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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
DECEMBER 27, 2019
DETROIT, MI AT LITTLE CAESARS ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON FOX NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-The show opened with a wide shot of Little Caesars Arena as Greg Hamilton welcomed Elias, who was standing in the center of the ring his guitar. He began playing a new song, recapping 2019 and looking forward to 2020, while previewing tonight’s show. He concluded by saying “it’s Friday Night Smackdown, and it starts right now.”
(LeClair’s Analysis: Seriously? What in the world was the purpose of this?)
-The standard Smackdown opening music montage aired.
-A large pyro show gave way to Michael Cole, who said they had a huge way to close out 2019. Corey Graves said the triple threat match to determine the number one contender for the Universal Title match would happen right away.
-Daniel Bryan headed to the ring. Cole and Graves discussed The Fiend’s trail of destruction. King Corbin entered on his throne with a microphone. He said Smackdown is his kingdom and they’ll do things his way. He called the audience bottom feeders. He called Miz and Bryan terrible fathers and conceded they’d both main evented WrestleMania in the past.
Corbin said he thinks The Fiend ripped out some of Bryan’s brain matter with his hair. Corbin said it’s a disgrace that he even has to compete to earn a title shot. He claimed he’d already done so by beating Roman Reigns twice. “The WWE Universe should be begging me to vanquish Bray Wyatt,” Corbin said. He said he’s the most powerful Superstar.
Corbin said Bryan is no longer Championship material. He said Miz plays an action hero in the movies, but not in real life. “I’m the only one with the ability to beat Bray Wyatt.” Roman Reigns’ music played.
Corbin’s security detail became flustered, tipping the sedan and dropping Corbin to the floor. He stood, irate. Roman Reigns was standing behind Corbin, waiting. He gave Corbin two big uppercuts. Corbin shoved Reigns into the barrier, but Reigns quickly recovered and hit Corbin with a Superman punch.
Reigns tried to spear Corbin, but Corbin leaped over the ringside barrier and escaped through the crowd. Referees and agents surrounded Reigns, preventing him from giving chase. Cole and Graves wondered what would become of the triple threat match. The show went to commercial.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Interesting way to open up the show. Corbin’s promos are becoming insanely monotonous, but thankfully this one didn’t take up too much time. Reigns’ interference garnered a nice reaction from the crowd, and it seems they enjoyed seeing him send Corbin packing. I dislike the way they rely heavily on this chaos, though. There was no real official decision to postpone the match to later in the night, or reschedule it all together. Someone interfered prior to the bell so now, by WWE logic, it’s just assumed that the match can no longer take place at the given time. This happens too frequently.)
-After the break, Corbin was shown backstage, screaming at officials, asking for the triple threat match to be postponed. Cole and Graves debated the merits of Corbin’s request.
-Big E’s voice filled the speakers. He and Kofi Kingston headed to the ring. Kofi tossed out pancakes from the ring as Big E shook his hips vigorously. Braun Strowman joined them for a six man tag team match.
(1) THE NEW DAY (Kofi Kingston & Big E) & BRAUN STROWMAN vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA & SAMI ZAYN & CESARO
Michael Cole noted that this was Sami Zayn’s first time wrestling in “quite some time.” Big E began the match with Cesaro. The two locked up. Cesaro slapped on a headlock. He and Big E traded control for a moment before Big E made a tag into Kofi Kingston.
Kofi and Cesaro traded shots, then Cesaro made a quick tag to Shinsuke Nakamura. Kofi countered a couple takedown attempts and dropped Shinsuke with a spinning elbow. Kofi tossed Nakamura to the outside and prepared to leap onto him, but Sami Zayn cut him off by grabbing his leg from the apron. Nakamura slid back in, took Kofi down, and tagged in Sami.
Sami stomped and punched Kofi repeatedly. He tossed Kofi to the outside, then jawed at Big E and Braun Strowman. On the outside, Cesaro clotheslined Kofi over the announcers desk. Strowman and Big E left their corner to face off with the heels. Cole sent the show to commercial.
