SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JANUARY 3, 2020
AIRED LIVE ON FOX NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-A video package recapped last week’s happenings with Daniel Bryan winning the Triple Threat match to earn a shot against The Fiend, The Fiend showing up on the big screen saying he doesn’t think “he” is done with him yet, and then Bryan leading the crowd in a “Yes!” chant.
-Backstage Bryan was shown taping his wrists. A strange way to open a show. Oh, wait, Miz just walked in to make it interesting. Whew, that’s a relief. (What if Miz didn’t walk up to Bryan? Did they think showing Bryan taping his fists was a good way to open the show?) Miz shot Bryan a tense look. Miz said Fiend violated his home and the room where his daughter sleeps. He said there is nothing in the world he needs more than to avenge what The Fiend did to his family. He said he’s going to take away everything he cares about. Miz said Bryan beat him and has earned the right, so he has to figure out what to do next. He told him to beat The Fiend at The Rumble
-The Smackdown opening theme aired. Are you ready for a good time?
-They went inside the venue for a pyro show. (Was that Tony Khan in the front row in a white shirt and glasses yelling enthusiastically?) The augmented reality sponsored scoreboard indicated they were in Memphis. Graves hyped the Roman Reigns & Bryan vs. King Corbin & Dolph Ziggler main event.
-As Sasha and Bayley made their way to the ring, they went to the announcers on camera to talk about the Triple Threat tag match scheduled first. Bayley and Sasha spoke first from mid-ring. Bayley said the fans who have changed their lifestyles to being healthier, it won’t last. She said change is hard, and she can see the people in the crowd don’t have what it takes to commit to changing their “pathetic lives.” Bayley said they did what was necessary in 2019 and they ended the year as leaders of the Smackdown locker room. As she brought up Lacey Evans, Lacey’s music interrupted. She came out with Dana Brooke.
Lacey said those two can’t keep her daughter’s name out of their mouths. She said she has “fought this entire time and it is her passion to set a positive impact and example and build a better life for her daughter.” She said it makes her sick they are trying to use a seven year old to get to her. She said it’s her New Year’s Resolution to show that the bad guys can be stopped regardless of the cards stacked against them.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross came out next. Bliss said she can see the intense personal issues between the other two teams, so she asked Nikki if they even belong in the match. Nikki said of course they do, if they ever want to get back the tag team titles. Bliss agreed. She said they’d start 2020 with a win. [c]
(1) DANA BROOKE & LACEY EVANS vs. NIKKI CROSS & BAYLEY vs. SASHA BANKS & BAYLEY
Cole talked up Dana’s potential. Bliss side-stepped a charging Bayley, who knocked Dana off the ring apron. Cross leaped onto a crowd on the floor a minute later, but Sasha avoided it. She then threw Cross into the ringside steps. They cut to a break at 4:00. [c]
As Sasha and Bayley dominated Dana, Graves talked up their teamwork and said it’s an advantage they have been best friends so long in and out of the ring. Dana eventually hit Bayley with a step-up enzuigiri and hot-tagged in Lacey. She landed a standing moonsault on Bayley. Lacey wiped her brow, then landed a running roundkick to Bayley’s chest. Sasha pulled Bayley out of the path of a Lacey moonsault. Bayley then hit the Bayley-to-Belly for a near fall, with Nikki and Alexa breaking it up. Sasha and Bayley took over on Nikki and double-teamed her. Then Lacey tagged in and made a comeback. She hit Sasha with the Woman’s Right, then Dana tagged in and hit a top rope flip senton for the three count. Dana stood on the second rope and flexed her biceps after the match.
WINNER: Dana & Lacey in 12:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good tag match. Dana being given the pinfall win indicates they’re looking to push her more.)
