SmackDown Report for 1/22/21

SmackDown on Fox Episode #69
SmackDown Episode # 1,118
Orlando, FL – The Thunderdome (Tropicana Field)

It’s Friday Night, you know what that means. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

The show opens with a video recapping everything that went down last week between Roman Reigns and Adam Pearce where Pearce tricked Reigns into signing a contract that would see him face Kevin Owens at Royal Rumble instead of himself. 

We go into the Thunderdome where Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman make their way to the ring. 

Roman Reigns lets us know right off the bat that we won’t be seeing Kevin Owens tonight because he said so. Reigns then moves on to talk about last week where he says that the term “card subject to change” doesn’t apply to him as “card subject to change” only applies to losers who are afraid to come to work, but he always shows up and puts in work. Reigns said it took his health being a risk during a global pandemic for him to miss work so he doesn’t want to hear from anyone that he misses work. Reigns then hypothesizes what would happen if he were like Adam Pearce and all of a sudden different parts of his body just suddenly started hurting and then says his back has been hurting because he has been carrying the company for years. Reigns then says what if his back continues to hurt into next week and then he can’t make the Royal Rumble because his back hurts. Reigns is interrupted by Adam Pearce who has heard enough as he makes his way down to the ring. 

Pearce says that this has gone too far and the whole thing is spiraling out of control and Reigns retorts that what is out of control is the fact that Pearce would go against him and put Kevin Owens back in the main event. Reigns says that at this point Pearce isn’t just doing a favor for KO he is KO’s bitch. Reigns says that it pisses him off that Pearce comes out and complains about his body hurting when he hasn’t been in a match in 6 years, whereas Reigns has been getting it done week after week for years and he has never complained and never stopped because he busts his ass for this business and that is why he is who he is. Reigns says it’s no wonder why Pearce never made it to the WWE which gets a laugh out of Heyman. Pearce finally speaks up and says that he can take the verbal beatdown and physical intimidation from Reigns but he sure as hell isn’t going to take it from Heyman. Reigns says that Pearce is disrespecting Heyman and if he disrespects Heyman then he disrespects him and then tells Heyman he better straighten Pearce out as he hands him the mic. 

Heyman says Peace is disrespecting Reigns’ family and then asks Pearce if he knows what it’s like to hang out with the Anoa’i family (as he has known them since he was 15 years old) because they aren’t going to hang around with someone who doesn’t grow up to be a man. Heyman says that Pearce buys into the persona he puts out on TV that he is impotent as a man and can’t handle himself, but he is from New York and he will whoop Pearce’s ass for disrespecting the Tribal Chief. Heyman says that he may not be a lawyer but he goes to a synagogue full of them and in Florida, a verbal agreement is legal and binding, so if he wants a big main event for tonight’s episode of SmackDown then sign Heyman vs Pearce. Pearce shakes the hand of Heyman and tells him the verbal agreement is official as he accepts the match.

I absolutely loved everything about this opening segment as Reigns continues to excel on the mic every single week.  I don’t know why but I got a kick out of Reigns’ tone of voice when he was talking about different parts of his body hurting at the beginning of the promo. While I thought the promo was fantastic I have to say that this promo almost made him come off as a babyface, especially when he was telling Pearce about being there every week and busting his ass for the business without ever complaining. 

If Reigns cutting a promo wasn’t enough to make this segment great we also got some great material from Heyman as the two lines about him whooping Pearce’s ass just because he is from New York and not being a lawyer but going to a synagogue with a lot of them were really great. It was clear from the start that Pearce vs Heyman either wasn’t going to happen or was going to be a setup but yet I was still interested in watching it because everything Reigns or Heyman is involved in is can’t miss TV. 

The announcers hype up tonight’s show and then Sami Zayn comes down the aisle and handcuffs himself to the barricade and that sends us to a commercial break. 

We come back to Zayn who says he is entering the Royal Rumble and then starts on his tirade about the giant conspiracy against him until he is interrupted by the music of Asuka and that takes us to our first match of the night. 