Cesaro held Kofi back from making a tag as the show returned from break. He caught Cesaro with a dropkick. Cesaro crawled to his corner and reached Nakamura. Shinsuke cut off Kofi before he could make a tag. Nakamura and Cesaro traded another tag and continued to work over Kingston’s limbs. Cesaro hit Kofi with a gut wrench suplex for a two count.
Kofi rolled through a flapjack attempt from Cesaro into a roll up for a two count. Both men shot to their feet. Cesaro blasted Kofi with an uppercut and tagged in Nakamura. Nakamura continued the assault, driving his knees repeatedly into Kofi’s ribs. Kofi battled out of a headlock and tried to make a tag. Nakamura transitioned into an abdominal stretch. Nakamura mocked Big E’s “New Day Rocks” slap.
Kofi broke free and caught Nakamura with the SOS. He crawled slowly to his corner. Nakamura tagged in Cesaro and cut Kofi off. He tried to knock Braun Strowman off the apron, but Braun caught his wrist. Sami Zayn grabbed Strowman’s ankle. Strowman hopped to the floor to take care of Zayn. Cesaro rushed to the outside and threw Strowman into the barricade.
Back in the ring, Cesaro tagged in Nakamura. Kofi reached his corner, but there was no one to tag. Nakamura caught Kingston with the sliding German suplex. He covered, but Big E broke it up. Nakamura caught Big E with a quick kick. He set up for the Kinshasa on Kingston. Kofi cut it off with a double stomp to the chest in mid-air.
Kofi crawled to his corner and tagged in Braun Strowman. Strowman dropped Nakamura repeatedly. Shinsuke fell to the outside. Braun looked to the crowd, then ran through Nakamura and Cesaro. He tried to catch Zayn, but Nakamura cut him off with a Kinshasa off the steel steps. Nakamura went for a second Kinshasa in the ring, but Strowman hit him with a clothesline, turning him inside out.
Strowman went for the running power slam. Cesaro pulled Shinsuke down and hit Strowman with a springboard uppercut. Big E pulled Cesaro out of the ring and tossed him into the timekeeper’s area. Zayn tossed Nakamura the pancake platter. Kofi wrestled it away from him and hit him in the back of the head with it. Nakamura stumbled into Strowman’s arms. Braun hit him with a running power slam for a three count.
WINNERS: The New Day & Braun Strowman in 12:00
After the match, Kofi got on the microphone and requested that Braun Strowman dance with he and Big E. He said the monster has a “great set of hips on him.” Strowman seemed reluctant at first, pushing Big E and Kofi away. The crowd chanted “get these hips.” Strowman danced. New Day loved it.
(LeClair’s Analysis: The last few chaotic minutes were fun. As is normally the case with WWE TV tag matches, there was too much reliance on the extended beatdown of the babyface leading to the hot tag. I know this is a tried and true formula, but at times, they take it to an extreme, and this was one of those scenarios. Kofi got beat down mercilessly for several minutes of the match’s twelve minute runtime, which also included a commercial break. Strowman’s hot tag was certainly over with the crowd, though.
As for the dancing, I presume this will be largely frowned upon, and I understand why. My initial gut reaction was to hate it. I certainly don’t like it, but, at this point, Strowman is hardly a central character and dancing with some popular babyfaces isn’t likely to have any negative impact on him in the long run, even if it is juvenile and stupid and unbecoming.)
-Backstage, Kayla Braxton was shown talking to the on-site doctor about King Corbin. Cole said we’d get an update on the status of the triple threat match after the break.
-After a recap of the show’s opening, we rejoined Kayla Braxton backstage in front of the trainer’s office. Kayla said Corbin has refused to compete and demanded the match be rescheduled. Kayla said WWE officials have informed her that the match will go as scheduled, but will not be a one on one match between Bryan and Miz. Graves said this was a tragic, unjust development.
