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Winfree’s WWE Smackdown Review 1.01.21

January 1, 2021 | Posted by Robert Winfree
WWE Smackdown 1-1-21, NXT
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Winfree’s WWE Smackdown Review 1.01.21  

Hello everyone, and welcome to 2021. I’m Robert Winfree, giving you all the details on what goes down on WWE Smackdown these days. Tonight Roman Reigns has requested time to talk, likely setting up his program going into the Royal Rumble, they’re trying to make the tag team of Bayley and Carmella a thing so they’ll be in action again. Also newly crowned Intercontinental champion Big E is in action against. . . *sigh* King Corbin. Imagine being Big E, spinning your wheels for 2 months post New Day break up, finally get in gear by winning the IC title and get stuck in a program right away with King Fuckface (still miss you Larry)? That’s gotta suck. Let’s see how WWE kicks off 2021 then.

We open with the “In Memory of” template for the recently passed Jon Huber.

A video recap of the Owens and Reigns feud starts us off, their TLC match and the steel cage match last week being highlighted. That leads us to the usual commentary intro.

Universal champion Roman Reigns makes his way to the ring along with his entourage. I’m going to have to start timing Roman’s entrance, despite the small ramp he might take longer than Undertaker used to. Eventually Roman is in the ring with a mic. Production is late cutting the “crowd noise” again. Roman wishes us all Happy New Year, and remarks that 2020 was rough but when you’re the head of the table you make it work. He says everything he touches turns to greatness, runs down the history of Paul Heyman and how Roman saved Heyman after Heyman was discarded before calling him genuine and honest. Then look at Jey, a prime example of what he can do for you. Once Jey started listening he had the best year of his career, main eventing and having barn burners, all because he acknowledged Roman. Roman says he always knew Jey could do this, everyone saw him as just a twin but he saw Main Event Uso. He always knew Jey could handle the pressure. Kevin Owens decides to interrupt the goings on. He stands at the top of the ramp with a mic. Roman cuts off his music and says no one cares about Owens, likening him to a cockroach who just wont go away. He hopes Owens invested the payday Roman gave him well, because now Owens is just embarrassing the show and he doesn’t want him anywhere near him. Tonight is about Jey and the family, no one cares about Owens. Owens says being out here is embarrassing for Roman, because despite all the abuse the fact that Owens is standing means that Roman and his family failed. Despite the attempts to end his career he’s still here, and Roman should be embarrassed at how much help from Jey he needed to beat Owens twice. Owens says he doesn’t want anything to do with Roman tonight either, he wants to fight Jey Uso tonight. Despite everything they’ve done to him, Owens is going to make Jey pay. He promises that once he’s done with Jey tonight that Roman’s family will have nothing to celebrate. Solid work from all parties again, looks like the Owens issue will continue through the Rumble.

Video recap of the lumberjack match last week when Big E became IC champion. Big E comes out after that, he’ll be in action against King Corbin next.

Match #1: Big E vs. King Corbin w/ Cutler and Blake

Sami Zayn is on commentary, so I’m muting. They tie up, then Corbin gets a side head lock. Corbin tries a shoulder tackle but neither man moves. They run the ropes then Big E floors Corbin with an elbow. Some gator rolls from Big E, then Corbin lands a kick and a clothesline. Elbows from Corbin, they start trading rights then Corbin posts Big E through the ropes. Big E tosses Corbin to the apron but runs into a knee strike. Corbin runs into a Big Ending, Zayn jumps Big E and this one is thrown out.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Big E won via disqualification

Rating: DUD

Barely a match, just a way to kill time before trying the post match angle.

Zayn along with Cutler and Blake mug Big E for a bit. But Apollo Crews is here to clean house, he tosses Zayn onto Cutler and Blake on the outside to stand tall as we head to break.

