SmackDown on Fox Episode #73
SmackDown Episode # 1,122
Orlando, FL – The Thunderdome (Tropicana Field)
It’s Friday Night, you know what that means. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
We go straight into the ThunderDome and Edge makes his way out to the ring to get us started for the night.
Edge talks about how he has a big decision to make and then talks about the lay of the land going into the Elimination Chamber PPV and says that Reigns is making the smart move of facing the winner of an Elimination Chamber match rather than defending it inside the Elimination Chamber. Edge says there are 13 different possibilities for who he could face but he is going to stop talking and start focussing on who he is going to choose to face at WrestleMania which he will reveal on Sunday.
Roman Reigns comes down to the ring and is taking his sweet time getting there, but when he finally does he tells Edge that there aren’t 13 possibilities there is only one and that is him. Edge says Reigns was wrong last week when he said he saw fear in Edge’s eyes because that wasn’t fear it was someone playing Reigns like a fiddle and he fell for it. Edge says he can’t acknowledge Reigns as the main event of WrestleMania because he saw a few weeks ago what he knew all along and that is that Reigns needs him in order to be the main event, Edge says no matter who he chooses to pick that will be the main event.
Edge says that he sees that Reigns is insecure. Edge says will acknowledge that Reigns is in his prime and is at the top of his game and for that he respects him, but he also sees that Reigns is starting to crack under the pressure and that is even before he has started to put the pressure to him and then he asks Reigns if he wants him to expose the dents in Reigns’ armor and he tells Reigns that he needs to check his ego and ask himself if he really wants Edge to start focussing on him. Edge demands an answer from Reigns, but before he can he is interrupted by Sami Zayn.
Zayn says that it is one thing to constantly be disrespected by management, but to be disrespected by two of the biggest stars is something else. Zayn tells Reigns and Edge that they shouldn’t be looking past him because he is a master strategist and a champion of the people. Zayn then wants his moment in the spotlight and calls his camera crew over to film him pointing at the WrestleMania sign, but he ends us getting hit with a superkick by Jey Uso. Reigns puts his hands behind his back and steps up to Edge and whispers in his ear before backing up and leaving the ring.
If there was any question as to who Edge is facing at WrestleMania I don’t think there will be after tonight as there have been way more interaction between Edge and Reigns than there have been between Edge and McIntyre, although I did like Edge repeatedly putting over the fact that anyone could win either chamber and that he has 13 possibilities instead of just 2. I really liked the part where Edge was talking about Reigns cracking under the pressure and then making Reigns question if he really wants to go through with setting his sights on Edge because if he does Edge will make him crack for sure. I think we are in store for a number of really great promos between Edge and Reigns as we head closer to WrestleMania and I definitely look forward to it because both men have been at the top of their game when it comes to promos.
The announcers hype up the rest of the show.
Big E comes to the ring as we go to a commercial break.
We come back and see that Big E is set up next to the commentary table (he will be providing commentary for the next match) and he has a couch, a TV dinner on a TV tray, and to top it all off he has a foot bath so he is all set up for this next match.
We get a recap of the Intercontinental Championship match last week between Big E and Shinsuke Nakamura where Apollo Crews interfered. We go to the back where Apollo Crews is interviewed by Kayla Braxton and she asks him if his pursuit for the Intercontinental Championship has had an effect on his friendship with Big E? Crews says he has always respected Big E and has learned a lot from him like how to make opportunities for yourself, however, Big E never respected him and never got to know the real him. Crews then says his ancestors are Nigerian royalty and had Big E talked to them like he does to him then he would be without a tongue. Crews says that after he wins tonight he will be coming for what he deserves.
Match #1: Shinsuke Nakamura vs Apollo Crews
Nakamura comes out of the gate with some rapid-fire forearms and then runs off the ropes which leads to a drop-down and leapfrog spot where Nakamura looks for a rear waistlock but Crews hits him with a back elbow and runs to the ropes only to be taken down with a kitchen sink and then hits with a knee drop for a 1 count. Nakamura grabs a side headlock but gets sent into the ropes and is hit with a dropkick followed by another dropkick which sends Nakamura rolling to the outside. Crews hits Nakamura with a baseball slide which knocks Nakamura into Big E’s TV tray, Nakamura and Crews fight on the outside until Crews throws Nakamura into Big E. Big E gets to his feet and starts jawing at Crews as we go to a commercial.