-Backstage, Sonya Deville was shown signing a bunch of WWE programs. Mandy Rose approached her.She said they had to go to the ring, because her match with Carmella is next. Sonya scoffed, saying Mandy expects her to go to the ring with her even though Mandy wasn’t there for her last week. Mandy said she was covered in Otis’ sweat. Sonya said she’d deliver the signed programs and then join her.
Mandy turned to leave, but Otis was behind her. He seemed nervous. Otis had his mom’s famous holiday fruit cake. He said his mom made it for Mandy after seeing her gift him a ham and a kiss. Otis apologized for sweating on her dress. She said it was no big deal. Mandy said she had to leave for her match. Otis reached out to her, longingly. “That was awkward,” Graves said.
-Carmella headed to the ring. They cut to an inset promo from Carmella, talking up her victory over Sonya last week and promising to show Mandy why “Mella is money.” Cole said the match would happen next.
After the break, Carmella’s music continued to play as Cole and Graves announced Roman Reigns would face Dolph Ziggler on Fox’s New Years Eve special with Steve Harvey. Mandy Rose headed to the ring, sans Sonya.
(2) CARMELLA vs. MANDY ROSE
Mandy Rose and Carmella locked up in the center of the ring. Rose backed Carmella into the corner and drove her shoulder into Carmella’s midsection repeatedly. Carmella fought her way out and moonwalked to the other side of the ring. Mandy tackled Carmella and threw some punches.
Both women returned to their feet. Rose shot Carmella off the ropes and hit her with a nice dropkick. She covered her for a quick two count. Mandy contorted Carmella’s arms around her own neck and drove her knee into Carmella’s back. Carmella fought to her feet slowly. Mandy dropped her by the hair. She trashed talked Carmella. Carmella slapped Mandy in the face. Mandy slapped her back.
Carmella mounted Mandy and threw a handful of punches. She caught Mandy with an elbow, then a big booth when the two returned upright. Carmella hit a hurricanrana followed by a clothesline and covered Mandy for a two count. Mandy caught Carmella with a drop toe hold, bouncing her face off the apron.
Carmella rolled up Mandy for a two count. Mandy reversed it for a two count of her own. Carmella caught Mandy with a backslide. Mandy fought free. Carmella caught her with a super kick for a three count.
WINNER: Carmella in 4:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: This felt highly choreographed and incredibly rough around the edges. I’m not at all sure what they’re attempting to accomplish with Mandy or Sonya, other than splitting them up, but they can’t win together, and they can’t win on their own. This isn’t a matter of them being “better off” without each other, they just flat out can’t win.)
-The show returned from break with another Sheamus vignette. It was largely identical to the last several weeks. He said he was ready to “break down the door” on a whole new Smackdown.
-Back in the arena, Daniel Bryan was in the ring for the second time, awaiting The Miz. Miz’s music played as the second hour of the show began and he entered for the number one contender’s match.
(3) DANIEL BRYAN vs. THE MIZ – Winner faces The Fiend for the Universal title at Royal Rumble
Daniel Bryan and The Miz circled the ring, then locked up. Bryan quickly took command with chain wrestling. Miz broke free and caught him with a shoulder tackle. They circled each other again. Bryan called for a test of strength. They engaged, then Bryan broke it with a kick and worked over Miz’s arm.
Bryan dropped Miz with a stiff kick to the chest. He worked over Miz’s arm again, then shot him into the corner. Bryan connected with kicks to the midsection. He went for the running corner kick, but Miz tossed Bryan over the top and sent him to the floor. Miz shot Bryan into the carrier, then tossed him back in the ring.
Bryan quickly regained control. He went for a running kick, but Miz ducked. Both men went for simultaneous running cross bodies. They took each other out. King Corbin’s security force hit the ring and began beating down Miz and Bryan.The referee called for the bell.
