1/22 WWE Friday Night Smackdown results: Powell’s review of Big E vs. Apollo Crews for the Intercontinental Championship, Bayley and Bianca Belair run an obstacle course, the Royal Rumble build continues

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,118)
Tampa, Florida at Tropicana Field
Aired live on January 22, 2021 on Fox

[Hour One] Smackdown opened with a recap of Kevin Owens being named as the replacement for Adam Pearce in the WWE Universal Championship match at the Royal Rumble… Michael Cole and Corey Graves were on commentary, and Greg Hamilton was the ring announcer…

WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman made their entrance. Reigns started by saying that Kevin Owens intended to deliver a message, but he would not. Reigns said viewers wouldn’t see Owens because he said so.

Reigns took issue with Owens and Pearce using the “card subject to change” line in the contract. He said that’s how losers think. He said it took a pandemic and health risks to make him miss work. Reigns wondered what would happen if he started claiming he had injuries. Reigns said his back hurts because he’s been carrying the company for years. Reigns wondered what would happen if his back continues to hurt and he can’t make the Royal Rumble.

Adam Pearce walked out with a mic. He said it’s gone too far. Pearce entered the ring and said things are out of control. Reigns said that out of control was Pearce going against him and putting Owens back in the title picture. “The fact that you favored him, that is out of control,” Pearce said. Reigns said Pearce is Owens’ bitch.

Reigns said Pearce complains about injuries despite not having wrestled in a match in several years. Reigns said he busts his ass night in and night out for the company. “No wonder you never made it to the WWE,” Reigns said. Heyman laughed. Pearce asked if he thought it was funny. He said he would take it from Reigns, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to take it from Heyman.

“Paul, he’s disrespecting you,” Reigns said. “And if he disrespects you, he’s disrespecting me.” Reigns said Heyman better straighten him out. Heyman said he would whoop Pearce’s ass if he disrespects his tribal chief. Heyman said a verbal agreement is legally binding. Heyman called for Pearce to meet him in a singes match. Heyman offered a handshake. Pearce shook Heyman’s hand and said, “Your verbal agreement is official.” Reigns threatened Pearce that something would happen by the end of the night…

Cole and Graves hyped WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Charlotte Flair and Asuka vs. Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott in a non-title match, and the Intercontinental Title match. Meanwhile, Sami Zayn walked out and handcuffed himself to the barricade while his documentary crew filmed him… [C]

Powell’s POV: Two great hooks. I have no idea what they have in mind for Pearce vs. Heyman, but between that announcement and Zayn handcuffing himself to the barricade, I am already invested in this episode. From a storyline standpoint, can Pearce really claim that his knee is too injured to wrestle at the Royal Rumble, yet accept this match? I guess we’ll see if Reigns and Heyman make that point.

Zayn announced that he is entering the Royal Rumble match. He was interrupted by Asuka’s entrance music, and then she and Flair made their entrances…

1. WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Charlotte Flair and Asuka vs. Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott (w/Billie Kay) in a non-title match. The Riott Squad entrances were not televised. Natalya and Tamina were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. Flair reached through the ropes and grabbed Kay’s hair. Morgan knocked Flair down, then performed a cross body block for just a one count. [C]

Flair rallied and worked over Morgan, then tagged in Asuka, who delivered a knee to the head and covered her for a two count. Morgan came back with an enzuigiri, but Asuka caught her leg and applied a standing ankle lock and then suplexed her.

A short time later, Riott rolled through an Asuka rollup and had her pinned, but Kay was on the apron bickering with the referee. Asuka came back with a knee to Riott’s head, then tagged in Flair before performing a Codebreaker. Flair used a Natural Selection on Riott and then pinned her…

WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Charlotte Flair and Asuka defeated Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott in a non-title match in 9:00.

Cole hyped Sasha Banks vs. Reginald, and the obstacle course segment. They showed footage of Bianca Belair jumping rope, only she was using her ponytail instead of a rope… [C]

Powell’s POV: Kay’s alliance with Riott Squad isn’t doing much for me. By the way, I wonder if the plan is for Heyman to feign an injury before his match with Pearce so that Reigns or Jey Uso can replace him. I have a bad feeling that we’re not going to see the five-star in-ring performance from Heyman that was promised.

