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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
OCTOBER 23, 2020
ORLANDO, FL AT WWE THUNDERDOME IN AMWAY CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON FS1 NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-Michael Cole welcomed the audience to the Thunderdome over a wide shot of the Thunderdome. Corey Graves announced that Roman Reigns’ “tribal consequences” would be announced tonight, just days before Hell in a Cell. Cole said that Otis would meet Miz & Morrison for “binding litigation” later.
-Kevin Owens was already in the ring for the KO Show. He asked if everyone is where they’re supposed to be now that obligations have been fulfilled. Owens said he’s happy to be on his new home, Smackdown. He welcomed his guest, Daniel Bryan.
Bryan headed to the ring, all smiles. Owens offered him a seat. Bryan told him he had a beautiful setup. Owens thanked Bryan for including him in his list of people he’d most like to face on the new Smackdown. Owens said they’ve always beat the hell out of each other. Bryan said they pushed each other to be better, and that’s all he wants.
KO asked Bryan where he sees Smackdown going. Bryan said he wants Smackdown to highlight the best talent in the world, and thinks they nailed it with the draft. Bryan said what would make Smackdown even better is to have a championship defended every week, and he thinks that should be the Intercontinental title.
Owens agreed. He said he actually wanted to invite Bryan on the show to talk about championships – specifically, the tag team championships. Owens said he’s never been a tag team champion. “Yeah, you’ve betrayed a lot of friends,” Bryan joked. Owens offered up the name “Team Hell KO.” Bryan said that only works if he’s teaming with Kane.
Dolph Ziggler’s music cut Owens off. He and Robert Roode headed down the ramp. Ziggler said he and Roode are the “hot, fresh, new talent” that Bryan has been talking about. Roode said they should be talking about the two biggest Smackdown acquisitions instead of a fantasy tag team.
The Street Profits music hit, cutting off Roode. Dawkins and Ford danced onto the stage, solo cups raining from above. Dawkins said Ziggler and Roode look like they just stepped out of 1994. Ford said he and Dawkins are excited to be on Smackdown. “The Street Profits are up, and we want the smoke!”
Shinsuke Nakamura’s music hit. He and Cesaro joined the fray. Cesaro lamented the fact that Dawkins & Ford were handed the Smackdown tag titles after they’d held them for months. Bryan said he thought he and KO should see how well they mesh as a team.
A brawl broke out between the babyfaces and heels. Officials rang the ball profusely. Adam Pearce ran down with more officials. The show cut to commercial abruptly.
(LeClair’s Analysis: I liked the start of this. Bryan and KO have good chemistry and they seemed to be playing off each other fairly well. I’m not sure I’m particularly interested in seeing them team, especially after teasing a program between Bryan and Rollins last week. I dislike these parade of challengers promo segments. Everyone seemed to run out of things to say, or hit their catch phrase right before they’re magically interrupted by the next entrant into the pool. It’s unnatural.)
(1) DANIEL BRYAN & KEVIN OWENS & THE STREET PROFITS (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA & CESARO & DOLPH ZIGGLER & ROBERT ROODE
The match was already in progress when the show returned from break. Cesaro made a tag into Robert Roode and the two fired off kicks to Angelo Dawkins of the Street Profits. Daniel Bryan joined his team on the apron late after having to run to the back to change into wrestling gear.
Dawkins tagged in Montez Ford. He tossed Ford over his head into a moonsault. Ford covered Roode for a two count. Roode managed to tag in Dolph Ziggler who caught Montez with a big dropkick. Ziggler raked the eyes of Montez behind the referee’s back. Ford ate a cheap shot from Shinsuke Nakamura.
Ziggler worked over the head and neck of Ford, then tagged in Roode. Roode slammed Ford with a side backbreaker, then tagged in Cesaro. Cesaro dropped Montez with an uppercut then tagged in Shinsuke Nakamura. Shinsuke taunted the babyface corner then covered Ford for a two count. The heels continued to trade quick tags, isolating Montez Ford.
Ford managed to catch Cesaro with an enziguri and leap to his corner to tag in Daniel Bryan. Bryan kicked Cesaro in the face, then dumped him over the top rope. Bryan flew through the middle rope, crashing into Cesaro. Cesaro wandered to his feet as Bryan flew from the top rope. Cesaro caught him, but Bryan countered him. Bryan flipped out of the corner, but wound up tweaking his knee. Cesaro dropped him with an uppercut. Bryan rolled to the outside, selling the knee. KO went to check on him. Cesaro left the ring and attacked Bryan’s leg. The show went to commercial.
