SmackDown on Fox Episode #72
SmackDown Episode # 1,121
Orlando, FL – The Thunderdome (Tropicana Field)
It’s Friday Night, you know what that means. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
The show opens with “Tribal Chief” Roman Reigns coming down to the ring with Paul Heyman and Jey Uso and as they make their way down the ramp we get a video recap from Raw where Edge stated that he is waiting until after Elimination Chamber to make his decision on who he will challenge at WrestleMania. Reigns and company enter the ring where Adam Pearce is waiting for them with a contract.
Reigns tells Pearce to stop standing in the corner and face him and then he reminds Pearce that he has no authority over him and Pearce’s only job is to wait on him. Reigns moves on to Edge saying that he got scared last week and doesn’t want any of Reigns because he knows if they have a match against each other he will beat Edge down so bad that he will be forced to go back to only being on a legends contract where he will serve as only an ambassador to the company. Reigns says that Edge is only waiting until after Elimination Chamber because he is hoping that someone will take the title off of Reigns, but that isn’t going to happen because he isn’t dropping that title until he is ready to.
Reigns then moves on to why Adam Pearce is in the ring tonight which is Elimination Chamber and what role Reigns will have at the show. Pearce says he has had the contract all week but Heyman insisted he wait until tonight to give it to Reigns, Pearce then continues and says that the contract states that Reigns will be defending his Universal Championship inside the Elimination Chamber. Reigns laughs and then says he is going to let Heyman handle this. Heyman does his entire introduction spiel and then reminds Peace of the terms of Reigns’ contract before reminding Pearce that while he understands the show has to be built around Reigns defending his Universal Championship at the Elimination Chamber it doesn’t say that he has to defend it inside of the chamber. Heyman tells Pearce to put anyone he wants inside the chamber and the winner of that match can go on to challenge Reigns for the title later on that same night.
Heyman notices that Pearce isn’t happy about this decision but there is nothing he can do about it seeing as there is no way that Pearce would fire Reigns this close to WrestleMania because Reigns missed last years WrestleMania and it was the lowest attended WrestleMania of all time. Pearce says that he has some work to do as there will be some qualifying matches tonight, however, there are two people that deserve to be in the chamber match and don’t need to qualify and Reigns is familiar with both of them. Pearce reveals the first man to be Jey Uso and then he leaves the ring to create space between himself and Reigns as he announces the second man is Kevin Owens, Reigns storms out of the ring and gets in Pearce’s face next to the barricade but Heyman gets in between them and tells Reigns to do this on his time and he that Reigns is the one that calls the shots. Reigns backs off as the segment comes to an end.
While Reigns was great in this promo as always I thought that Heyman was the MVP of this segment and his line about WrestleMania 36 being the lowest attended WrestleMania due to Reigns’ absence was fantastic. I like how they are changing up the SmackDown chamber match a bit by not having the title be on the line but the winner getting a shot later in the night, however, I would much rather have a women’s chamber for SmackDown instead of two men’s chamber matches. While I get that they want KO to automatically be in the match because he has been Reigns’ top rival over the past month it really doesn’t make any sense as to why he isn’t having a qualifying match considering he has lost to Reigns in every single match they have had, if anything he should be the number one person who should have to qualify in order to be in the chamber.
We then cut to our first commercial break of the evening.
We come back and get some hype for Sasha Banks being the honorary starter for the Daytona 500 this Sunday.
We cut backstage where Pearce runs into Sonya Deville who is happy that Pearce stood up to Reigns. Pearce then wants to talk about what they need to do to make qualifying matches for the chamber, but Sonya is already ahead of him as she has an idea which is to take the tag match that they already have scheduled and turn it into a qualifying match. Pearce likes the idea and Sonya says she has already informed all of the men involved in the match.
We go back into the ThunderDome for our first match of the night.
Match #1: Rey & Dominik Mysterio vs Sami Zayn & King Corbin – Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match
Zayn cuts a promo on his way to the ring and when he gets up to the apron he is knocked off by the Mysterios as they are tired of hearing his mouth.
