Welcome to this week’s WWE Smackdown review. It’s the go-home show for WWE TLC on WWE Network this Sunday, December 20. This show aired on Fox Sports 1 in the US instead of regular Fox due to a Pac 12 College Football game between USC and Oregon, so that's going to have a negative effect on Smackdown's viewership because fewer people are going to be watching. Next week's Smackdown airs on Christmas and will be a taped show. I don't know if I'll review it, but with it being a lockdown Christmas this year, I guess I'll be home to do it after all. (Note: The WWE TLC preview is already up on my website TJRWrestling, so check it out here if you're interested in checking out our predictions.)
From the WWE ThunderDome at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, Florida, this is Smackdown for episode #1113. 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 recap of last week’s Smackdown when Kevin Owens beat up Jey Uso using Tables, Ladders and Chairs to preview what it will be like when KO faces Roman Reigns at TLC on Sunday. After that segment in the ring, Reigns beat up Owens in the backstage area while talking into the camera for a message towards Kevin’s family at home.
There was a shot of the WWE ThunderDome at The Trop as Michael Cole and Corey Graves welcomed us to the show with the fans on the screens all around the building.
Let’s Hear from Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens made his entrance with some tables, ladders and chairs surrounding the ring, in the aisle and everywhere that was on camera. Owens called out Reigns, but there was no sign of Roman. Owens told Roman he heard Roman’s message loud and clear, so Owens told his family to not watch their match at TLC under any circumstance. Owens said it’s because of what his family will think of him after what he does to Reigns on Sunday.
Owens said a few weeks ago he heard Reigns tell Jey Uso that he cares about how his sons look at him. Owens said Roman’s kids already know that Roman is a hypocrite because he uses his own family members as pawns and that is absolutely pathetic. Owens said that every time Reigns looks in a mirror, he knows he is not the head of the table, he’s a coward.
Paul Heyman appeared on the video screen as he stood outside of the locker room of Roman Reigns. Heyman said he was there to confess his sins by making a mistake about him. Heyman said he thought that Owens was a masochist after what Reigns did him last week and he’s back for more. Heyman said that Reigns is a sadist especially when it comes to putting a beating down on Owens. Heyman said that he was wrong because Owens isn’t a masochist, he’s a martyr and that makes him a very dangerous competitor. Heyman knows that mutilation won’t stop Kevin, so he has to be eliminated and eradicated.
Owens said that he can’t listen to one more word coming out of Heyman’s stupid face, so Owens is going to go back there to find him as the show went to break.
Analysis: I liked the fire shown by Owens as the babyface in the story. Owens said that he doesn’t want his family to watch what he’s going to do at TLC, which is another way of telling the audience that it’s going to be a violent match. That’s not a surprise since there will be weapons used. Heyman was there to try to reason with Owens, but Owens is determined to get at Reigns and that’s a story they can run with to keep viewers tuned in to see if Owens gets some payback on Reigns. It’s simple, but it works.
There was a backstage scene with Kevin Owens walking backstage towards the locker room of Roman Reigns with WWE Official Adam Pearce standing in front of him to try to stop him while reminding KO that TLC is on Sunday. Owens tried to get in Roman’s dressing room, but then Roman’s music played as Roman entered the arena with Paul Heyman.
Let’s Hear from Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns had the Universal Title on his left shoulder with Paul Heyman joining him with Roman wearing his “Head of the Table” shirt. Owens was watching on the TV backstage instead of going out to the ring to get at Reigns.
Reigns said that he didn’t want to hurt Owens or his family, but he’s out there telling the whole world that Roman is a bad guy. Reigns said that he’s doing the things that you have to do to be The Guy. Reigns said that’s something that Owens doesn’t understand, it’s above his pay grade and he should stay in his lane. Reigns said that he’ll give Owens the same opportunity he gave his own flesh and blood, which led to Owens walking out towards the ring. Reigns told Owens to acknowledge him as the Head of the Table, which then means that they’re good. Reigns said that if you can’t do that then he will end Owens, he won’t make it to TLC or make it out of here tonight. Reigns told Owens to get out there to tell Reigns the words that he wants to hear. Reigns dropped the microphone.
Kevin Owens walked down to the ring, but then he was attacked by Jey Uso, which seemed rather obvious. Owens fought back against Jey until Reigns showed up with punches. That led to Roman and Jey beating on Owens with punches and forearms while the camera cuts kept happening because WWE loves them. Roman and Jey beat on Owens some more as some WWE Officials went out there to try to break it up. Reigns sent Owens back first into the barricade. The heavy boos were piped into the arena as Reigns and Jey walked up the ramp while Owens tried to get after Reigns, but he was too hurt to get up.