Cesaro continued to work over Bryan’s knee when the show returned from break. He tagged in Robert Roode, who scooped up Bryan and dropped him on his leg. Roode tagged in Ziggler, who proceeded to crank Bryan’s leg in the rope. Bryan fought to his feet, but Ziggler gave him a chop block. Cesaro continued the assault after tagging in.
Dolph Ziggler tagged in. He begged Bryan to stand. Bryan caught Ziggler’s kick attempt and whipped him into the corner. Bryan crawled to the corner, but Ziggler tagged in Roode first. Roode cut off Bryan’s path and beat him in the corner. Roode set up Daniel on the top rope, but Bryan gave him a headbutt to the mat. Bryan connected with a flying missile dropkick, immediately grabbing the knee in pain. He reached Angelo Dawkins for a tag. Roode tagged Nakamura.
Dawkins planted Nakamura, then Cesaro, and finally, Ziggler. Angelo whipped Nakamura into the corner and then hit a running bulldog, covering him for a two count. Nakamura battled back with a spin kick to the face and a backstabber for a two count of his own. Shinsuke tagged in Cesaro.
Cesaro hit a floating power bomb on Dawkins. Kevin Owens tossed Nakamura to the outside. Owens hit Robert Roode with a stunner. Ziggler hit Owens with a leaping DDT. Dawkins tossed Ziggler to the outside. Cesaro rolled Dawkins up, but the referee caught his feet on the ropes.
Bryan and Owens flew from respective corners on the outside, taking down Roode, Ziggler, and Nakamura. In the ring, Dawkins tagged in Ford, who hit the huge splash for a three count.
WINNERS: The Street Profits, Daniel Bryan, and Kevin Owens in 14:00 (partial)
(LeClair’s Analysis: Solid eight man tag. I like the idea of putting The Street Profits over in a big way. It’s important to get the new teams established in a strong, positive light, especially after last week’s mishap with Lars Sullivan. I’m still unsure of the KO/Bryan partnership, or what they were attempting to accomplish with this pairing, but I’m at least intrigued to see where it goes. I like the fresh matchups in the tag division right now. Also, much appreciation to Daniel Bryan for not coming to the ring in his wrestling gear and then having to go change when an impromptu match was made.)
-Cole teased Seth Rollins vs. Murphy for later tonight.
-At the announcers desk, Cole and Graves introduced “Law and Otis.”
-The traditional Law & Order intro was spoofed. It gave way to a courtroom, where Ron Simmons introduced the “honorable John Bradshaw” to preside. JBL went over the charges levied against Otis, who was seated opposite of The Miz & John Morrison and their lawyer.
JBL invited the lawyer to begin her opening argument. The Miz cut her off. He said case law is on his side. Miz claimed that Otis has victimized him emotionally and mentally and failed to uphold the standards of a Money in the Bank winner. He said Otis should relinquish the contract and place it in the hands of an “honorable WWE Superstar.”
Otis delivered his opening statement. He said he deserves the contract because he won the match. Otis sat down. The Miz’s lawyer told him Otis had a good argument. Miz fired her. To be continued…
(LeClair’s Analysis: I’ll reserve judgement on this until it’s over.)
-A vignette for Bianca Belair aired.
-Bianca Belair headed to the ring. Cole said she’d be in action next.
-The Street Profits celebrated their win backstage with Bryan and KO. Bryan told the Street Profits to “fist him.” Owens choked on his drink. Dawkins and Ford pounded Bryan’s fist. “Smackdown’s the best!” Bryan said.
Sami Zayn approached, admonishing Bryan for badmouthing him. He said he doesn’t share Bryan’s vision for the title being defended every week. Sami said he dictates who gets titles shots and when. Zayn told Bryan to keep his “visions” to himself. “As long as I’m Intercontinental champion, I’m gonna do things my way.”
(2) BIANCA BELAIR vs. ZELINA VEGA
Bianca Belair and Zelina Vega locked up in the center of the ring. Belair backed Zelina into the corner, and onto the top rope. Vega slapped Belair to create separation. Belair tossed Vega from the top rope. Zelina tired to grab onto Bianca’s arm, but Belair gave her a quick bodyslam.
Vega tried to give Belair a head scissor takeover, but Bianca flipped through it and dropped Vega, then hit a standing moonsault. Zelina fought to her feet and connected with a hurricanrana off the middle rope. Belair quickly rebounded, tossed Vega into the air and caught her with a big right hand. Belair deadlifted Vega up into a military press, then tossed her face first into the turnbuckle. Belair hit the Kiss of Death for a three count.
WINNER: Bianca Belair in 3:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Impressive debut for Belair. Cole and Graves sold her hard as a future player in the women’s division. She’s still a little rough around the edges, but the raw talent is unquestionable. Her offense tonight was a good indication of what she can do, and Vega sold well for her.)