-Cole threw to a clip of last week’s incident between Ziggler and Mandy Rose. Then they went backstage to Otis lifting a metal barrel. Mandy walked up and asked if his mom made anything special for the holiday. Otis frowned and said “Why don’t you ask Dolph Ziggler.” Otis said his mama saw that. Tucker walked in and told Otis it’s time to focus because they’ve got a match. Mandy looked sympathetic. [c]
-A Royal Rumble commercial aired. Cole said he can’t believe the Rumble is three weeks from Sunday.
-Backstage Big E was covering a plate of pancakes drenched in syrup spelling out “2020.” Miz walked up and said he’s not in the mood to celebrate. Big E said he “watched the balls drop.” Kofi said only one ball dropped so what was he watching. Big E said he didn’t know. Kofi said Miz had a great decade. He said he headlined WrestleMania, married Maryse, became the father of two beautiful children, and held more titles in the 2010s than anyone else. Big E said he actually tied with Kofi for that record. Kofi said he was trying to cheer up Miz and make him feel better, so he didn’t have to mention that. Kofi said, “It’s all good.” Kofi asked for a fist bump so they could each win even more titles. Miz didn’t change his serious expression. He said this isn’t about titles, it’s about The Fiend invading the sanctity of his family. “Do you have any idea what that feels like?” he asked. (Yes, because we miraculously had seven different camera angles of the whole incident on both floors of Miz’s home.) Miz said if Kofi wants to start off the new year right, how about they fight. He knocked down the pancake platter. Kofi said the challenge is accepted. He held back Big E. Miz wished them Happy New Year and walked away.
-Elias stood mid-ring and strummed his guitar. He said he hopes Sami gets punched in the jaw and if Shane McMahon returns, please send his ass to Raw. He said Revival needs to change, that’s a fact, they’re harder to watch than Dolph Ziggler’s comedy act. He said if Baron Corbin went missing, he wouldn’t complain, that guys like an STD, he just won’t go away. He pointed at the crowd and said, “This guy knows.” Elias said all hope is not lost because at Royal Rumble, everybody walks with him. He was cheered. Cole said Elias was great on Fox on New Year’s Eve with Steve Harvey.
(Keller’s Analysis: So for those tracking, Elias is a babyface.)
-Cole and Graves commented on clips from two weeks ago when The Revival battled Heavy Machinery in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight match. They went to a clip from earlier in the day of Dawson talking with Dash about his back being all torn up from that match. Dawson said they’ve worked way too hard for this company to be made into two clowns. In walked Shorty G. He said they shouldn’t let what Elias says bother him. Shorty said he has stopped listening to the noise and embraced who he is. He said it was the best decision he ever made. Dash said he never thought of it that way before and didn’t realize that he quit his job as the New Year’s Baby to take a motivational speaking job. Dawson asked if mommy let him stay out late on New Year’s Eve. Shorty said that would have bothered him in the past. He said his new motto is “Rise Over Size.” He said he learned that when you’re comfortable in your own skin, you can do anything. Dash and Dawson said he can do anything except beat one of them in a match. Shorty challenged Dash to a match. Dash accepted the challenge. Revival walked away calling him “little guy” and “squirt.”
-Shorty made his way to the ring. Cole called him inspirational. [c]
-A Raw commercial hyped the Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio rematch next Monday.
(2) SHORTY G vs. DASH WILDER (w/Scott Dawson)
Dawson joined Cole and Graves on commentary. Cole gave Dawson a hard time for picking on Shorty G. Cole called Dawson “Andre” and said if they won a match now and then, maybe they wouldn’t be put in such “gimmick matches.” (Cole throwing some shade!) Dawson asked Cole to explain why Shorty is inspirational. Cole mentioned Shorty G was in the Olympics in 2012. Shorty G got Dash to tap out to an anklelock out of nowhere.
WINNER: Shorty G in 3:00.
-Dawson attacked Shorty after the match. The Revival gave Shorty a Shatter Machine. Sheamus’s music then played. Cole said, “Wait minute! He’s back!” Sheamus walked out and marched to the ring. Cole said Sheamus says Smackdown has gone soft. Revival fled. Sheamus then gave Shorty G a Brogue Kick. Some fans chanted “Welcome Back!”
