can do. Reigns recalled telling Uso that he just needed to listen to him.
Reigns said it’s been the best year of Uso’s career. He said he wouldn’t put so much pressure on Uso if he knew he couldn’t handle it. He said Uso knocks it out of the park every single time and that’s why he loves him.
Kevin Owens’s entrance music interrupted Reigns. Owens walked onto the stage. Reigns said no one wants to see Owens. He called him a roach that just won’t go away. Reigns said Owens was a social media sweetheart for a few weeks. Reigns said Owens is embarrassing him and his show.
Owens said the fact that he was standing on the stage meant that Roman and his family failed. Owens said they tried to end him. He said they should be embarrassed that Uso had to go to the lengths he did to help Reigns keep his championship. Owens said that him standing on the stage is proof that The Big Dog is gone and he’s been replaced by a giant bitch.
Owens said he was there to fight Uso. Owens said Uso will pay for everything he’s done to him. He said he would talk to someone about making the match. Owens said that once he’s finished with Uso, Roman’s family will have nothing to celebrate. Owens dropped the mic and headed to the back…
Cole and Graves spoke at their broadcast table about the segment and then set up highlights of Big E beating Sami Zayn in a lumberjack match to win the Intercontinental Championship on last week’s show…
Big E made his entrance… [C]
Powell’s POV: A good opening segment with a gloating Reigns followed by Owens calling him on his BS.
1. Intercontinental Champion Big E vs. King Corbin (w/Steve Cutler, Wesley Blake) in a non-title match. Corbin’s entrance was televised. Sami Zayn sat in on commentary for the match. Big E hit the Big Ending and went for the pin, but Zayn ran in and attacked him for the DQ finish.
Big E beat King Corbin by DQ in 2:50.
Afterward, Cutler and Blake ran in and joined Zayn in putting the boots to Big E. Apollo Crews ran out and cleared Cutler and Blake to ringside, then pressed Zayn over his head and threw him onto the others… [C]
Powell’s POV: It’s nice to see that at least one WWE babyface actually has friends. I’m happy that Cutler and Blake are getting back in the mix. Unfortunately, their new Knights of the Lone Wolf seems to suggest that Corbin won’t be dropping the bad king gimmick that is holding him back.
An ad for Monday’s Raw Legends Night hyped Drew McIntyre vs. Keith Lee for the WWE Championship…
2. Big E and Apollo Crews vs. Sami Zayn and King Corbin (w/Steve Cutler, Wesley Blake). The match was joined in progress. Zayn tossed Crews to ringside and seemed upset when Cutler and Blake didn’t put the boots to him. Later, Corbin hit the Deep Six on Big E for a near fall. Zayn bickered with Cutler and Blake at ringside.
Crews tagged in and then Zayn tagged in. Zayn went for a Helluva Kick. Crews moved and Zayn nearly hit Corbin, but he stopped short. Zayn told Corbin to calm down and tell his boys to listen to him. Corbin, Cutler, and Blake made their exit. Crews hit a sit-out powerbomb on Zayn and then scored the pin…
Big E and Apollo Crews vs. Sami Zayn and King Corbin in roughly 5:10.
Powell’s POV: Zayn continues to be highly entertaining. I enjoy the creativity of Zayn, who seems to come up with new ways to be obnoxious every week.
Cole and Graves hyped two upcoming tag matches…
Backstage, Owens told Adam Pearce that he would fight Jey Uso one way or another and asked him to make it easy by booking the match. Pearce was hesitant. Owens said Pearce wasn’t the same guy he knew for 16 years. Pearce said he couldn’t do it and offered him a match against another else on the roster. “Okay, fine, I’ll take Roman Reigns,” Owens said. Pearce asked why Owens was doing this to him. Owens persisted and Pearce eventually agreed to Owens vs. Uso… [C]
Big E and Crews were talking backstage when Kayla Braxton approached them and asked E what people could expect from him as Intercontinental Champion. E said he will be a fighting champion. He said he would be issuing an open challenge next week. Crews cut in and said that E should consider the open challenge accepted. Crews said E might not be so much when he doesn’t have his back. They both laughed…
3. Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan vs. Natalya and Tamina (w/Billie Kay). Riott and Morgan’s entrance was not televised. The broadcast team indicated that Billie Kay was going to wrestle and wondered who she would team with. Tamina came out first, then Natalya followed.