WINNER: No contest in 3:00
Bryan and Miz quickly dispatched of Corbin’s lackeys. Cole and Graves wondered what would happen now.
The camera cut to King Corbin standing with Kayla Braxton in gorilla. He told her what just happened was “justice.” Corbin said Kayla should save her questions for Roman Reigns, because he’s the reason Corbin is refusing to compete. Corbin said there’s a rabid dog making the work environment unsafe. Kayla said Roman has been asked to leave. Corbin said Reigns really is gone, he’ll reenter himself into the match with Bryan and Miz.
Bryan and Miz left the ring and ran up the ramp to retrieve Corbin. They broke through Corbin’s additional security. Corbin ran away. Cole sent the show to commercial.
(LeClair’s Analysis: I’ll reserve judgment until this angle has played its course, but I really, really hope this doesn’t end with them not delivering on the match in some form or fashion tonight.)
-The show returned to Cole and Graves at the announcers desk. They confirmed that King Corbin has rejoined the match, and the triple threat will go on as originally scheduled later in the show.
-Alexa Bliss came to the stage with Nikki Cross for A Moment of Bliss. Bliss said they have their coffee and they’re happy to have Moment of Bliss back. Nikki Cross welcomed their guest, Lacey Evans.
Bliss said she likes Lacey’s music. She thanked her for coming. Bliss said Evans has stepped up to Bayley and Sasha Banks. She recapped Sasha taunting Lacey’s daughter on last week’s show. They replayed a clip. Lacey said she’s proud of her daughter and called her a brave fighter, “just like her mama.”
Lacey said she snapped when she saw Sasha in her kid’s face. She said the last place someone wants to be is in between a mother bear and her cub. Lacey said there’s nothing she wouldn’t do to someone who comes between her and her baby. Evans said if officials hadn’t pulled her off of Sasha, Banks wouldn’t have walked out of the arena.
Lacey said she isn’t going to have her back turned on a talk show, because she knows what happens. She asked Bliss to excuse her. She said she’s ready for a fight, and she headed to the ring. Cole said she’d be teaming with Dana Brooke to face Sasha Banks and Bayley.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This was not good. Bliss and Cross weren’t really given any chance to shine, and Evans, despite having some decent lines, delivered them all clumsily. She’s struggling with these long form promos, but she seems to have some raw ability. Perhaps it would’ve been wiser to let Alexa, who is gifted with a mic, lead her a bit more with question and prompt shorter, tighter answers.)
Dana Brooke’s music played. Sasha Banks and Bayley wandered onto the stage, dragging Dana Brooke with them. “You may be a good mother, but you’re a terrible tag team partner,” Sasha said. Evans gave chase. Dana Brooke fought Banks and Bayley away. All for women battled on top of the ramp. Referees rushed the stage to break them up. Cole sent the show to commercial.
(4) LACEY EVANS & DANA BROOKE vs. SASHA BANKS & BAYLEY
The bell rang as soon as the show returned from break. Bayley pounced on Lacey Evans with repeated knees. She shot her into the corner. Lacey flew out with a big clothesline. She tagged in Dana Brooke. Brooke hit Bayley with a handspring back elbow, followed by a snapmare and mounted punches.
Bayley fought free and shoved Dana into her corner. She tagged in Sasha Banks. Banks taunted Lacey Evans. Sasha slammed Brooke’s head off the turnbuckle and then drove her shoulder into Brooke’s stomach. Sasha tried to suplex Dana off the turnbuckle, but Dana countered, spun around, and hit her own suplex.
Banks quickly recovered and dropped Dana by her hair. She slapped Lacey on the apron. Lacey tried to get in the ring. The referee held her back. Banks and Bayley double teamed Brooke during the distraction. Sasha and Bayley traded tags and worked over Dana Brooke, isolating her to their corner.
