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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
OCTOBER 16, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA. AT AMWAY ARENA (“THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON FOX NETWORK
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
Ring Announcers: Greg Hamilton
-The new Smackdown opening features Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Sasha Banks, Big E, Bianca Belair, Jey Uso, Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura, Dolph Ziggler, Robert Roode, Rey Mysterio, Reigns again, Otis, Bayley, Sasha again, Peyton Royce, King Corbin, Street Profits, Seth again, Bayley again, Daniel Bryan, Rey, Kevin Owens, Big E, and then the four legends – Shawn Michaels, John Cena, Triple H, and Undertaker.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s still noteworthy that Steve Austin, The Rock, and Hulk Hogan didn’t make the cut of the four people on that legends carousel. I get Hogan not making it politically, but the others is tough to justify.)
-Cole and Graves introduced the show. They discussed the changed landscape. They showed the stage with an assembly of the new and old roster members. Then they cut to the ring where Triple H and Stephanie McMahon stood. Stephanie spoke first and then handed the mic to Triple H. Triple H talked about the all-new action and drama with the new season. He said there’s a little something for everyone including Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns. Stephanie said New Day are having their farewell match. Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods lifted Big E in an attempt to apparently show off his crotch region, as Big E spread his legs and shook his body. Stephanie called it obscene. Triple H plugged Jeff Hardy vs. “The Freak” Lars Sullivan. Stephanie hyped Daniel Bryan “making his very first appearance in the ThunderDome.” The crowd chanted “Yes!” on the monitors.
Triple H and Stephanie then brought up the other members of the roster: Owens, Aleister Black, Sami Zayn, Otis, and The Street Profits (they piped in “We Want the Smoke!”). Roode & Ziggler attacked the Street Profits. A brawl broke out with everyone. Graves said everyone wants to establish supremacy early. Owens flip dove onto Cesaro & Nakamura at ringside. Ford flip-dove onto Ziggler & Roode. Lars Sullivan then strutted his way to the ring. Sami, Lucha House Party, and Chad Gable stood in the ring. Kalisto dove at Lars, but Lars caught him and slammed Kalisto into the ringside barricade. He gave Gable a Freak Accident in the ring. Jeff Hardy jumped Lars from behind as Lars yelled toward the hard camera. Lars got knocked to the floor, but looked up menacingly at Hardy.
(Keller’s Analysis: Watching Stephanie and Triple H together mid-ring brings back bad memories. There’s nothing Stephanie does on TV that doesn’t feel it’s patronizing and off-putting. It demeans and emasculates wrestlers to “gather on stage” like school children for an address by the principal. And the “obligatory wild brawl” is cliche and ineffective. The super-push of Lars continues. I think he stands out as an effective monster act on a rampage with believable facial expressions and power moves.)
-Cole plugged Reigns-Strowman for the Universal Title later. [c]
(1) LARS SULLIVAN vs. JEFF HARDY
They showed Jeff Jarrett on a monitor in the stands. Cole said he’d be part of the Hell in a Cell Kickoff Show. Hardy sold a knee injury early after a back kick to Lars. Lars then took over. The screen noted Smackdown next week will be on FS1 (due to a programming conflict on Fox). Cole put over how big Lars’s hands are. He leaped off the top rope and went for a flying headbutt, but Hardy moved. Hardy landed a snug Whisper in the Wind, but Lars kicked out at one. He then tossed Hardy out of the ring, blocking a Twist of Fate. Sullivan caught Hardy flying at him at ringside and slammed him on the ring apron. Back in the ring Hardy did hit a Twist of Fate. Hardy yanked off his shirt and climbed to the top. Lars stood and chokeslammed Hardy off the top rope with a Freak Accident for the win.
WINNER: Sullivan in 5:00. [c]
-The announcers plugged Bryan appearing later. Then New Day began their ring entrance. [c]
-A vignette aired on Bianca Belair doing well in track meets and then inside the ring and at the gym.
-New Day spoke about having to go to separate brands. Xavier said for the first time they won’t be on the same roster. Kofi said they’ve had a week to think about this. He got emotional and choked up. He said when he went on social media, fans reminded him of how many special moments they’ve been part of. Big E talked about Kofi winning his first-ever WWE Championship. Xavier choked up as he talked about Kofi and Big E who took a chance on “someone who wasn’t doing a thing and probably wouldn’t be here anymore. You guys trusted me with an idea and it turned into the best six years of my life.” Big E talked about Saturday mornings at Waffle House talking about their families and lives. They joked about Big E being single. Kofi said there was a time he wasn’t sure he wanted to do this anymore in 2012, and then Xavier and Big E approached him about doing something special. “I’m so glad that you did,” he said. “I met two of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life.” He got choked up again as he said he loves them and considers them his brothers. He turned around and said, “I’m crying before my match, man.” They broke into their introduction routine as the audience chanted “New Day Rocks!”