We come back to Crews hitting Nakamura with a suplex for a 1 count. Crews sends Nakamura into the ropes but Nakamura is able to hook the ropes in order to stop himself and then he hits Crews with an enziguri. Nakamura ducks a clothesline and hits Crews with a flying kick. Nakamura hits Crews with a few kicks before sending Crews into the corner where Crews tries to get his boots up but Nakamura catches him and spins him around so he can hit Crews with the sliding German suplex which gets a 2 count. Nakamura runs off the ropes and gets hit with a spinebuster for a 2 count. Crews catches Nakamura with an enziguri and then looks for a military press, but Nakamura slides out the back and catches Crews in a flying armbar which he turns into a pinfall which is enough to keep Crews down for the 3 count.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura via Pinfall Match Rating: *¾
After the match, Crews continues to attack Nakamura as he sends him to the outside and throws him into the barricade and then he grabs the steel steps which he looks to hit Nakamura with, but Big E steps in between them and repeatedly tells Crews that it’s done and he needs to walk away. Crews sets the steps down and looks like he is going to walk away, but as Big E turns around he is nailed with the steps. Crews clotheslines Nakamura over the barricade in order to get him out of the way and then he throws the steps into the ring. Crews throws Big E into the ring and lifts the steps in the air, but the referee steps between them and this allows Big E to roll out of the ring. Crews continues to hold the steps over his head as the referee pleads for him to drop them and he obliges as he drops the steps over the top and they land on a laid out Big E on the floor. The medics run in to check on Big E as we go to a commercial
The match itself was nothing special, but this was still a very effective way to further the Big E vs Crews feud as Big E did a great job on commentary explaining why he is done giving Crews chances. I thought the post-match beatdown was done really well and established Crews as a heel that should be taken seriously and hopefully, this heel turn is the shot in the arm that Crews needs in order to become the star we all know he is capable of being. I also just want to say that I absolutely love Big E because he is so great at being able to switch from ridiculous comedy like eating a TV dinner and soaking his feet while on commentary to being dead serious like he was with Crews after the match, that man is such a damn gift to the world of wrestling and to the world in general and I hope he gets all of the great things in life that he deserves.
We come back from a commercial and see that Big E is being stretchered to the back and as they reach the top of the ramp we get the entrance of Seth Rollins.
Rollins says that what happened to Big E just now was a tragedy and he knows something about friends turning their back on you as that is exactly what happened last week when the entire SmackDown locker room walked out on Rollins during his big return to SmackDown. Rollins says he is still suffering from emotional trauma after last week and that is why he has drafted up a formal complaint which he has sent to WWE management. Rollins continues to rant about how his moment was ruined last week by a bunch of losers who are afraid because they see that millions of people have already embraced the vision for a better SmackDown. Rollins says the biggest loser is Cesaro because he made that big moment last week all about him. Rollins says that anyone who follows in Cesaro’s footsteps will get the same treatment because we are strong and powerful and then he tells us to embrace the vision.
I am all for a Rollins vs Cesaro feud as those two are guaranteed to tear the house down when they eventually face each other. I wonder if the “we” that Seth Rollins keeps mentioning is the universal we or does it mean that Rollins has a new faction that he is aligned with?
We go to the back where Edge walks up to Kevin Owens and tells him he appreciates that KO continues to get up every time he gets knocked down as it reminds him of himself. KO compares Edge preparing for his comeback at the Royal Rumble to his feud with Reigns over the past few months. Edge wishes KO good luck and would look forward to facing KO at WrestleMania.
We cut to Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville walking with the EMTs who put Big E into an ambulance and this sends us to a commercial break.
We come back and go straight to the ring as both teams are already in the ring for our next match of the night.