Backstage, Billie Kay tried to apologize to Riott and Morgan, who weren’t accepting. Kay informed them that she spoke to Sonya Deville and got them into the women’s Royal Rumble match. Riott, who is back to having short hair, informed Kay that she’s not in the Riott Squad…

Daniel Bryan made his entrance in regular clothes and walked past Zayn, who held up a sign that read “Stand Against Moral Injustice.” Bryan smiled and shook his head before entering the ring. Bryan spoke about the Royal Rumble match being iconic. He spoke about the uncertainty of the number that the wrestlers draw, the countdown, and not knowing who would be out next.

Bryan said the Rumble is one of the most challenging and grueling things one can do in WWE and it makes him feel alive. Bryan said it’s all worth it because the winner gets to choose the championship of their choice to challenge for at WrestleMania. Bryan said he’s accomplished a lot during his career, but he’s never won a Rumble match.

Cesaro interrupted Bryan. Cesaro said he thought he beat some sense into Bryan last week, but he’s back talking about how he would win the Royal Rumble. Cesaro told Bryan that he would not win the Rumble match because he would do so instead. Cesaro pointed out that the won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.

Bryan challenged Cesaro to put the microphones down and fight on the spot. “How about no,” Cesaro responded. Cesaro said he’s sick of proving the same thing over and over again. He pointed out that he beat Bryan already and added that Bryan wasn’t dressed for a match. Instead, Cesaro issued an open challenge to face anyone who already declared for the Rumble match.

Dolph Ziggler’s sorry ass entrance theme played and he walked to the ring while talking about how great his stamina is. Ziggler said Robert Roode and Cesaro are the only people who can hang with him. Ziggler said he wants to win the Rumble so that he can go to WrestleMania and get paid. Ziggler told Bryan to get out of the way, and told Cesaro that his challenge was accepted…

An ad for Raw hyped Drew McIntyre and Goldberg meeting face to face… [C]

Powell’s POV: Well, that was odd. We’ll see where it goes, but it was a strange challenge and even stranger that it was answered by a fellow heel.

Cole hyped Fox’s coverage of the NFC Championship game on Sunday…

2. Cesaro vs. Dolph Ziggler. Daniel Bryan sat in on commentary. The match was joined in progress. Cesaro performed the swing on Ziggler. Dolph came back with a Zigzag and it resulted in the usual two count. They cut to a shot of Zayn handcuffed to the barricade and talking into the camera of his documentary crew. Back in the ring, Cesaro put Ziggler away with a Neutralizer…

Cesaro beat Dolph Ziggler in 3:30 of television time.

Powell’s POV: It’s great to see Cesaro being featured and actually winning matches, but I really don’t understand why one of the new tag team champions was fed to him. Strange segment.

Footage aired from last week of Sasha Banks saying that Carmella could have a title match as long as she got to have a match against Reginald first…

Smackdown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks made her entrance. Sami held up a sign that claimed he was robbed. Cole hyped Banks vs. Reginald for after the break… [C] Reginald and Carmella made their entrance. They were followed by two assistants who wore medical masks and brought trays with champagne and glasses to the broadcast table.

[Hour Two] Carmella poured herself a glass of champagne sat with the broadcast team…

3. Smackdown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks vs. Reginald (w/Carmella). Reginald gave Banks a rose, then stuck his cheek out. Banks tried to slap him, but he blocked it and smiled. Banks hit him with her other hand. Banks tried a takedown, but Reginald landed on his feet. Reginald continued to use his acrobatics, which included a backflip off the apron, and a flip from the ring steps.

Back inside the ring, Reginald continued to avoid Banks’s moves, but she eventually spiked him with a bulldog. Banks popped Reginald with a knee to the head and went for a cross body block, but Reginald caught her and flashed a grin. Banks ended up sending him to ringside and then performed a meteora. Banks walked over and knocked the champagne glass out of Carmella’s hand.

Banks returned to the ring and performed a Backstabber that Reginald rolled through. She hit him with another meteora and ended up taking him down and applying the Bank Statement for the submission win.

Smackdown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks defeated Reginald in 3:55.

After the match, Banks tossed Reginald over the top rope to ringside near Carmella. Cole hyped Banks vs. Carmella for the Rumble…

Roman Reigns sat in a chair backstage with Heyman standing behind him and telling him how brilliant he is. Heyman thought he did what Reigns wanted. Reigns told him that he wanted Heyman to tear Pearce to shreds on the mic, not challenge him to a match. Reigns said he wanted Heyman to be a man and handle his business. Reigns got up and left while Heyman remained behind with his jaw dropped… [C]

Powell’s POV: Stay tuned for the Paul Heyman shooting star press! The Banks vs. Reginald match felt premature. The creative team hasn’t put enough heat on Reginald to make fans care whether Banks got her hands on him.

