SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN PRIMER
OCTOBER 16, 2020
ORLANDO, FL. AT THE THUNDERDOME IN THE AMWAY CENTER
AIRS ON FOX NETWORK, 8:00 p.m. EDT
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH.COM CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Michael Cole and Corey Graves
Top Three Developments from Last Week
- Night one of the 2020 draft took place. Seth Rollins, Rey & Dominik Mysterio, and Bianca Belair were the significant names moving over from Raw. New Day was spilt up after Kofi Kingston and a returning Xavier Woods won the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. They were immediately drafter to Raw while Big E was drafted to remain on Smackdown. Here’s Rey after being drafted with his son Dominik:
- Bayley retained the Smackdown Women’s Championship when she was DQ’d in her match against former best friend Sasha Banks. Sasha later challenged Bayley to a Hell in a Cell match. WWE confirmed the match the next day on their Twitter account:
- “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt defeated Kevin Owens. Bray has since been drafted to Raw while Kevin is on his way to Smackdown.
Items Advertised by WWE
Tonight’s edition of Smackdown is being billed as the season premiere. Four matches are advertised, and technically three of them are cross branded because of the results of the draft. It’s quite annoying. If a team makes a trade, does the traded player play one more game before he heads to his new team? Should Mike Piazza have played one more game for the Florida (now Miami) Marlins before the N.Y. Mets traded for him in 1998? Should Yoenis Cespedes given the Detroit Tigers one more game before the Mets got him in 2015 for their playoff and eventual World Series run? You know now that I’m on baseball, I wish Cespedes signed with the Nationals after 2015 when they offered him a contract (if that was even legit). The way his Mets career turned out it was a total waste of money. Anyway, back to wrestling, here’s what’s advertised for tonight:
- Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman set for gigantic Universal Title clash on Smackdown season premiere.
- The New Day bid farewell with match against Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro and Sheamus.
- Jeff Hardy looks to slow down Lars Sullivan’s destruction in SmackDown showdown.
- The Street Profits look to defend Smackdown Tag Team Title against Ziggler & Roode
- Daniel Bryan enters the WWE Thunderdome
Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (champ) vs. Braun Strowman
Roman Reigns is set to defend his Universal Championship inside Hell in a Cell against his cousin Jey Uso, as he did at Clash of Champions. Last week, with Jey in the ring, Roman spoke to him from the big screen and told him that an “I Quit” stipulation was added to the match, making it the first I Quit Hell in a Cell in history. Roman continues to look to have Jey acknowledge him as the tribal chief:
— Roman Reigns (@WWERomanReigns) October 10, 2020
Tonight, an old rivalry gets reignited as Roman will have to defend the title against Braun Strowman, who was drafted to Raw on night two of the draft. Their history goes back to 2017 when they had a long feud leading to an Ambulance Match at Great Balls of Fire in the summer of that year. Braun had one of his many “stunt” segments when he tipped over an ambulance with Roman inside. One year later, Braun won Money in the Bank and cashed in the contract in advance, requesting a Hell in a Cell match at the 2018 edition of that PPV. Roman retained when Brock Lesnar returned and interfered in the match. At Payback of this year, one week after SummerSlam, Roman defeated Braun and “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt in a triple threat match to regain the title (from Bray). Braun had been Universal Champion from this year’s WrestleMania until Bray beat him at SummerSlam. Roman was on ESPN’s Hot Take this past week. He retweeted it and had a comment:
— Roman Reigns (@WWERomanReigns) October 14, 2020
Frank’s Analysis: It’s annoying that they’re doing this with Braun being drafted to Raw and Roman having the upcoming Hell in a Cell match with Jey. We know Roman’s retaining, so why am I watching this match?
New Day (Big E and Raw Tag Team Champions Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) vs. Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura and Sheamus
As I mentioned in the top three developments, New Day was split up when Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods were drafted to Raw after defeating Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. Big E, who defeated Sheamus in a Falls Count Anywhere match earlier in the evening, was subsequently announced as being drafted to Smackdown. All three gentlemen stood in the ring looking very emotional, with Big E holding back tears.
Tonight, they get together one more time after Kofi & Xavier exchanged the Smackdown titles for the Raw titles with the Street Profits this past Monday after the Street Profits were drafted to Smackdown. They take on former champs Cesaro & Shinsuke, also drafted to remain on Smackdown, and Sheamus who was drafted to Raw. The match was announced on last week’s edition of Smackdown, before Sheamus and Kofi & Xavier were drafted to Raw.
Frank’s Analysis: This is less annoying because no titles are on the line, but still why are Raw wrestlers working Smackdown on the season premiere of the show? There’s not much to this match as it’s just a way to do one more six-man tag with New Day before everyone goes their separate ways. After six years of them being together, I suppose it’s fine.
