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Winfree’s WWE Smackdown Review 1.22.21

January 22, 2021 | Posted by Robert Winfree
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Winfree’s WWE Smackdown Review 1.22.21  

Hey there everyone, Winfree back at it as WWE Smackdown continues rolling on. In the wake of Kevin Owens returning and signing to face Roman Reigns for the Universal title at the Royal Rumble in a Last Man Standing bout that particular narrative is sure to continue building. There’s also the question of what’s going on with Shinsuke Nakamura, who seems to have turned babyface while his good buddy Cesaro is still heeling it up. Speaking of Cesaro, he beat Daniel Bryan last week in a really good match so we’ll have to see what kind of momentum those two can build. Apollo Crews is getting a rematch for Big E’s Intercontinental title this week, and after he was seen taking advice from Roman and Heyman recently we’ll have to see if that pays dividends in his title match.

We open with a video recap of the Pearce and Roman saga, leading to the return of Kevin Owens. WWE’s video packages continue to be generally excellent.

Live intro now, and here comes Roman Reigns. Roman is finally in the ring, he’s got Paul Heyman with him but no Jey Uso in sight. Heyman hands the mic to Roman as post production keeps yousuck.mp3 going too long. Roman says Kevin Owens will not be here tonight, because he said so. Last week “Card Subject to Change” was a clever ploy, but he objects to the notion that anyone was outsmarted here. That way of thinking is beneath him, losers care about tricks. Roman doesn’t miss appearances, he shows up and puts in work. It took his health being at risk during a pandemic to keep him out of the ring. But what if he was a puss like Pearce? What if he complained about any of his injuries, no one would doubt him because of all the work he’s put in. He could could list his shoulder, elbows, knees, or the ankles that have been bad since college. But mostly it’s his back, because he’s been carrying this damn company for years. What if his back keeps hurting through the PPV and he can’t make it?

Pearce comes out now, saying this has gone too far. He says this is spiraling out of control. Roman mocks Pearce’s control. What’s truly out of control is that Pearce would try to go against Roman and put Owens back in harms way. He calls out Pearce’s favoring Owens, calls him Owens’ bitch which really makes him Roman’s bitch. But what he really can’t stand is the audacity of Pearce complaining about injuries after being out of action for 6 years. Especially when he’s standing next to a man who does it all and never complains like Roman. Roman is firing up, and says it’s no wonder Pearce never made it here as a wrestler. Pearce asks why if Heyman finds that funny, he does. Pearce will take the intimidation from Roman, but he wont take the disrespect from Heyman. Roman says Pearce is disrespecting Heyman, which is just like disrespecting Roman, then tells Heyman to straighten Pearce out. Heyman says his history with the family of Roman since he was 15 years old. He says Pearce thinks he’s an impotent man who can’t handle himself. Heyman says he’ll whip Pearce’s ass if he disrespects his tribal chief like that. He might not be a lawyer but he’s from a synagogue full of them. A verbal agreement is binding in the state of Florida, and offers a match between Pearce and Heyman as the main event tonight. Pearce agrees, and makes it official. Roman warns Pearce to understand that at the end of the night Pearce is going to get his ass kicked, believe that. Roman and Heyman continue to do excellent work on the mic and as their characters.

Sami “Is there any evidence the state of Hawaii actually exists?” Zayn is here with his documentary crew, he handcuffs himself to the barricade with a sign and says he’s not going anywhere as we head to break.

We come back to Zayn ranting. He’s going to be in the Rumble but that’s cold comfort after he was the victim of systemic other buzzwords, thankfully the music of Asuka cuts him off from his rant.

Match #1 – Women’s Tag Team Championship Bout: (c) Asuka 2 belts and Charlotte Flair vs. The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan) w/ Billie Kay

The Squad got the jobber entrance. Charlotte and Riott start us off. They tie up, Charlotte getting a side headlock and taking Riott down. Asuka tags in while Charlotte holds Riott, clothesline from Asuka. Charlotte tags back in, she starts working Riott over in the corner. Billie Kay up on the apron, distracts Charlotte and Riott tags out to Morgan. Morgan in to save Kay with a drop kick. Morgan up top, cross body for a near fall and we head to break.