Match #2: Big E and Apollo Crews vs. Sami Zayn and King Corbin w/ Blake and Cutler

Crews is getting the better of Zayn as we come back from break. Zayn tags out. Corbin smacks Crews with a right, Zayn tags himself back in now and lands some blows then tags Corbin back in. Corbin throws Crews out, annoys Big E and distracts the ref so one of the hooded goons can attack Crews (I can’t tell them apart in those get ups). Zayn tags himself back in, throws Crews out of the ring again and tries to recreate what just happened but Blake and Cutler don’t listen to Zayn they only listen to Corbin. Crews hits a snap power slam back in the ring. Big E takes the hot tag, and Zayn tags Corbin. Big E with belly to belly suplexes. He wants the big splash, and gets it. Corbin avoids a Big Ending, and Big E runs into a deep six for a near fall. Zayn is still arguing with Blake and Cutler on the floor, Crews tagged in and runs wild on Corbin but Corbin decks him then Zayn tags himself in. Zayn almost kicks Corbin, Corbin and Zayn argue some more. Corbin and his goons have had enough of Zayn and they leave. Crews his an enziguri then a spinning powerbomb to pin Zayn.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Big E and Apollo Crews won

Rating: 1.5 stars

More angle than match, while I like heels having personalities and occasionally having friction despite being similarly aligned, that got old in a hurry.

In the back Owens has found Adam Pearce, he makes his case for his match. Owens runs down his history with Pearce from the indy scene, but Pearce wont bend. He offers Owens a match against anyone except Jey, Owens says sure, he’ll take Roman. Pearce is frustrated, Owens makes his case again and Pearce says fine. He can have a match with Jey Uso tonight, but the way he’s looking that seems more ominous than anything. That sends us to break.

In the back Big E and Crews walk and talk before Kayla runs up on them. She asks Big E about his title reign. He says fans have been celebrating all around the world, name drops Rochester and the names of Brodie Lee/Luke Harper’s family. He says he’ll be a fighting champion, he wants to defend the belt next week. Apollo Crews accepts, and notes Big E might not be so lucky next week when Crews doesn’t have his back. They both laugh.

Match #3- Tag Team Bout: Riott Squad (Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott) vs. Natalya and Tamina w/ Billie Kay

So Kay’s adventures have led her to be more of a manager I guess? Natalya and Morgan start us off. Shoulder block from Natalya, they run the ropes then Morgan with a victory roll for 2. Natalya shoves her down and argues with Kay, who wont shut up at ring side. Riott tags in, they double drop kick Natalya. Natalya tags out, Riott with some stick and move on Tamina but eventually runs into a punch. Riott fights out of the corner, tags in Morgan who runs wild. Blind tag to Riott, they hit a double STO for a near fall. Kay has moved around to the Riott Squad’s corner and is cheering them on. They eject her. Tamina hits a super kick on Riott, bad one but Riott sells it. Morgan with a roll up for the win as Tamina was distracted by Kay.

OFFICIAL RESULT: The Riott Squad won

Rating: 1.5 stars

Kay tries to celebrate with the Riott Squad, they don’t really want anything to do with her though. Again, more angle than match and this Billie Kay stuff really does need some kind of conclusion or direction change soon.

Sasha Banks makes her way out next, she’ll team with Bianca Belair against Carmella and Bayley after this break.

Match #4 – Tag Team Bout: Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair vs. Carmella w/ Reginald the Sommelier and Bayley

Belair and Carmella start us off. Carmella out quicks Belair, but once they tie up Belair over powers her. Carmella escapes and tags out, but Bayley runs into a drop kick. Bayley gets tossed out of the ring, Carmella follows suit. On the outside Banks and Belair with some tandem work, back into the ring and we get another commercial break. Odd pacing there.

We come back and the heels are in control. Bayley and Belair are legal, Bayley runs into a kick, Belair tries to tag out but Bayley cuts her off. Banks takes a swing at Bayley but misses. Bayley ties up the arm of Belair in the ropes and goes to work on it. Carmella tagged in and she starts laying in kicks. More work on the arm of Belair, Bayley back in and rolls up Belair for 2. Belair hits a vertical suplex but can’t tag out before Carmella gets in and takes out Banks on the apron. Belair with an inside cradle, Carmella kicks out the lands a super kick to the body of Belair. Carmella back to the arm, but Belair with a scoop slam and tags out. Banks trash talks Carmella, then they start brawling. Banks with a knee strike, then a slingshot meteora, and a running drop kick in the corner. Ugly as sin shining wizard from Banks, but Bayley breaks up the pin attempt. Belair tosses Bayley out of the ring then tries to tag in. Bayley grabs the braid of Belair, but Belair uses it to slam Bayley into the ring steps and hits a suplex on the outside. Back in the ring Carmella with a roll up for 2, then a series of super kicks to the body and head. Banks avoids a bronco buster, then locks in the Bank Statement but Reginald pulls Carmella out of the ring then heads in to get punked, but he escapes with acrobatics to distract Banks. The distraction doesn’t matter at all as Banks attacks Carmella but only gets a 2 count. Carmella with a Mella Buster and pins Banks to win.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Bayley and Carmella won

Rating: 2 stars

Like all of these matches broken up by commercial breaks you don’t need to see anything before the break. The action was pretty good when it got going.

