COMMENTATORS: Michael Cole & Corey Graves
This week’s SmackDown features an Obstacle Course challenge, a protest from Sami Zayn, and a scheduled Adam Pearce/Paul Heyman match that TOTALLY HAPPENS.
- WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPION: Roman Reigns
- SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPION: “The Boss” Sasha Banks
- WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION: Big E
- SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Dirty Dawgs (Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode)
- WWE WOMEN’S TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Charlotte Flair & Asuka
- Charlotte Flair & Asuka vs. The Riott Squad
- Dolph Ziggler vs. Cesaro
- Sasha Banks vs. Reginald
- Dominik Mysterio vs. King Corbin
–Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman opened the show. Reigns said that the people wouldn’t be seeing Kevin Owens tonight because HE said so, and laid into Adam Pearce for chickening out of their Royal Rumble match even though he has been carrying the company on his back for years despite various injuries. He did mention the time he took off during the pandemic, but spun it as it being the ONLY reason he missed any time. Adam Pearce himself eventually showed, Reigns continued the verbal assault about Pearce complaining about his injuries, saying it wasn’t a surprise he never made in WWE. Pearce disrespected Heyman, Reigns handed him the mic to straighten Pearce out. Heyman decided to puff his chest and told Pearce that he was from New York and he’d whip his ass for disrespecting the Tribal Chief. Heyman then went one further and CHALLENGED Pearce to a match tonight, which Pearce agreed to. Reigns concluded by vowing that Pearce would end the night with his ass kicked.
- Good opening segment, I really liked Paul Heyman’s false bravado coming through in his attempts to impress Roman Reigns and show how much of a man he really is. Pearce vs. Heyman was an interesting main event to set up but I doubt ANYONE watching thought it was going to happen like that. It absolutely doesn’t but we’ll get to why/how later.
-After the segment concluded Sami Zayn showed up, documentary crew in tow, to chain himself to the aisle barrier in protest of the injustice he suffered last week (Apollo Crews rolled him up with a handful of tights and ended up with an Intercontinental Championship shot for this week).
Charlotte Flair & Asuka defeated The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott & Liv Morgan) [w/ Billie Kay] when Flair pinned Riott following Natural Selection (5:40 shown)
- Billie Kay tried once again to help her new “friends” but distracted the ref while Riott had Asuka pinned, once again getting in their way albeit accidentally. As much as I wanted to like this match, I just couldn’t get into it. Something about the whole thing felt off, like everyone was moving in slow motion, and Flair absolutely did not fit in the role of babyface in peril, especially since she ended up powering out anyway and making the tag subtly to Asuka. Just some low effort-feeling stuff here and I was super disappointed. Oh also Natalya and Tamina were shown backstage watching the match so I guess they’re getting a title shot anyway. Why the f*ck not, no one takes these Women’s Tag Team Championships seriously anyway.
-After a commercial break The Riott Squad broke up with Billie Kay, even though Kay got them both into the Women’s Royal Rumble. RUDE.
–Daniel Bryan came out to the ring to talk about the Royal Rumble and how it’s a match that makes him feel alive because of how competitive and chaotic it is. Cesaro interrupted and talked about being a battle royal expert, a former Andre The Giant Memorial Cup winner and all. Bryan wanted to fight, Cesaro said he already beat him and laid out an open challenge to anyone who’s declared for the Royal Rumble. Dolph Ziggler of all people accepted the challenge and laid out his reasoning for wanting to win the Rumble: the WrestleMania payday. Ziggler and I approach our jobs the same way: give me the spotlight so I can cash the bigger check.
Cesaro defeated Dolph Ziggler via pinfall with the Neutralizer (3:30 shown)
- Match was joined in progress, Bryan sitting in commentary. During the Cesaro Swing spot Cole asked Bryan if he had ever been in the hold; Bryan responded by saying he was in it LAST WEEK during a match Cole commentated. Oof awkward. Wasn’t much of a match but had some fun spots. Ziggler accepting the challenge felt random but I appreciated that to an extent, not like he has anything else to do as a Tag Team Champion other than fight the Street Profits. Where was Robert Roode anyway? Cesaro is getting a fair amount of momentum heading into the Royal Rumble but I’m not getting my hopes up; he’ll probably have a good showing but I’ve been waiting ten damn years for WWE to finally push him and I’ve lost hope. I will happily eat these words next Sunday though. With a damn smile on my face.
Sasha Banks defeated Reginald [w/ Carmella] via submission with the Banks Statement (4:00)
- WWE just casually threw out an intergender match on their A-show this week, hell yeah. I don’t think Reginald is actually a wrestler but he’s definitely an acrobat and it was CRAZY FUN to watch him flip around the ring to escape holds and counter moves. When it came to actual wrestling it was a little goofy but overall it ended up working for me. This is the most fun I had watching the show this week and my match of the night. MORE REGINALD. PUT REGINALD IN THE RUMBLE SO HE CAN FLIP AROUND.