Match #2: Riott Squad vs Natalya & Tamina Snuka
Ruby locks up with Tamina but gets slammed to the mat face-first which knocks her loopy for a moment. Ruby comes back with some strikes until Tamina drops her with a headbutt which knocks her back into her own corner and allows Ruby to make the tag to Liv. Liv comes in with some kicks to the hip but gets caught and has an elbow driven into her leg. Tamina lifts Liv into a fireman’s carry, but Liv slips out into an attempted sunset flip only for Tamina to lift her off the mat, and then she goes for a clothesline but Liv ducks with the matrix only for Tamina to lift Liv up to her shoulder where Liv slips out the back and attempts a springboard move only to be struck down in mid-air.
Natalya tags in and drives Liv into the corner where she fires away with punches until the referee backs her up. Liv goes for a clothesline but Natalya ducks and looks for a slingshot move, but Liv turns it into a victory roll for a 1 count. Liv ducks a clothesline only for Natalya to grab her by her hair, but Liv breaks free and makes a tag to Ruby. Riott Squad hit Natalya with a double dropkick and then Ruby sends her into the corner where she fires away with forearm shots and a running elbow. Ruby runs off the ropes and hits tilt-a-whirl into which she uses to transition into the arm trapped forearm shots to the head. Natalya sends Ruby into the ropes where Liv makes a blind tag and then the Riott Squad hits her with an STO and face breaker combo move, but that is not enough to keep Natalya down as she kicks out at 2.
Billie Kay comes down the ramp wearing a Tamina shirt and Natalya cat ears, Liv makes a tag to Ruby as both women are distracted by Billie who teases sliding into the ring. Natalya rolls up a distracted Ruby with a schoolgirl but only gets a 2 count. Natalya goes for the Sharpshooter, but Ruby kicks her off into her own corner which allows Tamina to tag in and she charges past Ruby in order to knock Liv off the apron, but she turns around into a dropkick from Ruby. Ruby runs off the ropes but is caught with a swinging sidewalk slam which is enough to keep Ruby down for the 3 count.
Winners: Natalya & Tamina Snuka via Pinfall Match Rating: *½
After the match, Billie tries to celebrate with Natalya and Tamina but they aren’t having any of it as Tamina lays Billie out with a superkick.
Another week and another Billie Kay distraction leading to a Riott Squad loss and to make it even worse they couldn’t even give Riott Squad an entrance this week as they were already in the ring after the break like a couple of jobbers, which I guess is apropos since Riott Squad can’t pick up a win. I can only imagine what Riott Squad could do if they were champions as they could have some really fun matches with the women down in NXT, but instead, they are toiling away on SmackDown looking stupid each week as they continue to be distracted by Billie Kay.
We get a recap of Sasha Banks at the Daytona 500.
We go to the back where King Corbin walks up to Edge and tells him that he and Edge feel like the main event of WrestleMania which Edge says is very interesting. Corbin talks about how things have changed since Edge was making a name for himself on SmackDown prior to his retirement because this is now his kingdom. Corbin tells Edge the next time he sees someone wearing a suit and watch as expensive as the one he is wearing he better bow down. Edge shows him his timepiece which is his phone and then he starts listing off the things that is can do in addition to telling time.
We see that the ring crew is setting up for the second episode of Ding Dong, Hello and that sends us to a commercial break.
We come back and get the intro for Ding Dong, Hello! as Bayley buts through the stand-alone door knocking over one of the plants on the set in the process.
Bayley welcomes us to the second installment of the Ding Dong, Hello show and then introduces her guests which are the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler. Nia and Shayna appear from behind the door instead of coming down the ramp and at first, they both try to get through the door but it was too small so Nia pushes Shayna back and walks through it first. Bayley thanks Nia and Shayna for being on her show as she knows how hard it is to be the women’s tag team champions and have to travel across all three brands. Nia is glad that Bayley isn’t mad that they were the ones that took the titles off her and Sasha, but Bayley says it was the best thing to happen as she was finally able to get rid of Sasha Banks and was able to find herself and now she has her own show.
Nia and Shayna go back and forth bad-mouthing Sasha and Bianca and this eventually brings out Reginald the Sommelier who is there to stick up for Sasha and says she is like a fine wine while Nia and Shayna are more like box wine. Reginald gets in the ring and fixes the plant that Bayley knocked over earlier which makes up for him not going through the door. Nia and Shayna get in Reginald’s face and Nia asks him if he is challenging them, but Reginald was just stating that Sasha is the greatest champion in the world and if she chose to team with Bianca then they would be former champions.