Rey and Corbin start out the match as Rey goes at him with strikes but Corbin cuts him off with a knee to the gut and then looks to place him on his shoulder, but Rey slides out the back and dropkicks him into the middle rope and then goes for the 619 but Zayn grabs Rey’s foot and trips him up. Dominik takes Zayn out on the outside with a tope suicida where he takes a nasty looking bump. In the ring, Corbin goes for a powerbomb on Rey but gets sent to the outside by a hurricanrana over the top rope. Rey and Dominik get back into the ring and that sends us to a commercial break.
We come back to Corbin in control of Rey as he has him in one of his many patented rest holds, Rey tries to fight back but Corbin knees him in the gut and looks for a chokeslam only for Rey to turn it into a hurricanrana into the middle turnbuckle which allows Corbin to make the tag to Zayn and Rey makes a tag moments later. Dominik rolls into the ring and hits Zayn with a back elbow and then takes him over with a bodyscissors which backs Zayn into the corner where Dominik hits him with a running back elbow and then he comes off the middle rope with a tornado DDT which gets a 2 count.
Dominik places Zayn in the corner and delivers some mounted punches before being sent out to the apron where he connects with a shoulder to the gut and then he bounces Zayn’s head off the turnbuckle and hits him with a tope atomico and moments later he hits Corbin with one as well. Dominik turns his back and Zayn rolls him up with a schoolboy but Dominik kicks out at 2, so Zayn hits him with the Blue Thunder Powerbomb for another 2 count. Dominik counters an Irish whip attempt into a swinging neckbreaker which gets a 2 count when Corbin breaks up the pin.
Corbin knocks Rey off the apron and then goes for the End of Days, but Dominik flips through it and then Rey comes off the top with a seated senton. Rey sends Corbin into the middle rope and then both Mysterios hit Corbin with the 619 and then Rey takes him to the floor. Dominik charges at Zayn in the corner but gets caught with the exploder in the corner and then Zayn hits Dominik with the Helluva Kick which is enough to keep the younger Mysterio down for the 3 count.
Winners: Sami Zayn & King Corbin via Pinfall Match Rating: **
This was a fine match and I thought Dominik looked really good in the match and it was nice to see him shine as he worked the majority of the match.
We go backstage where the SmackDown Tag Team Champions Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode are in the office of Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville and they want in the Elimination Chamber match. Sonya tells them that they can be in the match if they beat the team of Cesaro and Daniel Bryan in a match later tonight.
Big E makes his way to the ring and that sends us to our next commercial break.
We come back to a recap video of the segment involving Bianca Belair, Sasha Banks, Reginald, and Carmella from last week.
We cut to the back where Reginald is carrying a glass of champagne as he walks up to Sasha Banks who is chatting with Kalisto. Sasha isn’t in the mood for his shit this week as she tells him she is the boss of SmackDown and deserves some respect. Reginald apologizes and says that he was out of line and it will never happen again. Sasha asks if he meant it last week when he said she could beat Bianca and he says there is no doubt in his mind that she could. Sasha tells Reginald to send Carmella her best regards and then Reginald hands her the champagne and walks off.
Big E has the mic and talks about his match last week against Zayn and Crews and how he defeated the odds and then talks about how he wants to be a fighting champion and that is why he is ready for his next challenger as the Apollo Crews chapter is now behind him.
Apollo Crews makes his way to the ring and says that he can sense that Big E is fixing to issue an open challenge and he accepts that challenge. Big E says that Crews was right as he was going to issue an open challenge to anyone in the building except for Crews, Crews says that everyone looks up to Big E in the locker room and he is supposed to take on all comers. Big E and Crews start arguing back and forth off the mic as Big E says he is whining for another title shot and that he needs to just go back to catering because they are done. Crews says he is not going to the back.
We then get the entrance of Shinsuke Nakamura (who is Big E’s opponent for the open challenge) and that sends us to a commercial break.