Tamina threw a rough superkick that cleared Riott from the ring. Tamina picked up Morgan for a Samoan Drop, but she became distracted by Kay, who jawed at her from the top of the ring steps. Morgan rolled Tamina into a pin for the win.
Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan beat Natalya and Tamina in 2:25.
Kay celebrated afterward. Riott and Morgan looked like they wanted nothing to do with her…
Powell’s POV: I think the idea was that Kay suggested the rollup to Morgan, but I’m not really sure what just happened.
Highlights aired of Charlotte Flair and Asuka winning the Triple Threat tag title match last week… Sasha Banks made her entrance… [C]
4. Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair vs. Bayley and Carmella (w/Reginald). All of the entrance were televised. They cut to break early in the match [C]
[Hour Two] Banks eventually got her hands on Carmella and worked her over with double knees in multiple forms. Banks threw a running knee and covered Carmella, but Bayley ran in and broke up the pin. Belair tried to use her hair to pull Banks to her corner again, but Bayley broke it up. Belair roughed up Bayley at ringside.
Carmella took advantage of the distraction briefly, but Banks put her in the Bank Statement. Reginald pulled Carmella to ringside right in front of the referee. Reginald entered the ring and stared at Banks, then performed an acrobatic exit. A short time later, Banks knocked Reginald off the apron, then turned into a Mella Buster, which led to Carmella scoring the pin…
Bayley and Carmella defeated Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair in 10:00.
Powell’s POV: Apparently, the WWE rulebook allows sommeliers to interfere in tag team matches. I’m not really sure how else to explain why the referee didn’t disqualify the heel team. That said, I like that Carmella got the non-title pin, as it puts her back in line for a title shot. Banks and Carmella had a nice title match together, so I’m looking forward to the rematch.
Cole hyped Owens vs. Uso for later in the show… Backstage, Reigns, Heyman, and Uso were shown looking unhappy as they saw the graphic listing Owens vs. Uso. Reigns complained that somebody actually made the match despite everything he does. Reigns said that somebody doesn’t appreciate him. Reigns told Heyman to find out who doesn’t appreciate him…
Smackdown Tag Team Champions “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo made their entrance… [C]
Sonya Deville was shown walking backstage. Wrestlers looked surprised as they spotted her. Graves said Deville had been reinstated on Smackdown…
Powell’s POV: The explanation of Deville being reinstated after losing a loser leaves WWE match is awful if there’s no followup, but it’s still great to see Deville back.
Ford and Dawkins delivered a promo in the ring where there was a covered item and a table filled with champagne. They uncovered the mystery item, which turned out to be a drum set. Dawkins played the drums for a moment.
Footage aired of the duo taunting Zayn with the “I Was Intercontinental Champion” t-shirt from last week. Ford boasted about their prediction coming true. Ford also predicted that Dolph Ziggler will get the nickname “Heartache Kid.” The Profits laughed about it.
Ziggler and Robert Roode attacked the Profits. Roode worked over Dawkins with a chair to the back at ringside, then threw him over the barricade. Roode followed up by wrenching the knee of Ford around the post. Ziggler hit the same knee with a chair. Roode hit the knee with another chair shot. Dawkins hopped over the barricade and checked on his partner while the heels mockingly wished them happy new year… [C]
Powell’s POV: Was that an injury angle designed to explain an upcoming absence by Ford or just a beatdown angle meant to put heat on the challengers?