Analysis: It was consistent with what we saw the last two weeks with Reigns beating Owens. The cheap attack from Jey was obvious since he wasn’t in the ring with Reigns initially. Owens put up a fight, but he was overwhelmed. Easy way to get cheap heat on the heels.
The Smackdown Tag Team Title match is up next.
There were replays of what happened before the break.
There was a backstage segment with Jey Uso saying that Owens understands now. Roman Reigns told Jey to end him, take him out and said that he didn’t want to see Owens anymore. Paul Heyman looked on as Jey left.
The Smackdown Tag Team Championship duo known as The Street Profits made their entrance with Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins being greeted by some blue solo cups. It was noted by Cole that the Street Profits were Tag Team Champions since March 2 on Raw, then they swapped the titles with New Day in October, so it’s been nine months for them as champions.
Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode made their entrance. Actor Clark Duke did a video saying that Ziggler and Roode claimed that funny didn’t make money, so look at his house. Yes, Clark Duke is really rich, I guess. Anyway, he picked the Street Profits to win.
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins) vs. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode
The Street Profits connected with double dropkicks on both opponents. Ziggler avoided a kick from Ford and got a two count. Ford hit a belly to back suplex followed by a standing moonsault on Ziggler. Ford punched Roode off the apron. Ford went up top, Ziggler knocked him down with a punch and Ford hit a kick to the face. The referee was looking at Ziggler, so Roode shoved Ford off the top into the barricade leading to a break.
The heels were in control as Ziggler whipped Ford into the turnbuckle, Roode tagged in, Ziggler splashed Ford against the turnbuckle and Roode hit a side Russian legsweep for two. Ziggler was back in, Ford was selling a rib injury and Ziggler hit a dropkick to the ribs for two. Ziggler slapped on a waistlock to work over the ribs some more. Roode was back in with a front suplex that sent Ford into the mat. Ziggler back in with another waistlock into a pin attempt for two. When Ford got out of it, Ziggler kicked Ford in the ribs. Roode back in, Ford sent Ziggler over the top to the floor and a shot to the ribs of Roode to stop him. Ford kicked Roode away, Dawkins got the hot tag and Dawkins hit two clotheslines, a jumping elbow and a face first slam on Ziggler. Dawkins with an overhead suplex on Roode. Dawkins with the spinning splashes in the corner on both guys and a lifting neckbreaker for a two count. Roode countered a spinebuster, Dawkins blocked the DDT, Roode with boots to the face, Ziggler tagged in and Roode lifted Ziggler into an assisted Fameasser for a two count. Great nearfall there. Dawkins hit the sitout spinebuster on Ziggler, Ford tagged in and Ford jumped off with an insane Cash Out Frog Splash with Ford selling the ribs. Roode broke up the pin at two. Roode rolled up Ford and hooked the tights for two. Ford came back with the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Roode while grabbing the tights for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins)
Analysis: ***1/4 This was a pretty good tag team match with a lot of action in the last few minutes and some nice nearfalls by each team. That assisted Fameasser spot is really cool even though Ziggler doesn’t win with that move in singles matches. I think it can work as a finisher in a tag team match. Roode tried to cheat to win, so Ford cheating to win as payback makes a lot of sense within the story of the match. Ford did well in terms of selling the rib injury while Dawkins did a great job after the hot tag. I thought there might be a title change here, but I don’t mind seeing the champs retain.
Post match, Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode got in the face of Charles Robinson, who told them to get out of his face. Robinson warned them that they would get suspended if they touched him, so Ziggler and Roode backed away.
Analysis: That was kind of weird with Robinson yelling back at them, so maybe it will lead to some kind of angle.
Still to come is a Champagne Toast from Carmella. Plus, Bianca Belair vs. Bayley still to come.
Kevin Owens was shown walking backstage with a bit of a limp with Adam Pearce and referee Jessika Carr walking with him. Jey showed up behind Owens and hit Owens with a hard chair shot to the back and another chair shot to keep Owens down. Jey left while Owens stumbled back up to his feet.
Bianca Belair was interviewed backstage by Kayla Braxton. Braxton mentioned to Belair that Bayley called Belair overrated in the past. Belair said that she has wanted to face Bayley because she is her measuring stick, but Bayley always has something to say, so tonight the EST (Belair) is going to S-H-I-N-E.
Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan were in the ring for a match. They did a pre-tape promo talking about who they thought Billie Kay would face with Morgan saying maybe it will be Wonder Woman. Good luck with that.
