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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
OCTOBER 3rd, 2020
ORLANDO, FL AT WWE THUNDERDOME IN AMWAY CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON FOX NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-The show opened with a recap of the Clash of Champions main event between Roman Reigns and Jey Uso.
-Michael Cole welcomed the audience to Smackdown over a sweeping shot of the Thunderdome, saying that they’re fresh off a “controversial but entertaining” Clash of Champions. He added that they’re celebrated a full year on Fox.
-Roman Reigns’ music hit and he walked onto the stage, flanked by Paul Heyman. Reigns held up the Universal title to a chorus of pyro and piped in boos. Cole said that Paul Heyman claimed tonight’s “crowning” of Reigns as Tribal Chief would be the greatest moment in Smackdown history.
-Paul Heyman opened the promo by saying he’s nervous. He said he’s known Roman’s family for years, and everyone knew this moment was destined to happen. “We’re here to declare Roman Reigns the Tribal Chief,” Paul said. He added that they’re not just crowning Reigns’ as chief of the family, but of the entire WWE. He ran down a list of Roman’s family. Reigns stuck his hand out, asking for the microphone. Paul stopped and handed it over.
“I don’t want you to acknowledge me as the Tribal Chief because he wouldn’t acknowledge me.” Reigns said Jimmy acknowledged him, but not Jey. He asked Jey to come to the ring. The Usos’ music hit and Jey Uso headed to the ring. He stood toe to toe with Roman.
“I don’t know you, you’re supposed to be my cousin, but at Clash of Champions, you showed your true colors.” Jey said Roman didn’t break his spirit, and if Jimmy hadn’t thrown the towel in, he’d be Universal Champion. Reigns looked dumbfounded. Roman said Clash of Champions was the worst night of his career. “All I wanted to do was put your name in the bright lights and do something nice for your wife and kids,” Reigns reasoned.
Roman claimed he wanted to raise Jey up. He said he loves him more than Jey’s own brother. “All you had to do was acknowledge me as the Tribal Chief.” Reigns said Jey embarrassed the whole family and broke his heart. He said all Jey can do is look at the title. He asked if he wanted another shot. He offered Jey a match at Hell in a Cell. “I’m telling you right now, this match will have the highest stakes that any match has ever had in WWE history.”
Reigns hugged Jey with one arm. He told him he loved him and that there’d be real consequences if he accepted the challenge. Reigns dropped the mic and left, leaving Jey Uso alone in the ring, looking determined. Jey called back to Roman, “whatever the stakes are, you’re on.”
-A.J. Styles music played and he appeared on the stage before Jey could leave the ring. Styles said it doesn’t matter who sits at the head of the table. He said he doesn’t want to see Jey take another beating like the one he took on Sunday. “Let Roman Reigns be the Tribal Chief, you go on being the runt you’ve always been.” With that, Jey Uso attacked. He tossed Styles to the outside and caught him with a leaping clothesline off the steel steps. The show went to commercial.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Another great segment. Roman and Jey continue to knock it out of the park. Paul was prepared to crown Reigns, but Reigns couldn’t let it happen because he’s so completely consumed by the idea of The Usos bowing to him. It’s the perfect story for this heel character, and it’s a great babyface role for Jey Uso. I continue to look forward to these segments every week.)
(1) JEY USO vs. A.J. STYLES
The bell rang when the show returned from commercial. Cole confirmed that the impromptu match was confirmed during the break. Styles immediately went to work on Jey, tossing him from corner to corner and talking trash. Jey quickly recovered and gave Styles a bodyslam.
Uso whipped Styles into the corner, but A.J. caught him with an elbow. Jey tried to crawl toward the ropes, but A.J. caught him and gave him a slingshot into the bottom rope. Styles then set up for the Styles Clash, but Jey tossed him away and out of the ring. Jey went to dive through the middle rope, but Styles caught him with a kick to the head. He suplexed Jey out of the ring and onto the announcers desk. Cole sent the show to break.
Jey rolled up Styles for a two count as the show returned from commercial. Styles quickly shot to his feet, dropped Uso and covered him for a two count of his own. He began stomping away at Jey’s back. Styles gave Jey a snapmare and applied a rear chin lock. Jey fought out of it, but Styles whipped him to the corner. Styles charged, but Jey managed to duck out, scoop Styles and connect with a Samoan Drop. Styles rose to his feet and Jey hit him with a neckbreaker, covering for a near fall.