Charlotte is kicking Morgan down in the corner, commentary says Morgan did well during the break but with the cameras on now Charlotte has to be winning. Riott with a blind tag, Charlotte stalls a tilt a while move, but Riott with some forearms then a cover for a 1 count. We’re getting awful cuts here, constantly moving to either Kay or Zayn instead of watching the action. Charlotte fights out of a double team attempt, chops both Morgan and Riott, tosses Riott out of the ring and slams Morgan. Asuka blind tags, shining wizard but Riott saves the match. Charlotte kicks down Riott, Morgan enziguri’s Charlotte and tries one on Asuka but Asuka catches the leg and gets an ankle lock. German suplex from Asuka, Riott tags in they trade roll ups and Riott might have had the pin but Kay was distracting the ref. Hip attack from Asuka knocks Morgan onto Billie, she hits a high knee, code breaker after Charlotte tags in and Charlotte with the Natural Selection to retain the belts.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Asuka and Charlotte won

Rating: 1.5 stars

The action was OK, but Charlotte’s having to be strong at all times is annoying and the camera work actively detracted from the match. Kay continuing to be a detriment to her friends, guess we’re going that way with her.

We head to break after that.

In the back Billie Kay apologizes to the Squad, Riott says she cost them the titles. Maybe she should add that to her resume. Kay says she’s got both of them into the women’s Rumble match and offers to help them train. Riott says there is no “us”, the Squad was better with just her and Morgan and they head off and Kay is a very sad panda.

Daniel Bryan heads down to the ring in a suit, he laughs at Zayn on his way down. Bryan gets a mic, and mentions how soon the Rumble is, noting he’s very excited to be in it. He tries to explain why he loves that match, not knowing which number you draw, watching the countdown clock, the exhilaration of competing against 29 other people, and calls the match one of the most grueling things you can do in WWE. Ultimately that match makes him feel alive. He reminds us all of the winners prize, then says he’s proud of his career and he’s accomplished a lot but he’s never won a Royal Rumble. Cesaro’s music cuts him off from continuing. Cesaro with a mic, saying he thought he beat sense into him last week. He appreciates Bryan explaining the rules, but he could have done it better and in more languages, then also mocks Zayn as he passes him. Cesaro says he’ll win the Rumble. Bryan says he remembers last week, but instead of talking he’d like to fight Cesaro right now. Cesaro with the old “How about no”. He’s sick and tired of proving himself every week doing the same thing over and over, he already beat Bryan and since Bryan isn’t dressed to wrestle. Instead he offers an open challenge, anyone who’s in the Rumble can come out now and face him.

Of all people, Dolph Ziggler is here. Ziggler brings up he’s been in the second most total Rumble matches, his stamina is unmatched. He says Cesaro is one of the only men who can go with him, not DB because this isn’t 2014 anymore. He tells Bryan to leave the ring, and says he’s accepting Cesaro’s challenge. Heel vs. heel, coming up after the break.

We come back and Bryan has joined commentary.

Match #2: Cesaro vs. Dolph Ziggler

In the ring Ziggler and Cesaro trade pin attempts. Cesaro with a gutwrench attempt, Ziggler escapes and they trade cover attempts again. Into the ropes, Ziggler with a dirty break then jumps for a sleeper hold. Cesaro slams Ziggler into the corner then hits the running European uppercut. Big Swing from Cesaro, a lot of rotations on that one then he covers Ziggler for 2. Ziggler avoids a charge in the corner, gets a roll up for 2. They trade roll ups again, just every indy cover spot jammed into a quick sequence there. Ziggler with a Zig Zag but only for 2. Stop cutting the camera to Zayn when there’s a match going, you Bucky Beaver toothed such-and-such. Ziggler with a knee, Cesaro catches a jumping Ziggler and hits the Neutralizer to win.


Rating: 1.5 stars

Too short to really get going, but they had some fun exchanges. The camera work again cuts about half a star off of the viewing experience.

We get a recap of how Sasha Banks got a shot at Reginald Sommelier up next. Sasha Banks heads to the ring for that match. She points and laughs at Zayn when she saunters past him. Banks does her usual routine on the apron as we head to break.

Back from break and Sasha waits for Reginald. Reginald has no wrestling gear on.