Match #1: Asuka & Charlotte Flair vs The Riott Squad w/ Billie Kay
Before the match starts and several times throughout the match, we cut to the back to see Natalya and Tamina watching the match on a monitor. 

Charlotte and Ruby lockup and Charlotte takes Ruby down to the mat, Charlotte brings Ruby back up to her feet and backs up so Asuka can tag herself in and she takes Ruby down with a shoulder block. Asuka locks in a side headlock and then we get another tag by the champions as Charlotte brings Ruby over to the corner and chokes her with her boot and then she taunts Ruby as she reaches out looking for a tag and then Charlotte sends her hard into the corner. Billie hops up on the apron and Charlotte goes after her which allows Ruby time to recover as she looks to go after Charlotte, but is caught with a back elbow which sends her back into her own corner and allows Liv to make a blind tag. Charlotte throws Ruby out of the ring and then reaches out to grab Billie but gets hit with a dropkick by Liv, Liv goes up top and takes Charlotte down with a crossbody which gets a 2 count and that sends us to a commercial break. 

We come back to Charlotte stomping a mudhole into Liv in the corner and then goes for the fallaway slam, but Liv slips out the back and takes Charlotte down with a running hurricanrana as Ruby makes a blind tag. Ruby appears to go for a La Mistica, but Charlotte isn’t going down so Ruby nails her with some forearms only to be sent into the corner where she jumps up and sends Charlotte face-first into the top turnbuckle using her legs which gets a 1 count. 

We get a tag from the Riott Squad who do some kind of double team move, but we miss it as the camera is more worried about what Sami Zayn is doing out in the aisle, but it doesn’t matter anyway as Charlotte doesn’t even stay down for a 1 count. We get another tag by Riott Squad who looks to hit another double team move as they send Charlotte into the ropes, but they duck their heads too early and this allows Charlotte to fight both of them off with chops and then hits the fallaway slam on Liv. Charlotte hits Liv with the one-armed backbreaker and then slams her into the turnbuckle where Asuka tags herself in. 

Asuka catches Liv with a running knee which gets a 2 count when Ruby breaks up the pin. Charlotte comes back in and takes Ruby down with a big boot only to turn around into an enziguri from Liv and then Liv tries for the enziguri on Asuka, but gets caught and put in an ankle lock which she transitions into a leg captured German suplex. Asuka goes for a running kick on Liv, but she ducks and Asuka rolls through a schoolgirl attempt and locks in the Asuka Lock, but ends up backing Liv into her side of the ring which allows Ruby to make a blind tag. Asuka goes for the O’Connor roll but Ruby rolls through into where she is pinning Asuka, however, the referee is distracted as Billie has jumped up on the apron once again. 

Asuka goes for the running hip attack on Ruby, but Liv pushes her out of the way and Liv is knocked to the floor. Ruby hits Asuka with a kick as she is still stuck in the ropes from the hip attack and then she winds Asuka up for the Riott Kick, but Asuka counters and hits the pop-up knee strike. Asuka runs off the ropes (which allows Charlotte to make a blind tag) and hits Ruby with the lung blower and Charlotte follows that up with the Natural Selection for the win.
Winners: Asuka & Charlotte Flair via Pinfall   Match Rating: *3/4

I really wish I could rate this match higher than I did as I like all four women in this match, but this match was sloppy and the reason it was sloppy was because of Charlotte as she was more self-centered in this match than she has ever been as she was sandbagging Ruby, out of place for moves, and was no-selling a lot of stuff. The match also wasn’t helped by the fact that majority of the match was centered around her rather than Asuka who felt like a secondary player in this match despite the fact that she is the Raw Women’s Champion. It was a shame that Charlotte made this match so bad because the other three women did a great job. 

We get some hype for what’s happening later tonight and that sends us to a commercial break. 

We come back to the Riott Squad recovering from their loss as Billie is apologizing to them repeatedly for costing them a win which would’ve made them the number one contenders for the tag titles, but Ruby and Liv aren’t having any of her excuses. Billie reminds them that all great teams overcome obstacles and she knows they can work things out. Billie then tells them that she talked to Sonya Deville and got both Ruby and Liv spots in the Royal Rumble. Billie wants to start practicing as she will be in the role of one of their Rumble opponents and this leads to her impersonating Bianca Belair and Carmella, but Ruby stops her in her tracks and lets her know that there is no trio and the Squad was much better as just a duo. Riott Squad walks off as Liv quietly tells Billie she is sorry. 