We come back from commercial and go to our second match of the night.
Match #2: Big E © vs Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE Intercontinental Championship)
We join the match already in progress as Nakamura hits Big E with a running kick and then he puts the boots to him in the corner before delivering some good vibrations. Nakamura looks to charge into the corner but Big E drops him with a running back elbow and then he rolls Nakamura out to the apron where he hits him with the big splash for a 2 count. Apollo Crews gets up on the apron and has some words with Big E and when Big E turns around he is hit with a kick to the head. Nakamura goes for the inverted exploder but Big E elbows out of it and charges at Nakamura but gets hit with a knee to the gut and then he places Big E up on the top horizontally where he hits Big E with a running knee to the midsection. Nakamura goes up to the middle turnbuckle and hits Big E with a diving knee for a 2 count.
Nakamura drives his knees into the neck of Big E and then sets up for the Kinshasa, but when he charges in Big E lifts him for the Big Ending but Nakamura slides out the back and connects with a spinning wheel kick. Nakamura charges at Big E in the corner but gets taken down with an uranage which gets a 2 count. Big E gets Nakamura up for the Big Ending but drops him when he sees Apollo Crews getting into the ring and then Crews hits him with a dropkick to end the match.
Winner: Big E via Disqualification Match Rating: **¼
This was a good match for what it was but was just used as a way to continue the feud between Crews and Big E, so of course, it had to end with a screwy finish. It’s a shame that Nakamura isn’t involved in the chamber match or even apart of one of the qualifying matches as it seemed like he was set for a push but after this match, it seems like he is right back to where he was before the gauntlet match. I agree with Big E as I am ready for him to move on from this feud with Big E and move on to his next challenger.
We get a hype video for the return of Seth Rollins and then the SmackDown roster comes out and surrounds the ring as we go to a commercial.
We come back and Seth Rollins makes his return and with him is the return of the “Burn It Down” theme.
Rollins talks about how happy he is to be back and how he has changed since becoming a father and he now has a new perception and vision. Rollins says that he looks around the ring at all of the talented stars and wonders where he fits in, but after much self-reflection, he realized that his spot is as the great leader of SmackDown. Rollins says he will push SmackDown into the future and make it greater than it already is. Rollins continues to talk about being a leader and says he will serve as anyone’s teacher, father, or mentor if they share his vision. Rollins continues to talk as the roster starts to leave ringside and walks to the back. Rollins looks over and sees that Cesaro is still at ringside and tells him that he knew he would see his vision, but Cesaro shakes his head and walks out as well, but Rollins chases him down and attacks him until Daniel Bryan runs down to make the save. Rollins stares down Bryan and Cesaro as the segment comes to an end.
I made a joke on Twitter that the reason all of the locker room came out was because they were going to give him a belated baby shower. I thought that when Rollins came out to his “Burn It Down” theme we were fixing to get the return of babyface Seth Rollins but instead, it looks like we are getting the exact same Rollins we were left with at Survivor Series except for this time he has done away with all of the religious aspects of the character as he is no longer calling himself the Messiah. It was very lazy that they reintroduced Rollins in the exact same way they turned him heel on the Raw after Survivor Series 2019. While I am glad that Rollins has dropped the whole Messiah part of the character it is a bummer that we are pretty much getting the exact same character that we had before he left to become a father as this could’ve been a chance to really turn him into a likable babyface that could be a big challenge to Roman Reigns down the line.
We get a hype video for the Elimination Chamber and then Bayley makes her way to the ring as we go to a commercial break.
We come back and go straight to our next match of the night.
Match #3: Bayley vs Liv Morgan w/ Ruby Riott
Liv comes out of the gate with a running dropkick and some forearms until Bayley throws her into the corner and starts beating her down. Bayley tries to whip Liv back into the corner but Liv jumps up and over her only to be hit with a back elbow by Bayley. Bayley goes for a clothesline, but Liv dodges with a Matrix move, and then she hits Bayley with a drop toe hold onto the middle rope and follows that up with a dropkick to the back. Liv hops up to the middle turnbuckle and takes Bayley down with a missile dropkick for a 2 count. Bayley rolls out of the ring as we see that Natalya and Tamina are watching the match from backstage. Liv goes out and leaps off the steps, but Bayley sidesteps her and Liv crashes into the barricade.