(Keller’s Analysis: Nice bump by Shorty for the Brogue Kick. Good swerve that Sheamus was showing up to be a babyface and defend Shorty. I already had the “reset and restart” tag match after the break in mind for Sheamus & Shorty vs. The Revival after the break. I’m just stunned that WWE so often has the announcers act agnostic about heel’s doing dastardly acts like Sheamus attacking a vulnerable Shorty. Cole was happy to see Revival scurry out of the ring, but he didn’t take any exception to Sheamus attacking Shorty like that. He just said Sheamus vowed to take out “lesser men” and he would be hard to stop. How do heels get heat when the “narrative voice” that is Cole doesn’t seem bothered by the actual act meant to get him heat?) [c]
(3) KOFI KINGSTON (w/Big E) vs. THE MIZ
Cole said two top tier stars are about to collide. New Day came out first, then Miz.
Miz took control a few minutes in. Cole asked if Miz could channel his emotions and energy in a positive way inside the ring. Miz hit a series of running knees until Kofi kicked him. Kofi then leaped off the top rope with forearm. He set up a Trouble in Paradise, but of course telegraphed it with claps and crowd chants that he started. Miz ducked and went for the Skull Crushing Finale. Kofi slipped free and rolled up Miz for the three count.
WINNER: Kingston in 4:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I am curious if that roll-up win makes Kofi the new 24/7 Champion.)
-Miz sat up wide-eyed. Cole said frustrations are building for Miz. Graves said there’s no shame in losing to Kofi. Miz attacked Kofi after the match. Big E made a quick save. Miz marched to the back. Cole said Miz is an absolute emotional wreck, having been changed by Bray. He said Miz is on edge. Miz yelled at the fans for booing him. “After all I’ve done for you! I’ve given you everything!” he yelled.
(Keller’s Analysis: We’ll see over time if Miz can pull off this emotionally unstable intense persona. He’s giving it a good effort, but it’s not a particularly natural role for him. He was pretty spent in the prior babyface role, so change is worth trying)
-An unnamed woman (Cathy Kelley) interviewed Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns backstage. Bryan said Miz is mentally breaking, but that happens when you face The Fiend. He said he’s the only one who hasn’t broken after facing The Fiend. He said he’ll prove it by walking out of the Rumble as the champion. Reigns said that’s great because he’s going to enter and win the Rumble. He looked at Bryan and said he’s been waiting for this opportunity for a long time. He said nobody took his Universal Championship away from him. “You better be ready!” he said. Bryan said if he’s trying to fire him up, he’s ready and always will be. He said they have to team together first. Reigns said their opponents aren’t ready for them.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s doubtful Reigns would say he’s winning the Rumble if he weren’t going to win the Rumble since top babyfaces usually don’t make such boasts and not fulfill them. I’m not at all against Bryan beating The Fiend to set up Reigns-Bryan at WM, although being this overt about hinting at it would tend to indicate it’s not happening.)
-Heavy Machinery made their ring entrance. [c]
-The announcers commented on a replay of the Miz-New Day angle. Then they threw backstage to that unidentified female colleague from earlier who knocked on Miz’s locker room door. John Morrison answered the door. He said Miz doesn’t have anything left to say tonight and then closed the door.
(Keller’s Analysis: Is this setting up New Day vs. Miz & Morrison, with Miz & Morrison as heels?)
-They went to Cole and Graves at ringside. Graves said they’ve heard rumblings that Morrison was heading back to WWE, and he said Miz looks like he could use a friend.