Dana eventually knocked Bayley off the apron and caught Sasha with a step up enziguri. She crawled desperately to her corner. Brooke made the tag. Sasha tagged in Bayley. Evans dropped Bayley with a pair of clotheslines. She followed up with a swinging neck breaker. Evans took down Bayley with a leg sweep and then delivered a jumping elbow. She climbed to the second rope and hit a leaping moonsault. Sasha broke up the pinball attempt just in time.
Banks left the ring, but Lacey chased her. Sasha led her back into the ring, into the waiting arms of Bayley, who connected with a Bayley to Belly. Dana Brooke broke up the would-be three count. Sasha tossed Dana to the outside. Bayley tagged in Sasha. They went for a double suplex. Evans flipped out of it and reached Dana for a tag.
Lacey caught Bayley with a Woman’s Right. Sasha tossed Evans into the ring post. Dana Brooke rolled up Sasha for a two count. Sasha transitioned the cover into the Bank Statement. Brooke tapped quickly.
WINNERS: Sasha Banks & Bayley in 6:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Not a bad match. Dana’s athleticism continues to be impressive, even if she hasn’t put it all together yet. This is the first time, to me, that Lacey Evans seemed to work well as a babyface in the ring. We’ll see if the continues to improve in that respect. Banks and Bayley played their role effectively and got a necessary win.)
-Backstage, Mandy Rose licked the frosting from Otis’ mom’s fruitcake. Dolph Ziggler approached her. He asked about her New Year’s plans. Mandy said she had none. Dolph saw the fruitcake and assumed it was a gift for him. Dolph said the cake isn’t special. He said he’s pretty sure Otis gave one to everyone in the locker room. Ziggler wondered what Otis would know about a woman like Mandy. He stomped on the fruitcake. Corbin ran on screen and said he needed to speak to Dolph, dragging him away. The camera lingered on Mandy, who seemed unsure of what just transpired.
-A vignette for Ali aired, recapping his 2019.
-Backstage, Otis discovered the smashed fruitcake. He looked dejected as he picked up the pieces.
-Back in the arena, all three men were already in the ring for the triple threat match.
(5) THE MIZ vs. KING CORBIN vs. DANIEL BRYAN – Winner faces The Fiend for the Universal title at Royal Rumble
Daniel Bryan and The Miz immediately attacked King Corbin. The pelted his chest with chops and “yes” kicks. They went for the final kick, but Corbin escaped through the ropes. Miz rolled up Bryan for a surprise cover, but Bryan quickly kicked out. Bryan and Miz traded words, then quickly came to blows.
Bryan flipped off the turnbuckle, took down Miz, then dove onto Corbin through the ropes. Miz headed to the outside. Bryan threw his body at both of them off the apron. Corbin moved. Miz took out Bryan. Corbin tossed Bryan into the barricade. Bryan clutched at his knee. Corbin rolled Miz back in the ring.
Corbin began beating down Miz methodically. He tossed Miz into the ring post, then ran to the outside and dropped a recovering Daniel Bryan with a big clothesline. Corbin grabbed Miz and hit him with a choke slam backbreaker. He tossed Bryan back in the ring.
Bryan battled back with punches. Corbin cut him off with a spinning back elbow. He covered Bryan for a two count. Bryan flipped out of a back drop attempted and caught Corbin with a boot to the face. Miz returned and dropped Corbin with a reverse DDT onto the knee. Corbin pulled himself up in the corner. Bryan began hitting the “yes” kicks in the corner. Miz joined in. The two hit repeated running corner kicks.
Corbin caught Miz on an attempt and hit him with the Deep Six. Bryan quickly ascended to the top rope and hit Corbin with a missile dropkick. All three men were down in the ring. Cole sent the show to commercial.
Bryan rolled up Miz for a quick two count when the show returned from commercial. Miz got a roll up of his own. The two began trading punches. Corbin reentered, Miz took him down with a big boot. Miz cornered Corbin with “it” kicks. He pulled him to the mat and locked in the Figure Four. Bryan dove off the top rope with a headbutt to break the hold. He covered, but Corbin kicked out, still locked in the Figure Four.