Bayley throws Liv back into the ring and goes for a cover but only gets a 2 count. Bayley puts the boots to Liv and then wraps her arm in the rope, but Liv fights back and then rolls under a clothesline attempt sending Bayley crashing into the corner, and then she hits Bayley with a rope-assisted facebuster for a 2 count. Bayley reverses a whip into the corner and Liv tries to counter it by springboarding on the ropes, but Bayley knocks her off with a punch. Bayley hits Liv with an inverted DDT style shoulder breaker which gets another 2 count. Bayley looks to whip Liv into the ropes, but Liv blocks it by holding onto the top rope, and then she hits Bayley with an enziguri followed by a face breaker, but Bayley gets her shoulder up at the very last second.
Billie Kay walks up and tries to apologize to Ruby for costing her the match last week, but Ruby doesn’t want to hear what she has to say and she tells her that this is not the right time. Liv gets to her feet and goes over to Bayley where she gets poked in the eye and then Bayley hits her with the Rose Plant to pick up the win.
Winner: Bayley via Pinfall Match Rating: **¼
It was nice to see Liv in a singles match as we don’t get to see that too often but she always delivers when she does get that chance. I think I’m starting to get to the point where I’m ready for them to decide on whether Billie is going to officially join the Riott Squad or go on her way because her continuously costing Ruby and Liv matches is starting to get old. I think it’s time for the Riott Squad to start picking up wins and to start being taken seriously as they need to be serious contenders for the tag titles as Nia and Shayna are starting to run out of challengers on Raw and SmackDown.
We go to the back where Daniel Bryan and Cesaro are interviewed about their match tonight and Cesaro says he is still going to compete tonight despite being attacked earlier by Seth Rollins because he isn’t going to waste his own time like Seth Rollins wasted everyone’s time earlier tonight.
The Street Profits make their way to the ring and we go to another commercial.
We come back and the Alpha Academy makes their way to the ring and we get an inset promo of Otis training as he does squats while Gable points the smoke machine at him because just like the Street Profits he wants the smoke.
Match #4: Street Profits vs Chad Gable & Otis
Dawkins and Gable start the match with some nice chain wrestling which eventually turns into a drop-down and leapfrog spot and then both men trade arm drags until they are at a stalemate and then Dawkins tags in Ford. We get a lockup and Ford gains control of the arm of Gable but he reverses it and then sends Ford into the corner, but Ford jumps up and over Gable and then backflips across the ring. We get another drop-down and leapfrog spot that ends with Gable preventing a leapfrog by tripping Ford and then rolls him up for a 2 count. Gable hits Ford with a deep arm drag and then grounds him with an armbar. Ford finally gets back to his feet and backs Gable into the ropes which allows Dawkins to make a blind tag and take Gable down with a shoulder block and then he flips Ford back onto Gable which gets a 2 count.
Dawkins locks Gable in a chinlock but Gable fights out of it and hip tosses Dawkins and this allows Gable to make the hot tag to Otis. Otis rolls under a clothesline attempt and takes Dawkins down with body attacks and then he catches Ford with a flapjack and throws him out of the ring. Otis catches Dawkins with the exploder, the avalanche in the corner, and then he hits the Caterpillar elbow drop. Otis and Gable get pumped up as they are ready to hit their new finisher on Dawkins, but when Otis runs to the ropes Ford pulls the top rope down sending Otis out to the floor. Dawkins hits Gable with a sunset flip, but Gable drops down into a pin but Dawkins is able to kick out at 2. Gable dodges the spinning splash and looks to hit the Chaos Theory, but Dawkins holds onto the ropes as Ford makes a blind tag. Dawkins hits Gable with the Anointment and then Ford comes off the top with the Frog Splash which is enough to pick up the win.