–Paul Heyman bragged about “reading” Roman Reigns in the ring earlier. Reigns said that he handed the mic to Heyman to take care of Pearce verbally, not physically, but now that he challenged him he would have to step up and take care of business like a man. Heyman was understandably nervous as the prospect.
Apollo Crews defeated Big E [c] via DQ when SamI Zayn interfered; Big E retained the WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP (2:56)
- Big E and Crews wasted no time going after each other and this turned into a really fun sprint; ended up being just to kill time though as Zayn uncuffed himself from the barricade and hit Crews with a Helluva Kick to stop the match. He then hit Big E with one as well, yelling about how justice was served. I’m cool with Sami Zayn staying in the title picture, I’ll be even cooler if they actually release some sort of documentary based on the footage his “crew” is shooting.
–Kevin Owens cut an emotional promo from his car, talking about his late grandfathers and how they always had his back. His biggest regret was that they didn’t live long enough to see him make it to WWE and said that they fought their illnesses long enough to have a few good years with him, so that’s why he fights now. Great stuff. Crazy that’s all we got from him this week. Ahem.
–Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) found Sonya Deville backstage as she was just finishing up a conversation with their hated rival Dolph Ziggler. They wanted a rematch for the Tag Team Championship, Deville was into the idea but said that Ford was still recovering so she had a compromise: hang out backstage and do funny stuff while other teams get a chance, then when Ford is healthy they’ll get back into the title picture. Street Profits reluctantly accepted this and gave Deville a fruit basket to congratulate her on her new role. Interesting decision by Deville, I’m interested to see who these “new” teams she’s talking about are considering there really are none on SmackDown I can think of. Daniel Bryan or Chad Gable & Otis, I guess? Maybe we’ll get some NXT callups. Maybe I’m reading too much into it.
–Bayley and Bianca Belair competed in an Obstacle Course challenge set up by Bayley, which included lifting a tire, jumping hurdles, climbing walls, carrying Chad Gable in a fireman’s carry, and making a basket. Bayley naturally went first and took the easy way around it all, gassing out at 1:12. Before Belair could go Bayley made the course more “EST”, adding in higher hurdles. Belair easily powered her way through the course, actually doing all of the events as opposed to Bayley who skipped some, and ended up carrying Otis in a fireman’s carry instead of Gable before dribbling around Bayley and slam dunking to win with time to spare. Bayley threw the basketball at Belair and attacked her after, driving her shoulder-first into the pole of the basketball hoop.
- Was NOT a fan of this when it was announced last week but this ended up being pretty entertaining and allowed Belair to show off her superior athleticism. The Otis carry was a nice touch and was CRAZY impressive. Nice to see a women’s feud not focused around the championship.
King Corbin defeated Dominik Mysterio via pinfall with the End of Days (2:18)
- Backstage Rey Mysterio implored Dominik to do things his way, but Dominik wanted to try his own plan instead. It did not work and Corbin picked up a relatively easy victory. Tried to care but didn’t, though the Mysterios did tease last week that they had someone who could help them and I’m vaguely interested on who that could be.
–Paul Heyman made his way to the ring, still in a suit but taping up his fists, but ended up “tripping” on the steps and hurting his leg. Heyman stated “Card Subject to Change” and out came Roman Reigns to kick Adam Pearce’s ass as threatened at the beginning of the show. Reigns did just that, even tossing him up on the “stadium” portion of the videoboards to do what he did to Kevin Owens a few weeks back but Owens suddenly showed up to stop it. Owens beat the hell out of Reigns, connecting with a pair of Stunners and ending the show with a pop-up powerbomb through the announce table.
- Was anyone surprised by these turn of events? Very telegraphed and obvious where all this was going, but I do like that Owens got to finally get the better of Reigns and prove that he’s actually going to be a threat at the Royal Rumble. Yeah Reigns got help from Jey Uso the other two times, but he still WON those matches so Owens needed some sort of momentum. This was a way to do it.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Honestly I’m kind of in the middle about this week’s show. I really liked Sasha Banks vs. Reginald for how ridiculous it was and the Obstacle Course segment surpassed by low expectations but most of the show fell kinda flat for me. Some positives to take away of course, and ending the show with Owens standing tall was great but I don’t know. It was an episode that wasn’t awful to sit through but didn’t feel like a constructive use of time either.
- MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Sasha Banks vs. Reginald
- MOMENT OF THE NIGHT: All of Reginald’s flips.