A sponsored recap showcased Apollo Crews beating Sami Zayn on last week’s show and then taking the Intercontinental Title from Big E, who was at ringside for the match…

Big E made his entrance. Sami held up a “Not My IC Champ” sign…

4. Big E vs. Apollo Crews for the Intercontinental Championship. Crews’s entrance was not televised. Crews charged E, who gave him an overhead belly to bell suplex. E followed with an apron splash on Crews, who was lying under the bottom rope. Crews came back and dropped E with a series of kicks and then performed a standing moonsault for a two count.

Crews suplexed E twice. E elbowed his way free, then caught him charging and slammed him down with a uranage. Crews rolled to ringside. Big E followed and jawed at him. Crews ended up slipping away from E and then performed a moonsault onto him from the apron. Crews rolled E back inside the ring and went to the ropes, but E cut him off and went for a superplex.

Crews fought his way free and knocked E to the mat. Zayn used the key to remove the handcuffs. Crews performed a missile dropkick. Sami entered the ring and hit Crews with a Helluva Kick to end the match.

Big E fought Apollo Crews to an apparent no-contest at 2:55 in an Intercontinental Title match.

Afterward, Zayn dropped Big E with a Helluva Kick. Zayn went to ringside to stand by his documentary crew. Zayn said he didn’t ask for this…

Cole and Graves spoke about the Heyman vs. Pearce match. Cole said he heard that Reigns left the building…

Kevin Owens delivered a promo from his car and noted that he wasn’t allowed to enter the building. He said it didn’t matter because the games would end at the Royal Rumble. Owens spoke about his tattoos and said they all mean something to him.

Owens pointed out the his grandfathers’ initials on his left fist. He said both grandfathers had his back and nothing made them happier than seeing him in the ring. He said his biggest regret is that he didn’t make it to WWE before they passed away. Owens said he saw them both battle illnesses that made their lives shorter than they should have been. Owens said they are the reason that he continues to fight and why he will be the last man standing at the Rumble… [C]

Powell’s POV: A good, relatable promo from Owens. Meanwhile, I assume that we’ll be getting E vs. Crews vs. Zayn in a Triple Threat soon.

The broadcast team spoke about the Royal Rumble briefly, and a graphic showed some of the entrants in the two Rumble matches…

“The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins were shown walking backstage. Dawkins was holding a gift basket of fruit. They spotted Dolph Ziggler chatting with Sonya Deville. Ziggler left, then the Profits spoke with Deville and congratulated her on her new job and said they want their tag title rematch. Deville pointed out that Ford is still recovering from an injury. She told them to hang out backstage, do their funny segments, and they’ll get their opportunity once Ford is healthy. Dawkins gave her the fruit basket and told her to enjoy it…

Cole and Graves spoke at ringside. Cole said that when the cat is away, the mouse will play. He explained that Deville was in charge while Adam Pearce was preparing for his match. They also set up a recap of last week’s talkshow segment involving Bayley and Bianca Belair… The production crew was shown setting up an obstacle course around the ring… [C]

Powell’s POV: I’m having flashbacks to the gameshow version of NXT, which Vince McMahon actually described as the next evolution in television.

Graves hyped WWE Chronicle featuring Belair for Sunday on WWE Network…

Cole hosted the obstacle course segment on the stage. He introduced Bianca Belair and Bayley, and noted that Bayley came up with the obstacle course. Bayley took the mic and said, “Ding dong, goodbye, Michael Cole.” Bayley sent Cole away and then ran through the obstacle course for Belair. Bayley pointed out that Chad Gable was at ringside to take part in the fireman’s carry portion.

Bayley demanded to go first. She pushed a giant tire over. She slowly went to ringside and leapt over some ankle-high hurdles, then ran around three obstacles. Bayley put Gable on her back and carried him. She picked up a basketball and missed a layup, then made it the second time. Bayley completed the course in 1:12.

Bayley called for production to fix the course to play to Belair’s strengths. There were actual hurdles that replaced the small ones. Belair ran through the course, but when she got to Gable, he told her to meet her next challenge. Otis emerged from underneath the ring. Belair carried Otis across the line. Bayley tried to play defense for the basketball portion, but Belair dribbled around her and then dunked the ball with 17 seconds remaining to win the contest.