Sasha comes out and tells Reginald to never speak for her ever again. Sasha turns her attention to Nia and Shayna and tells them that she is “The Boss” and as long as she is wearing that SmackDown Women’s Championship she makes the rules and at WrestleMania Bianca will choose to challenge her because the women’s division revolves around her. Bianca Belair comes out as she has an issue with what Sasha just said because she is the one that won the Royal Rumble and thus she is the star of the division. Things start to get heated between Sasha and Bianca and that is when Reginald steps between them and tells them they are all on the same team and should be focusing on the other women in the ring. Reginald proposes an intergender 6 person tag and Nia accepts on her team’s behalf as she calls for a referee and we go to a commercial break.
We come back from break and go straight into our next match of the night.
Match #3: Sasha Banks, Bianca Belair, & Reginald the Sommelier vs Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, & Bayley
We get a lockup by Shayna and Bianca which leads to Shayna grabbing a headlock, but Bianca uses her power to pick Shayna in order to escape the hold. Bianca gets a waistlock takedown on Shayna but when she goes for a second one she is hit with a back elbow but she comes back with a shoulder block for Shayna. Bianca drags Shayna over to the corner where she tags in Sasha and then Bianca lifts Shayna in a double chicken wing and drops her into a kick from Sasha. Bianca and Sasha point at the WrestleMania sign until Reginald flips into the ring but they scream at him to get back on the apron. While all the babyfaces are occupied Shayna makes a tag to Nia who comes in and takes down Sasha and drags her over to the heel corner where the heels work her over,
Sasha finally makes a comeback as she moves out of the way of a Nia avalanche and hits her with a step-up knee strike from the apron which dazes Nia, Bayley tries to baseball slide Sasha to the floor but she bridges up causing Bayley to slide out to the floor so she decides to pull Bianca off the apron. Sasha is able to hit a jawbreaker to create some distance and this allows her time to make a tag to Reginald. Reginald stops in his tracks when he walks up to Nia and he tries to beg off at first but then he locks up and Nia shoves him to the mat. Nia talks some trash and then Reginald charges at her, but is stopped by a shoulder block. Reginald then tries to take Nia down with a drop toe hold but she isn’t budging one bit and then she throws Reginald into the corner where she misses an avalanche but when Reginald runs off the ropes he is hit with another shoulder block. Nia looks to hit her leg drop but Reginald is able to escape once again which causes Nia to fall down on her hole once again.
Nia reaches out to make a tag to Shayna, but before she can Sasha and Bianca pull her off the apron and beat her down at ringside. Nia turns around and catches Reginald as he attempts a twisting crossbody, but Sasha and Bianca hit her with a double dropkick and that is enough to keep Nia down for the count.
Winners: Sasha Banks, Bianca Belair, & Reginald the Sommelier via Pinfall Match Rating: **
I loved Bayley during the talk show as she is so great at just throwing in funny side comments even when the focus is not on her and her constantly complaining about people not going through the door was a great example of that. I think Bayley made history as she may be the first person to ever wrestle a match wearing a turtle neck.
While I like that the women’s tag team titles are getting a lot of attention this week I wish the challengers from SmackDown were The Riott Squad rather than Sasha and Bianca because it is such an overdone trope in WWE to have future WrestleMania opponents teaming together and it would be nice to have an established team challenging rather than two women who are more focused on the SmackDown Women’s Championship, although if they have the titles change hands just so Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez can take the titles off a babyface team then I won’t be too mad at it because I think right now those titles are most needed in NXT as there is so much talent on that show and they could use another belt to fight for.
We go to the back for an interview with Cesaro and he is asked his thoughts on what Seth Rollins said about him earlier in the night. Cesaro says that Rollins was wrong because he was out there last week to respect Rollins and just like everyone else he was hoping that Rollins had changed his attitude because he wants the old Seth Rollins back that he has known for years, but instead he came back as the same smug and condescending SOB. Cesaro says he is done talking about the past because he wants to keep his momentum up in the tag match tonight so that he can win the Universal Championship on Sunday.
