Welcome to this week’s WWE Smackdown review. It’s the follow up to WWE Payback on Sunday, which saw Roman Reigns become the new Universal Champion with Paul Heyman by his side.
From the WWE ThunderDome at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, this is Smackdown for episode #1098. 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.
The opening video package showed some Payback highlights with Roman Reigns pinning Braun Strowman to become Universal Champion. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt went into the match as champion.
There was a shot of the WWE Thunderdome as the Smackdown intro song. The announce team of Michael Cole and Corey Graves welcomed us to the show.
Let’s Hear from Roman Reigns with Paul Heyman
Smackdown begins with the new Universal Champion Roman Reigns joined by the advocate Paul Heyman. There were boos from the ThunderDome crowd. Reigns has a "Show Up & Win" shirt. Just like me at a casino. I miss the casino. (I’m just kidding. If I was that good, I wouldn’t be writing about wrestling! Let’s move on.) Reigns got some pyro as he held up the title in the ring.
Heyman said just like you thought Paul was out, he (Roman) pulled him back in. (Godfather 3 reference.) Heyman said don’t accuse Paul of corrupting Roman because it’s Roman corrupting Paul. Heyman said that he was gone, tossed aside, thrown into the shark-infested ocean of obscurity only to be rescued, saved and pulled onto the island of relevance by this man. Heyman said that "they" did the same damn thing to Roman that they did to Paul. Heyman wondered what happened to the thank you’s and appreciation. Heyman said this man delivered through life-threatening illnesses (a reference to Reigns having leukemia), but nobody bothered to say thank you or show genuine appreciation. Heyman went on to say that Roman’s reign as your champion has always been about what WWE tries to be about - family, tradition and legacy.
Heyman said that on Raw, they have a triple threat match to earn a WWE Title shot at Clash of Champions. Heyman said they’re doing a Fatal 4-Way with the winner becoming the next sacrificial lamb to Reigns. Heyman said that he’ll let “Anderson Cooper and Carmella’s latest boyfriend” talk about the four wrestlers in that match in reference to Michael Cole and Corey Graves. That was funny!
Heyman said that he serves as special counsel for the tribal chief (Reigns) that is the reigning, defending, undisputed Universal Heavyweight Champion…Roman Reigns. All Reigns did was look forward during Heyman’s speech.
Reigns said that he’s a man of his word. He did exactly what he said he would do at Payback. He signed the contract, he wrecked The Fiend, he wrecked The Monster and he left as the Universal Heavyweight Champion. Reigns said he didn’t care who he faced at Clash of Champions because this is his island. Reigns said that when you have this kind of power, all you have to do is show up and win…just like the shirt says. Believe that.
Analysis: This was very good. Heyman was not as loud or bombastic as he was during some Brock Lesnar promos, but it was essentially the same thing with Reigns just standing there while Heyman spoke for most of it. Heyman calling himself special counsel is different from what he said with Lesnar. Reigns didn’t say much, but he spoke well and with confidence. It was what it needed to be.
Heavy Machinery made their entrance for a tag team match up next. Yes, Otis is still Mr. Money in the Bank and had the briefcase with him.
There was a plug for WWE’s work for Pediatric Cancer month in September. Get your Connor’s Cure merchandise at WWEShop.com if you want to help.
Roman Reigns was shown walking backstage with Paul Heyman with cousin Jey Uso showing up to shake hands and hug Reigns. Roman nodded at Heyman to leave. Jey asked Roman what he was doing with Paul after what happened with Roman and Brock. Roman said don’t worry about that. Jey said if you need somebody to watch your back then you have Jey there. Roman said he had to go, he loves him and he had to leave. Jey said they should go for a steak after, but Reigns left.
Analysis: The way this was done, it told me that Reigns will probably beat up Jey in a week or two to get some heel heat. It’s coming at some point soon. (When I wrote this earlier in the night, I didn't realize what they would do in the main event.)
Heavy Machinery (Otis and Tucker) vs. The Miz and John Morrison
Otis ran over Miz with a shoulder tackle, then Tucker tagged in and hit a double shoulder tackle. Miz with a jawbreaker on Tucker, Morrison tagged in and Tucker tripped him up by the legs. Tucker with a hip toss, corner splash and Otis tagged in with a shoulder tackle while Morrison did a flip bump. Otis with a back body drop on Morrison. Otis and Tucker each hit body slams and clothesline to knock the opponents out of the ring as the show went to break.
