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[TV Review] ‘WWE SMACKDOWN’ 10.16.2020 – Season Premiere, Reigns vs. Braun, New Day Farewell, Daniel Bryan Returns

COMMENTATORS: Michael Cole & Corey Graves

The season premiere of SmackDown features two championship matches, as The Street Profits defend against Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode and Roman Reigns defends the Universal Championship against RAW draftee Braun Strowman. Also on the show The New Day say “farewell” to the blue brand in one final six-man tag team match, Sasha Banks and Bayley have a contract signing that in no way goes off the rails, and Daniel Bryan makes his first appearance in the WWE THUNDAHDOOOOME.

CHAMPIONS

  • WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPION: “The Tribal Chief” Roman Reigns
  • WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION: Sami Zayn
  • SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPION: Bayley
  • SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford)

LINEUP

  • Jeff Hardy vs. Lars Sullivan (**1/4)
  • The New Day vs. Sheamus, Cesaro, & Shinsuke Nakamura (****)
  • The Street Profits [c] vs. Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode for the SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (NR)
  • Roman Reigns [c] vs. Braun Strowman for the WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP (**1/2)

*****

-Full opening video and pyro display for the season premiere. Roster is on stage, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in the ring. They hype tonight’s show as well as the various new faces on the SmackDown roster. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode attack The Street Profits and a big ol’ brawl breaks out among the various superstars. Lars Sullivan shows up and lays waste to the Profits and Kalisto, Jeff Hardy attacks Sullivan and sends him to the floor. Their match is next.

  • Dumb and pointless opening segment but harmless I guess.

“The Charismatic Enigma” Jeff Hardy vs. “The Freak” Lars Sullivan

Jeff Jarrett is shown in the virtual audience, HEAVILY pixelated because these screens look terrible up close. Production team did not learn their lesson as the night went on, unfortunately. Sullivan bodies Hardy and connects with crossfaces to the side of the jaw. Graphic says SmackDown will be on FS1 next week, must be some sports thing going on. Hope Sling TV is smart enough to record it. Hardy dodges a top rope splash (FREAKY) and connects with a jawbreaker but can’t take Sullivan off his feet. Action moves to the floor, Sullivan catches Hardy mid-air and throws him on the apron. Hardy connects with a Twist of Fate and heads to the top, but Sullivan IMMEDIATELY gets to his feet; Hardy gets taken aback due to the shock and Sullivan takes advantage, peeling him off the top turnbuckle for the Freak Accident and win.

Lars Sullivan defeated Jeff Hardy via pinfall (4:17)

  • Jeff Hardy loses nothing by putting someone over and did a good job making Lars look like a threat. Match was alright, I liked Hardy being super confused at the Twist of Fate having no effect. I’m not super sold on Lars yet, at least the main roster version (I don’t remember if I said nice things during his NXT run or not to be honest), continues giving me Snitsky vibes in terms of a character. Also WWE is really overdoing it on calling Lars a freak; he looks like a normal guy to me, to be honest. (**1/4)

The New Day (Big E, Xavier Woods, & Kofi Kingston) make their way to the ring for the “final” time on SmackDown. They get emotional talking about the past six years, Woods happy they took a chance on him when he came to them with the idea and Kingston happy to have made “brothers” which trumps everything they’ve done in the ring. They cut the sappy stuff and say they’re going to get it done more time because NEW DAY ROCKS.

  • WWE has a habit of not sticking to things and I really hope “splitting up the New Day” is one of those things they go back on. I’ll forgive them for it. At least they didn’t break up due to a heel turn or anything. I wonder what things are going to look like when they are actually on different brands; I assume Big E is going to get new theme music/maybe a new look while Woods & Kingston are probably keeping the whole New Day thing going. Next week might be weird.

Kayla Braxton interviews Sheamus, Cesaro, & Shinsuke Nakamura. They are more than willing to ruin their final night on SmackDown.

  • If anyone deserves to ruin The New Day’s final night together it’s Cesaro, given all the time he’s spent these past six years battling them in various combinations. DO IT FOR TYSON KIDD, CESARO!

The New Day (Big E, Xavier Woods, & Kofi Kingston) vs. Sheamus, Cesaro, & Shinsuke Nakamura

New Day dance along to Nakamura’s theme as the heels make their entrance, which is the best and also GODDAMMIT WWE YOU BETTER STRAPPING UP BIG E OR SOME SH*T IF YOU’RE SPLITTING THIS UP. 

