By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,166)
Live from Uncasville, Connecticut at Mohegan Sun Arena
Aired January 7, 2022 on Fox
[Hour One] Smackdown opened with a recap of the recent developments involving Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, and Paul Heyman, including Lesnar winning the WWE Championship and reuniting with Heyman on Raw… Michael Cole and Pat McAfee checked in on commentary…
WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns made his entrance. McAfee said COVID tested positive or Reigns, not the other way around. Reigns started by telling New England to acknowledge him. He said he was away for a week and it all fell apart again.
Reigns said that when you’re in isolation, you do a lot of thinking. The live crowd gave him the “what?” treatment. Ugh. Reigns said there are plenty of people he wanted to see, but the two people he never wants to see again are Lesnar and Heyman.
Brock Lesnar’s music played. The WWE Champion made his entrance with Paul Heyman. Lesnar got in Roman’s face and gave himself the big introduction that Heyman normally gives him. Lesnar put his arm around Heyman, who told him that was the best.
“Roman Reigns, acknowledge me,” Lesnar said. Lesnar said he got what he wanted on Saturday when he won the WWE Championship and Reigns has what he wants. “Now, why don’t we give everybody what they want, title versus title, champ versus champ. Let’s do this, Roman.”
Reigns said it’s a good idea, but it’s not his idea, and Smackdown is his show. Reigns said he doesn’t do business with people who do business “with trash like Paul Heyman.” Heyman asked Reigns how he could talk to him that way and took credit for getting Reigns his title shot and protecting him from Lesnar. Heyman got emotional while saying he loved Reigns and said he was his Tribal Chief.
Lesnar cut off Heyman to ask what he said. Heyman started to repeat himself. Lesnar told him to shut up. Reigns told Lesnar not to speak to Heyman that way. “Or what?” Lesnar asked. Heyman told Lesnar not to talk to talk to Reigns that way. Lesnar recalled telling Heyman to shut up. Reigns hit a distracted Lesnar with a Superman Punch and then left the ring while Heyman looked down at Lesnar with his eyes bugged out. Lesnar sold his jaw, then laughed…
Rick Boogs and Shinsuke Nakamura were shown rocking out backstage while Cole hyped Boogs vs. Sami Zayn… [C]
Powell’s POV: A really good segment that planted the seed for a possible unification match and restarted the mystery of where Heyman stands. We won’t be getting Reigns vs. Lesnar at the Royal Rumble given that Lesnar vs. Lashley is already advertised, and we better not get that match in Saudi Arabia, but it’s definitely possible that we get it again at WrestleMania. As much as I would like it to be a unification match, I’m still not convinced they will actually go with one world champion. My guess is they go with Reigns vs. Lesnar at WrestleMania, but someone else wins one of their titles before then.
Sami Zayn was interviewed by Megan Morant. He called Boogs a gorilla with a guitar. Zayn spotted someone in the distance and walked toward the person. Johnny Knoxville was standing there with shades on. Zayn said Knoxville isn’t qualified to be in the Royal Rumble match, nor has he actually qualified for it. Zayn told Knoxville to stay out of everyone’s way. Zayn made his entrance…
Powell’s POV: So Zayn will be eliminated from the Rumble by Knoxville? If so, no complaints from me. Zayn makes everything fun.
1. Sami Zayn vs. Rick Boogs (w/Shinsuke Nakamura). The Boogs and Nakamura entrance was televised. Boogs slammed Zayn and then played air guitar during the opening minute. Zayn rolled to ringside heading into a break. [C]
Boogs held up Zayn for a suplex. Zayn threw knees at the held of Boogs, who dropped to his knees. Boogs impressively powered up Zayn and performed the suplex. Cole mentioned on commentary that Bob Backlund visited backstage earlier. Zayn ended up at ringside and bickered with Nakamura, then returned to the ring and was caught in an inside cradle and pinned by Boogs.
Rick Boogs pinned Sami Zayn in 6:30.
After the match, Zayn barked at Nakamura and Boogs. Johnny Knoxville ran out and pushed Zayn over the top rope. Ring announcer Mike Rome announced that Knoxville had officially qualified for the Rumble match. Knoxville was added to the official entrants list that also has Rey Mysterio, Dominik Mysterio, Montez Ford, Angelo Dawkins, and Austin Theory…
Kayla Braxton interviewed King Woods and Kofi Kingston and said they would have their final chance to beat The Usos for the Smackdown Tag Titles in a street fight later in the show. They did their royalty bit and said they would win the tag titles…
Powell’s POV: Big E does New Day comedy at times, but he also has the ability to flip the switch into serious mode and it’s worked out really well for him. I wish we saw that same serious mode from Woods and Kingston.
Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair made her entrance… [C] An ad for Raw listed Randy Orton and Riddle vs. Chad Gable and Otis for the Raw Tag Titles, and Bianca Belair vs. Doudrop vs. Liv Morgan in a Triple Threat for a shot at Becky Lynch’s Raw Women’s Championship at the Rumble…
Charlotte Flair said her New Year’s resolution is to make history. She set up a video on the Rumble that listed the following entrants: Rhea Ripley, Nikki ASH, Brie Bella, Nikki Bella, Shotzi, Natalya, Michelle McCool, Dana Brooke, Carmella, Queen Zelina, Mickie James, Tamina, Kelly Kelly, Aliyah, Summer Rae, Naomi, Shayna Baszler, and Lita.
Flair said she had the pleasure of introducing another entrant. She called the person a game changer, a former Raw and Smackdown Women’s Champion, and someone the fans all admire. Of course, Flair named herself as the entrant. She said she would be the first champion to win the Rumble and then choose her challenger for the WrestleMania main event.
Naomi’s entrance music interrupted Flair and she made her entrance. Naomi entered the ring and said Flair didn’t need to wait until WrestleMania to face the challenger of her choosing because she could put the title on the line against her.
Flair said she knew Naomi was a champion a couple years ago, then questioned what she’s done since then to earn a match with her. Naomi slapped Flair across the face. Flair charged Naomi, who side stepped her and sent her to ringside… [C]
Powell’s POV: That’ an impressive list of entrants with some names from the past returning. But why not introduce some of those surprising names separately or at least promote this segment in advance? Anyway, it’s nice to see that Mickie James is returning so that her final memory of the company having her belongings sent to her in a trash bag.
2. Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair vs. Naomi in a non-title match. The match was joined in progress. They fought to ringside where Naomi performed a Blockbuster off the barricade. Naomi returned to the ring and Flair remained down. Sonya Deville came out and said she forgot to say that the match couldn’t end via count-out. Flair hit a distracted Naomi. [C] Naomi performed a cross body block for a near fall.
[Hour Two] Flair came right back and applied a figure four and started to bridge, but Naomi grabbed the ropes. Deville announced that the match couldn’t be won by disqualification. She said the only way to win was by pinfall or submission. Flair smiled and went right back to work on Naomi.
Later, Naomi hit a Full Nelson slam and rolled Flair into a pin for a near fall. Flair shoved Naomi into the corner and performed a backbreaker for a near fall of her own. Flair hoisted up Naomi for a powerbomb, but Naomi countered into a clunky facebuster for a two count. Naomi went to the ropes and was cut off by Flair, who performed a back suplex and a Natural Selection for the win.
Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair defeated Naomi in 12:15 of television time in a non-title match.
Afterward, Deville announced Naomi as the loser and Flair as the winner…
Braxton interviewed Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso on the backstage ring set. The duo won their Bloodline t-shirts again and recalled hitting 3D at WWE Day 1. They said New Day would finally know why they are called “The One”…
Happy Corbin made his entrance for a Happy Talk segment. A graphic listed it as a special edition with a special guest… [C]
Powell’s POV: The Flair and Naomi match had some rough spots. Deville’s involvement was more of the same, which is to be expected given the story they are telling with her and Naomi.
An ad for NXT 2.0 spotlighted new NXT Champion Bron Breakker… Images straight out of a casino ad were shown in place of imagery from the city of Uncasville… Footage aired from the opening segment with Reigns, Lesnar, and Heyman…
Backstage, Adam Pearce told Sonya Deville that he’d been on the phone with WWE officials all day. He said that with Lesnar facing Bobby Lashley for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble, that left Roman Reigns without a challenger. He said the decision was up to him and needed to be made by the end of the night…
Baron Corbin took a seat in one of the chairs set up in the ring as part of the Happy Talk set. He set up a video package that recapped the WWE Day 1 backstage attack on Drew McIntyre. Corbin laughed and said it made him happy and was worth every penny of the fine he paid. Corbin said he thought McIntyre would be out for months, but he was actually in the building. Corbin introduced McIntyre.
Madcap Moss came out with a broken sword, a cane, a neck brace, and a kilt over his jeans that was held up by suspenders. Corbin interviewed Moss, who spoke with a bad Scottish accent. Moss eventually burst out laughing and told the crowd that he fooled them.
The Viking Raiders made their entrance. Cole said the Viking Raiders had a scheduled match against Corbin and Moss… [C]
3. Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss vs. “The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar. The match was joined in progress. Erik was about to make a hot tag, but Corbin pulled Ivar off the apron and shoved him into the ring post. Moss hit his Punchline finisher on Erik and pinned him…
Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss beat “The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar in 3:30 of television time.