Match #3: Sasha Banks vs. Reginald the Sommelier w/ Carmella

Carmella heads over to join commentary as the round starts. Reginald has a flower he gives to Banks then takes off his jacket. Some French from Reginald, then Banks slaps him. Reginald front flips out of an arm drag. Rear waist lock from Reginald, Banks escapes and gets one, they trade escapes then Reginald heads out of the ring. Some acrobatics from Reginald, Banks with a baseball slide. She tries to throw Reginald around but he again engages acrobatics to escape. Back into the ring they run the ropes, some more overly choreographed stuff ends with a Banks bulldog. Banks misses a meteora in the corner, more evasive moves from Reginald. Reginald gets arm dragged, Banks hits a knee. Up top for Banks, cross body but Reginald catches her. Banks arm drags out of that, Reginald out of the ring but Banks hits a meteora onto him from the apron. Banks over to disrupt Carmella’s drinking. Reginald back flips out of a back stabber attempt, more acrobatics then Banks sort of hits an around the world into the banks statement and Reginald taps.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Sasha Banks won

Rating: .5 stars

If I wanted to see a very choreographed two person gymnastics routine like that I’d watch old America’s Got Talent reruns, it would have had a cleaner finish too. Mostly pointless.

In the back Heyman congratulates Roman on being brilliant. Roman says he gave Heyman that mic to tear Pearce apart verbally, not physically. He says Heyman has to go through with his now, because he hired a man for this job. Heyman represents Roman, and now has to go handle his business like a man. Heyman’s facial expression is gold as Roman tells him to handle his business and we head to break.

We come back to recap Apollo Crews earning a second shot at the IC title last week. Back to live and Big E mocks Zayn with the belt as he’s making his way down.

Match #4 – Intercontinental Championship Bout: (c) Big E vs. Apollo Crews

Crews gets the jobber entrance. Crews tries the hot start again, but runs into a belly to belly suplex. Draped on the apron and Big E hits a splash onto Crews. Crews with a back elbow and kick back in the ring, he avoids a Big Ending and hits a series of kicks then a standing moonsault for 2. German suplex from Crews, he keeps the grip and hits a second, then Big E fights free. ST-Joe in the corner from Big E for a near fall. Crews out of the ring, Big E after him but Crews with a moonsault from the apron onto him. Back into the ring, Crews up top but takes too long and Big E cuts him off. Both men up top, Big E wants a superplex, Crews blocks and headbutts Big E down. Zayn unlocks his handcuffs, Crews on the second rope for a drop kick. Zayn with a helluva kick to Crews to get the match thrown out.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Apollo Crews won via Disqualification

Rating: DUD

More angle than match, these two clearly can have a banger of a match if the booking ever lets them do so.

Zayn with a kick to Big E as well as he complains about injustice.

Commentary says Roman has allegedly left the building, and Owens isn’t here at all. A video message from Owens, who says Roman pulled strings to make sure he couldn’t get into the venue. He says that’s fine, but at the Rumble there aren’t any strings to pull. They’ll settle this once and for all. He tells Roman he can’t stop fighting, because Roman has yet to actually beat him like a champion. Every victory Roman has over him was done because of his family getting involved. He runs down some of his tattoos and what they mean, specifically the initials on his knuckles that are of his grandfathers. He only regrets them passing before he made it to WWE, but they’re always with him. Both of them battled illness that could have made their lives miserable, but because they fought like hell he got more years with them. If they could keep fighting through that until the end, how can he do any less? That’s why he’ll be the last man standing at the Rumble. It was a nice touch for Owens to take things down a notch and put an emotional core into his fight, solid work again from Owens. That sends us to break.

We come back and commentary reminds us again that the Royal Rumble is coming up. You don’t say. In the back the Street Profits are walking while Dawkins carries some kind of gift basket. Ziggler talks with Sonya Deville, they let him walk off then talk with Sonya. They say the basket is for her, but wont give it to her just yet. It’s been 2 weeks since they lost the belts, make fun of Ziggler and Roode, then petition for their rematch. Sonya brings up their time as champion and double Slammy wins last year, but Ford is still hurt (someone tell him that given his selling) she wants them to keep playing Greek Chorus while he recovers and let a few other teams have a shot. Ford appreciates their concern, Dawkins gives her the basket. They’re clearly not happy about that ruling though.

The obstacle course is next, which means another video recap package. That event will happen righter after these commercial messages.