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s remarkable how compelling it is watching wrestlers on WWE TV be “real” while also blending it into their characters, not reciting memorized lines. The New Day act has been a big deal, and their friendship is obvious, and this felt like a proper acknowledgment of an end of an era for now – which means when they inevitably team again, it’ll feel like a bigger deal.)
-They cut backstage to Kayla Braxton interviewing Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro, and Sheamus. Sheamus said they’re grateful they get to send them away. He called them “hip-swiveling Muppets.” Cesaro called them “pancake-eating punks.” He said they’d delight in ruining their last match together. Nakamura said this is goodbye to New Day forever. Then they made their ring entrance to Nakamura’s music. [c]
-The Fox NFL crew previewed the Reigns-Strowman match. They used various football references and analogies.
(2) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA & CESARO & SHEAMUS vs. THE NEW DAY
The heels took it to Kofi at ringside a few minutes in, then Nakamura scored a two count back inside the ring. Sheamus yanked Kofi by his hair off the top rope and he tumbled to the floor as they cut to a break. [c]
Big E got a hot tag and took it to Cesaro including a running big splash. Cesaro came back with a suplex and a running uppercut. Xavier shoved Cesaro into Big E for a chokeslam into Xavier’s knee leading to a two count. Cole said they call that “Morning Woods.” Nakamura tagged in and took over on Xavier. New Day made a comeback. Kofi dove onto Cesaro and Nakamura at ringside. Kofi leaped off the top rope, but Nakamura caught him mid-air with a kick. Cesaro tagged in and gave Kofi the Cesaro Swing as Nakamura kicked him in the head. Sheamus gave Kofi his White Noise for a near fall, broken up by Big E. Big E hit the Big Ending. Xavier landed a missile dropkick. Sheamus clotheslined him over the top rope. Kofi headbutted Sheamus and side-stepped him as he charged. Xavier tagged in. Big E also tagged in. Then they double-teamed Sheamus and scored a three count. Big E put his arms around Kofi and Xavier and said he loves them and he said he can’t thank them enough for the last six years. Then they hugged.
WINNERS: New Day in 15:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: They “jobbed out” Sheamus as he leaves for Raw where presumably he’ll be a top singles program at some point. In a way, it’s predictable, but in another way, it’s refreshing they didn’t by default have one of the tag wrestlers lose. Good action, and an appropriate big deal made of their forced split-up.)
-Cole said Sasha Banks and Baley will sign contracts for their Hell in a Cell match later.
-Kayla interviewed Otis backstage. Sami interrupted and gloated about Otis losing both Tucker and Mandy Rose to Raw. He said he’ll probably lose his lawsuit to Miz, too. Sami said there are winners in this world and also Otis’s. Otis shoved Sami down.
-Daniel Bryan made his ring entrance.
-A candy commercial aired with Ric Flair and The Street Profits. [c]
-Bryan said he’s seen it at home, but he loves being inside the ThunderDome. He said he loved his time at home, so much so, he got a seat for his wife Brie and their daughter. They showed them on a monitor in the stands. Bryan said he also couldn’t wait to get back. He said he got to meet the new mix of wrestlers that will be around for the next year. He cited new wrestlers like Bianca Belair, The Riott Squad, Kevin Owens, Aleister Black, and Apollo Crews. He said he can’t wait to get in the ring with the men he just listed. He was then interrupted by Seth Rollins’s music. Seth walked out. Bryan broke into laughs. Cole said he can’t call himself the Monday Night Messiah anymore.
Seth told Bryan that his baby brain might have gotten to him, because he mentioned a lot of wrestlers, but left off his name. He said he’s going to lead Smackdown into the future. He entered the ring and asked Bryan which side of history he’d like to be on. “When it comes to the greater good, you’re either with me or against me,” he said.
Bryan said he’d like to change the world for the better, but Seth’s offer seems short-sighted, self-centered, self-indulgent, and “a little bit dumb.” (He could have kept the “S’s” going with “stupid”!) Seth told him it’s not dumb. Bryan said it. Seth punched him. He stomped away at Bryan. Graves said Bryan kind of asked for it. Seth yelled, “You’re dumb, Bryan!” Bryan made a comeback and threw some Yes Kicks. Seth retreated to ringside. Rey and Dominik Mysterio came out to Rey’s music. Graves said, “Enough is enough! Leave Seth Rollins alone!” Bryan teased standing next to Seth, then left. Somehow Bryan was able to easily leave the ring, but Seth acted trapped from the same spot. Murphy then ran out. He stood next to Seth. Seth patted him on his shoulder. Murphy tackled Seth and knocked him to the floor. Murphy stood opposite of Rey and Dominik, then offered a handshake. Cole brought up Aaliyah. Dominik left the ring first, then Rey backed away. Cole said he understands not trusting Murphy after what he put their family through.