Woods controls Nakamura with an armbar, tags in Kingston who connects with a cave-in. Nakamura responds with a heel kick and tags Cesaro, who hit a double hip toss and turn the former WWE Champeen into a wishbone. Kingston fights back with a dropkick, Big E tags in who then tags Woods in so they get the five seconds needed for Woods to PICK BIG E UP and throw him on Cesaro for a two-count. Sheamus tags in, and he and Cesaro revert to old Bar double-teams. The Bar rocked. Big E tags in and powerbombs Woods on Sheamus, Kingston tags in and hits a frog splash but it’s not enough. Nakamura pulls the top rope, Kingston spills to the floor, Sheamus and Cesaro hold him so Nakamura can get a strong-style knee to the ribs, Cesaro following up with a suplex. AWESOME. The heels keep the quick tags coming as they wear Kingston down, keeping him isolated to their corner to prevent any tags. Kingston tries to fight out, Sheamus tags in and pulls Kingston off the top buckle and sending him bouncing off the apron as the show goes to commercial.

Back live Kingston hits Sheamus with the S.O.S. and Big E gets the hot tag. Belly-to-belly suplexes for Cesaro followed by a Warrior Splash. Cesaro escapes the Big Ending and counters with a deadlift gutwrench suplex. Woods tags in, New Day hit a backstabber/urinage combo (the Morning Woods, wakka wakka) for the 1…2…not yet. Woods gets hung out to dry on the middle rope, Nakamura hits a sliding German suplex for the 1…2…Woods kicks out. Kingston tags in, tope to Cesaro and Nakamura on the floor, Kingston rolls Nakamura in and ends up flying right into a kick (the style of it appeared to be strong). Cesaro tags in, Cesaro Swing into a kick from Nakamura, Sheamus tags in and hits an assisted White Noise for the 1…2…Big E breaks up the pinfall. Big E hits the Big Ending on Sheamus, Nakamura drops Big E, Woods drops Nakamura, Sheamus drops Woods. Kingston dodges Sheamus in the corner, Big E tags in and hits a Big Ending on Sheamus as Woods comes off the top with a DDT for the 1…2…3.

The New Day defeated Sheamus, Cesaro, & Shinsuke Nakamura via pinfall (11:46 shown)

  • If I pretend to take WWE at face value about brand splits and this is indeed New Day’s final match together a three-person unit then it was a helluva way to say goodbye. Excellent match, excellent use of the five-count between tags, Big E picking up the pinfall made perfect sense since he’s staying on the brand. I loved it. I don’t want The New Day to be split up. I am in denial. (****)

The New Day embrace after the match, Big E thanking them for the six years. Xavier Woods cries. Right there with you, boo boo.


Kayla Braxton tries to interview 2020 Money in the Bank contract holder Otis about The Miz’s lawsuit continuing but gets interrupted by a mocking Sami Zayn who reminds Otis both his best friend (Tucker) and girlfriend (Mandy Rose) have been drafted to RAW. Otis attacks Zayn, surprising the Intercontinental Champ.


DANIEL BRYAN RETURNS

Daniel Bryan out to the ring, his first appearance in the Thunderdome and his first appearance altogether in four months. Bryan’s wife Brie Bella and their daughter Birdie are shown as members of the virtual audience, and the YES! Chant continues to work even without physical people in the crowd. Bryan loves the Thunderdome and hypes up all the fresh faces on the roster from Bianca Belair to Aleister Black.

Seth Rollins comes out to interrupt, perturbed that Bryan didn’t mention his name as people he’s excited to see given he’s the most important acquisition made in the WWE Draft. Rollins asks Bryan what side of history he wants to be on and says anyone who isn’t with him is against him. Bryan calls Rollins’ “vision” self-centered and dumb, just plain dumb. Rollins says it’s not, Bryan keeps calling it dumb so Rollins attacks him. Bryan fights back and Rollins tries to retreat but out come Rey & Dominik Mysterio, Rollins’ sworn enemies. They stalk Rollins back into the ring, Bryan leaving to let the Messiah get his just desserts. Murphy runs out and teases siding with his former mentor but instead attacks Rollins and sends him running after a jumping knee. Murphy offers a handshake to Rey & Dominik but they both refuse, given everything he has helped put the Mysterio family through at Rollins’ side.

  • Bryan mocking Rollins’ messiah thing was fun, the rest of it was fine. Maybe WWE thinks this storyline will play better on network TV than it did on cable. I don’t watch RAW so I’m not as burned out on it as others, which I probably said last week and will continue to say until I am burned out, so I’m willing to see it through. At least Murphy gets to do stuff.

Jay Glazer (which I heard as Jake Laser and was REAL mad to see it wasn’t that) from the NFL on FOX team checks in to say absolutely nothing of interest. SYNERGY.

Street Profits make their way out for the first defense of the SmackDown Tag Team Championship, pre-recorded comments from the team saying they want the smoke. Their Solo cups are still red, but I hope they switch to blue now that they’re on the blue brand.


The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) [c] vs. Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode for the SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP

Dawkins bodies Ziggler around a bit, Roode tags in and connects with a suplex. He cheap shots Ford, Ziggler tags in and gets popped up for a Fameasser and a two-count. Ford runs in to help his partner and eventually the ref calls for the bell. No winner announced. Oh.