Winners: Street Profits via Pinfall Match Rating: **
This was a fine match as I liked the opening chain wrestling sequence between Gable and Dawkins, but other than that it was nothing too special.
As the Street Profits walk up the ramp celebrating their victory Sasha Banks makes her entrance and all three dance and this sends us to a commercial.
We come back and it’s promo time with “The Boss” Sasha Banks.
Sasha says that everyone is talking about Bianca’s decision because they are on the road to WrestleMania. Sasha says she likes Bianca and even thinks of her as a big little sister and she then tells Bianca there is only one choice for her to make and that is her. Bianca comes to the ring and says she likes Sasha as well, but uh-uh she is not the boss of her. Bianca says that this is her time and everyone is talking about her decision, Bianca is then cut off by the music of Nia Jax as the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions make their way to the ring.
Nia doesn’t understand why everyone is talking about who Bianca is going to face, Shayna brings up that they become 2x Women’s Tag Team Champions on the same night that Bianca won the Royal Rumble but nobody is talking about them. Sasha says that she heard rumors that they were going to show up on SmackDown so she prepared a little video and this video shows Naomi beating Shayna this past Monday on Raw, we cut back to the ring, but as great as that was it wasn’t the video that Sasha was talking about and we then get the clip of Nia screaming “My Hole!”.
We cut back to the ring where Nia and Shayna attack Sasha and Bianca but they fight back and cause Nia to land ass first on the apron once again and then Bianca lifts Shayna up with the double chicken wing and drops her while Sasha hits her with a kick on the way down and that is how the segment comes to an end.
It looks like we are getting the WrestleMania opponents teaming up to challenge for the tag titles, I assume something will happen in or after this match that will make Bianca finally choose Sasha as her WrestleMania opponent.
We go to the back and see Cesaro and Daniel Bryan chatting and then we get the entrance of the Dirty Dawgs before we go to a commercial break.
We come back and it’s time for our main event.
Match #5: Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode vs Cesaro & Daniel Bryan – Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match
Bryan and Ziggler start out the match with Ziggler grabbing a headlock but Bryan pushes him off into the ropes only to be dropped with a shoulder block and then Ziggler grabs another headlock only to get pushed off again and this time Bryan connects with a kick to the chest. Bryan tags in Cesaro and they slam Ziggler, but when Cesaro picks Ziggler up he gets kicked in the knee and then hit with a dropkick for a 1 count. Ziggler drags Cesaro over to the heel corner and tags in Roode who sends Cesaro into the ropes but he drops his head too early and eats an uppercut which allows Cesaro time to tag Bryan back into the match.
Bryan hits Roode with some kicks to the chest and the back but Roode ducks the roundhouse and rolls Bryan up in a schoolboy which gets a 2 count when Bryan tries to transition it into the Yes Lock, but before he can lock it in Roode gets to the ropes. Roode catches Bryan with a knee to the gut and then knocks Cesaro off the apron, Roode sends Bryan to the ropes but he stops himself and then sidesteps Roode sending him out to the floor where he looks to hit Roode with the tope suicida, but Roode moves out of the way and Bryan crashes into Cesaro. Roode and Ziggler each send one of their opponents into the steps. King Corbin and Sami Zayn come out to the stage to watch the match as we go to a commercial.
We come back to Ziggler on Bryan’s back with a sleeper hold, Bryan tries to walk over and make a tag while Ziggler is on his back but Ziggler throws him back into the heel corner and makes a tag to Roode. Roode stomps a mudhole into Bryan and then Ziggler takes a cheap shot from outside the ring. Roode hits Bryan with a vertical suplex for a 2 count and then we cut to the back where we see Reigns and Heyman watching the match and oh my God they are actually watching the TV like normal people as Reigns is sitting in his chair looking straight ahead.