I have to say that I enjoyed this interaction more than I did the match they were in as it did a really good job of continuing the story between Billie Kay and Riott Squad while also featuring a bit of comedy with Billie’s impersonations. 

Daniel Bryan comes out to the ring and talks about how hearing the words Royal Rumble sends a chill down his spine this time of year and then goes into detail about the feelings he gets while being apart of the Rumble match as he says the feeling of being in the ring with 29 other competitors in a match that could go over an hour is exhilarating, but at the same time it is one of the hardest things in the WWE you can do but it makes him feel alive. Bryan goes on to say he has never won a Rumble and starts to make a point but is interrupted by Cesaro.

Cesaro says that he thought he beat some sense into Bryan in their match last week, but here he is talking about the Rumble once again. Bryan takes off his jacket as he is looking to have another match with Cesaro, but Cesaro doesn’t care to wrestle Bryan again since they just had a match last week, instead he makes an open challenge to anyone in the locker room who is ready to face him right now. 

Dolph Ziggler comes out and says he has been in the second most Royal Rumble matches of all time and has unmatched stamina to the point where nobody except Robert Roode and Cesaro can go toe to toe with him. Ziggler apologizes to Bryan saying it isn’t 2014 anymore and he’s going to be the one going to WrestleMania and getting paid. Ziggler then says he accepts Cesaro’s challenge and this sends us to a commercial break. 

We come back and go straight to our next match. 

Match #2: Cesaro vs Dolph Ziggler
Daniel Bryan is on commentary during this match.

The match starts with some mat wrestling and then Cesaro looks to hit Ziggler with a gutwrench suplex but Ziggler blocks it and rolls Cesaro onto the mat into a pin but Cesaro kicks out at 1. Ziggler gets to the ropes to force a break and then he jumps on Cesaro’s back with a sleeper, but Cesaro backs Ziggler into the corner in order to break the hold and then he nails him with a running uppercut and then he takes Ziggler for a ride with the big swing for a 2 count. 

Cesaro charges toward Ziggler in the corner but ends up going shoulder-first into the ring post and then gets rolled up with a schoolboy for a 2 count. Cesaro backdrops Ziggler, but he rolls into a pin and this leads to both men trading pinfall combinations with none of the coming up successful. Cesaro catches the leg of Ziggler off a superkick attempt and then tries for an uppercut, but Ziggler counters that into a backslide attempt, but Cesaro breaks that and goes for a clothesline which Ziggler ducks, and then Ziggler hits Cesaro with the Zig Zag for a very close 2 count. 

Ziggler locks in another sleeper while on Cesaro’s back but this time Cesaro uses his power to transition Ziggler into a position where he can suplex him, but Ziggler blocks the suplex and looks to hit the Fameasser but Cesaro catches him in the powerbomb position and then gets him into position where he hits him with the Neutralizer for the win.
Winner: Cesaro via Pinfall  Match Rating: **¼ 

This was a really fun sprint that some really nice mat work to start off with and then a good sequence of pinfall reversals and then a good showcase of power by Cesaro where he transitions Ziggler from a sleeper into a suplex and a nice finish with Cesaro countering the Famasser into the Neutralizer. This was everything you could want from these two all wrapped up in a nice little 3-minute package. 

We get footage of the interaction between Sasha and Carmella last week and what led to our next match. Sasha makes her way to the ring and we go to a commercial break. 

We come back and go straight to the match.

Match #3: Sasha Banks vs Reginald the Sommelier w/ Carmella
Carmella sets at ringside with some champagne to enjoy the match she is fixing to watch. 