The Street Profits fought Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode to no official decision; Street Profits retain the SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (1:29)

  • Fake match to get a feud going. K. (NR)

Ziggler & Roode hit Dawkins with their spinebuster/Zig Zag combo, Ford clears them from the ring after a top rope flying crossbody he gets CRAZY height on. Street Profits stand tall, story will continue at some point.


HELL IN A CELL CONTRACT SIGNING

Bayley and Sasha Banks make their way to the ring to make their Hell in a Cell match official for, uh, Hell in a Cell, WWE official Adam Pearce presiding over the dealings. Poor Adam Pearce, always gotta be getting contracts signed. Shouldn’t he make a PA do that? Banks happily signs and says she’s been waiting for this for a long time. Bayley is also happy to get this done and be rid of Banks, and brags that her reign as Women’s Champion was all thanks to herself and herself alone. Bayley accuses Banks of wanting to turn on her the whole time but she beat her to the punch. Banks says she could have done it any time if she wanted but didn’t because friends don’t turn their backs on each other (well I mean they do, it happened). Banks reminds Bayley of all the times she’s been at her side and how she helped her, and vows to END Bayley at Hell in a Cell, taking her title being the cherry on top. She shoves the contract at Bayley, who gets up and REFUSES to sign. Banks vows that Bayley will sign this contract one way or another.

  • I love the fire from Banks, and Bayley brushing it off and believing her own hype. Bayley not wanting to sign despite the match already being announced and sh*t is pretty dumb, making WWE look stupid for promoting a match they didn’t already have locked in, but I’m sure they’ll figure out a way to get it done next week. Maybe Banks knocks her out and uses Bayley’s own hand to sign the contract, which will be considered official despite it being super illegal.

Ken Jeong, Joel McHale, and George Kittle all congratulate WWE via pre-recorded messages on the season premiere.


“The Tribal Chief” Roman Reigns [c] [w/ Paul Heyman] vs. Braun Strowman for the WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP

Strowman is a RAW draftee but is looking to regain the title and bring it with him. He’s also got kind of a Diesel thing going on with trains and gloves and sh*t. Reigns has finally ditched the SWAT vest and it’s the best. NOW DITCH THE MUSIC. Jey Uso, Reigns’ opponent for Hell in a Cell, watches backstage.

Reigns tosses Strowman to the floor then sends him back there with a Superman Punch. Reigns follows up with the Drive-By and covers, Strowman emphatically kicks out at 1. Action moves to the floor, Strowman sends Reigns into the post and over the announce table then bodies him over the barricade heading into the commercial break.

Back live in time to see Strowman throw Reigns halfway across the ring. Goldberg is shown watching in the virtual audience. Interesting. Strowman connects with a chokeslam for the 1…2…Reigns gets the shoulder up, and “accidentally” low blows Strowman as he does. LOVE IT. I F*CKING LOVE THAT. Reigns hits Strowman with the Spear for the 1…2…Strowman kicks out! Strowman goes for the Running Powerslam, Reigns counters into a GUILLOTINE CHOKE. Strowman tries to fight out but Reigns hangs on and falls to the mat, eventually tapping (according to Cole, I didn’t actually see a tap).

Roman Reigns [c] defeated Braun Strowman via submission to retain the WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP (7:15 shown)

  • Good main event, loved Reigns pulling out a submission move to prove he has something in his bag of tricks for the I Quit Match. This Roman Reigns is the best. (**1/2)

Jey Uso comes out to the stage. Reigns tells him to watch and cracks Strowman repeatedly with a chair. Reigns tells Uso they is how they eat and if he’s not on top they can’t. He beckons Uso to the ring and tells him he loves him but that he’s embarrassing him, saying Uso trying to take his place as the chief makes no sense. Reigns kicks the chair to Uso and turns his back, telling him to take his spot. Uso throws the chair down, emotional over the idea, then surprises Reigns with a superkick. He picks up the chair, says “I love you too”, and hits Reigns repeatedly with the chair. Officials come out and hold Uso back, leaving him open to a Superman Punch from Reigns. Reigns says this was Uso’s last chance and leaves the ring as officials check on Uso.

  • HOT AS F*CK WAY TO END THE SHOW. Loved everything about this. WWE making Jey Uso into a viable challenger is proof they can still make things work when they want to. This whole storyline has been aces, and I can’t wait to see how that I Quit match turns out at Hell in a Cell. More of this. MORE OF THIS.

*****

FINAL THOUGHTS: WWE delivered with their season premiere of SmackDown. A great send-off for The New Day, a fun segment with Daniel Bryan, and the absolute BANGER of a final segment between Roman Reigns and Jey Uso. I loved it. I love being excited to watch a main roster show again.

  • MATCH OF THE NIGHT: The New Day vs. Sheamus, Cesaro, & Shinsuke Nakamura
  • MOMENT OF THE NIGHT: The New Day’s emotional post-match farewell. Again I really hope WWE gives in to ADD and retcons this.

 

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