(4) OTIS (w/Tucker) vs. DREW GULAK
Otis and Tucker were in the ring. Drew walked out and said he’s an expert on matters of the heart, and there’s no way Mandy will ever date him. Otis looked perturbed. Drew said she’s more likely to date someone who looks like Ziggler or himself. He said Otis looks like he is leaking butter. He said he has prepared a powerpoint slide presentation. He showed an unflattering cartoon image of Mandy and Otis. Otis heard enough and yanked Drew into the ring. They showed Mandy and Sonya Deville watching the match on a monitor backstage. Ziggler walked in and said he made a mistake and everybody makes mistakes. Cole said Mandy told Ziggler he should apologize. Otis dominated early. Drew slapped Otis and kept saying Mandy would never date him. Cole asked why Drew would want to make him angry. Otis then took control and did the Caterpillar.
WINNER: Otis in 3:00.
-They showed Braun Strowman walking backstage. [c]
(5) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. CESARO (w/Shinsuke Nakamura, Sami Zayn)
Braun dominant early. He knocked Cesaro to the floor, then fended off Nakamura and Sami as they cut to a break at 2:00. [c]
Cesaro was on Strowman’s back and in control after the break. He kicked Strowman’s leg and then choked him on the middle rope. Nakamura kicked him as Sami distracted the referee. Graves blamed Strowman for not preparing for interference and distractions from Sami and Nakamura. Cesaro applied a sleeper, but Strowman side-slammed his way free. Strowman ran ringside and knocked over Nakamura. Sami entered the ring, which distracted Braun, giving Cesaro a chance to throw him into the ringpost. He went for a Neutralizer, but Strowman blocked it and landed his powerslam for the win.
WINNER: Strowman in 8:00.
-Afterward, Nakamura kicked Strowman with the Kinshasa. The heel trio retreated up the ramp before Strowman could regain his senses.
-They replayed Reigns making the save last week, attacking Ziggler and Corbin. Cole said Reigns cost Corbin a chance to win the triple threat and face The Fiend at the Royal Rumble.
-Reigns made his ring entrance. Didn’t sound like much of a crowd response either way. Not sure if the crowd wasn’t mic’d or the crowd was just flat. Cole talked about Reigns beating Ziggler earlier in the week on the Fox New Year’s Eve special. [c]
-Back live, Reigns’s music was still playing. Bryan’s music played. Didn’t sound like much of a response for him either, so the crowd must not be mic’d well. They showed fans chanting “Yes!” as he headed toward the ring. Graves said he considers Bryan’s match against The Fiend at the Rumble more of a “death sentence” than an “opportunity.” Ziggler came out next, and finally Corbin.
(6) KING CORBIN & DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. ROMAN REIGNS & DANIEL BRYAN
Reigns stared down Bryan as he entered the ring. Corbin went after Reigns at the bell. Reigns quickly took over and punched him ten times in the corner. Bryan tagged in a minute in and cleared the ring of the heels, then led the crowd in “Yes!” chants. Fiend’s laughter then could be heard. They cut to an early break. [c]
Back live, Reigns was attacking Corbin in the corner and no sign of The Fiend. Reigns eventually hot-tagged in Bryan. A minute later, with Bryan in control, the Fiend music started. The lights went out. The Fiend showed up in red light at ringside. Bryan dove at him. Fiend swatted him out of mid-air. Bryan leaped at Fiend off the ring apron, but Fiend put him in a Mandible Claw. He shoved him through the ringside barricade and then applied the Mandible Claw. His music played again and he looked into the camera. The lights flickered and then Fiend was suddenly gone. Cole wondered where he went so quickly. Reigns recovered and walked over to check on Bryan. Ziggler and Corbin attacked him at ringside. WWE officials and referees waved them off. Back in the ring Corbin handcuffed Reigns. They grabbed cans of dog food again. Cole said they’re going to humiliate Reigns again. Graves said history is going to repeat itself.
The Usos music played and they came out to make the save. They ran into the ring, bounded off the ropes, and leaped onto Corbin and Ziggler at ringside. They uncuffed Reigns. Cole said this indicates it’s going to be a hell of 2020 on Smackdown on Fox. The show ended with the Usos lifting Reigns’s arms in the air.
WINNER: No decision.