Reginald pulls out a rose from his jacket and hands it to Sasha and then points at his cheek looking for a kiss, but Sasha goes for a slap instead, Reginald grabs her hand to block the slap so she slaps him with the other hand. Sasha goes for the lucha arm drag but Reginald lands on his feet which draws applause from Carmella and this distracts Sasha for some reason which allows Reginald to grab a rear waistlock, but Sasha uses leverage to slide between his legs, and then she grabs a rear waistlock, but Reginald escapes just as Sasha did and rolls back across the ring and out to the floor. Reginald keeps playing games when Sasha goes after him, but she finally takes him down with a baseball slide, and then she looks to send Reginald into the steps but he jumps off the steps and cuts a flip right in front of Carmella.  

Carmella chases Reginald back into the ring and we get some really nice leapfrog and tumble spots and then Sasha tries for a springboard into a Meteora but Reginald blocks it so Sasha goes for a sunset flip, but he pulls her off the mat and that leads to a wheelbarrow bulldog by Sasha. Sasha jaws at Carmella which takes her focus off Reginald and when she charges in with a double knee strike she hits the turnbuckle as Reginald moves out of the way. Sasha rolls out of the way of an elbow drop and then tries for an Oklahoma roll, but Reginald rolls through and then cartwheels out of the way of a dropkick. 

Reginald lifts Sasha up over his shoulder but is taken down with an arm drag and then Sasha charges in, but Reginald backdrops her to the apron where she hits him with a knee strike which stuns Reginald enough for her to go up top and attempt a crossbody, but Reginald catches her and tries to slam her but Sasha takes him down with another arm drag which sends Reginald rolling to the outside. Sasha hits Reginald with a Meteora off the apron and then she stares down Carmella before she walks over and slaps the champagne glass out of her hand. 

Sasha gets back in the ring and goes for the backstabber, but Reginald lands on his feet only for Sasha to kick him a few times and then she knuckle locks with Reginald and then uses that to pop herself up and hits Reginald with a big Meteora and then Sasha spins herself around Reginald and takes him down where she locks in the Bank Statement and after a moment Reginald taps out.
Winner: Sasha Banks via Submission   Match Rating: **½ 

I didn’t know what to expect from this match going into it, but it was so much fun to watch as it felt like watching an acrobatic performance rather than a wrestling match and I don’t mean that in a negative way as the match was worked beautifully, especially since it was an intergender match which WWE usually shies away from. It’s actually really amazing how good the match was considering it consisted of very little contact between the participants as most of the match involved them countering and dodging each other. This match was an example of how intergender matches can work in WWE and why they should do them more often than they do. I have to say good job to both Sasha and Reginald for the performance they put on in this match. 

We go to the back where Heyman is happy about what happened earlier in the night with Pearce as he knew what Reigns wanted him to do. Reigns doesn’t know what Heyman is talking about and tells him he gave him the mic so that he could do what he does best which is to tear Pearce to shreds verbally, not to challenge him to a match. Reigns says that since he did challenge Pearce to a match he better go out and represent him like a man and handle his business because he is not going to have a punk represent him as his counsel. Reigns gets out of his chair and walks off as Heyman looks at him with a look of shock and terror. 

We go to a commercial break. 

We come back and get a recap of the Sami Zayn vs Apollo Crews match from last week and everything between Apollo and Big E after the match.

We then go to our next match of the night 

Match #4: Big E © vs Apollo Crews (WWE Intercontinental Championship)
Big E hits Crews with the overhead belly to belly right as the bell rings and then he hits Crews with the apron splash. Big E charges at Crews in the corner but meets a back elbow and then is hit with an enziguri, a big boot, and a standing moonsault which gets Crews a 2 count. Crews hits Big E with a couple of German suplexes but when he goes for a third one he gets hit with elbows and when he charges at Big E in the corner he is taken down with the uranage for a 2 count. 

Crews rolls to the outside for a breather, but Big E follows him out and looks to throw him back into the ring but Crews escapes his grasp and takes him down with a moonsault off the apron and then he throws Big E back into the ring. Crews goes up top but is cut off and we get both men jockeying for position on the top rope until Crews pushes Big E back down to the mat. We then cut over to Sami Zayn as he is uncuffing himself from the barricade, while this is happening Crews comes off the middle rope with a dropkick onto Big E and that is when Zayn runs in and hits both men with a Helluva Kick to cause the DQ.
Winner: N/A via Double DQ   Match Rating: **

This match was pretty predictable after Zayn came out earlier in the night and handcuffed himself to the barricade. The match itself was ok but never got the chance to really get going. 