Edge walks up and says he likes the Cesaro he has been seeing over the past few weeks and says that Cesaro has grit. Cesaro says he knows what’s after Elimination Chamber and that is facing Edge in the main event of WrestleMania.
We get the entrance of Rey and Dominik Mysterio and that sends us to a commercial break.
We come back and go to our next match of the night which will have Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode doing guest commentary.
Match #4: Rey Mysterio & Dominik Mysterio vs Alpha Academy
Gable takes Dominik to the mat and out wrestles him and then tries for a German suplex but Dominik lands on his feet and hits Gable with a Japanese arm drag and a dropkick. Gable runs over to his corner to tag in Otis and when Dominik runs toward him he hits him with a shoulder block and this is enough for Dominik to tag in his dad. Otis tries to charge at Rey before he enters the ring, but Rey hits him with a shoulder to the gut and then springboards into the ring with a seated senton, but when he goes for a springboard crossbody he gets caught and hits with a front slam followed by a splash. Gable gets in the ring to coach Otis as he tells him to hit another splash and Gable won’t get out of the ring so the referee calls for the bell.
Winners: Rey Mysterio & Dominik Mysterio via Disqualification Match Rating: ½*
After the match, Gable instructs Otis to go up to the middle rope and hit Rey with a splash.
As much as I loved Otis as a babyface up to this point I had never thought about what a dominating heel he could be, but after watching the aggression he showed in this match I am all for an Otis heel run.
We go to the back where Daniel Bryan is warming up, Edge walks up to him and thanks him for being the inspiration for him wanting to see if her could make a return to the ring. Bryan thanks him for the kind words but then tells Edge if he really wants to show his gratitude he can pick him to challenge at WrestleMania after he beats Reigns for the championship this Sunday. Edge says that some would call that a dream match and Bryan says it’s long overdue.
We go to a commercial break.
We come back and cut back to the ring to see the referee and Dominik Mysterio helping Rey to the back.
We go to the back once again where Bryan and Cesaro are chatting when Kevin Owens walks up wanting to talk about strategy, but they tell him they are talking about the strategy if their partner decides to turn on them and Stun them like last week. KO says he would never do that and then they remind him of all the partners he has turned on such as New Day, Sami Zayn, & they even hint at Chris Jericho without actually saying his name. KO assures them they have no reason to worry because he wants to win the match tonight, however, this Sunday they should be looking out for one or two or three or maybe even four.
We then go to Carmella who is sitting at her vanity when Reginald walks up with a glass of wine and Carmella asks where he has been and why it took him so long and he says he was just letting the win breathe appropriately, but Carmella calls him on his shit as she just like everyone else saw what happened earlier tonight. Reginald tries to explain himself but Carmella tells him to relax because she knows he will do the right thing because if he doesn’t…well she just hopes it won’t come to that. Carmella takes a sip of the wine and then spits it out saying that it is disgusting and then she throws it into Reginald’s face.
The heels of the main event make their entrance and then Edge makes his way down to the ring as he will be on commentary for our main event. We then cut to a commercial break.
We come back and it’s main event time.
Match #5: Kevin Owens, Daniel Bryan, & Cesaro vs Jey Uso, Sami Zayn, & King Corbin
Bryan and Uso lock up and jockey for position, Uso backs Bryan into the corner and starts beating him down until the referee forces him to back up and then Bryan grabs Uso and puts him in the corner where he gets in a few shots before dragging him over to the corner and making a tag to Cesaro and they slam Uso to the mat. Uso quickly rolls to his corner and makes a tag to Corbin and it looks like we may get a knuckle lock, but Corbin chickens out and tags in Zayn. Cesaro gets Zayn in a rear waistlock and makes a tag to bring Bryan back into the ring and he levels Zayn with a couple of uppercuts but Zayn reverses a whip into the ropes and takes Bryan down with a knee and he follows that up with a series of short-arm knees into the midsection.
The heels isolate Bryan in their corner for a moment but then Zayn and Corbin start arguing and that allows Bryan to make a tag to Cesaro who knocks Corbin and Uso to the floor and then he goes to town with running uppercuts in the corner on Zayn which causes him to roll out to the floor. The heels argue on the outside until they eventually throw Zayn back into the ring where Cesaro is waiting with a big swing and then he catapults him into the corner which causes Zayn to tag in Corbin who Cesaro tries to get the big swing on but he ends up falling down and that sends us to a commercial break.