Jeff Hardy vs. Lars Sullivan
In a surprising development last week, Lars Sullivan returned to WWE television after missing well over a year due to injury. He attacked Jeff Hardy & Matt Riddle after they defeated Miz & John Morrison. Lars attacked Miz as well. All four men were drafted to Raw while Lars was drafted to Smackdown.
This past Monday on Raw, Jeff interrupted Seth Rollins as he was bidding farewell to the show on which he resided ever since the roster split returned in 2016. A.J. Styles, also drafted to Raw, followed suit and the three men had a triple threat match. Before the match took place, Rollins reminded Jeff to be concerned about his match with Lars Sullivan which takes place tonight. There is some history with Lars and Jeff from a year and a half ago. When Jeff and his brother Matt, who has since departed for AEW, won the Smackdown Tag Team Championship immediately after WrestleMania, Lars attacked Jeff & Matt. This was to sell a legit injury for Jeff and write him off TV, and the Smackdown Tag Team Championship was stripped from the Hardy Boys.
Frank’s Analysis: It’s been a theme of my report, so I apologize if I’m repeating myself, but why have this match? While there’s some history it’s not like Jeff and Lars must settle this huge score. I would imagine they want to get Lars a strong win before Jeff heads off to Raw. WWE likes to have people lose before they switch shows like they did back in the day when wrestlers left territories.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship: Street Profits (champs) vs. Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
I mentioned earlier how the Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) are now the Smackdown Tag Team Champions. They will have their first title defense as they put up the gold against former Raw Tag Team Champions Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode. They held the titles briefly in September of last year and were then drafted to Smackdown. They were traded to Raw over the summer for A.J. Styles. Styles was drafted back to Raw and Ziggler and Roode were drafted back to Smackdown (simply weird).
Frank’s Analysis: Do the Street Profits come out with blue solo cups now instead of red? If they do, I might just run to Target and grab a pack. If they don’t, it’s unacceptable. Red cups on the blue brand is just not going to work! Anyway, Ziggler and Roode lost a Raw Tag Team Championship match to New Day on Monday. Not that it matters because the tag titles have no integrity, but why are they are getting a championship match? There’s absolutely no mechanism used by WWE for challengers to earn championship matches.
Daniel Bryan Returns
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Daniel Bryan. Back in the early part of the summer, he was involved in the tournament to determine the Intercontinental Champion after the title was stripped from Sami Zayn. He went to the finals and lost a 40-minute grueling match to A.J. Styles. He was involved in a partnership with Drew Gulak, whom he wrestled early in the year until Gulak started coaching him. They began tagging together from time to time. Bryan then took paternity leave to be with his wife and WWE Hall of Fame-elect Brie Bella as she gave birth to their second child. He appeared on the show remotely a few times, including the night Gulak challenged Styles for the Intercontinental Championship. Gulak has since been drafted to Raw.
Bryan was drafted to Smackdown, where he has resided since the roster split returned in 2016. He was the general manager until being medically cleared to return in 2018 and had a run with the WWE Championship beginning later that year until WrestleMania 2019. He then had a run with the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. Tonight, he makes his return which will mark his first appearance in the Thunderdome. Here’s a tweet from Bryan back in early September right after Roman Reigns won the Universal Championship:
Less than an hour away from #SmackDown from the THUNDERDOOOOOOOOOOME!!!! Interesting how @WWERomanReigns won the Universal Championship on Sunday… if you could pick anyone to challenge Roman for the title, who would it be? Excited to see it play out!
— Daniel Bryan (@WWEDanielBryan) September 4, 2020
Frank’s Analysis: I wasn’t sure what to make of Daniel Bryan’s future with WWE but drafting him as high as they did on night two indicates there’s still business to be done. I think they’ve cleared a path for Big E to eventually clash with Roman Reigns if all goes well with Big E. Bryan could be a backup plan, and not a bad one at that. I still believe to this day that a lot of the pushback against Roman through the years (before his heel turn) had to do with the company getting behind him rather than Bryan upon his return from injury in 2015. There were many other factors, but I think that’s a big one.
Other Match Results and Segments from Last Week
- Otis was informed that Miz’ lawyer was filing a continuance to delay the trial where Miz is suing Otis for the Money in the Bank contract. Otis was drafted to Smackdown while his longtime Heavy Machinery partner Tucker was drafted to Raw.
- She wasn’t on the show last week, but free agent Mickie James said she’d be happy to be on either brand in this WWE exclusive:
Other than my pet peeves about Raw people participating in Smackdown after the draft, I’m genuinely looking forward to tonight’s show. It’s all well and good they’re doing a season premiere and pulling out all the stops, but it’s about next week and the week after and the week after that. It’s about consistent writing, presenting characters as stars, and building to big matches people want to see whether they’re on PPVs or television. With the draft now behind us, we’ll see how they move forward. It’ll take a few weeks to know for sure who got the better of the draft.
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome. Thank you for reading!