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Join 411’s Live WWE Smackdown Coverage

January 15, 2021 | Posted by Robert Winfree
WWE Smackdown

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Hey there everyone, Winfree back again for WWE Smackdown. Tonight the blue brand continues on towards the Royal Rumble, now that WWE middle management official Adam Pearce has been maneuvered into the title match against Roman Reigns we have to see what follows. Will Roman’s crusade of abuse and manipulation continue? Will Pearce try to beg off or throw himself into one more shot at wrestling glory? Hopefully we’ll get some answers. Also tonight Shinsuke Nakamura looks for some retribution for the beat down last week, and losing out on a title shot, when he battles Main Event Jey Uso. This should be a decent indicator of Nakamura’s plans, is he going right back down to the lower mid-card or will he stick around the title orbit? The newly crowned Smackdown tag team champions Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode will probably address us in some capacity, and intercontinental champion Big E should be around. There’s also a severe lack of clarity in the women’s division at the moment, Carmella pinned Sasha Banks in a tag team match a couple of weeks ago and should be looking to get another crack at the belt while everyone else summarily declares themselves for the Rumble. Anyway, let’s see what WWE has in store for us this time around.

The standard video recap of last week. A reminder that Roman’s opening promo from last week was genuinely great.

In the back Roman reads papers, it’s the contract for his match with Pearce at the Royal Rumble. It was delivered only a couple of minutes ago, Heyman goes over how standard it is, but Roman doesn’t like it. Heyman agrees, he thinks it needs a stipulation, something that will let Roman be Roman. He offers to take the contract off of Roman’s hands, and when he takes it tells Roman to consider the matter handled. Heyman plays off of Roman incredibly well, Roman has to do so little to incite a big reaction from him.

Now to the ring, where Jey Uso has gone from Main Event Jey to Curtain Jerker Jey. Oh, he’s got a mic, and welcomes us to the show. But it’s not Friday Night Smackdown anymore, it’s The Bloodline show because the Bloodline runs it. Not Pearce, or Owens, or anyone other than his family. He says Pearce will wish he put the suit back on at the Rumble, odd point given how they forced him into it. Jey says they’re not satisfied with just Smackdown and reminds everyone they should thank Roman Reigns for every bit of success the show enjoys. As far as the right hand man goes, he’s going to get his and declares himself for the Rumble and plans on winning. He wants to go to RAW and beat whoever the champ is at Wrestlemania and the Bloodline will be the whole WWE. But before that he’s got business with Nakamura tonight. He runs down what Nakamura did last week, but as soon as the Bloodline said no more he was done. He says Nakamura should thank them for letting him survive as long as he did. Nakamura’s music interrupts him from continuing. Oh sweet, he’s back to the face/original version. Jey isn’t a bad promo but he doesn’t handle longform well, and this kind of set up does him no favors.

Nakamura has a mic, he says if Roman is the big dog then that makes Jey just the little puppy. Kick from Nakamura to drop Jey, he takes a bow then poses as we hit break. Jey and Nakamura will fight next.

Match #1: Jey Uso vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

The bell rings as we come back and they start trading blows. Nakamura gets the better of that, then a snapmare and jumping knee for a near fall. They run the ropes, and Nakamura runs into a back elbow. Scoop slam from Jey for a 1 count. Back to trading blows, Nakamura gets thrown into the corner to cut that off though. Wheel kick from Nakamura then knees to the shoulder and head on the mat. Gordbuster from Nakamura then more knees to the body and head. Nakamura grabs a rear chinlock, then tosses Jey into the corner. Jey drops to the outside, and Cesaro’s music hits and here’s the Swiss Superman himself. Nakamura with a baseball slide to Jey, then he tosses him into the ring post as Cesaro saunters around the ring and we head to break. Cesaro going heel here is going to break my heart.

We come back to Nakamura still dominating while Cesaro has joined commentary. Jey lands an enziguri on the apron, as commentary calls Cesaro out for not helping Nakamura last week. Cesaro says he was lost at Tropicana Field and only arrived after the show was off air. Jey jaw jacks with Cesaro, then resumes attacking Nakamura. Cesaro says he’s in the Rumble, and promises to eliminate Daniel Bryan in the Rumble. Jey still in control as Nakamura slumps in the corner. Hip attack from Jey, then stomps. Nakamura lands a jumping kick on a charging Jey and both men are down. Kicks from Nakamura, aiming at the body and legs, then a kitchen sink knee and sliding knee. Jey lands a kick in the corner, Nakamura with the sliding German suplex for a near fall. I don’t know what changed in Nakamura lately but he’s caring again. Jey counters a reverse exploder into a Samoan drop for a near fall. They trade strikes again, Jey with a back suplex into a neckbreaker for a 2 count. Jey to the top rope, taking his sweet time and Nakamura rolls away from him. Jey back after Nakamura, Nakamura with a diving knee to drop Jey but again just a 2 count. Nakamura wants the kinshasha, but runs into a super kick. Jey up for the splash, he runs into the knees of Nakamura though. Both men up, Jey avoids a corner rush and rolls up Nakamura but uses the ropes for leverage and the ref catches the cheating. Jey and the ref arguye, then Nakamura hits the distracted Jey with a kinshasha to win.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Shinsuke Nakamura won