The match returned with Tucker getting isolated by the heels, but he broke free with a leap over both guys. Otis tagged in with shoulder tackles, which he loves to do. Otis launched Morrison into the air and slammed him to the mat. Morrison with a jumping kick off the ropes. Otis managed to break free briefly, but Morrison pulled Tucker off the apron and hit a neckbreaker on the floor. Miz with kicks to the gut of Otis, who no sold them and was hulking up. Otis hit an overhead suplex on Miz and one for Morrison as well. Otis with a running corner splash on both guys at the same time. Otis set up for the Caterpillar moves leading to an elbow drop. Otis went to the middle ropes and hit a Vader Bomb for the pinfall win after about seven minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Heavy Machinery (Otis and Tucker)
Analysis: ** The Vader Bomb looked great even though they didn’t call it that. It’s a good idea to push Heavy Machinery as a team since Smackdown is lacking in face teams. This should set up Heavy Machinery against Cesaro/Nakamura at Clash of Champions, but that was not announced officially. Miz and Morrison looked like losers here. This is one of those instances where I must say that if you’re only going seven minutes for the match then you should time it so there’s no commercial.
Post match, Morrison grabbed the Money in the Bank briefcase and ran to the back while Otis/Tucker were mad about it.
There was a backstage scene with Big E, Drew Gulak and Lucha House Party with a birthday cake. Big E explained that his good buddy Xavier Woods is back to host Talking Smack after Smackdown. A security guy told Big E that Woods arrived, but it was actually Sheamus, who attacked Big E by sending him into a garage door. That means the "security" guy that talked to Big E was just setting him up. Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick on Big E as well. They went over to a silver car in the parking lot with Sheamus hitting him with the White Noise slam onto the windshield of the car. WWE officials yelled at Sheamus about it as the show went to break.
Analysis: That was very effective as a backstage attack. The security guy was used by Sheamus to set up Big E, which led to Sheamus hitting the Brogue Kick and then that big spot with the White Noise slam on the windshield. It’s a way to take out Big E, who beat Sheamus this past Sunday at Payback. By injuring Big E like that, it continues his slow singles push without having him get beat in a match like that. The Big E rivalry with Sheamus will continue.
Big E was shown getting looked at by EMTs as the announcers talked over the replays of what happened with Sheamus attacking Big E.
Kayla Braxton was there saying that Big E had major lacerations and other internal injuries while saying that Big E would be going to a local medical facility (they can’t say hospital). Sheamus was there with Kayla asking if he set up that ambush. Sheamus denied it while saying he was defending himself. Sheamus said that maybe Big E got some bad information. Sheamus said he’s thinking about his main event match tonight while Big E is thinking about laughing and dancing with his friends. Sheamus said that this could have been the biggest night of Big E’s career, but he let his old friends drag him back down again. Sheamus said that you can’t dwell on it, so he’s moving forward with his big Fatal 4-Way match tonight. Sheamus said it’s probably going to be a triple threat match now.
Analysis: Sheamus is the cheap attack guy and he’s good at lying about it after it happens. That’s what heels should do.
The announcers were critical of Sheamus after his comments and cheap attack.
A replay aired of Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax beating Bayley and Sasha Banks for the Women’s Tag Team Titles at Payback.
There was a backstage interview with Bayley and Sasha Banks that was conducted by new interviewer Alyse Ashton. It was the usual interview with Bayley and Banks bragging about their accomplishments while Banks called Bayley they are best friends and to go get back their titles.
This Monday on Raw: Can anybody stop Randy Orton’s path of destruction? No match advertised yet.
There was a backstage interview with WWE Official Adam Pearce conducted by Kayla Braxton. Pearce said that Big E is out of the Fatal 4-Way match later, but they will have a replacement in that match. Paul Heyman went up to Pearce to talk to him and they left together.
Bayley and Sasha Banks entered first. They got some pyro that looked cool. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler entered as the Women’s Tag Team Champions with Cole noting it was Jax’s first match on Smackdown. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura did a promo saying the winners are welcome there in the Champion’s Lounge.
Women's Tag Team Championships: Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler vs. Sasha Banks and Bayley
Jax and Baszler argued as the challengers sent them out of the ring. Jax and Bayley each slammed Banks and Bayley into the barricade leading to a break.