-Graves plugged Reigns vs. Braun. Jay Glazier then talked about the match. He said if Braun wins the Universal Title, Smackdown will lose its top title to Raw.
-The Street Profits made their entrance. Cole said he’s so excited to see them on Smackdown.
(3) THE STREET PROFITS vs. ROBERT ROODE & DOLPH ZIGGLER – Smackdown Tag Team Title match
They showed Ric Flair on a monitor watching from the stands. Roode and Ziggler got an early flurry of offense in against Dawkins. Ford entered and the ref called for the bell.
WINNERS: Roode & Ziggler in 1:00.
-After the match, Roode and Ziggler gave Dawkins a double-team move. Ford leaped off the top rope onto Roode and Ziggler and then pounded his chest. [c]
-Adam Pearce hosted a contract signing between Bayley and Sasha. Sasha signed first. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a very long time,” she said. Bayley said she has too as she wants to get past her and continue to prove she’s the best Women’s Champion of all time. She said she’s done it all by herself. Sasha told her to look her in the face and say that she did it alone. Bayley said she’s been waiting to turn on her all this time, but she beat her to the punch, and that’s why she’s sulking all the time. Sasha said if she wanted to turn on her, she would have done it years ago. “Friends don’t turn their backs on each other,” she said. Sasha talked about being there for her in NXT and after being called up. She said she is going to end her title reign, and that’ll be iceing on the cake. “I’m Sasha Banks, and my name is bigger than the championship.” Bayley stood, chair in hand. Sasha shoved the contract her. Bayley pushed it back and said, “I don’t have to sign anything.” Sasha called her a coward. Sasha said there will be nowhere to run at HIAC. She said she’ll sign that contract, one way or another.
(Keller’s Analysis: Sasha’s reaction to Bayley not signing the contract was way off. She barely reacted, then guaranteed she’d eventually sign it. It just didn’t feel authentic or even logical. Shouldn’t she have been concerned the match might not take place? Shouldn’t she have reacted with more urgency that Bayley should get back in the ring and sign the damn contract and now bail out. She reacted like she knew it was inevitable she wouldn’t sign it and the segment was ending.) [c]
-Ken Jeong, Joel McHale, and George Kittle talked about Smackdown wrestlers.
(4) ROMAN REIGNS (w/Paul Heyman) vs. BRAUN STROWMAN – Universal Title match
Braun Strowman made his entrance first. When Reigns came out with Heyman, Graves said Reigns’s whole aura is different since his return. Cole said Reigns expressed that Braun doesn’t deserve this match. He said Heyman is stressed out about this match given the history of these two. It appeared Goldberg was watching on one of the monitors. After ring introductions, they cut to a break. [c]
Reigns took it to Braun early. They fought at ringside a few minutes in where Braun took over, and he threw Reigns into the announce desk. Braun charged and checked Reigns over the ringside barricade. [c]
They took turns hitting power moves and scoring two counts on each other. Both were slow to get up after a spear by Reigns. Reigns then set up another spear. When Braun stood, Reigns charged. Braun caught him and set up a running powerslam. Reigns slipped free and charged at Braun. Reigns applied a guillotine. Braun powered Reigns hard into the corner. Reigns held on and Braun began to fade. Braun tapped. Cole said he can’t remember the last time Reigns won a match with a submission hold.
WINNER: Reigns in 11:00 to retain the Universal Title.
-Jimmy Uso was shown watching on a monitor backstage. He then made his way onto the stage. Reigns sneered. Jey paced and shook his head at Reigns from the stage. Braun stood. Reigns speared Braun as soon as Braun stood. As Jey walked to ringside, Reigns said this is how they feed their families, and if he’s not on top, they can’t do it. He said he was giving him another chance. “If I can do this to him, imagine what I can do to you?” Reigns said. Reigns bashed Braun with a chair a few times. Referees and officials ran into the ring. Reigns picked up the chair and bashed Braun three more times. Jey entered the ring and looked down at Braun. Reigns dropped the chair. Reigns told Jey he loves him and would never hurt him. He told him he is embarrassing his family. He said it makes no sense that he’s trying to take his place. Jey picked up the chair. Reigns turned his back on him. Jey threw down the chair and yelled, “Damn!” Reigns smiled and turned back around. Jey slapped Roman and superkicked him. “You love me!? I love you too!” he yelled. He bashed Reigns twice with the chair. The officials ran into the ring and grabbed Jey. Reigns popped up and gave Jey a Superman Punch. Reigns said that was his last chance, and he seemed emotionally distressed as he said he has to do what he has to do. The show ended with Reigns leaving the ring as his music played.
(Keller’s Analysis: Another case of a wrestler “doing on a job on his way out of the territory” with Braun getting pinned and, really, manhandled and beaten on afterward. The Reigns-Uso feud continues to be compelling.)