Welcome to this week’s WWE Smackdown review. The next WWE PPV is TLC on December 20, so let’s see what WWE has planned to build up that show.
From the WWE ThunderDome at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, this is Smackdown for episode #1111. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Please visit TJRWrestling.net daily for our regular updates on the wrestling business featuring WWE news coverage along with reviews about wrestling’s past and present. Let’s get to it.
There was a graphic on the screen that said “In Memory of Pat Patterson 1941 – 2020” on it. Patterson died earlier in the week. The Smackdown roster stood on the stage along with Vince McMahon, plus friends of Patterson like Gerald Brisco and Sgt. Slaughter were standing in the front with Vince. Michael Cole and Corey Graves appeared on screen with Cole saying we are paying tribute to Patterson.
There was a ten bell salute for the WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson. There were “Thank You Pat” chants that played in the arena. The Smackdown intro video aired after that.
Let’s Hear from Roman Reigns
The show began with Kayla Braxton in the ring welcoming us to Friday Night Smackdown. She introduced arguably the most dominant superstar of his era, a five-time Heavyweight Champion, a Royal Rumble match winner, a former United States, Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion, he is the Head of the Table, the Best of the Best and the Universal Champion Roman Reigns. That was quite the intro from Kayla.
Roman Reigns made his slow walking entrance with the Universal Championship over his left shoulder while Paul Heyman stared at Roman and cousin Jey Uso joined Roman. Graves said he has liked what he has seen out of Jey Uso becoming a bad, bad man.
Reigns told Braxton she missed something for the introduction, so Heyman did it by saying “your Tribal Chief” during the introduction. Braxton asked Reigns about what happened on Smackdown as we got a video package about Kevin Owens stepping up as a challenger to Reigns after Owns beat up Jey in the main event. Owens made it clear that he feared nobody, including Roman.
Braxton asked Reigns if he feared Owens, so Reigns scoffed at that. Reigns said that this is probably the biggest thing that Braxton has done on Smackdown and it will be the most viewed thing she’s been a part of while asking Reigns a stupid question. Reigns said that they had somebody with experience like Michael Cole, but she blows it with a stupid question. Braxton asked Reigns if he was using Jey as a pawn that was manipulating him. Reigns asked if he was a man that manipulates. Reigns made it clear he’s the head of the table – one half of the best tag team of our generation, but what has he done in the last few months? Reigns said that Heyman gave Braxton a huge opportunity (Braxton hosts Talking Smack with Heyman as Reigns mentioned), but she blew it. Heyman noted that Jey Uso has main evented Smackdown in the last five weeks while noting that ratings are surging because of “Main Event” Jey Uso. Heyman said that Reigns was a motivator and here comes Kevin Owens.
Kevin Owens appeared on the stage saying that last week he made it clear that he doesn’t fear Reigns, so he figures he’ll just come to Reigns now so that they can settle this. Owens got in Roman’s face. Jey Uso said that he accepts and they run this show. Owens told Jey he wasn’t to the busboy, he was talking to the Head of the Table. Owens said if not now then he’s got the place…TLC (WWE Network on December 20). Owens said since Reigns is the Head of the Table then they should get some tables, ladders and chairs so they can settle this like men. Owens said that they could just do it right now because that’s fine too.
Reigns said that Owens being on the island of relevancy is the best thing for his career. Reigns said that he accepts. Reigns said that if he was the man he used to be then he would whoop Kevin's ass right now, but the time is not right. Reigns said he’s not a savage, he’s a gentleman and there’s a lady in the ring. Reigns told Owens to “grow up” and he left.
Analysis: There’s the challenge from Owens for TLC, which was obviously coming after the segment they had to end last week’s Smackdown. I really enjoy the heel character of Reigns, who acted like such a jerk to Braxton due to the questions she asked, then Heyman was funny in his sucking up role and Owens showed a lot of fire as a babyface stepping up to challenge the champion. All of the characters are clearly defined after several months of this Reigns heel persona. I thought they did a nice job here.