-Cole said Lars Sullivan would be in action next.
-Kayla Braxton was in the ring with Shorty G when the show returned from break. She asked what compelled him to accept a match with Lars Sullivan. Gable said he’s fed up. He couldn’t get drafted on Raw or Smackdown, so it’s up to him to right the ship. Gable said he’s out to prove he belongs here. Lars Sullivan headed to the ring.
(3) SHORTY G vs. LARS SULLIVAN
Shorty G ducked a tie up attempt from Lars Sullivan. Sullivan quickly grabbed Gable and tossed him across the ring, then laughed. He tossed Gable high in the air and pancaked him. Sullivan lifted Gable, scooped him onto his shoulder and carried him around the ring. Gable clawed Sullivan’s eyes and slid down his back.
Gable kicked Sullivan into the corner and hit a running senton kick. He tried a second one, but Sullivan moved out of the way and let out a battle cry. Sullivan grabbed Gable and tossed him across the ring. Gable wandered to his feet and got drilled with a short arm clothesline. Lars hit the Freak Accident for a three count.
WINNER: Lars Sullivan in 2:00
Kayla approached Shorty G on the mat after the match. She asked how he felt. Gable said he quit.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Nothing to see here. Sullivan has some impressive offense. I’m still waiting to see a character develop here, beyond just being “the freak.” That means nothing, it says nothing, and it won’t get Sullivan over. He needs something more. I’m intrigued to see what Gable’s quitting angle means, at least.)
-Backstage, Alyse Ashton welcomed Seth Rollins to the set. She asked about Rollins facing Murphy. Rollins said he plucked Murphy from obscurity and guided him, only to be disrespected by him when he joined in on the Mysterio fun. Rollins said Murphy, and Ashton need to understand that it’s all for the greater good. “We all have a role to play, and Murphy needs to understand his.” Rollins said he’s a leader and Murphy is destined to be a disciple and a “walk-behinder.” Rollins said Murphy will learn tonight.
-Roman Reigns was shown sitting at a table of uneaten food, Paul Heyman looming behind him. Graves said we’d hear about Roman’s “tribal consequences” later tonight.
-Adam Pearce approached Shorty G in the trainer’s room to ask for clarification. He asked if he’s really putting. Gable said he’s quitting the Shorty G character. He ripped off the armbands and said he’s tired of being the poster boy for positivity campaigns. He said you can’t just go around and accomplish anything you want, but an Olympian can. He denounced Shorty G and readopted his real name – Chad Gable.
(LeClair’s Analysis: FINALLY. Who knows if this will mean anything of note for Gable’s career, but it’s fantastic for him, and for us that he gets to drop that ridiculous name.)
-Greg Hamilton welcomed Bayley, who was already sitting in the ring in her dented chair. Bayley said she did four interviews this morning, and they all used their precious time to ask questions about Sasha Banks. “No matter what I do, I can’t seem to get away from her.”
Bayley said people asked why she’s hesitating, if she’s afraid, and when she’s going to sign the contract. Bayley said Sasha is an ungrateful brat who doesn’t deserve an opportunity. She claimed that she attacked Sasha to be done with her, but now she’s an even bigger pain in the ass. Bayley laughed at the idea that Banks’ name is bigger than her title. “I think you got so conceited that your head won’t even fit in Hell in a Cell.” She refused to signed the contract and told Banks to burn it.
Sasha Banks’ music interrupted her. Banks walked onto the stage carrying the contract. Banks and Bayley argued off microphone. Bayley tried to hit Sasha with the chair, but Banks ducked. Bayley dropped the Women’s title in the process. Sasha retrieved it and refused to give it back until she signed the contract.
Bayley tried to rip the title away from Sasha’s grasp. Banks kneed her in the face. Sasha put the chair over Bayley’s neck and threatened her. Bayley kicked her away. Sasha trapped Bayley in the chair again and cranked at her neck until Bayley signed the contract. Bayley signed under duress. Banks dropped her and told her she’s going to take the title and finish what Bayley started.
(LeClair’s Analysis: The simpler the setup, the better the segments seem to work for these two. It’s a shame that after such an entertaining summer, the subsequent rivalry has been reduced to this, but at least keeping it simple these last couple of weeks has netted more effective segments. Again, I’m sure these two will have a great match, but it’s hard to swallow this result when you consider what might have been with these two. As usual, WWE’s storytelling is greatly rushed and hampered by having to shoehorn rivalries into gimmick matches instead of letting such stakes develop naturally.)