Bryan rolled Corbin over into the Labell Lock, turning Miz over in the process. Miz broke the hold and broke up Bryan’s submission attempt. All three men were down again. Bryan and Miz rose and traded chops, then punches. Corbin returned. Miz went for the Skull Crushing Finale. Corbin fought out of it and hit End of Days. He covered Miz. Bryan broke it up just before a three count.
Corbin went for End of Days on Bryan. Bryan flipped through it and hit the running knee. Dolph Ziggler hopped in the ring and gave Bryan a super kick. He dragged Corbin onto Bryan. The referee forced Ziggler out of the ring before making the count. Roman Reigns dragged Corbin out of the ring before a three count.
Reigns slammed Corbin into the ring post, then hit Ziggler with a Superman punch. He tossed Corbin over the barrier. The show went to commercial.
Miz had Bryan hung up in the corner when the show returned from break. Cole confirmed that Reigns and Corbin brawled out of the arena during the break. Miz dropped Bryan and climbed to the top rope. Miz cut him off. He delivered an anchored superplex, hoisting himself back up to the top rope after dropping Miz. Bryan tried to stand. Miz cut him off.
Miz set up for and delivered a shinbreaker off the second rope. Bryan rose to his knees. Miz delivered the “it” kicks. Bryan caught the last one and caught Miz in the face with an open strike. He began the “yes” kicks, favoring his leg. Miz cut Bryan’s offense off with double knees to Bryan’s wounded leg. Miz started working over the other knee.
Miz went for a springboard move, but Bryan ducked it and took Miz down into an armor. He tried to transition into the Labell lock. Miz bit Bryan’s hand to prevent it. He rolled Bryan up for a two count. Bryan rolled to his feet and caught Miz with a kick to the head. He set himself up in the corner, rallying the crowd.
Miz went for the running knee. Miz countered into a Skull Crushing Finale. He covered, but Bryan kicked out at two. Miz immediately locked in a Figure Four in the center of the ring. Bryan broke the hold with punches. He rolled through, looking for the Labell lock again. Miz contorted his body, but Bryan got him anyway. Miz tapped.
WINNER: Daniel Bryan in 21:00
The Firefly Fun House title card and music played as Bryan celebrated. Bray congratulated Bryan on his win. He said Bryan is about to have “so much fun,” but said “he” isn’t quite done with Bryan yet. Bray asked if Bryan was willing to do whatever it takes. “Are you willing to let him in?” Bryan threw up his hands and led the crowd in his response as the show faded to black.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Really good match, and worth the wait after the teasing throughout the night. It’s hard not to assume they’re pulling the rug out from underneath you whenever WWE goes with a non-finish to a previously advertised match, but the long build to anchor the show throughout the night wound up working well, and this was an above average TV match that falls within the parameters of WWE’s typical chaotic triple threat style. Bryan and Miz worked really hard, and Miz always seemed particularly motivated when he works with Bryan. Bray Wyatt’s brief appearance worked well and put a bow on the situation, setting up their match nicely.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: This show was a pretty marked improvement over last week, and though I had my doubts about WWE coming through on the advertised main event due to multiple false starts and non-finishes, they wound up delivering an excellent main event and the controversies throughout the night helped anchor the show and give it some nice structure. I still find King Corbin to be overexposed and overbearing, but his mic time was kept to a minimum tonight and he was solid in the main event. Bryan and Miz put on excellent performances. On the undercard, Lacey Evans had a stronger in ring showing but failed to captivate on the microphone. Bliss and Cross were underutilized, but Dana Brooke showed continued improvement. Make what you will of Braun Strowman dancing, but hopefully it’s just a one-off “feel good” moment for the final Smackdown of 2019. There are certainly worse ways the blue brand could have signed off this year.