Billie Kay had her resume saying she was a seasoned ring announcer that introduced her own tag team partner. Kay said that she’s a second-generation superstar and there’s nobody meaner – Tamina.
Riott Squad (Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan) vs. Billie Kay and Tamina
Tamina tossed Morgan across the ring, Morgan avoided another attack, Riott tagged in with a kick, but then Tamina took over with a clothesline. Tamina lifted up Riott and hit a Samoan Drop, but Kay made the tag, which Tamina didn’t know about. Kay covered for two as Morgan made the save. Riott avoided a move from Kay, Morgan tagged in, double dropkick to knock Tamina off the apron and Morgan hit a missile dropkick on Kay into a flatliner by Riott leading to Morgan pinning Kay to win after about three minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Riott Squad (Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan)
Analysis: * An easy win for The Riott Squad to show they are a functional team, unlike their opponents. The story was that Tamina had the match won, but Kay tagged herself in and lost the match for the team.
There was a shot of Carmella backstage ahead of her Champagne Toast segment up next.
It was time for Carmella’s segment with her sommelier (a developmental wrestler named Akeem Young) in the ring with bottles of champagne on a table. A replay was shown of last week when Carmella’s match with Sasha Banks ended in a DQ and after the match, Carmella beat up Banks including an attack with a champagne bottle.
Carmella’s Champagne Toast
Carmella made her entrance with a lot of confidence in some non-wrestling gear that looked pretty damn good. I’m sure boyfriend Corey Graves agrees with Corey saying her confidence was sky-high.
Carmella sang that it was the season to drink bubbly. Carmella said she had her sommelier to prepare a tasting to celebrate her impending championship victory this Sunday at TLC. Carmella claimed that her champagne had more digits than your phone number. Heels lie, my friends. Carmella said that she knew that Sasha Banks doesn’t have what it takes to be a champion. Carmella knocked Banks for being mentally weak and the fact is that this is the longest that Banks has ever held onto a championship. Carmella said that Banks was so far over her heard that she was drowning (not because of the champagne bottle last week), which led to boos and Carmella said that was too bad. Carmella claimed that Banks intentionally got disqualified, so that’s why she knows she already has her beat.
Carmella said that Sasha’s entire existence is for Banks to think she’s the best in WWE while noting that Banks has to try to prove she’s better. Carmella said that this is a fight that Sasha Banks can’t win. Carmella wondered who is Sasha Banks if she is not The Boss or the best? Carmella said that’s an answer that not even Sasha Banks knows the answer to. Carmella claimed that Banks is so desperate. Carmella said that nothing lifts her spirits more than a fine glass of champagne, so she had a sip of some of it. She claimed it tasted cheap like Sasha Banks.
Sasha Banks’ music hit in the arena, Carmella told the sommelier to go in the aisle after her and then Banks showed up in the ring on the other side. Banks threw a glass of champagne on Carmella. Banks tried to slap on the Bank Statement on Banks, so the sommelier pulled Banks off. Banks slapped the sommelier in the face. Carmella grabbed a champagne bottle and smashed it over the back of Banks just like last week.
Analysis: This was okay. Nothing special. Carmella’s promo was the same thing that everybody says against Banks for several years now, so it didn’t feel fresh at all. We all knew Banks was coming out there to interrupt. Good use of the sommelier to have Banks hit him and that set up Carmella for the cheap shot to put Banks down again just like last week. I expect Banks to retain her title at TLC on Sunday.
The first annual Sami Awards will take place later on Smackdown. Yes! Finally some good WWE awards. Bayley vs. Belair still to come.
Kevin Owens was getting looked at by a trainer, so Jey Uso showed up to attack. Jey sent Owens into a wall and then Jey gave Owens a spinebuster through a table that happened to be right there. Owens was getting checked on by an official as the show went to break.
Analysis: It’s a show long storyline of backstage attacks on Owens. Good thing they’re in a really big building.
There was a commercial for WWE TLC on Sunday with Randy Orton facing The Fiend in a Firefly Inferno Match.
Otis entered with Chad Gable as we got a clip of Gable tagging into a tag match last week and pinned to lose the match for his team. Shinsuke Nakamura entered as the opponent with Cesaro joining him at ringside.