In the back Roman and co hear that Jey and Owens have a match tonight. Roman is annoyed, after everything he does for this company someone still made this match against his wishes. Apparently he’s not appreciated. He tells Heyman to find out who doesn’t appreciate him.

Back in the ring, the Street Profits are here. You know, in case you need a recap of the past hour of action. They head to the ring as we get a commercial break.

Back from break, and Sonya Deville walks around. Then back to the ring where the Street Profits have a set up. Ford sings a bit, and welcomes us to the New Year’s Day smoke-tacular. Dawkins does a lot of “Yeeeeeaaaaaah-ing” before telling 2020 to get the hell out of here. Ford brings up that they won both sets of tag team titles in 2020 so it wasn’t all bad, including how they beat the New Day and won 2 Slammy awards. Dawkins says 2021 will be bigger, they have something to reveal apparently. They remove a cloth to show a drum set. Dawkins sits to play, Ford then has predictions for the near year. Ford says not everyone can become a high class fashion designer, but their designed shirt for the IC title will become the highest selling shirt all year. That cuts to them mocking Sami Zayn a few weeks ago with the “I Was the Intercontinental Champion” shirt. Ford promises that we all get predictions. He predicts that Ziggler will get the nickname he deserves, the Heartache Kid since he keeps stealing Shawn Michaels’ gimmicks. Roode and Ziggler with a Pearl Harbor job, they lay out the Profits with super kicks. Roode gets a chair and lays into Dawkins with it then tosses him over the barricade into the sea of monitors. They wrap Ford’s leg around the ring post a few times, then Ziggler slams it with a chair. Roode with some chair shots now, they mock the Profits as they head back. That sends us to break. The segment took a bit too long for my taste, and I’m really tired of these two teams facing each other but the beat down was well executed if nothing else.

A video recap of what just happened in case you missed it. In the back Ziggler and Roode walk into Kaylay, who asks about the attack. Ziggler says the Profits have been provoking them for months, and Ziggler wasn’t going to stand there and be insulted by being compared to a broken down has been. Roode says what just happened is on the Profits heads, they want the tag team titles. Ziggler says he and Roode look like champions and professionals, they want, nay they demand a rematch for the tag team titles and will not stop until they get what they want. Decent promo, but these two have been goofs for so long I can’t take them seriously.

Match #5 – Tag Team Match: Daniel Bryan and Otis w/ Chad Gable vs. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura

Apparently this was set up earlier today when Bryan was doing homoerotic training with Otis and Gable. Cesaro and Nakamura mocked them for it. Nakamura mocked Bryan’s goal of winning the Rumble, crazy to think Nakamura has won that while Bryan hasn’t given how their WWE career’s have gone. Cesaro and Bryan start us off. Side headlock from Cesaro, then he tackles Bryan down. Monkey flip from Bryan, Cesaro bulls him into the corner and tags in Nakamura. Nakamura grabs a side headlock. Bryan around behind, hits a couple of mat returns but Nakamura gets to the corner and tags out. Bryan dives onto Cesaro, but Cesaro catches him and hits the Swiss Death on the floor. Otis comes charging to chase them off and we get a commercial break.