Jey sized up A.J. then went for a super kick. Styles ducked and hit a Pale kick, then followed up with an Ushigoroshi. Styles covered Jey for a near fall. Styles dragged Jey unto position for the Styles Clash. Jey managed to fight out of it again and toss Styles to the apron. Uso caught Styles with an enziguri, sending Styles to the floor. He followed up with a running dive through the middle rope. Jey tossed A.J. back inside and set up for a splash from the top, but Styles got his knees up.
Styles set up for the Phenomenal Forearm. He launched, but Jey caught him with a kick to the gut. He sized Styles up, then hit a super kick. Uso climbed the ropes and connected with a big splash from the top rope, securing a three count.
WINNER: Jey Uso in 11:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Good match. It seems strange to say that Jey Uso needed to beat A.J. Styles, but, given the story they’re telling, that’s where we’re at. Styles is, at this point, relatively teflon, so while I don’t usually condone beating someone of Styles’ caliber clean on TV all that often, I think this was a good match to have, and a good finish to utilize.)
-Cole and and Graves talked up the rest of the show, including Alexa Bliss on the KO Show, and Sami Zayn vs. Jeff Hardy for the Intercontinental title. They tossed to a recap of the triple threat Intercontinental title ladder match from Clash of Champions.
-Backstage, Sami Zayn stood in front of the camera with two Intercontinental titles. He said people probably expect him to gloat, but the last few days have been a whirlwind of emotions. “Mostly anger,” Zayn concluded. He said he never should have had to go through a grueling ladder match to take possession of what was already his. He blamed the fans for accepting the fraudulent Intercontinental title tournament and subsequent title change to Jeff Hardy. “I am going to do what those two men should’ve done all along with that sham title,” Zayn said. He threw the second (identical) Intercontinental title in the trash as the show went to commercial.
(LeClair’s Analysis: I’m glad Sami could tell the titles apart. In all seriousness, I didn’t necessarily expect Zayn to win the match on Sunday, but I’m glad he did. I like the idea of a babyface, regardless of who it may be, chasing the obnoxious, self-righteous, entitled Zayn.)
-John Morrison headed to the ring following the break. Cole talked about he and The Miz’s lawsuit against Otis, attempting to strip him of his Money in the Bank contract. He confirmed that The Miz and Tucker would be banned from ringside for the next match. Otis headed to the ring with his Money in the Bank briefcase and lunchbox. On an inset promo, Otis objected to The Miz and Morrison’s attempt to take his contract. He announced that he’s opting to represent himself in court.
(2) JOHN MORRISON vs. OTIS
Otis quickly backed John Morrison into the corner, but Morrison leapt onto the ropes and taunted him. Otis clubbed him to the apron and drove his foot into Morrison’s chin and neck. Otis tossed Morrison over his head, but John landed on his feet. Morrison went for a kick, but Otis dropped him, scooped him up and hit a flapjack.
Morrison retreated to the corner. Otis hit him with a big running splash, then hit the Caterpillar elbow drop. Otis climbed to the middle rope and hit the leaping splash, covering him for a three count.
WINNER: Otis in 2:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Basic squash match. Hard to believe John Morrison was going fifteen plus minutes with the likes of Matt Riddle over the summer. i enjoy Otis’ schtick, but this lawsuit angle is terrible. The quicker they get this over with, the better.)
-Backstage, Sasha Banks stood clutching her neck, still in a brace. Cole said we’d hear from her tonight.
-After the commercial, Sheamus headed to the ring. His opponent, Shorty G, was already awaiting his entrance. Cole tossed to an inset promo from Big E. E addressed Sheamus directly. He challenged Sheamus to a falls count anywhere match on next week’s show.
(3) SHORTY G vs. SHEAMUS
Sheamus went for a Brogue Kick right out of the blocks, but Shorty G ducked it. He connected with a bridging German Suplex for a two count. G headed to the top rope for a moonsault, but Sheamus moved. Shorty G landed on his feet. G turned around and Sheamus hit him with a Brogue Kick.