Jax with a splash on Bayley and Baszler hit a running knee for a Jax two count on Bayley. Jax hit a shoulderbreaker on Bayley along with a toss across the ring. Jax hit two running hip attacks on Bayley against the ropes. Jax grabbed a chinlock on Bayley, then Bayley broke free and Jax whipped her into the turnbuckle. Baszler tagged in with a rising knee on Bayley followed by a takedown into an armbar. Baszler pulled back on the left arm of Bayley. Jax drove Bayley’s knee into the mat and Bayley avoided a powerslam leading to a chop block to the left knee. Banks sent Jax to the turnbuckle, then two knees and a kick to the head. Banks with double knees to the ribs followed by running knees to the face. Banks jumped off the top with the Meteora double knees for the two count. Good sequence of moves there by Banks. Jax had Banks on her shoulders, Banks kicked Baszler off the apron after Baszler got the tag and Bayley also tagged in. Bayley hit a neckbreaker on Jax on the ropes and Banks hit a Powerbomb on Jax on the floor. That was well done with Jax deserving credit for making that look good too. Bayley avoided a submission by Baszler and hit a belly to back suplex. Banks back in with a running knee on Baszler for a two count. Banks stomped away on Baszler against the turnbuckle. Banks saved Bayley with a Backstabber double knees to the back for two. Bayley tagged in and went up top. Bayley jumped off with a weak-looking elbow drop off the top on Baszler for a two count. Banks with a kick to the ribs. Banks charged at Baszler on the apron, but Baszler moved and Banks went knee first into the ring post. Banks was in pain on the floor, but it was just selling and she was fine. Banks used the ropes to choke Baszler across the top rope. Baszler sent Banks knee first into the turnbuckle and a chop block to the knee. Baszler was in her corner, but there was no Nia Jax there. Baszler kicked the back of Sasha’s left leg again. Baszler tried a leg lock, Banks got a rollup for two and Shayna knocked Bayley off the apron again. Baszler stomped on Banks’s left leg repeatedly. Baszler went for a submission, but Bayley hit the Bayley to Belly on her and Banks covered for two. Banks slapped on the Bank Statement, but then Jax knocked Bayley off the apron and Jax kicked Banks in the back. Jax picked up Banks by the leg for the Stretch Muffler submission around the neck, but Banks countered to a pin attempt for two. Jax put Banks on her shoulders, Bayley saved her partner and Banks/Bayley hit a double team slam on Baszler. Jax hit a cross body block on both women and pinned both of them to win the match after 16 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler
Analysis: ***1/2 This was very good just like their Payback match and I think this was even better, even though they are four heels and it’s tough to root for anybody in this match. They worked hard, there were moments where each side were in firm control and I liked the finish a lot. Banks did a tremendous job of selling the knee while also getting in some offense and she worked most like a babyface, which was smart based on what happened after the show. They did a nice job of making it look like Bayley/Banks were going to win, but then Jax found a way to get the job done for her team. Baszler was awesome here too. Jax getting the win makes sense since Baszler got the win at Payback on Sunday. Nice job by all four women.
Post match, Jax and Baszler celebrated their titles as the announcers put them over as an odd couple team, but they will be tough to beat.
They also had medical personnel go into the ring to check on Sasha’s left knee, which was part of the story of the match.
The show returned with Banks sitting up in the ring with the announcers using SERIOUS VOICES~! talking about her potentially serious leg injury. Banks shoved the medical personnel back. Bayley told them to leave the ring. Bayley helped Banks to the apron and Bayley kicked Banks. There’s the split!
Bayley stomped away on Sasha’s left leg against the steel steps. The crowd was booing. Whether it’s fake noise or real, we all knew this was coming. Bayley whipped Banks into the barricade. Back in the ring, there were referees trying to get Bayley to stop, but she told them to shut up. Bayley sent Banks into the turnbuckle and stomped on her. Bayley with a hard kick to the left leg of Banks. Bayley was ramming Banks’ head into the mat repeatedly while asking Cole if it’s “Boss Time” now. Bayley told Banks she deserved all of this and slammed her head into the mat. Bayley wrenched the left knee of Banks into the mat. Bayley grabbed the steel chair. There was only one referee around ringside trying to stop it and he didn’t even go into the ring because they probably wanted to focus on the women. Bayley put a chair around Sasha’s left leg, but Banks kicked her. Bayley hit a running knee to the face of Banks. Bayley did her forward leg sweep that sent Banks face first into the mat. Bayley put a steel chair on Banks’ head and jumped off the ropes with a stomp on the chair. That’s when the referee finally got into the ring to check on Banks. There were loud boos for this while Bayley had an evil smile on her face.
Analysis: That was a great attack by Bayley on Sasha Banks to put an end to this friendship. Bayley worked over the injured left leg of Banks and stomped on the chair around the neck. There was a long build-up to this moment and I thought it was really well done. I think you could have Bayley say that Banks was the reason that the lost the WOmen's Tag Team Titles and Banks couldn't hold onto her title for long while Bayley has held her title for nearly one year. I'm so ready for their matches down the road. For the "this would have been great in front of a crowd" people, I agree. They can't do it that way, though, so this was all they could do. I liked it a lot. I’m not sure how long Banks is going to be out, but they can wait months to set up the first match or maybe it's sooner than that. I know Hell in a Cell is on November 1, so maybe it’s there, but it could be later than that if Banks sits out a long time and we could pencil in Banks winning the Royal Rumble at that point. I'm not sure if this is going all the way to Royal Rumble and WrestleMania although it's possible.