Afterward, Belair tossed the ball to Bayley, who teased leaving, then threw the ball at Belair. Bayley attacked Belair and ran her into the basketball hoop stand. Bayley headed up the ramp while a referee checked on Belair…

Powell’s POV: Nope, I don’t miss the gameshow version of NXT even a little bit.

Rey Mysterio tried to give advice to his son Dominik, who assured him that he had it. Rey said they would try it his way this time, but if something goes wrong then Dom has to listen to him next time. Cole hyped Dom vs. King Corbin for after the break… [C]

Bayley, Sami Zayn, and Cesaro were announced as the guests for Saturday’s Talking Smack episode…

5. Dominik Mysterio vs. King Corbin. Corbin’s entrance was not televised. A graphic hyped a Royal Rumble special edition of WWE Backstage for Royal Rumble Eve at 7CT/8ET on FS1. Corbin took offensive control and dominated Dom. Corbin went for his finisher, but Dom slipped out and dropkicked his knee. Dom went for a 619, but Corbin blocked it. Corbin punched Dom and followed up with End of Days for the win…

King Corbin beat Dominik Mysterio in 2:20.

Powell’s POV: The outcome was pretty obvious based on Rey telling Dom that they would do things his way if Dom lost this match. If nothing else, it was nice to see Dom back in the ring. There was no sign of Steve Cutler or Wesley Blake this week. And I guess Aliyah Mysterio and Murphy are living happily ever after or something.

Paul Heyman was shown walking backstage. Shockingly, he was in a suit rather than a singlet… [C]

The broadcast team hyped the special edition of WWE Backstage for Royal Rumble Eve on FS1. Renee Young, Booker T, and Paige were advertised as the hosts…

Adam Pearce stood in the ring. Highlights aired of Adam Pearce feigning the knee injury last week and introducing Kevin Owens as his replacement for the WWE Universal Championship match. Paul Heyman headed to the ring and taped up his fists. When Heyman got to the ring steps, he acted like he tripped. Heyman told the referee he was fine, then tripped again. “You know what they say?” Heyman asked. “Card subject to change.”

Roman Reigns made his entrance. Once in the ring, Reigns hit Pearce with a Superman Punch. They went to ringside. Pearce tried to hit Reigns, who blocked it, and then sent Pearce over the ringside barricade. Reigns ran Pearce into the first row of the virtual fan screens and continued to work him over.

Reigns hoisted Pearce onto his shoulders, then tossed him onto a virtual fan screen platform. Kevin Owens showed up and attacked Reigns, who fought back and rolled him inside the ring. Reigns went for a Superman Punch, but Owens kicked and Stunned him. Reigns rolled to ringside. Owens followed and ran him into the barricade. WWE producer Pat Buck and several referees tried to talk down Owens, who avoided them and threw several kicks at Reigns.

Owens ended up performing another Stunner on Reigns, then asked Heyman if he was watching. Owens turned his attention back to Reigns and performed a Popup Powerbomb that drove Reigns through the broadcast table. Cole said Owens was the last man standing tonight and wondered if that would be the case at the Rumble. Owens grabbed the ring steps, but the officials took them away from him. Owens stood over Reigns and barked that he was lucky before adding that they can’t stop him at the Rumble…

Powell’s POV: So much for the Heyman vs. Pearce mat classic. It was all pretty easy to see the general direction of where it was going, but it was still entertaining. Owens needed to get the better of Reigns. I don’t know if they can convince the masses that Owens has much of a chance of winning, but Reigns has definitely sold more for him than anyone else since he turned heel, so they are doing their best.

Overall, I enjoyed most of the show, but I could have done without the obstacle course and the oddball Cesaro vs. Ziggler match. It will be interesting to see if Pearce will be sidelined temporarily because of the beating he took. I assume that there’s a reason that Deville was made his assistant, and Cole indicated that she was in charge tonight, so we could get seeing some type of a big heel authority figure angle. While I’m over heel authority figures, it could be interesting if there’s a big storyline that plays out while she’s in charge and it’s not a case of her taking over for more than a week or two.

Let me know what you thought of the show by voting in our post show poll below. I will return shortly with my same night audio review for Dot Net Members. Have a great weekend.

WWE Friday Night Smackdown Poll: Grade the January 22 edition

 
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Readers Comments (2)

  1. you got to love WWE only in WWE is a wrestler baned from entering the building but still gets inside. WWE has always had terrible security they can’t keep a wrestler out of the building. lol

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