Bayley made her entrance in her ring gear that includes the “Ding Dong Hello” shirt because that’s one of her catchphrases. It took about 20 minutes to get to the first commercial this week.
There was a backstage scene with Jey apologizing to cousin Roman Reigns for saying he accepts. Roman said that are consequences for your actions, he loves Jey and he left.
It’s official for WWE TLC on December 20 on WWE Network: Roman Reigns defends the Universal Championship against Kevin Owens in a Tables, Ladder & Chairs match. Oh my.
Analysis: I expect Reigns to win. I also think it will be an awesome match between two guys that have feuded in the past although that was when Owens was the heel (also the Universal Champion) and Reigns was the face. I think they’ll have a better match here.
Bayley vs. Natalya
Bianca Belair was on commentary for this match. Bayley wrenched the arm of Natalya against the ropes and hit a double axehandle to the back. Bayley with a neckbreaker against the ropes. Bayley with a running dropkick by the apron. Bayley tried to trash talk Belair, so Natalya threw Bayley into the steel steps leading to a break.
The match returned with Bayley hitting a belly to back suplex for a two count. They fought over submission attempts, Bayley with a running knee and a clothesline. Natalya got a pin attempt, Bayley countered and sent her into the turnbuckle. Natalya was able to come back with a Sharpshooter attempt and Bayley tapped out. Really? Yes, it happened. Natalya got the submission win after about six minutes.
Winner by submission: Natalya
Post match, Bayley was selling it while Belair was laughing at her a bit. They didn’t show Natalya much after the win.
Analysis: *1/2 It was quick because we only saw three minutes of the six minutes of action. I would have liked to see them get more time. I’m also very surprised that Bayley would lose clean in such a short match considering how strongly she has been booked this year. I know Bayley is out of the title picture now, but I figured she would do better here. I’m a Natalya fan of course, so I’m certainly not mad about that. I just wish we got to see more of the match.
The main event is Reigns and Jey Uso vs. Owens and Otis. Celebrating Pat Patterson is after a break.
Tribute to Pat Patterson
There were images shown of Pat Patterson along with tweets/Instagram posts from several people in the WWE family. There were comments from big names like John Cena and Hulk Hogan among others. They also showed a tweet from Vince McMahon, who was one of Pat’s closest friends, and an old photo of them as an announce team from the 1980s.
There was a close up shot of the very first Intercontinental Championship won by Pat Patterson in Rio de Janeiro in a tournament. (There was no actual tournament.) Cole did the Patterson joke: “You know who was talking about you?” Graves: “Who?” Cole: “Absolutely nobody!” It’s a joke that a lot of people told on social media because Patterson used the joke a lot during his life.
The video package aired about Pat Patterson’s life and career to the tune of “My Way” by Frank Sinatra along with clips of Patterson singing the song. The video aired on NXT on Wednesday also. I think some photos might have been different here too, but I could be wrong. Anyway, it’s a wonderful video about a man that meant a lot to the WWE family. The last photo was of Pat and Vince McMahon, who may have been Pat’s closest friend. Here’s the video that aired on Smackdown that you can also view on WWE’s Youtube page.
Analysis: Great video there. Pat’s wrestling career ended a few years before I started watching wrestling in the late 1980s, but I definitely have seen some of his best matches. He was an excellent worker that had one of the best minds for pro wrestling. You can tell how much Pat meant to WWE during his time as a wrestler and then over the last 30+ years as one of the key figures behind the scenes. I’m sure the next Royal Rumble will be extra special since WWE will be dedicating it to him since he’s the man that created the match.
Daniel Bryan made his entrance to the “YES” chants with Graves noting that Patterson was a big supporter of Daniel Bryan. Rey Mysterio was up next. Big E was also part of this tag team match as the third man on this babyface team. They’re all former Intercontinental Champions in what is being called a Pat Patterson Tribute Match after the break.