Shinsuke Nakamura (w/Cesaro) vs. Otis (w/Chad Gable)
Otis countered an armbar with a body slam leading to a headbutt to the shoulder. Nakamura with a kick to the head followed by a running knee lift on the apron. Back in the ring, Nakamura with kicks to the chest, Otis no sold that, he ran over Nakamura and lifted up Nakamura to send him to the mat. Otis hit a spinning clothesline on Nakamura followed by a corner splash. Otis went for the Caterpillar, but Gable told him no and said Otis should do a suplex. Nakamura countered with an inside cradle for two. Otis with a suplex across the ring. Otis with a jumping splash like a Vader Bomb off the middle ropes for a pinfall win after three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Otis
Analysis: *1/4 Poor Nakamura. He could be and doing so much more and you can say the same thing about Cesaro. I think Otis is entertaining in small doses although he’s a guy that needs the crowd there rooting him on. I’m not a fan of Nakamura getting booked shitty, but I like that Gable is getting more airtime.
There was a shot of Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn backstage talking to a guy with a headset with some trophies on a table. Zayn said he was going to get some polish to polish some trophies. Big E walked up with some laughter.
The WWE Happy Holidays video aired showing the company’s video that featured an animated 2020 character (voiced by Braun Strowman) that was edited into footage of WWE superstars beating up 2020. The idea is that 2020 was a bad year, so it deserved to get beat up. A 2021 character showed up to beat up 2020 as WWE wished us a Happy New Year.
Analysis: It was mildly amusing. The full video is on WWE’s Youtube channel if you really want to see it.
This week on Talking Smack on FS1 hosted by Kayla Braxton, Paul Heyman and Booker T. The guests are Bayley, Street Profits, Carmella and Kevin Owens. It’s also on WWE Network.
There was a backstage segment with Otis and Chad Gable with Gable wondering why Otis didn’t do the Caterpillar. Otis said he thought it was a test. Gable said he did well and told him training resumes tomorrow outdoors.
The First Annual Sami Awards
Sami Zayn was on the stage with the Intercontinental Title on a podium. Zayn said that the Slammy Awards are being presented this Wednesday, but they have taken a dive. Zayn complained about those awards while saying that’s why we need the Sami Awards.
There was a video package about Sami Zayn that had Corey Graves on commentary putting over Sami’s successful run as the Intercontinental Champion.
The Comeback Year of the Award goes to…Sami Zayn! Amazing.
The Match of the Year Award goes to…Sami Zayn defeating AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy in a Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship at Clash of Champions.
The Superstar of the Year Award goes to…Big E? Zayn was stunned. Cole claimed that was deserving.
Big E showed up saying: “Mama, I made it!” Big E thanked Notre Dame football in advance for covering the spread. Zayn pushed Big E away, so Big E punched him in the ribs. Big E beat up Zayn some more and left triumphantly while Zayn complained about how Big E ruined it.
Analysis: It was a cheesy and over the top award ceremony that was fitting for Zayn’s character. It wasn’t that exciting, but I like Sami’s heel persona and his promos are funny to me, so I enjoyed it. Big E interrupting things while changing the Superstar of the Year Award was a way to make the fans happy by having the babyface Big E put him in his place. It worked in terms of having the face shut up the cocky heel. I like this rivalry.
Bayley did an interview with Kayla Braxton. Bayley said that Bianca has all the talent in the world, but she should be more humble. Bayley said that she’ll put Belair on the map.
Bianca Belair made her entrance.
This Wednesday on WWE Network on WWE Digital platforms, R-Truth is hosting the Slammy Awards. It airs at 10am ET if you want to watch it. I’ll have a recap and thoughts on TJRWrestling on Wednesday.
Bayley made her entrance for this singles match.
Analysis: Bayley has been losing matches of late, but it’s not like the announcers are going to put that over because they put over her success in WWE. If you tell the audience that she’s a loser then it means nothing for Belair.
Bianca Belair vs. Bayley
Bayley sent Belair into the ropes, then Belair showed off her athleticism to avoid a move and Bayley hit a neckbreaker using the ropes. Belair tripped up Bayley for a two count. Belair jumped off the ropes to avoid a Bayley charge leading to a dropkick by Belair. Belair blocked Belair’s handstand attempt by grabbing the arm and sending the left arm into the ring post. Bayley sent Belair into the barricade leading to a break.