We go to a promo recorded earlier today by Kevin Owens who is in his car. KO says that he came to work today but wasn’t allowed in the building due to Reigns pulling some strings to make sure he wasn’t there. KO says that at the Rumble there will be no more strings for Reigns to pull as they will finish this once and for all and although Reigns has called him a cockroach and wants him to stay down but he can’t do that because Reigns has yet to beat him like a champion would as both times he has needed his family in order to beat him. 

KO then starts talking about his various tattoos and how they all mean something and he then goes into detail about the tattoos on his knuckles which are the initials of his grandfathers who had his back while he was working his way up through the indies, however, they passed away before he got to the WWE and that is one regret that he will always have. KO says they are always with him and the mark they made on him will always be there as he watched both of them battle illnesses that should’ve shortened their life, but they kept fighting and because of that, he was lucky enough to be able to spend many great years with them. KO says if they kept fighting that hard then how can he stop fighting and that is why he will be the last man standing at Royal Rumble. 

Hot Damn, Kevin Owens delivers once again with a promo that not only puts over his match at the Rumble but also gets everyone in the feels with the story about his grandfathers. I have probably said it before but it bears repeating, in a company full of scripted promos that can often times feel robotic KO is always a breath of fresh air as his promos always feel so real and genuine and that is one reason why he is one of the greats. 

We then go to our next commercial break. 

We come back from the break and go backstage where the Street Profits are walking down the hall carrying a fruit basket and they run into Sonya Deville who is having a talk with Dolph Ziggler. The Street Profits want a rematch against the Dirty Dawgs for the tag titles, while Sonya agrees they are deserving of the rematch she wants to wait until Montez Ford is healed up because she doesn’t want their rematch to end up being a waste. Sonya tells them to just sit back and let some of the other tag teams have an opportunity and then they can have their rematch once Ford is back 100% healthy. Ford sarcastically thanks Sonya for caring about his leg and then Dawkins hands her the fruit basket as the segment comes to an end. 

We see the ring crew setting up the obstacle course which will be coming up after the break. 

Michael Cole is set to host this obstacle course and he introduces the competitors, but when Bayley comes out she takes over the hosting duties as she tells Cole to get lost. Bayley explains what the obstacle course consists of and then decides she will go first. 

Bayley runs the course which consists of flipping a tractor tire, jumping hurdles, fireman carrying Chad Gable, and scoring a shot in basketball. Bayley finishes the course in the time of 1:12. 

It’s now time for Bianca Belair, but before she starts Bayley decides that she needs to EST the course up just a bit and this leads to members of the ring crew adding a few more higher hurdles to the course. Bianca lifts the tire and jumps the hurdles with ease, but when it’s time to lift Gable she is informed that she is going to have to lift Otis instead which she also has no problem with as she carries him across the line as if he were a cruiserweight. Bianca grabs the basketball and taunts Bayley wanting her to try some defense but she easily sidesteps her and slam dunks the ball. Bianca finishes the course with a time of 55 seconds which is 17 seconds faster than Bayley did. 

Bayley is not happy that she got showed up as she attacks Bianca and sends her shoulder-first into the pole part of the basketball goal. The segment ends with Bianca rolling around in pain on the floor. 

This was a really fun segment that did a lot to hype up just how athletic Bianca is as the spot where she carried Otis was fantastic. I also thought Bayley was great in this segment as she switched from being the annoying heel for the majority of the segment into the vicious heel at the end of the segment when she lost. I can’t wait to see what happens with these two in the Rumble. 

We go to the back where Rey and Dominik are talking about Dominik’s match against Corbin which is coming up next, Rey tries to give Dominik some advice but he says he has everything worked out and wants his father to trust him. Rey says they are going to do it Dominik’s way this time, but if something goes wrong they are doing it Rey’s way next time. 

We go to our next commercial break. 

We come back and go to our next match of the night. 