Rating: 2.5 stars

Nakamura seems to have found his motivation, and it’s great to see. My only complaint here was the somewhat spotty nature of the match, they just kind of went from sequence to sequence rather than tell a story between these two.

In the back Sonya Deville talks with Pearce, she says she’s looked up Pearce’s matches on Youtube and thinks he has a shot. Pearce downplays that, and Heyman is here to deliver the new contract. Heyman says this is the opportunity of a lifetime, Pearce can main event the Royal Rumble PPV, a shot at the Universal title and the biggest star in all of sports entertainment. Not only that, the stipulation are designed to help Pearce. There will be no disqualifications, Pearce says this is ridiculous, everyone knows it’s ridiculous, but he signs anyway, because everyone knows all they want is Pearce injured and this will guarantee that. I’m not sure if Pearce stumbled over something there or not. Anyway a grinning Heyman sends us to break.

In the back Jey argues with Charles Robinson about the count. Jey says he’s got to do his job better, and threatens Charles’ job if he doesn’t do his job.

We get a recap of the Street Profits and Dirty Dawgs issue. In the back with Kayla are the Street Profits. The Profits run down some things they could be called, but they are never scared no matter the odds. They mention how long they reigned as champions, of course they accepted the challenge. Some insults for Roode and Ziggler follow, but they acknowledge them as champions before saying they’ll be after their rematch. They promise to drop bodies like Blumhouse when they come back for the smoke. OK, that was a pretty good line.

Roman Reigns holds court with Apollo Crews, and then Heyman delivers the contract. He tells Crews to stick around and learn something. Roman wont sign, he doesn’t want a no DQ, he never said he wanted a no DQ, he wants a Last Man Standing match. Heyman says Pearce wont go for that, Roman says he’ll make him go for it when they sign their contract in the ring tonight. Now Roman considers the matter handled. He and Crews resume talking as the scene switches.

Commentary remind us of what’s coming before we go to break.

We come back to Natalya in the ring with Tamina in her corner.

Match #2: Natalya w/ Tamina vs. Liv Morgan w/ Ruby Riott and Billie Kay

Kay awkwardly trying to fit in with Morgan and Riott is at least baseline amusing. Billie joins commentary as Morgan and Natalya tie up. Morgan runs the ropes and hits a hurricanrana. Greco-roman knuckle lock, Natalya gets the better of the strength then Morgan with a monkey flip. Natalya gets a wheelbarrow set up and drops Morgan over the top rope. Strikes from Natalya, she trash talks with Morgan then hits a snap suplex. Natalya lands a kick to the back then tries another suplex but Morgan counters with an inside cradle for a near fall, then runs into a clothesline from Natalya. Modified backbreaker from Natalya, Morgan gets to the ropes and lands on the apron. They trade punches, then Morgan with a sunset flip for 2. Kicks from Morgan then an enziguri. Running knee to the face of Natalya and some stomps from Morgan. Natalya with a discus clothesline for 2, then tries the sharpshooter but another roll up from Morgan for 2. Morgan hits the codebreaker for 2. Kay is ringside yelling at the ref, Tamina intimidates her. Kay into the ring, distracts Morgan and Natalya rolls up Morgan for the win.


Rating: 1 star

Not sure if that wasn’t a dud, but I’ll be generous. I have no idea what they’re doing with Billie Kay, maybe they’re having her just be bad luck for whoever she’s with? Either way these five women have been working each other a lot and we need some variety here.

Rey Mysterio heading out for his match with Corbin, which will start after this commercial break.

Back from break, and Corbin is coming down alone. Did someone explain that a lone wolf isn’t, you know, LONE if he’s got an entourage?