Sheamus wasn’t satisfied. He wanted for Shorty G to stand and hit him with a second Brogue Kick, covering him for a there count.
WINNER: Sheamus in 1:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Another squash. It feels like I saw this every time he’s on television, but Shorty G deserves more. Can’t imagine he’ll ever get it with that name, though. Looking forward to the match with Big E next week, mostly so Big E can move onto bigger things.)
-Kevin Owens was shown looking over his notes for the KO Show. The Firefly Funhouse graphic flashed on the screen, unbeknownst to Owens. Cole and Graves said Alexa Bliss would appear on the KO Show next.
-Kevin Owens was already in the ring when the show returned. Greg Hamilton introduced him, and Owens welcomed the audience to the KO Show. He said Smackdown may be his new home after the draft. Owens said he has a lot of questions for his guest tonight. He introduced Alexa Bliss.
Bliss headed to the ring. Cole tossed to footage of Bliss’ quick personality change last week upon hearing The Fiend’s screeching.
Owens thanked Bliss for accepting his invitation. He said he’s seen a change, a shift in attitude that reminds him of what he’s seen in his own rival, Aleister Black. “I’m sorry, I don’t know what you mean,” Bliss responded. Owens said she’s not the same person he met five years ago at the Performance Center.
“People change, Kevin,” Bliss said stoically. “Don’t you want to be better?” Owens said he did, but he needs to understand the darkness taking over Bliss. Owens said if he understand what happened to her, he can figure out what happened to Black.
“Have you ever been around him?” Bliss asked. He said it’s terrifying and captivating all at the same time. She said when he looks into your eyes, he’s looking right through you but you can’t look away. Bliss stared past Owens. Kevin said it’s like she’s brainwashed. “Yes, it’s like my brain has been washed,” Alexa responded. She said she’s been changed and cleansed.
Owens asked if he’s here. “He’s here. He’s everywhere. I can hear him now. Let him in.” Bliss said. The lights cut out. The screeching commenced. The ring returned to view, bathed in red. The Fiend had the mandible claw applied on Kevin Owens. The Fiend led Owens to the mat, then slowly turned to face Alexa Bliss, still sitting in her chair, eyes fixed.
The Fiend approached Bliss and extended his hand toward her. Bliss rose from her seat to meet him. She gave him her hand, turned to the camera and smirked. The segment cut to black.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Lots to unpack here. This was a simple, but effective segment that felt like a much needed reset for The Fiend. Kevin Owens was excellent in his command of the segment, relating his appearance back to his feud with Aleister Black, rather than simply being on Smackdown for the sake of hosting an interview segment. He lended actual credence to his being there, and that’s a small detail that WWE often overlooks. Bliss was effective in her cult-follower-like demeanor. Her cadence and delivery reminded me of Poppy’s early viral YouTube videos. I’m intrigued by the pairing of Bliss and The Fiend, which is more than I could say a few weeks ago.)
-After more Thunderdome propaganda, the show joined King Corbin’s entrance in progress. Graves said Corbin has been on cloud nine since shutting down Matt Riddle. Cole mentioned that he’s not finished with him yet. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura headed to the ring to join Corbin.
In gorilla, Matt Riddle, sporting new braided hair, talked strategy with Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik. Kayla Braxton approached. Riddle said his two partners told him WWE was a marathon, not a sprint. He said with the draft coming up, it may be his last opportunity to beat Corbin. Kayla asked Metalik and Dorado where Kalisto is. Metalik said he’s still in the locker room. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s having trouble getting his mask on, seeing as how big his head has gotten,” The three men shared a laugh. Lucha House Party headed to the ring, followed by Matt Riddle.
(4) KING CORBIN & CESARO & SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs. MATT RIDDLE & LUCHA HOUSE PARTY (Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado)
Lince Dorado began the match with Shinsuke Nakamura. Nakamura backed Dorado into the ropes and delivered quick strike knees. Dorado quickly fought out and took down Shinsuke. Kalisto wandered out onto the stage, claiming his teammates forgot him. The show went to commercial.
King Corbin dragged Gran Metalik to the corner to let his partners throw some stomps when the show returned from commercial. Riddle argued with the referee, to no avail. Corbin tagged in Cesaro, who hit a nice stalling suplex and covered Metalik for a two count. Cesaro tagged in Nakamura.