Sasha Banks was being loaded into an ambulance. Lots of stretcher action tonight.
Let’s Hear from Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn made his entrance with the Intercontinental Championship. He complained about Greg Hamilton not introducing him as the Intercontinental Champion and then complained to a guy on a headset.
Jeff Hardy walked out with his Intercontinental Championship. Jeff said that you didn’t have to attack him last week, all Sami had to do is ask Jeff if he wanted a title shot against him. Sami said that would be wrong because Jeff would need to ask Sami if he wanted a title shot.
AJ Styles complained about how these two had those titles knowing that Styles is the uncrowned Intercontinental Champion. Zayn complained about how everybody was going crazy. Hardy told Styles he’s ready to defend the title at any time.
Styles punched Hardy to knock him down. Zayn attacked Hardy too, but Styles kicked him too. Styles went for a Styles Clash, Jeff managed to hit a Twist of Fate on Styles and then Zayn hit a Helluva Kick on Jeff. Sami left holding up his title.
Analysis: This felt rushed a bit, but they got through it fine. I think Sami and Jeff both have valid points although you can say Jeff is the actual champion since Sami was gone for five minutes. Anyway, it seems logical to put the two IC Titles up for grabs in a Ladder Match between Hardy, Zayn and Styles at Clash of Champions on September 27.
The superstar chosen to fill in the Fatal 4-Way match in the main event is Jey Uso joining Matt Riddle, Sheamus and King Corbin in the main event.
Analysis: That’s an interesting and unique choice considering Jey barely wrestles in singles matches while Jimmy is out with a knee injury. From a logical standpoint, Jey hasn't "earned" it in terms of winning singles match, but from a storyline standpoint I can see where they are going.
This week on Talking Smack hosted by Kayla Braxton and Xavier Woods has Alexa Bliss and Shinsuke Nakamura/Cesaro as the guests.
There was a video of a woman in heels walking with a fur coat. We did not see who it was.
Analysis: It seems like it was Lacey Evans because of the high heels that were shown looked similar to what she wears, but they didn’t reveal who it was. If it's somebody else, I have no idea at this point. I just feel like it might be a way to reboot Lacey as a heel.
Otis was backstage with Tucker, who complained about John Morrison stealing the Money in the Bank briefcase. Otis told him that he keeps the contract in the lunchbox and showed him the contract.
That led to John Morrison and The Miz with the bigger briefcase. Morrison opened it up to reveal some paper, a stapler and a sandwich. Morrison was about to eat the sandwich, but Miz told him not to. Miz looked disappointed by all of this.
Analysis: They are booking Morrison as the dumb comedy guy lately. It’s strange, but that’s what he is for now.
Roman Reigns was in the locker room with Jey Uso walking up to him saying thanks for helping to get him in this match. Jey said he’s going to win and they can face off at Clash of Champions. Reigns told him he knows he can win with his brother, but let’s see what happens with Jey on his own.
King Corbin did a promo for his entrance saying there was nepotism because Jey Uso didn’t belong in the match. Matt Riddle went after Corbin and they went brawling on the stage. Sheamus joined the fight and so did Jey Uso as the four guys paired off. They went to break before the match officially began.
Bray Wyatt was in the Firefly Fun House saying we were down in the dumps about “him” losing his title again. Wyatt said that next week, a new friend will be in the Firefly Fun House.
Nikki Cross was shown looking at the TV with Alexa Bliss showing up with a different look with pigtails. There was Ramblin’ Rabbit in the background. Bliss apologized for breaking the mug and hugged her.
Analysis: The changes for Bliss continue. The Ramblin Rabbit placement in the background was obvious. It makes me think that Bliss may be Wyatt’s guest in the Fun House next week.