This Sunday on Fox: WWE Tribute to the Troops airs in the afternoon. Check local listings depending on when NFL games air in your area.
The heel side entered with Dolph Ziggler out first, then Shinsuke Nakamura and Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn. The announcers noted that Patterson was a big supporter of Zayn, who is from Montreal like Patterson was.
Analysis: That’s a cool idea for a match to honor Patterson as the first IC Champion. I’m sure it meant a lot for the wrestlers to be a part of a match like this.
Pat Patterson Tribute Match: Daniel Bryan, Rey Mysterio and Big E vs. Dolph Ziggler, Shinsuke Nakamura and Sami Zayn
Nakamura started with Mysterio with not much happening there. Big E tagged in against Ziggler with a slam and Bryan tagged in with a double axehandle to the left arm. Bryan with a shoulder tackle on Ziggler, then a trip from Zayn that the referee never saw and Ziggler hit a forearm to the back. Bryan ran off the ropes, he hit a suicide dive on Zayn, a forearm to Nakamura and then when Bryan went up top, Ziggler hit a dropkick to knock Bryan off the turnbuckle to the floor. That led to a break.
The heels were in control with Ziggler hitting Bryan with a kick to the ribs. Bryan and Ziggler ran the ropes leading to a running cross body block that knocked down both guys. Big E got the hot tag with two belly to belly suplexes, then a belly to belly side slam and a running splash. That’s the usual Big E hot tag sequence. Nakamura came back with a spin kick, then he charged in and Big E hit a uranage slam for a two count when Ziggler made the save. Ziggler blocked a Big E charge with a knee, Zayn made a tag, Big E avoided him and Big E charged, Zayn moved and Big E went shoulder first into the ring post. Mysterio tagged in with a sunset flip for two, then he went for a headscissors, but Zayn countered with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count. Ziggler tagged in, missed a corner splash on Rey, Bryan tagged in and hit a running dropkick on Ziggler. Bryan worked over Ziggler with kicks and a Frankensteiner, but Ziggler countered into a sunset flip for two. Bryan got a backslide pin for two. Bryan with multiple kicks to the body. Ziggler avoided a head kick and hit a Fameasser for two. That led to Big E making the save, Nakamura took out Big E, Mysterio sent Nakamura out of the ring and Zayn sent Mysterio into the barricade. Zayn made the blind tag, Bryan hit the running knee on Ziggler and Zayn got a rollup on Bryan for two. Bryan slapped on the Yes Lock submission, but Zayn managed to get to the ropes with his foot on the bottom rope to break the hold. Zayn came back with a kick to the body followed by a brainbuster, Bryan countered that for a two count and Bryan did the small package for Mr. Small Package and Cole mentioned that Pat Patterson did that move. The match went about 13 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Daniel Bryan, Rey Mysterio and Big E
Analysis: ***1/4 I thought it was a very good match that was like something you might see on a live event (if WWE ever does them again). It’s about putting over the babyfaces since it’s a tribute to Patterson. I don’t love seeing the IC Champion Zayn getting pinned, but it was still a close match with Bryan doing the Mr. Small Package thing to find a way to win. I liked the sequence between Zayn and Mysterio a lot. I thought Big E might get the pin here. I certainly don't mind that it was Bryan instead. We know there are rumors of Bryan challenging Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble PPV possibly, so that could be why WWE wants to build Bryan up with some wins in matches like this.
Post match, the three faces went back in the ring as they sent Nakamura and Zayn out of the ring. Ziggler begged them to let him go. Bryan with an atomic drop with Ziggler landing on the ropes leading to the 619 kick from Mysterio. Big E hit the Big Ending on Ziggler. They celebrated with a “YES” chant and looked up as a tribute to Pat Patterson.