Gran Metalik slowly fought out of Nakamura’s front-faced headlock. Nakamura went for an inverted exploder, but Metalik flipped over it and then hit Shinsuke with a tornado DDT. Both men crawled to their respective corners. Nakamura tagged Corbin. Metalik tagged Matt Riddle.
Riddle took down Corbin with an elbow in the corner and then a quick throw. He followed up with the Broton, then a penalty kick. Riddle covered, but Nakamura broke up the count. Lince Dorado hit the ring to hit a springboard stunner on Nakamura. Corbin tagged in Cesaro, who hit Riddle with a big surprise uppercut. He covered, but Dorado broke it up.
Gran Metalik dove over the top rope and took down Corbin. Cesaro cut off a stunner attempt and tossed Dorado into the ropes. Dorado ate a kick from Kalisto, seemingly by accident. Cesaro turned around and got caught with the BroDerek. Riddle covered him for a three count.
WINNERS: Matt Riddle & Lucha House Party in 7:00
Kalisto hit the ring to celebrate. Lince Dorado shoved him and the two began to argue. Matt Riddle stepped in to play peacemaker. The camera cut to Michael Cole and Corey Graves without any resolution.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Pretty typical six man tag match. Most of it was spent in commercial. This isn’t a great sign for Riddle, who lost cleanly to Corbin last week and then failed to get any real revenge on him tonight. Granted, Riddle scored the pinball, but it was on Cesaro. There’s no reason to protect Riddle here, especially over someone like Riddle. Seems like he may be a prime candidate to move to Raw.)
-Cole and Graves set the stage for an interview with Sasha Banks. They tossed to a recap of the last few weeks of the Sasha and Bayley story.
-Sasha Banks headed to the ring. Cole and Graves said we’d hear from her next.
-Carmella was revealed to be the mystery women in the vignettes. In this installment, she blamed the fans for making her into something she isn’t. She said she’s untouchable. “Unless I don’t wanna be.”
(Anti-climactic finish to a multi-week “mystery.” I’m not going to pass judgment on the character itself until we see Carmella debut it outside of these vignettes.)
-Sasha Banks paced around the ring, her music still blaring. She said Bayley should’ve learned a thing or two from her about having a backbone. She called Bayley a coward and said she was using her for her accomplishments and battles. Banks said Bayley isn’t here tonight because she’s scared of her.
“Come next week, it’s going to be me versus you for the one thing you love the most, the Smackdown Women’s championship,’ Banks announced. Sasha said when it comes down to the two of them, and there’s no one around to save Bayley, “you don’t stand a chance, bitch.” She took off her neck brace dramatically and dropped the mic.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Eek. What was once one of the best told, long running stories WWE has had in some time has devolved into a petty, uneventful, basic rivalry that is being rushed to maturity well before its due date. Both Banks and Bayley’s promos have failed at capitalizing on the magic these two had pre-break up. Banks still has no real reason to be a babyface, short of being wronged by a heel. She isn’t remorseful for her actions while working with Bayley, she hasn’t claimed to have seen the error in her ways. She’s simply the babyface because Bayley turned on her first. It’s bad writing, and it’s hurting both of these once stellar characters. I’m vehemently opposed to them giving away this match on next week’s Smackdown, and so while my gut tells me that they should go with a non-finish, or an attack that prevents the match from happening at all, I also detest the amount of false advertising WWE utilizes on a near weekly basis. This is just all around bad.)
-Sami Zayn headed to the ring, gloating about his Intercontinental title. He yelled at Greg Hamilton. Cole said Zayn would face Hardy in the main event, next.
-Out of the break, Cole and Graves announced Kevin Owens would return to face The Fiend next week on Smackdown. They also confirmed that Sheamus has accepted Big E’s challenge for a falls count anywhere match, and Bayley will defend the Smackdown Women’s title against Sasha Banks. Night one of the draft will also take place.
-Jeff Hardy headed to the ring. Cole and Graves talked about Hardy and Zayn’s injuries coming out of the ladder match. Greg Hamilton provided standard championship introductions.