-Back in the courtroom, John Morrison was on the stand. He said the physical scars from Otis don’t compare to the emotional scars. Rey Mysterio served as a witness for Otis. He said Otis won Money in the Bank fair and square. Asuka took the stand and spoke quickly in Japanese. JBL turned off camera to ask if anyone got any of that. Teddy Long was revealed. “Every single word, playa,” he said. Asuka responded with a “holla, holla, holla.”
Tucker was shown on the stand. He said Otis is sensitive, and Miz deserved everything coming to him. Miz tried to get Tucker to admit that Otis neglected the Money in the Bank contract. Tucker said beating the crap out of Miz is the only thing Otis can focus on. An argument followed. Ron Simmons called for order. JBL said he’d render his verdict after a short recess. Teddy Long said he had to pee and left. To be continued…
After the commercial, JBL struck down Miz’s claim of “unsafe working environment.” He argued against Miz’s claim of negligence, citing the year window to cash in the contract. JBL ruled in favor of Otis. Miz asked for one more piece of evidence to be entered – a black briefcase. JBL opened it and a “ca-ching” sound effect played. JBL reversed course and sided with Miz. He said Otis must face The Miz at Hell in a Cell, with the winner getting the Money in the Bank contract. Ron Simmons walked to the center of the room and shouted “damn.” The “Law & Otis” title card faded in.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Yikes. I get that this is meant to be a comedy angle and segment, but it’s just not funny. It’s never been funny. I don’t think people care about the Money in the Bank contract on Otis, but they certainly don’t care about it going to The Miz. Why couldn’t we have just had Otis offer this match to Miz to get his hands on him? Why go through all this, other than to fill TV time? Maybe this worked for some people, it’s just not what I look for in pro wrestling.)
-Cole and Graves tossed to a hype package for Seth Rollins vs. Murphy.
-Seth Rollins headed to the ring. Cole said it was Seth’s Smackdown in-ring debut. He sent the show to commercial.
-Murphy headed to the ring after the break. Aliyah Mysterio was shown watching on a monitor backstage.
(4) SETH ROLLINS vs. MURPHY
Murphy backed Seth Rollins into the corner when the ball rang. Rollins turned it around and held on for the referee’s count. He poked Murphy’s chest and called him a disciple. Rollins tried it again, calling himself the messiah. Murphy grabbed an arm and took Rollins down.
Rollins fought to his feet and tried to work Murphy’s arm over. Murphy turned Seth around, caught him with a headlock and then kicked up to his feet. Rollins dropped Murphy with a quick right jab and applied a grounded side headlock. Murphy worked his way to a vertical base and shot Rollins off the ropes, but Seth dropped him again with a shoulder tackle.
Rollins continued poking Murphy and calling him a disciple. Murphy shoved Rollins out of the ring, slid to the outside and backdropped Rollins onto the announcers desk. The show cut to commercial.
Murphy caught Rollins with an elbow out of the corner when the show returned from break. He tried to climb to the top rope, but Rollins cut him off by the legs. Murphy dropped to the floor. Backstage, Rey and Dominick Mysterio got angry with Aliyah for watching the match on a monitor.
In the ring, Rollins grounded Murphy with a waist lock. Murphy slowly rose and backed Rollins into the corner repeatedly to break the hold. He caught Rollins with a big boot, then a missile dropkick. Murphy hit Rollins with a pair of clotheslines, then a side kick. He tossed Rollins to the outside, then hit a running swanton over the top rope, barely clipping Rollins.
Rollins slid in the ring. Murphy climbed to the top rope and connected with a diving Meteora for a near fall. Murphy rolled to the outside, favoring his shoulder and appearing to pop it back in. Rollins caught on, diving onto Murphy. Seth tossed him back in the ring and caught him with a leaping knee for a two count.
Rollins dragged Murphy onto the apron and dropped Murphy’s arm and shoulder onto the hardest part of the ring. Aliyah looked on backstage, concerned. The Mysterios were still at her side. Cole sent the show to commercial.
Out of the break, Murphy caught Rollins with a kick through the legs while both men were tangled in the corner. Rollins took advantage of Murphy’s injured shoulder to set up for the buckle bomb. Murphy countered and caught Rollins with a hard knee, covering for a two count. Rollins caught Murphy with a back elbow then began talking trash while slapping and Murphy’s head and face. Murphy fired back with a punch. The two began trading rights. Murphy stepped on Rollins’ foot, but Rollins caught him with a step up enziguri.