Kevin Owens was interviewed by Kayla Braxton in the backstage area. Owens said he used to respect Roman Reigns so much and even looked up to him. Owens said that Reigns was never the kind of guy to look down on people or have his own locker room, but not anymore. Owens said it’s despicable. Owens said that he has tried to make amends for the things he has done. There was an interruption with Kalisto looking at his phone while wearing a fedora, which Owens complimented and Kalisto didn’t know the name. Otis walked up to Owens so Owens asked if they could have a minute. Otis said that he knows KO is a blue-collar brawler like Otis is. Otis said that Reigns doesn’t respect guys like them, so he will bulldoze right through them. They touched knuckles.
There’s a Sasha Banks/Carmella interview after the break.
There were more social media posts honoring the late, great Pat Patterson including comments from Roman Reigns, Kurt Angle, John Bradshaw Layfield, Triple H and others.
Sasha Banks/Carmella Interview
There was a split screen with Smackdown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks and Carmella. They were in different parts of the arena. Banks trashed Carmella for doing cheap attacks, so let’s settle this once and for all. Cole asked Banks if they are more alike than Sasha thinks. Banks said that Carmella wishes she could be like her and Carmella called Sasha a “Nikki Minaj wannabe.” Banks mentioned that they used to train together, then talked about Carmella’s credentials and Carmella mentioned she won Money in the Bank twice. Banks said she got help from the guy with no chin, then spoke about R-Truth helping Carmella at other times and Carmella said she can’t help it if men were drawn to her. Carmella trash-talked Banks for wanting to be a WWE superstar since she was a kid. Carmella said that she walked into the Performance Center, made it look easy and talked about how she’s had longer title reigns than Banks. Carmella said she’s better than Banks and she is the hot chick that is every man’s desire, not the competitor like Banks. Carmella said she’s going to take her title. Banks said she should try to prove it and challenged her to a match at the TLC PPV. Banks told Carmella that she has never met a bitch as bad as Banks. Carmella seemed happy about the match, snapped her fingers and the lights went off in her room. That ended the interview.
Analysis: It was fine as a promo segment. They have been on opposite shows for a long time, so there isn’t much history here even though they started in WWE together as they said. It’s a fresh rivalry. I would have liked to see Carmella beat other women to earn a title shot, but having the champion Banks issue the challenge makes sense due to repeated attacks from Carmella. If you consider wins and losses the judge of how good somebody is then what Carmella says is fitting for her character. However, Banks is a much better performer in my opinion, especially when it comes to matches. I’ve reviewed so many matches from both women and Banks is clearly better. I’m just saying what Carmella said works for her because she’s the heel in the scenario. It’s also true that Carmella has had longer title reigns than Banks, so at least that was factual.
Murphy made his entrance with Aalyah along with Rey Mysterio and Dominik.
This week on Talking Smack the guests are Sami Zayn, Carmella, Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan. It’s hosted by Kayla Braxton and Paul Heyman.
A replay was shown from last week with Murphy beating King Corbin thanks to some distractions from the Mysterio family. The Mysterios did that because Corbin insulted them in a backstage segment. I had people asking me if the Mysterios are going heel. I don’t see that happening. It was more payback for Corbin being a jerk to them. Anyway, Corbin asked for a rematch while noting that this time he’ll be prepared.
King Corbin made his entrance with two friends. It was Wesley Blake and Steve Cutler. The announcers acted like they didn’t know who they were, but that’s who they were.
Murphy (w/Rey, Dominik and Aalyah Mysterio) vs. King Corbin (w/Wesley Blake and Steve Cutler)
Corbin drove Murphy to the turnbuckle followed by a toss across the ring. Murphy was on the apron, so Corbin tossed him back into the ring. Murphy with a jawbreaker, Corbin sent Murphy to the apron, Murphy went up top and Corbin blocked a sunset flip attempt. Murphy hit a headscissors that sent Corbin out of the ring. Murphy was on the apron with a kick to the face. The “mysterious men” stared at Murphy, so Corbin drove Murphy into the ring apron and Corbin tossed Murphy over the barricade. That led to a break.