(5) SAMI ZAYN (c) vs. JEFF HARDY – WWE Intercontinental title match
Sami Zayn backed Jeff Hardy into the corner and fired off quick right hands, dropping Hardy to the mat. Sami drove his boot into Jeff’s face, then let up at the referee’s request. Hardy returned to his feet and fired off his own right hands. Sami shot Jeff off the ropes, but Jeff dropped him with a shoulder tackle. Zayn bounced up, went to leapfrog Hardy, but got caught by a kick right to his taped ribs. Zayn rolled to the outside to collect himself.
Hardy rolled outside to meet Zayn. He shot him back into the ring. Zayn recovered and tried to toss Hardy into the corner. Cole and Graves noticed the turnbuckle pad had been removed. Hardy blocked Zayn’s attempt to slam him into the exposed steel, then tossed Zayn to the outside. Hardy tried to launch himself onto Zayn by leaping off the steel steps, but Zayn sidestepped, coughing Jeff to crash hard into the barricade. Cole sent the show to commercial.
Zayn had Hardy in a side headlock when the show returned from break. Hardy fought free and connected with a jawbreaker. Zayn quickly rebounded, catching Jeff with a clothesline and covering him twice for a pair of two counts. Cole and Graves revealed that Sami Zayn removed the turnbuckle padding during Jeff Hardy’s entrance.
Sami slapped a grounded rear chin lock on Hardy. Jeff slowly rose to his feet with elbows to the gut, but Sami slammed him to the mat. Zayn sold his taped ribs before tossing Hardy to the outside. Sami followed him out and drove his back into the barricade. Sami tossed Jeff back in the ring at the referee’s count of seven.
Zayn covered Hardy twice, each for a two count. He climbed to the middle rope and drove his elbow into the back of Hardy’s neck. Sami covered Jeff for another two count. Zayn hit a body slam, then climbed to the top rope. Jeff rose to his feet and crotched Sami on the top turnbuckle. Hardy hit a superplex on Zayn, but failed to make a cover hastily. The referee began a double count, reaching a seven.
Hardy and Zayn traded punches in the center of the ring. Hardy hit a clothesline on Zayn and followed it up with the inverted atomic drop and sit out leg drop. He connected with a basement dropkick and standing splash for a near fall. Zayn wandered to his feet and Hardy went for a Twist of Fate. Sami fought out and went for a Blue Thunder Bomb, but Jeff flipped through it. Sami connected with an exploder suplex into the turnbuckles. Zayn covered Hardy for a near fall.
Sami tried to whip Hardy into the exposed turnbuckle. Jeff blocked the attempt and hit a mule kick. Zayn bounced out of the corner and grabbed Hardy, hitting the Blue Thunder Bomb for another near fall. Both men struggled to stand. Zayn set Hardy up on the top turnbuckle, but Hardy shoved him off after a trio of headbutts. Hardy went for the Swanton Bomb, but Zayn got his knees up.
Hardy dragged himself to the corner with the exposed turnbuckle. Zayn set up for the Heluva Kick, but Hardy ducked it. Zayn stopped just short of kicking the steel. Hardy set up for Twist of Fate, but Sami shoved him away. Jeff leapt up onto the top turnbuckle, but Zayn grabbed his leg and pulled him down, causing Jeff to slam his face off the exposed turnbuckle. Zayn covered him for a three count.
WINNER: Sami Zayn in 14:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Good, strong main event. I’ve been generally impressed with the resurgence in status for the Intercontinental title since the tournament in late spring, and I’m glad to see that trend is more or less continuing. Zayn is a formidable heel champion and he’s got some fun challengers on Smackdown, not to mention those he’ll gain in the draft.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Mixed bag tonight, with three really strong segments (opening segment and match, KO Show, and the main event) paired with a really disappointing Sasha Banks promo, a meaningless six man tag, and a couple of forgettable squash matches. The good tonight was certainly good enough to warrant a thumbs up, and, in general, I’m pleased with the direction Smackdown has taken. They’re hitting a stride, especially with Roman Reigns and the Intercontinental title picture, and I hope that isn’t thwarted in any discernible way following next week’s draft. I’m disappointed with the announcement of a Banks/Bayley match next week, but hopeful they’ll get out of it. I do, however, find Owens/Fiend and Big E/Sheamus to be solid hooks in conjunction with night one of the draft.