Roode and Ziggler was shown walking backstage wearing “Dirty Dawgs” t-shirts when Braxton asked them about the unprovoked attack. Ziggler said the Profits are always provoking them. Ziggler delivered the promo while Roode echoed specific lines. Zigler said they want a rematch for the Smackdown Tag Titles and won’t stop until they get it…
Powell’s POV: I like the idea of giving Ziggler and Roode an actual tag team name. I’ll be downright giddy if they get a tag team entrance theme and I never have to hear Ziggler’s entrance music again.
5. Daniel Bryan and Otis (w/Chad Gable) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro. The entrances were televised. Footage aired of Nakamura and Cesaro interrupting a “Royal Rumble workout” with Otis and Gable coaching Bryan on how to use his hips. Nakamura mocked the idea of Bryan winning the Rumble match.
Cole noted that Bryan has never won a Royal Rumble or even a battle royal, but he did recall that Bryan was in the Greatest Royal Rumble for over an hour. Meanwhile, Bryan went for a suicide dive onto Cesaro, who caught him and then dropped him with an uppercut at ringside. [C]
An ad for Raw played into the cliffhanger of whether Randy Orton set Alexa Bliss on fire. Sigh. Anyway, Bryan was isolated by the heels duo coming out of the break. He eventually made a hot tag to Otis, who worked over Cesaro. Otis performed a Caterpillar and went for the cover, but Nakamura broke it up.
Later, the heels kicked Otis out of the ring. Bryan performed a running knee strike on Cesaro. Nakamura rolled up Bryan for a two count. Bryan came right back with the Yes Lock and got the submission win…
Daniel Bryan and Otis beat Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro in 10:00.
Powell’s POV: This match killed some time. There was some good work, but sadly Nakamura and Cesaro have been beaten so many times that they feel like glorified enhancement wrestlers. Still, I assume they will be back in line for a tag title program by default whenever the Profits vs. Roode and Ziggler feud concludes.
Backstage, Heyman informed Reigns that Adam Pearce made the Uso vs. Owens match. Reigns told Uso that they are trying to take everything they’ve worked for. Reigns told Uso to go show everyone why he’s the main event Uso…
Kevin Owens made his entrance for the main event… [C] Jey Uso, Billie Kay, Dolph Ziggler, and Robert Roode were advertised for Talking Smack… Cole hyped Big E vs. Apollo Crews for the Intercontinental Championship for next week’s Smackdown… Jey Uso made his entrance for the main event…
6. Kevin Owens vs. Jey Uso. Uso started the match without Reigns and Heyman. Owens was dominant and tossed Uso over the broadcast table. Owens returned to the ring, looked into the hard camera, and yelled, “Come on, Roman.” [C] Owens continued to dominate and looked to the stage for Reigns. Owens eventually kicked Uso and then put him down with a Stunner that led to a three count.
Kevin Owens defeated Jey Uso.
After the match, Owens pulled Graves’ headset and said, “Come take care of the family, bitch.” Owens handcuffed Uso to the top rope and put the boots to him while continuing to look to the stage. Owens freed Uso’s arm from the ropes and handcuffed his other arm, then took him to ringside, and said he’s come to Reigns.
Owens superkicked Uso on the side of the ramp and then went to the area behind first level of the ThunderDome virtual screens. Reigns attacked Owens. Uso joined in on the attack and they dumped Owens over the second tier of virtual fan screens.
Uso choked Owens with the handcuff chain while Reigns jabbed him with a chair. Owens superkicked Reigns, but Uso superkicked Owens. Reigns slammed Owens’ head into a virtual screen. Reigns tossed Owens off the virtual screen platform and through a table below. Referee Charles Robinson checked on Owens while Reigns stood tall on the virtual screen platform to close the show…
Powell’s POV: Owens got the pin and what felt like his weekly beatdown from Reigns and Uso. At some point, you’d think the guy would find a friend to help him out. Overall, a solid episode. They didn’t phone it in for the holiday, but those who missed the show also didn’t miss any major storyline developments.
Let me know what you thought of the show by assigning it a letter grade below. My audio review will be available for Dot Net Members on Saturday due to the holiday. Thanks for checking out this report and here’s wishing you all the best in 2021.