King Corbin was in control with elbows as Graves let us know that it was Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake of the Forgotten Sons group, so it’s nice of them to tell the audience. Blake was a former partner of Murphy in the NXT days with Alexa Bliss as the manager. Corbin did his slide out of the ring, slide back in spot leading to a full nelson slam for a two count. The camera focused on the faces of Cutler and Blake so that the audience could see them as Corbin punched Murphy in the face. Murphy got some offense going with a missile dropkick off the middle rope. Murphy with kicks, Corbin blocked, Murphy with another kick, Corbin’s slide out and slide back in didn’t work because Murphy hit a knee strike that sent Corbin out of the ring. Murphy with a kick to the face and he went up top. Graves mentioned the history between Murphy and Blake. Corbin signaled to his friends to attack, so Blake/Cutler went after Rey and Dominik on the floor. They sent them into the barricade. Murphy went after Cutler and Blake, who went back into the ring, then out the other side and Corbin hit the End of Days slam for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: King Corbin
Analysis: **1/2 It was a slow match early on, but I really liked how the last few minutes were booked. When Corbin realized he might lose, he called on his friends for some help, that led to the floor attack, which distracted Murphy and then Murphy ran right into Corbin for the End of Days slam for the pin. I like it when match finishes make sense like that. It also gives Corbin his win back after losing last week, which is what I expected when I saw Blake and Cutler out there.
Corbin celebrated with his new friends while Murphy was helped back up by the Mysterios.
Analysis: I guess this means we can pencil in a Corbin, Blake and Cutler vs. Rey, Dominik and Murphy match in the near future. I’m happy for Blake/Cutler being back on TV because they are hard workers that can be assets in the tag team division. Jaxson Ryker hasn’t been seen since making questionable comments on social media earlier this year. I’m not going to recap it. Google it if you’re interested. I think this grouping is good for Corbin as well.
The Street Profits were standing backstage with their Smackdown Tag Team Titles. They were talking about things going on in WWE with Robert Roode and Cesaro showing up to claim their teams are the best. Roode noted that he and Ziggler beat The Street Profits last week. Cesaro mentioned that he and Nakamura are the best team. The four guys argued as the scene cut away.
Analysis: It looks like a triple threat tag team feud or maybe the two non-championship teams will have a match to determine the next title challengers.
Otis and Kevin Owens made their entrances separately for the main event.
There were more Pat Patterson memories with social media comments from people like Shane McMahon, Ric Flair, The Rock, Bray Wyatt, Paul Heyman, Drew McIntyre, Edge, Shawn Michaels and Stephanie McMahon.
Jey Uso made his entrance for the main event. There was no sign of Universal Champion Roman Reigns with the announcers talking about how maybe the consequences of Jey’s actions is that Roman won’t be there for this match.
Kevin Owens and Otis vs. Roman Reigns and Jey Uso
There were about 15 minutes left in the show as the match began. The announcers noted that Jey did a chair attack on Otis last week on Smackdown. Otis was aggressive with power moves including a clothesline. Otis missed a corner splash when Otis moved and then Owens tagged in with punches. Jey sent Owens into the turnbuckle leading to a Samoan Drop. That led to Roman Reigns making his slow walking entrance with the Universal Title and Paul Heyman joining him at ringside. Owens hit Jey with a kick. Reigns went after Otis with a Superman Punch, then he whipped Otis into the announce table, Reigns sent Otis into the ring post and into the steel steps. Reigns attacked Otis with the steel steps as he rammed the steps into Otis about five times. Owens went after Reigns with punches, but there was Jey with an attack off the top onto Owens on the floor. There was a lot of chaos there! That led to a break.