We come back and Cesaro is back on his feet swinging Corbin and then he tries to transition that into the Sharpshooter, but Corbin is able to squirm away and make a tag to Uso. Cesaro knocks Uso off the apron and then hits Corbin with another uppercut before he turns his attention back to Uso who drags Cesaro out of the ring and sends him flying across the announce table. It should also be noted that Paul Heyman has joined the commentary table and he has the WWE Universal Championship with him which means that something must be up. Uso throws Cesaro back into the ring and hits him with a hesitation dropkick as he sits in the corner.
Uso tags in Zayn who chokes Cesaro over the middle rope and then tags Corbin back in. Corbin hits Cesaro with a back suplex and then he whips him hard into the corner and then stomps a mudhole into him. Corbin tags in Uso who continues to work Cesaro over in the corner and then he sends him into the opposite corner sternum first. The beatdown of Cesaro continues as Uso locks in a chinlock but Cesaro gets to his feet quickly only to be sent into the heel corner where he is worked over and then Uso tags in Corbin. Corbin sends Cesaro into the corner but when he charges in Cesaro moves out of the way and then hits Corbin with a springboard spinning uppercut out of nowhere and then Cesaro finally makes the hot tag to Daniel Bryan.
Bryan comes in on fire as he dropkicks Uso off the apron and then fires away with punches on Zayn and then we get the turnbuckle back flip and flying clothesline spot by Bryan and that is followed by a running dropkick in the corner and kicks in the corner as well. Bryan sits Zayn up top and hits him with the top rope hurricanrana which gets a 2 count when Uso breaks up the pin. Uso tries to hit an incoming KO with a superkick, but KO catches the leg and hits Uso with one instead and then he dives off the apron onto Uso with a cannonball senton. Bryan hits Zayn with the Yes Kicks, but Zayn ducks the roundhouse and rolls Bryan up in a schoolboy but he kicks out at 2 and then he hits him with the Blue Thunder Powerbomb which also gets a 2 count when Cesaro breaks up the pin.
Corbin throws Cesaro out of the ring and follows him out but ends up getting hit with a superkick from KO. In the ring, Zayn goes up top but Bryan cuts him off and goes up top where he hits Zayn with a top rope butterfly suplex which he transitions into the Yes Lock and moments later Zayn is tapping out.
Winners: Kevin Owens, Daniel Bryan, & Cesaro via Submission Match Rating: ***
After the match, Bryan celebrates his win until Corbin slides in and hits him with the End of Days and that leads to a chain of finishers as KO hits a Stunner on Corbin, Zayn hits a half and half suplex on KO, Cesaro hits a pop-up uppercut on Zayn, Uso hits a superkick on Cesaro, Edge hits Uso with a spear, and finally Reigns comes in from out of nowhere and lays Edge out with a Spear. Reigns holds the title high as he stands over Edge’s body as SmackDown comes to a close.
This was a fun match and I found it interesting that Cesaro was the one who was worked over in the heat segment as he is usually used as the hot tag, but it was a nice change of pace. I loved the post-match sequence as I wasn’t expecting the Edge or Roman Spears but it was a nice way to close out the show. While it’s obvious that whoever faces Reigns at Elimination Chamber isn’t going to win the title I do hope Cesaro is the one that challenges him and then ends up having a banger of a match because if there is anyone with the cardio to go through a chamber match and a lengthy championship match it would be Cesaro.
This was a pretty uneventful episode of SmackDown as it feels like everything is at a standstill until Elimination Chamber is over. Outside of the main event, the in-ring on this show was absolutely atrocious as I only rated one of the other four matches at 2 stars or above, which is saying something as 2 is usually the lowest I will go but the majority of the matches on this show didn’t even deserve a 2. One thing I did like throughout the show was Edge going to talk to all of the Elimination Chamber participants as it put over that all 6 men have a chance and he isn’t overlooking any of them. I also liked the newfound aggression from both Otis and Apollo Crews as it appears that both have turned heel on the same night.
That’s all for me for this week, but I’ll be back next week for all of the fallout from Elimination Chamber.