We come back with Nakamura working over Bryan with kicks and stomps. Bryan tossed over the top rope, then Cesaro tagged. Cesaro with an elbow drop then grabs a chinlock. Bryan tries to fight back but runs into a blackhole slam. Cesaro tosses Bryan out of the ring again then tags out. Nakamura with knees on the outside, then back into the ring for a 2 count. Nakamura puts Bryan on the top rope, then lands a roundhouse kick. Bryan reverses a throw attempt and tosses Nakamura over the top rope. Otis wants in, Nakamura tags Cesaro but Bryan makes it to Otis. Otis replicates domestic arson then a running discus lariat. Avalanche in the corner, Cesaro is down. Otis with the Caterpillar but Nakamura breaks up the pin attempt. Vader bomb attempt from Otis but Cesaro avoids and tags Nakamura. Nakamura tries a kinshasha but Otis hits a flapjack and both men are down. Otis tags Bryan, Bryan with a diving sunset flip for a near fall. European uppercuts from Bryan, but he runs into a super kick from Nakamura. Flying armbar from Nakamura, Otis in with a flying headbutt to break that up. Cesaro in to attack Otis, and both men kick him from the ring. Bryan with a knee plus to Cesaro, Nakamura with a roll up but Bryan counters into the Yes Lock and Nakamura taps.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Otis and Bryan won

Rating: 2.5 stars

Given the assemblage of talent this match had it was almost never going to be bad, it’s a shame it wasn’t better for that same reason though.

In the back Heyman tells Roman that Pearce made the main event match. Roman tells Jey they’re trying to take everything they’ve worked for, and tells Jey to demonstrate why he’s Main Event Uso.

Back in the ring, Kevin Owens is head to the ring for the main event, which should kick off after this commercial break.

Back from break, commentary talks about upcoming stuff before cutting to Owens in the ring. Jey Uso makes his way down for the match.

Match #6: Kevin Owens vs. Jey Uso

Quick double leg from Owens and they start brawling on the mat. Owens gets the better of that and starts laying in stomps. Jey heads out of the ring, Owens follows him and clotheslines him down then hits a senton. Back into the ring, another senton from Owens and he gets a near fall on the follow up cover. Owens starts working the left leg of Jey. Jey lands a right but Owens hits him harder and drops him. More work on the leg of Jey. Owens slams the leg of Jey over the ring apron a few times, then tells Jey he’s going to pay even though this isn’t his fault. Rights from Owens, then back to the leg. Owens with some decent trash talk, Jey lands a couple of rights. Jey avoids a stunner and hits a super kick, both men are down now. Jey tries to fly off the steps, he’s supposed to run into a super kick from Owens but misses. Owens tosses Jey over the announce table, then gets into the ring to yell at Roman through the camera and we head to break.

Back, they’re fighting on the top rope. Jey shoves Owens off, tries to fly at him but Owens avoids and Jey lands on his leg and starts limping. Stunner from Owens and we’re done here.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Kevin Owens won

Rating: 2 stars

Decent match, a few missed ques aside, but this is more about the overall story than the match.

Post match Owens with another kick to the leg and a stunner. Owens takes the headset from Graves and invites Roman to come take care of his family. Hand cuffs from Owens, he cuffs Jey to the ropes and super kicks him. Owens stomps on Jey for a bit, again calls for Roman to come help his family. More abuse for Jey, then Owens uncuffs the cuff on the rope. He cuffs Jey’s hands together, then drags Jey up the ramp, promising to take this to Roman if Roman won’t come to him. Jey tries to fight back but Owens cuts him off easily. There’s a table, convenient that, and Owens super kicks Jey onto it. Owens sets to splash Jey through the table, but Roman cuts him off with a spear. I think it was a spear as that was a horrible camera angle. Owens and Roman brawl, but Jey joins forces and they double team Owens. Jey has stopped selling, per usual. Both Roman and Jey get chairs and lay into Owens with them. Owens wont stay down, but he eats a super kick from Jey. They’re near the edge, above that conveniently placed table. Roman batters Owens for a bit then throws him off the ledge through the tables below. Roman and Jey stare down at the fallen Owens as we close the show. Very well executed ending, but Jey’s spotty selling and the inability of Owens to gain any kind of upper hand over even Roman’s minions is hurting the feud a bit at this point.

The final score: review Good
The 411
This might be a bit generous on my part, the action from the first hour or so bordered on bad more often than not and seemed to be aimed at angles rather than wrestling. Roman's strong promo and character work continue, but Owens needs to actually get some kind of upper hand over him sooner rather than later or this risks becoming too repetitive. That said, Roman and Owens work very well together so hopefully some kind of new wrinkle is coming. Bryan and Otis vs. Cesaro and Nakamura was predictably good, but also sadly predictable. On the whole the show began pretty strong, and ended pretty strong. The stuff in the middle continues to just kind of exist, an issue they need to iron out.

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WWE Smackdown, Robert Winfree