Match #3: Rey Mysterio w/ Dominick vs. King Corbin

Dominick is on commentary, he mocks Cole’s age and instantly becomes the best babyface in the company. Rey runs into a goozle, then hurricanrana’s Corbin into the corner. Corbin tosses Rey into the corner and hits a norther lariat then trash talks Dominick. Corbin doing Corbin things, like curing insomnia. Rey with a wheelbarrow bulldog, but Corbin just tosses him under the ropes then hits a lariat on the floor. Corbin shoves Dominick and mocks him then they head back into the ring. There’s a lot of talk trying to encourage Dominick to get involved physically, as Corbin works Corbin based offense. Some more insults from Corbin to Dominick, Rey tries a drop kick to the knee, misses but Corbin sells it anyone. Rey with a top rope seated senton but Corbin catches him on the follow up cross body. Rey onto the shoulders of Corbin, then hurricanrana’s him into the ropes but Corbin counters a 619 attempt with a deep six for a 2 count. Corbin runs into a kick, he’s outside of the ring and avoids a baseball slide from Rey. Dominick stands up to Corbin, Corbin with a right to Dominick but Rey flies in with a 619 under the bottom rope. Dominick wants in the ring, Rey talks him out of it but that allows Corbin to hit the End of Days and win.

OFFICIAL RESULT: King Fuckface Corbin won

Rating: 1 star

Really uninteresting match, coupled with an uninteresting and very tired wrestling story about a wrestling son dealing with his father. We’ve seen this for decades if not longer, it’s just not interesting.

In the back Adam Pearce walks and happens to encounter Paul Heyman. Pearce wants to know if Roman signed their contract yet, Heyman says no. And Pearce will be happy to hear it was because Roman agreed with Pearce about the no DQ stipulation. Heyman with his usual sell job, before dropping the Last Man Standing. Pearce is annoyed, he’s about to sign when Heyman says Roman wants the signing to be in the ring tonight. Heyman says he’ll leave Pearce with his thoughts and walks off.

They’re setting up Bayley’s new talk show, Ding Dong, Hello!. Good Lord, who thought trying to get that phrase over was a good idea? Anyway that sends us to break.

In the back Dominick and Rey talk. Rey says he’s not backing down from Corbin, he’s being smart. Rey runs down Corbin’s accolades, Dominick doesn’t care what he’s done. Seeing his sons determination, Rey says he knows just who to talk to about getting Corbin.

It’s Ding Dong time, Bayley says her show is already bigger than WandaVision. Sure. She introduces her first guest, Bianca Belair. Belair comes down, Bayley makes her enter through the giant door in the ring facing the hard cam. Belair steals Bayley’s seat, forcing Bayley to take the stool. She decides to just stand anyway, and then congratulates Belair on her upcoming special on the WWE Network. Bayley has a sneak preview of that for us, and cuts to a clip of Bayley pinning Belair a few weeks ago. Back in the ring Bayley apologizes, that wasn’t the footage she wanted. She asks Belair about her EST nickname, then tries to diminish Belair’s accomplishments. Belair wants to know why her confidence offends Bayley. Bayley wants to know if her beating Belair makes her the best? Belair says they can have a rematch whenever, Bayley defers. Bayley instead offers an obstacle course race next week between the two of them. Belair laughs at her, but ultimately accepts. They trade barbs off mic as the segment ends.

Some “Earlier Today” footage in the back sees Chad Gable training Otis and Bryan in proper hip mechanics ahead of the Rumble. Kayla interviews them, Bryan says the pursuit of excellence never ends for Gable and Otis, and if this training helps him even a little to win the Rumble it’s worth it. Asked about losing last week to Nakamura, Bryan puts him over and Cesaro comes up. Cesaro says Bryan isn’t Nakamura’s friend, Cesaro is, and calls the handshake last week a pity gesture from Nakamura. Cesaro mocks the training methods, Bryan challenges him to a match.

Bryan heads to the ring, his match with Cesaro will be next.

Back from break, Cesaro is in the ring.

Match #4: Daniel Bryan vs. Cesaro

They tie up, Cesaro with a side headlock takeover. Bryan fights back up, and Cesaro with a shoulder block then grabs the head again. Back up, Bryan hits a deep armdrag and starts after the arm of Cesaro. Bryan with an arm breaker, then a hammerlock. Cesaro gets to the corner to force a break then lands an elbow and an uppercut. Running European uppercut from Cesaro, but Bryan avoids a second one and lands kicks to the body and leg. Bryan with a running drop kick in the corner then a diving armbar takedown. Some more arm work from Bryan, he’s after a modified Fujiwara armbar, Cesaro rolls through and hits a scoop slam. Cesaro is after the back of Bryan now, they start trading blows then Cesaro with an STO. Cover from Cesaro, Bryan bridges out and then monkey flips Cesaro into the ropes. He was meant to go over the ropes there it looks like, because he landed awkwardly then rolls out of the ring. Bryan top rope and dives onto Cesaro then starts laying in kicks. Cesaro ducks a kick against the post, Bryan kicks the ring post and drops clutching his leg as we head to break.