The match continued with Bayley in control on the floor, but then Belair shoved Bayley into the steel steps. Both women got back up with forearms to the face at the same time. Belair attacked with a forearm and then a delayed vertical suplex to show off the power. Belair wrenched on Bayley’s left arm leading to an arm wringer. Belair with a springboard moonsault off the ropes for a two count. Belair with a backbreaker for a two count. Bayley tried a suplex off the ropes, but Belair countered that. Bayley sent Belair into the top turnbuckle, then Bayley charged and Belair sent Bayley into the top turnbuckle. Belair with a spinebuster for two. Bayley with a boot to the face, then a pin attempt with feet on the ropes, but the referee caught that and Belair got a sunset flip for two. Each woman went for rollups, Bayley kicked out of a rollup attempt and Belair powered Bayley up, but Bayley raked the eyes. Bayley delivered the Roseplant (that’s the name Cole said) where she drove Belair’s face into the mat for the pinfall win after ten minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bayley
The replay made it clear that Bayley did the eye rake illegally that the referee didn’t see.
Analysis: **3/4 This was just an average match with Bayley cheating to win before she hit her finisher. While I like Belair as an athlete, there are some small things she can do better in a match because she seems like she’s hesitant at times and is trying to remember what the next spot is. When Belair does moves, they do look pretty good. I just feel like she can improve on some of the little things. Bayley is technically sound as one of the best heels in the company and cheating to win (thanks to the eye gouge) is fitting for her. I assume they wrestle again soon with Belair getting her win back.
The announcers went over two matches for the TLC card on Sunday on WWE Network:
* WWE Championship Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match: Drew McIntyre (c) vs. AJ Styles
* Firefly Inferno Match: "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton
Roman Reigns made his entrance for the main event promo with Jey Uso and Paul Heyman joining him.
Let’s Hear from Roman Reigns…Again
Roman Reigns was standing tall I the ring with the Universal Championship on his shoulder while joined by Paul Heyman and Jey Uso.
Reigns said he was trying to understand why. Reigns wondered if you were in a ring with Reigns, in a main event, in a championship match with Reigns and said that this is an opportunity that your kids will talk about…and here comes Kevin Owens.
Kevin Owens was limping on his way towards the ring with Jey leaving the ring, but Owens grabbed a steel chair and hit Jey twice to put him down. Owens went into the ring, Jey was back in and he hit a superkick while Reigns bounced off the ropes leading to a Spear. Reigns beat on Owens with multiple chair shots to the body while also using a chair to push down against the head of Owens. Reigns continued the attack with a chair to the back. Jey brought a table into the ring that he brought into the ring. Reigns sent Owens into Jey, who gave KO a spinebuster through the table. There was another table in the ring.
Reigns told Owens that it is not worth it. Reigns said that KO had the opportunity of a lifetime, but he chose to piss off Reigns. Roman picked up KO on his shoulders and gave him a Samoan Drop through the table. Reigns hit Owens with a piece of a broken table. Jey buried Owens under tables, then Jey brought a ladder into the ring, so Roman put the ladders on top of Owens too. Jey tossed chairs into the ring. Reigns and Jey beat on Owens by hitting the objects that were on top of Owens. A referee ran down to yell at them while also giving a time cue because Roman and Jey went walking to the back with Heyman.
Reigns was shown behind the curtain with Jey and Heyman as they watched on a TV screen. They saw Owens getting back up, so they left.
Owens sat up on a chair: “Roman, nothing you or your family do to me can keep me down. At TLC, I’m going to take the Universal Title or dye trying.” Graves said it could be a massacre at TLC. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: This was effective in terms of showing that Owens was willing to take a beating from Reigns while still maintaining that he was going to keep on fighting. I thought Roman and Jey’s attack was consistent with what they did all show long, so it wasn’t a surprise at all. Owens telling them that he was going to keep fighting also fits what he is all about as a character. I have liked the build to the match quite a bit. They’re all great performers.
Three Stars of the Show
- Kevin Owens
- Roman Reigns
- Street Profits
6.5 out of 10
Last week: 5.75
2020 Average: 6.5
It was a slightly above average episode of Smackdown this week. The show long story of Kevin Owens trying to get after Roman Reigns started in segment one and ended in the main event with Reigns once again beating up Owens with help from Jey Uso. In terms of matches, I thought Street Profits and Ziggler/Roode was the best match while Bayley/Belair was solid too. The others were not that interesting. There were long promos from heel characters like Carmella and Sami Zayn that may have turned off some fans, but I liked Sami’s segment while Carmella’s promo felt boring because it was the same trash talk that everybody does against Sasha Banks.
The build to Sunday's TLC PPV was fine, but I don’t think there was anything on the show that really stood out as a must-see segment or match.
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 Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match: Drew McIntyre (c) vs. AJ Styles
Firefly Inferno Match: "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton
Smackdown Women's Championship: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Carmella
Raw Tag Team Championships: The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) (c) vs. The Hurt Business (Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander)
Women’s Tag Team Championships: Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Asuka and ???