We go back to the ring where the heels are in full control as Ziggler hits Bryan with the jumping elbow drop for a 2 count and then Ziggler sits him up on the top rope where he looks for a superplex, but Bryan headbutts him causing him to fall back to the mat and then Bryan hits him with a missile dropkick. Ziggler and Bryan both crawl across the ring trying to make a tag but Ziggler gets to his corner first and then Roode runs over to knock Cesaro off the apron. Bryan rolls Roode up in a schoolboy for a 2 count and then delivers a couple of uppercuts before running off the ropes where he is caught with a big spinebuster from Roode for a 2 count. Roode tags in Ziggler and they send Bryan into the ropes and catch him with a double hip toss which they turn into a powerbomb and neckbreaker combo for a 2 count.
Bryan dodges a charging Ziggler sending him crashing into the corner and then he makes the hot tag to Cesaro. Cesaro comes in on fire with uppercuts to Ziggler and then a series of running uppercuts in the corner. Cesaro knocks Roode off the apron and hits Ziggler with the pop-up uppercut for a very close 2 count. Cesaro looks to set up for the big swing, but Roode stops that from happening with a chop block to Cesaro’s knee. Bryan takes Roode out with the Busaiku Knee and then Ziggler hits the Fameasser on Cesaro for another close 2 count. Ziggles goes for the superkick, but Cesaro catches the foot and then hits Ziggler with a torture rack backbreaker and then he gets Ziggler in the big swing which he transitions into the Sharpshooter and that is enough to make Ziggler tap out.
Winners: Cesaro & Daniel Bryan via Submission Match Rating: **¾
After the match, Jey attacks Cesaro from behind with a chair while Corbin and Zayn pull Bryan out of the ring and beat him down. Corbin and Zayn throw Bryan into the ring apron and then get back into the ring where they attack Uso before Zayn turns on Corbin and sends him into the ring post. Zayn looks to hit Corbin with the Helluva Kick but gets intercepted by Bryan who hits Zayn with the Busaiku Knee. Kevin Owens runs out and hits Stunners on everybody as we see Reigns and Heyman watching on from the back. KO sits down in a chair in the middle of the ring and stares into the camera and tells Reigns he’s coming for him.
This was a really good match and I even enjoyed Roode and Ziggler in this match which is saying something as they usually do nothing for me.
I like that they changed their mind with Cesaro where instead of him getting a push as a heel they decided to turn him babyface for what I believe is the first time in his WWE career and as good as he was in this match it would be his promo the next day on Talking Smack that really has everyone talking as for the first time in his WWE career he really got to show just how good of a promo he could be as he cut a very inspirational and motivational promo that is worth checking out. I really hope this is the start of something big for Cesaro as he is deserving of all the praise and accolades that could be coming his way.
I didn’t mind the ending of the show with everyone in the chamber match brawling with each other since that seems to be a trope that WWE always does and it at least hypes up the chamber match, however, I didn’t like the very last image of KO sitting in the chair and calling Reigns out because it feels like we have gotten that so many times over the past few months. If they wanted KO to be put over strong at the end I would’ve just had him hit Stunners on everyone and then just leave as we didn’t need him talking trash to Reigns because we already know that he doesn’t like Reigns and him sitting in the chair and talking trash felt like a case of deja vu.
I thought this was an OK episode of SmackDown but nothing really hit out of the park. I thought the build for the Elimination Chamber was fine as I like that they changed it up a bit from Raw by not having Reigns in the chamber but still having him defend his title against the winner on the same night, however, with that said I would’ve much rather had a women’s chamber match because those have been a lot of fun over the past couple of years. I also liked seeing Liv in singles action and she had a good showing against one of the top women in the company. The biggest highlight for me of the show was the start of a push for Cesaro which hopefully leads to big things for him down the road.
That’s all for me this week I’ll be back next week for the go-home show for Elimination Chamber.
I hope everyone has a good week and a good Valentine’s Day. My Valentine’s Day highlight will be watching NXT Takeover: Vengeance Day where my girl Toni Storm will hopefully dethrone Io Shirai and become the new NXT Women’s Champion and then NXT will be running on Toni time.