Cesaro is cut from that botch I think, given the prohibition on blading it can’t have been intentional. Cesaro is in control with blows, they start trading European uppercuts. Bryan back flips out of the corner, sells the leg but drop toe holds a charging Cesaro then punts the left arm of Cesaro. Bryan with a spinning armbar takedown then the Yes lock, Cesaro powers out of it and starts stomping the legs. Big Swing from Cesaro, then into the sharpshooter. Cesaro sells the arm even on offense, because he’s a professional dammit. Bryan drags them towards the fence, Cesaro tries to switch to a crossface, Bryan counters into the Yes Lock. Amazing sequence. Bryan has the Yes Lock set up, but Cesaro is too close to the ropes and is able to force a break. Back to the arm for Bryan, and he sets Cesaro on the top rope. Top rope hurricanrana attempt, Cesaro blocks it, hoists Bryan up and hits a twisting superplex! Cesaro with a cover but only gets 2. Seated strikes from Cesaro, he wants the Neuralizer, Bryan slips free, lands a kick and tries a backslide but only gets 2. Bryan with a couple of kicks, but collapses after 2 because he’s selling the leg like a professional. Bryan wants the knee plus, but Cesaro counters with the Swiss Death, into the Neutralizer and Cesaro pins Bryan.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Cesaro pinned Daniel Bryan

Rating: 3 stars

Give those two twenty minutes or so and they’ll deliver quality work every time. Great TV match.

In the back Kayla gets to interview Carmella, who’s still got Reginald Sommelier with her. Carmella says Banks can’t touch her natural talent and everyone knows it. Banks has been absent ever since Carmella pinned her, that’s basically the cue for Banks to come from off camera and shove Carmella down. Banks will give Carmella a title shot if Banks can get Reggie in a match first. Reginald seems scared, while Carmella seems down for that arrangement.

Apollo Crews heads to the ring, he’ll have a match against Sami “QAnon” Zayn next.

Crews is in the ring as we come back, and we recap Heyman talking with Crews on Talking Smack. Sami Zayn heads down next, he’s got his documentarians but no mic this time. Big E is on a random couch by commentary, he’s joining them for the match.

Match #5: Apollo Crews vs. Sami Zayn

Crews unloads with a drop kick and rights early, then an overhead belly to belly throw. Zayn lands a few elbows, then avoids a clothesline and sends Crews over the top rope. Everyone out of the ring now, Zayn with some jabs, but Crews fights back and slams Zayn into the announce table then moonsaults onto him. Back in the ring, Zayn catches Crews on the top rope. Zayn with a jumping elbow, he can’t keep Crews down though. Crews avoids an elbow and hits a German suplex. Crews catches a kick, and hits a press slam into the corner then an enziguri. Standing moonsault attempt from Crews, Zayn counters with an inside cradle, Crews kicks out. Zayn with another rollup, he grabs the tights though and the ref sees it then breaks the count. Zayn with an exploder into the corner, tries the helluva kick but Crews avoids, rolls up with a handful of tights and wins.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Apollo Crews won

Rating: 1.5 stars

I’m not sure that match needed that much time, if we’re rehabbing Crews he should have done more squashing than going even with the character Zayn presents.

Post match Crews takes the title from Big E, then gives it back to him as they talk trash to each other.

Pearce walks in the back, his contract signing with Roman will be after this break.

We come back from break to news that next week Crews will challenge Big E again for the Intercontinental title, and of course that obstacle course segment. Roman’s music hits, he’s here with his entourage. I really should time one of Roman’s entrances, because he’s rivaling Taker in terms of taking his sweet time. Roman does eventually get into the ring, where the table is set up. Pearce comes out, he has no music and is still wearing his suit while carrying the contract.

Pearce sits at the table, Roman stalks around behind him, then stands at the head of the table. He wants the chair Pearce is sitting in, because he’s just that big of a dick. Pearce stands, Roman takes his chair and Pearce moves to the other side of the table. Heyman says Pearce stalling isn’t good TV. Pearce signs and passes the contract to Roman while Heyman calls Pearce passive aggressive. Well if anyone would know. Heyman hands Roman a pen and Roman signs, then says that’ll be the last contract Pearce ever signs. Pearce gets a mic and says he ‘s been waiting all night for that, then collects the contract and heads out of the ring. Roman looks confused for the first time, Pearce starts limping as he’s heading up the ramp. He says his knee’s been bothering him, just one of those old injuries that creeps up at the worst time. But don’t worry, standard WWE contracts say “Card Subject to Change” and as an official Pearce reserves the right to name his own replacement. Since he wont be medically cleared by then, he’s got a replacement in mind. The music of Kevin Owens hits, Owens comes out and signs the contract to take on Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble. Roman looks deeply frustrated, barely suppressing rage as the show foes off the air.

Pearce’s mic had some issues during that segment, which didn’t help matters, but Roman finally getting out maneuvered was a necessary wrinkle to this part of the story.

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WWE Smackdown, Robert Winfree