Powell’s POV: As awful as the Corbin and Moss gimmick is, the creative forces apparently have no intention of pulling the plug on it.
Cole read a tweet about McIntyre meeting with a specialist on Monday due to having a a cervical neck strain…
Sheamus reacted to the McIntyre news by saying cry him a river. He recapped the broken nose that Ridge Holland suffered on the WWE Day 1 Kickoff Show. Sheamus announced his own entry into the Royal Rumble match…
King Woods and Kofi Kingston made their entrance, complete with Woods’s throne… [C]
Roman Reigns was shown seated backstage. Adam Pearce entered the room and sat down on the couch behind him and said he chose his opponent. Reigns said he didn’t care because there wasn’t anyone on the roster he hadn’t smashed. He dismissed Pearce and said he wanted to watch his cousins’ match… The Usos made their entrance…
4. Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso vs. Kofi Kingston and King Woods in a Street Fight for the Smackdown Tag Titles. Reigns was shown watching the match on a television in his dressing room. The Usos’ both had Paul Heyman crossed out on their Bloodline shirts. Funny. Kingston performed a trust fall dive onto the Usos at ringside during the opening minute. [C]
Kingston and Woods worked over the Usos on the stage coming out of the break. They took them back to ringside and there were a couple of clunky moments as they took the match back inside the ring. The Usos hit a popup Samoan Drop on Kingston and got a near fall.
Jey went to ringside and pulled out a roll of tape from underneath the ring and then tossed it to Jimmy, who taped the arm of Woods to the top rope. Kingston freed his partner, then they both held the top rope down when the Usos charged, causing the Usos to tumble to ringside.
The Usos pulled Kingston and Woods to ringside. Jimmy ran Kingston into the ring post, and then Jey tossed Woods over the barricade. The Usos picked up a piece o the ring steps and hit Kingston with it, then took it over the barricade and rammed Woods with it. Woods eventually dove off the barricade onto the Usos heading into the final break. [C]
Woods put on a knight helmet and rammed his head into one of the Usos. Kingston used a chest protector as a weapon. Kingston and Woods went for a double pin and got a two count. The crowd chanted for tables. Woods obliged by pulling one out from underneath the ring.
Late in the match, the Usos cut off Woods on the top rope and then hit him with a double superkick. They hit the same move on Kingston twice and then put Kingston through the table using 3D, which is now called One and Done.
Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso defeated Kofi Kingston and King Woods in 17:45 in a Street Fight to retain the Smackdown Tag Titles.
Reigns was shown watching on the backstage monitor when he heard a knock at the door. Reigns told the person to come in, then stood up and ended up going face to face with Seth Rollins, who laughed maniacally. Reigns didn’t look pleased with his apparent challenger for the WWE Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble…
Powell’s POV: A heel vs. heel match at the Rumble? Interesting. I’m not sure how they’ll end up explaining why Rollins was in the building since it came off earlier like Pearce just learned that it was his call to make, but I’m guessing they’ll come up with something. I was numb to the main event. WWE overexposed the Usos and New Day feud, which is a shame. I hope this is the last time we see them meet for a long time so that their feud can eventually feel special again.
Overall, the show peaked with the Reigns, Lesnar, and Heyman opening segment, and the Rumble entrants announcement was fun. I will have more to say about the show my weekly same night audio review of Smackdown for Dot Net Members. Let me know what you thought of the show by grading it below.
Boogs is the lovechild of Magnum P.I. and the Ultimate Warrior.
Oof, what a boring second hour. Happy, Madcap, and New Day need to be off TV for a few months.
“ Images straight out of a casino ad were shown in place of imagery from the city of Uncasville”
It was either that or the Popeyes. Ain’t much happening in Uncasville
That opening segment was *money*
Lesnar surprised me; I didn’t know he could actually cut a promo. It actually piqued my interest
As awful as the Corbin and Moss gimmick is, the creative forces apparently have no intention of pulling the plug on it.
I don’t care about Corbin weither he is a King or Happy.
Lesnar cut solid promos in UFC, but for whatever reason WWE has never let him be himself. He’s a snarky jackass and natural as a heel or in this kind of role as the face by default.
McAfee’s comment about Fix losing 2 million viewers during Happy Talk was probably right on the money. The crowd was so out of it they didn’t even “what” thrm
WWE realizes one of the main hooks for the Rumble is the anticipation of surprise entrants, right?
Now it’s like anyone wanting to be surprised has to avoid their television product now, brilliant.
Still plenty of room for in-match surprises. Especially when it comes to filling the Women’s rumble match.