The match continued with Reigns hitting a leaping clothesline on Owens. Jey tagged in with an uppercut punch while Otis was not on the apron for his partner because he was taken to the back after Roman’s attack. Jey went for a corner attack, Owens moved and Owens hit a running cannonball on Jey against the turnbuckle while Reigns was frustrated on the apron. Owens with a senton splash on Jey, who came back with an uppercut, but there was Owens with a DDT for two. Owens dared Reigns to come in the ring. Jey charged at Owens, who hit Jey with a Samoan Drop with Graves saying that was like a slap to the face to Reigns. Owens called for Reigns to get in the ring, Reigns hit an uppercut and then Jey hit a superkick. When Jey went up top, Reigns told him to get down and tag out because this is Roman’s show and Roman gets to finish the show. Owens fought back with a punch to Jey and a punch to Roman off the apron. Owens with a Stunner on Jey. Reigns slapped on the Guillotine choke on Owens as the referee called for the bell for the DQ finish. This match went about 12 minutes.
Winners by disqualification: Kevin Owens and Otis
Analysis: **3/4 I figured it would end in a DQ or something that was cheap just based on how WWE typically books something like this. They likely didn’t want Jey losing again while Owens should remain strong since he’s in the Universal Title match and we know Reigns is booked in a dominant fashion. Poor Otis getting his ass kicked like that, but it is great for Roman’s character to prove his dominance. They left enough time for the post match attack, which was clearly superior to the match.
Post match, Reigns kept the Guillotine choke on Owens to put him down. Jey brought two steel chairs into the ring. Reigns and Jey took turns beating on Owens with hard chair shots to the back and arms of Owens. Jey put a chair onto Owens, so Jey went up top and hit an Uso Splash on Owens. Reigns hit Jey in the back with a chair while yelling at him about how he had to tell him every time and he had to keep repeating himself. Reigns put the Universal Title on KO’s chest. Reigns told Owens that he wanted his attention, now he has the whole world watching and he ripped on Owens for trying to take his title. Reigns told Owens he has his attention now. Reigns said that Owens and his family are going to fear him. Reigns held up the Universal Title as his music played to end the show.
Analysis: This was great! The dominance of Roman Reigns continues. It's going to be such a big moment when Reigns loses that title. It might happen at WrestleMania in April or a lot further down the line. I don't know when or who right now and that's okay. I'm enjoying this run a lot because this version of Roman Reigns is unlike any heel character I have seen in WWE in a very long time. The attack on Owens was expected and it will make fans want to see Owens try to beat him. I didn’t expect Reigns to attack Jey Uso in that moment as well, but I think that was done to show that Reigns believes in tough love for his cousin. The chair attack also looked brutal. It makes sense because when you have a TLC match to promote in a few weeks then you need to do some chair attacks like that.
Three Stars of the Show
- Roman Reigns
- Kevin Owens
- Daniel Bryan
7 out of 10
Last week: 6.5
2020 Average: 6.52
This was a good episode of Smackdown as usual. Roman Reigns continues to be the star of the show with a promo that made him easy to hate and then violent actions in the main event as he took out Otis, Kevin Owens and even cousin Jey Uso. It’s really cool to see this Reigns character evolve into this guy that is easy to hate, yet a lot of fun to watch because of how dominant of a heel persona he is. I’m fine with the cheap ending to the main event because the post-match attack was better than the match anyway.
It was nice to see the tributes to Pat Patterson including the six-man tag team match that ended with Daniel Bryan pinning IC Champion Sami Zayn. I thought that was the best match of the night. We also see former Forgotten Sons members Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake resurface with King Corbin, so it’s cool to see them back. The Banks/Carmella promo set up TLC while Bayley losing a short match to Natalya was a bit of a surprise just because Bayley losing is so rare.
The matches weren’t as strong as some weeks, but I think storyline wise it was easy to get through this show.
I think they set some things up well for TLC in a few weeks. We should learn about the rest of the card over the next two weeks.
The next WWE pay-per-view is Tables, Ladders and Chairs on Sunday, December 20. Here’s what we know so far.
WWE Universal Championship Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Kevin Owens
WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre (c) vs. AJ Styles
"The Fiend" Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton
Smackdown Women's Championship: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Carmella
Women’s Tag Team Championships: Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Asuka and Lana