Murphy rolled up Rollins and nearly caught him, but Rollins kicked out, rolled through and planted Murphy with the Falcon Arrow for a near fall. Rollins went for the Stomp, but Murphy moved. Rollins elbowed Murphy and climbed to the middle rope. Murphy caught Rollins with a kick to the face, then hoisted Rollins onto his shoulders. Seth slid down the back and jolted Murphy to the mat by the arm, tugging at the injured shoulder. Rollins hit the Stomp quickly and covered Murphy for a three count.
WINNER: Seth Rollins in 18:00
Seth Rollins retrieved a kendo stick from under the ring. Backstage, Aliyah begged Rey and Dominick to help Murphy. They refused, so she took off to the ring. Back in the Thunderdome, Rollins continued to talk trash as Aliyah made her way down the ramp. Rollins began pounding Murphy with the kendo stick. Aliyah slid in the ring and covered up Murphy. Dominick ran down to retrieve his sister. Seth Rollins attacked Dominick from behind.
Rey Mysterio rushed to the ring with a steel chair Rollins left the ring in a hurry, outnumbered. Rey tended to Dominick while Aliyah helped Murphy. Murphy had a stare down with Rey and Dominick as the segment faded out, awkwardly.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Really good match. Seth winning was likely the right call here, but I like that they not only gave Murphy a ton of offense, but protected him with the shoulder injury as well. The budding relationship between Murphy and Aliyah is wholly uncomfortable given the age gap, and I wish they’d steer away from it. In fact, I really wish they’d steer away from the Mysterio angle altogether. It’s run its course. It’s time for everyone involved, especially Seth Rollins, to move onto something new.)
-Backstage, Paul Heyman answered a knock on Roman Reigns’ door. A state hand informed Paul that Roman is up. “It’s time for Roman when Roman says it’s time for Roman,” Paul retorted. He slammed the door.
-Progressive’s Match Flo covered the ongoing rivalry between Roman Reigns and Jey Uso
-Roman Reigns headed to the ring, flanked by Paul Heyman. Cole and Graves talked up the Hell in a Cell “I Quit” match for the Universal title.
Paul Heyman handed Roman a microphone. Before he could speak, Jey Uso, wearing a bandana over most of his face, interrupted him from the tron, apparently having infiltrated Reigns’ locker room. Jey looked at Roman’s food spread and said it must be great to be the tribal chief. He said Roman’s got his head so far up his tribal chief ass that he’s lost connections with himself, and his family.
“Don’t ask me, ask my brother Jey, he’s right behind you,” Jimmy pulled down the bandana and took off the hat, revealing himself. In the ring, Jey Uso blindsided Roman. Reigns fought back and took the chair, but Jey caught him with a super kick. He shot to the top rope and hit Roman with the Uso splash. Jey’s music hit, leaving Roman laying in the ring. jimmy joined Jey on the stage. Paul Heyman joined Reigns back in the ring.
Roman dragged himself to his feet, slowly. He held out his hand for a microphone. “It’s funny to you boys?” Roman asked. He said the Usos don’t understand. Roman said if Jey makes him quit, he’s not the champion, he’s not the tribal chief, and he’s not the provider for generations of their bloodline.
“If you can make me quit, I can live with that.” Reigns said when he makes Jey quit, he will fall in line and take orders. “If you can’t, then you’re out. Not just you, your brother too.” Reigns said theirs wives are out, their kids are out, their kids’ kids are out. “Those are you consequences,” Reigns declared. He dropped the mic and took the Universal title from Paul.
The red Cell lowered slowly from the rafters, enveloping Roman Reigns. Cole reiterated the stakes for the Usos. “This is truly bigger than championships and business,” Corey Graves said.
As the cell lowered into position, Jey climbed the outside of the cage to stare up and over at Reigns. Reigns held the title up to him as the show faded out.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Look, I don’t think the “ultimate consequence” really wound up being that big of a deal, but as previously discussed, it’s hard to imagine it would live up to Reigns’ initial billing. With that said, this was another excellent segment in a string of excellent storytelling between everyone involved here. This continues to be the best thing on Smackdown, the best thing in WWE, and, in my personal opinion, the best thing in pro wrestling right now.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: An interesting show anchored by a strong opening match, a good main event match and great show closing angle. The stuff in between was a mixed bag. I liked the introduction of Bianca Belair and was impressed with Lars Sullivan’s offense, plus happy to see Chad Gable drop the “Shorty G” moniker. Law & Otis was unfunny and uninteresting, and we continue to be subjected to the dreadful long Rollins/Murphy/Mysterios angle. Still, I’m feeling relatively optimistic about the influx of new talent and I’m looking forward to seeing where much of it goes in the coming weeks. I’m asl intrigued to see how the likes of Big E and Aleister Black fit into the new roster, both absent from tonight’s show.