We come back, Cole will be hosting this obstacle course challenge. He introduces the competitors, Bayley takes the mic from Cole and sends him away. She’s supposed to be the heel right? Bayley talks us through the rules, there’s a tire flip then hurdles, wall climb, and a fireman’s carry carrying Chad Gable, then making a basketball shot. Bayley goes first. She takes her time, then just slaloms around the wall climb segment. She lifts Gable and starts walking him the required distance, she does then misses a layup on the first attempt eventually finishing in 1:12. Bianca sets to start, but Bayley wants to “EST” up the course. They replace the low hurdles with real ones, oh how dastardly. Belair on the course, easily goes through the first three parts but she has to carry Otis instead of Gable, she does so with relative ease, then invites Bayley to defend her dunk badly and then does dunk to beat Bayley’s time by 17 seconds. At least no one botched anything and it didn’t take too long. Bayley, the sore loser, chucks the ball into Belair then jumps her. She tosses Belair into the basketball hoop, Cole sells this heinous attack with an awful pun. Bayley heads off as Belair struggles with her arm.

In the back Rey Mysterio is pumping up Dominick for his upcoming match. Rey says they’re doing things Dominick’s way this time but if something goes wrong they go Rey’s way next time. Dominick will wrestle Corbin after the break.

We come back to Corbin in the ring. Dominick heads out next, he’s got his own entrance music and everything.

Match #5: Dominick Mysterio vs. King Corbin

They tie up, Corbin tosses Dominick off but Dominick avoids him and lands body shots then a drop kick. Corbin sends Dominick into the ropes, Dominick with a headscissors takedown, then dives at Corbin but Corbin avoids him and hits a clothesline. Back into the ring and Corbin can finally start doing Corbin things. Body shots in the corner from Corbin, tries the End of Days but Dominick flips free and drop kicks the knee but Corbin counters a 619 attempt and lands a right hand. End of Days and we’re done.

OFFICIAL RESULT: King Corbin won

Rating: DUD

At least it was short, but this Dominick and Rey storyline is just as predictably boring as every other wrestler father and son dynamic like this they’ve done. Plus it forced me to watch a Corbin match.

In the back Heyman walks in a suit, he and Pearce will be up next.

We come back and here’s a video package for last week to set up Pearce and Heyman. Heyman is in a suit but he’s taping up his fists as he heads to the ring. Heyman slips on the ring steps, then a second time and he’s down holding the leg. He brings up the “Card Subject to Change” line to bring out Roman Reigns.

Match #6: Adam Pearce vs. Paul Heyman Roman Reigns

Roman comes in with a superman punch and Pearce is down. Pearce rolls out of the ring, Roman follows him. Roman tries to get the steel steps, Pearce cuts him off with a right. Roman with a low blow and tosses Pearce over the barricade. Pearce gets tossed around and beaten down, they’re heading up through the monitors. Up to the second level of monitors, but Kevin Owens in a hoodie ambushes Roman. Rights from Owens, he and Roman brawl on the floor. Roma


Rating: Angle, not a match

In the ring Owens hits a super kick then counters a superman punch with a stunner. Roman out of the ring, Owens after him and throws Roman around. They brawl around the ring, a bunch of refs come down to break things up. Owens backs off, then charges back at Roman, stomping him down along the barricade. Roman struggles back to his feet, Owens slips around the refs and hits another Stunner to Roman. Owens yells at Heyman, then hits a pop up powerbomb on Roman through the announce table. The visual of the fallen champion and maniacal Owens standing over him closes the show. Once again, Owens and Roman prove that given just a little room to work they can deliver in spades. Very strong closing segment.

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
This was going to be lower before the closing segment. The opening bit was the usual quality stuff Roman and Heyman have been giving us, and the closing saw Kevin Owens FINALLY get one over on Roman during their feud. Unfortunately the middle segments were a little bereft of interest, Cesaro and Ziggler proved once again that heel vs. heel is a tough thing to pull off especially with their time constraints. Sadly Big E and Apollo Crews were again cut off from having a great match by booking, Charlotte more or less took out the Riott Squad by herself (even the visual win the Squad got was over the double champion Asuka), Sahsa Banks and Reginald did a Vegas show act but botched the finishing sequence, and King Corbin existed on my screen. The obstacle course segment was handled about as well as those are ever going to be, but apart from the opening and closing bits this felt like banal filler from a booking/writing stand point. I've also got to deduct a tenth of a point for the incredibly stupid production decisions when Zayn was on the barricade, we missed action to cut to him just standing there more than once.

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WWE Smackdown, Robert Winfree