Match #5: King Corbin vs Dominik Mysterio
We get a lockup and Corbin throws Dominik back into the corner and then goes for a clothesline, but Dominik moves and then hits Corbin with a flurry of punches to the gut until Corbin shoves him across the ring. Dominik hits Corbin with a dropkick and then looks to send Corbin into the ropes, but Corbin reverses only for Dominik to take him down with a body scissors which sends Corbin rolling out of the ring. Corbin sidesteps a plancha attempt by Dominik and levels him with a clothesline and then throws him back into the ring where he goes for a cover, but only gets a 2 count. 

Corbin puts Dominik over in the corner and then chokes him across the bottom rope. Corbin delivers body shots to Dominik until he is forced to back up, Corbin then sends Dominik hard into the opposite corner. Corbin looks to hit Dominik with the End of Days, but he floats through and dropkicks Corbin in the knee which causes him to land in the perfect position for Dominik to hit the 619, however, Corbin blocks it by grabbing the legs of Dominik and then he tries to pull him away from the ropes but Dominik lands on his feet, but Corbin knocks him down with a big right hand. Corbin picks up Dominik and hits him with the End of Days which is enough to pick up the win.
Winner: King Corbin via Pinfall  Match Rating: **

This was a match and that is about all I have to say about it as there was nothing special about it. 

We cut to the back where we see Heyman walking towards the ring as he is still in his full suit and tie and this sends us to a commercial break. 

We come back from the break and Adam Pearce is already in the ring and then Heyman makes his way down the aisle and is taping his fists. Heyman goes to walk up the steps but he keeps tripping up and is eventually unable to get to his feet, Heyman backs up to the barricade and tells Pearce that the card is subject to change, and starts to unwrap his fists. Roman Reigns comes out and as he enters the ring he nails Pearce with a big Superman Punch which sends Pearce rolling out to the floor. Reigns looks to grab the steps, but Pearce nails him with a punch which stuns Reigns momentarily, but he kicks Pearce in the nuts and then throws him over the barricade and sends him into one of the LED boards. Reigns continues to pound on Pearce as they head toward the spot where Reigns threw KO through a table a few weeks ago and lifts him up so he can place him on one of the stages holding the LED screens. 

A hooded figure attacks Reigns out of nowhere and it is revealed that it is KO, both men fight back toward the ring as Reigns gains control and starts hammering KO with punches and sending him into the barricade and then he eventually sends him back into the ring. KO hits Reigns with a superkick and then blocks a Superman Punch with a kick to the gut and hits Reigns with a Stunner. We go back to the outside where KO sends Reigns into the barricade and then after the referees step in to try and stop him, KO hits Reigns with another Stunner on the outside. KO talks trash to Heyman and then picks up Reigns and hits him with the Pop-Up Powerbomb through the announce table. KO walks off and Reigns is laid out in the rubble of the shattered announce table to end the show. 

I loved the fact that Heyman and Reigns used Pearce’s “card subject to change” trick back on him. I do wish that Pearce would’ve got in more offense on Reigns before he was beaten down. This was the first time we have seen someone give Reigns this kind of beating since he came back as the Tribal Chief and it was a nice change of pace as Reigns has dominated everyone in his path for the past 5 months. I look forward to watching Reigns and KO beat the shit out of each other at the Royal Rumble. 

This was quite an interesting episode of SmackDown as none of the matches got any time outside of the opener but it was the worst match of the night, while on the flip side the best match of the night was an intergender match between Sasha Banks and Carmella’s sommelier Reginald which I didn’t expect to be anywhere near as good as it was. Everything involving Reigns, Heyman, Pearce, and KO was great as usual and I really enjoyed the obstacle course segment involving Bianca and Bayley as it was a fun way to continue their feud while also further highlighting the athletic prowess of the EST of WWE. Overall while nothing in-ring was as spectacular as last week’s Bryan vs Cesaro match this was still a good episode of SmackDown that did a lot to hype up the Royal Rumble next Sunday. 

That’s all for me this week, but I’ll be back next week for more action from the blue brand as they present the go-home show for the 2021 Royal Rumble.