Sheamus vs. King Corbin vs. Matt Riddle vs. Jey Uso
Corbin ran right into a superkick from Jey. Sheamus was also sent out of the ring leading to Riddle and Jey each getting nearfalls. Corbin pulled Jey out of the ring and slammed him into the barricade. Sheamus with a powerslam on Riddle. There was a back body drop by Riddle on Sheamus, then Corbin got a nearfall on Riddle and Jey broke up the pin. Sheamus and Corbin worked together to attack Jey a bit with Corbin driving his knee into the back and Sheamus hitting a forearm. Corbin slid out of the ring where Riddle kicked him. Jey with punches on Sheamus, then a kick to the chest and Riddle with strikes on Sheamus. Jey with a kick to Corbin, Riddle with a kick to Sheamus and then then the faces ran right into moves with Corbin hitting a Deep Six slam while Sheamus hit the Irish Curse backbreaker for two. Corbin complained to the referee, so Sheamus hit Corbin with the double axehandle to knock him down.
The match returned with Sheamus hitting a suplex on Jey across the ring. Sheamus kicked Corbin off the apron to the floor. Sheamus worked over Jey a bit, but then Riddle came back with some offense on Sheamus with an Exploder Suplex, running kick and broton splash. Riddle hit a German Suplex for a two count. Riddle went for a submission, but Sheamus powered out with a Texas Cloverleaf submission, but Jey was there with a kick to the head of Sheamus. Corbin went for a Chokeslam, Jey got out of that, punches and a running hip attack on Corbin. Jey cleared the ring with superkicks on Riddle, Sheamus and Corbin to send them all to the floor. Jey charged, but then Corbin was there to hit him with a forearm. Corbin was dumped over the barricade by Sheamus and Riddle, which led to Jey hitting a dive over the top to take out Sheamus and Riddle on the floor. Jey and Corbin were fighting in front of the ThunderDome screens with Corbin launching Jey into the second or third row of screens. Back in the ring, Corbin went for End of Days, but Sheamus was there with a Brogue Kick and Riddle hit the Bro to Sleep on Sheamus. Riddle jumped off the top with a Floating Bro on Corbin. Jey Uso capitalized with a Superfly Splash off the top on Riddle for the pinfall win after 14 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Jey Uso
Analysis: ***1/4 There we go with the “surprising” finish of the accomplished tag team wrestler finding a way to win the match by hitting his finisher after the other guys hit theirs. It was timed really well, Riddle was in the perfect spot for it and Jey hit the Superfly Splash perfectly. I liked how the match was booked, including with Jey taken out by Corbin briefly, so that led to Jey “coming out of nowhere” to get the win. Sheamus was really good in the match while Riddle had some moments to shine and Corbin was solid too. I like Corbin more in multi-man matches compared to his singles match, which can be boring.
Jey Uso was interviewed by Kayla Braxton in the ring. Jey said that he made the family proud too. Jey said it’s time to lock it down and said “welcome…you know the rest” without saying Uso Penitentiary part.
Jey stood triumphant in the ring. Jey stared into the camera saying it was for his brother Jimmy and he celebrated to end the show.
Analysis: What’s going to happen at Clash of Champions is easy to understand. Jey Uso is there to get beat up by his cousin to make Roman Reigns look like a bad guy. It's classic pro wrestling booking. Whoever was against Reigns next was losing anyway and we all know that, so I don't mind it at all. It's telling a story.
Three Stars of the Show
2. Sasha Banks
3. (tie) Roman Reigns/Paul Heyman
3. (tie) Jey Uso
8 out of 10
Last week: 6.35
2020 Average: 6.30
This was a better show than what Smackdown has produced recently. That's the highest score I've given a Smackdown episode this year. Yes, I do keep track. There were only three matches in two hours, but two of them got a lot of time and there were some big angles that happened. No blood in WWE, but two stretcher jobs on this show.
I thought it was a very good Smackdown with Bayley turning on Sasha Banks as the best part. That was excellent as Banks was selling a knee injury and Bayley took advantage of it to beat her up in a vicious way. They also gave it a lot of time, which is nice because it wasn’t rushed and it made you feel sorry for Banks while Bayley did her job well with the evil grin on her face. The Heyman/Reigns promo to start Smackdown was exactly what it needed to be almost like a mission statement. I think Big E getting taken out by Sheamus will set up more matches for them with Big E hopefully continuing his slow build to the top.
I think match quality was pretty good with the Women’s Tag Team Title match getting a lot of time and they delivered for the second time this week. The main event had the big twist with Jey Uso being put in the Fatal 4-Way match and now Jey faces Reigns for the Universal Championship at Clash of Champions. It should lead to Reigns being more of a heel by taking out and beating up his cousin Jey. It’s classic WWE booking to get some heat on a new heel like Reigns. We all knew that whoever Reigns faces was going to lose to him, so it might as well be Jey Uso, who Reigns can beat up and get some more heat as a heel.
The next WWE pay-per-view is Clash of Champions on Sunday, September 27. Here’s the lineup so far.
WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Randy Orton
Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Jey Uso