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LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
OCTOBER 30, 2020
ORLANDO, FL AT WWE THUNDERDOME IN AMWAY CENTER
AIRED ON FOX NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
-The show opened on a wide shot of the Thunderdome as Michael Cole welcomed the audience to the “state of the art” venue.
-Roman Reigns’ music hit and he emerged from the back, flanked by Paul Heyman. Cole said they’re kicking off the show with the “still reigning” Universal champion. He said Hell in a Cell was incredibly emotional for Reigns and his family. Corey Graves added that Reigns will stop at nothing to retain his title and maintain his seat at the head of the table.
The camera cut to the ring to reveal Jey Uso already awaiting Reigns’ arrival. Cole threw to footage from Hell in a Cell to explain “Jey’s predicament.” A lengthy video package recapped the entire Hell in a Cell match.
Back live, Paul Heyman began to speak, but Jey Uso ripped the microphone from his hand. “You didn’t beat me,” Jey said, choking up. Jey said he’s not the type of person to quit, and Roman Reigns isn’t the type of person he appears to be. Reigns said Jey can make all the excuses he wants. “I told you I was gonna make you quit, and what’d you do? You quit,” Reigns retorted.
Roman told Jey to take the oath and fall in line. Jey said Reigns pulled a snake move, one-upping him. “I do not respect you,” Jey yelled. He said the title has Roman “tripping.” Jey said his brother is the only person in the world he’d say “I quit” for, and Roman knew it.
“Of course I did,” Reigns confirmed. He said Jey doesn’t understand the burden of being the face of WWE. He told him the consequences are real. “The chiefs, all the way down the the youngest, they’re all behind me.” Reigns said if Jey doesn’t fall in line, he’s out of the family. “I’d be angry too, I’d be livid, but what can you do? Reigns tried to reason with Uso. He said he’s sure Jey wants to bash his skull in, but there’s nothing he can do.
“I hate you!” Jey screamed, choking up. Reigns nodded. He told Jey he loves him, he always has. He told Jey he has until the end of the night to fall in line. Reigns dropped the mic and left the ring. Jey looked on in disgust.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Masterful performance from Roman Reigns here. He was detestable, but completely convicted in his insistence that he still loves his cousin. Jey Uso was distraught, as he ought to be given the supposed circumstances. Though I don’t anticipate these two to face off again, this angle continues to be the best thing WWE has done in a very long time.)
-As Reigns walked away, Cole turned his attention to Jey Uso’s Survivor Series qualifying match against Daniel Bryan later on in the night. Corey Graves said Kevin Owens would face Dolph Ziggler in the first qualifier next.
-Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler headed to the ring for their Survivor Series qualifier.
(1) KEVIN OWENS vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/ Robert Roode) – Men’s Survior Series Qualifier
Dolph Ziggler immediately tried to shoot the half on Kevin Owens. Owens held his ground, grabbed a headlock then tackled Ziggler to the mat. Ziggler left the ring to regroup, talking things over with Robert Roode. Dolph slid back in the ring and dropped Owens with a neckbreaker and covered him for a one count.
Dolph dragged Owens to the corner and then raked his face across the top rope. Owens recovered and dropped Ziggler with a back elbow before stomping Dolph on the mat. Ziggler returned to his feet and went for a Zig Zag, but Owens shoved Ziggler off. Dolph tased Owens to the outside and feigned an injury, allowing Robert Roode to attack Owens and toss him back in the ring. The referee figured out the ruse and tossed Roode from ringside. Cole sent the show to commercial.
Ziggler had Owens grounded in a side chin lock when the show returned from break. KO slowly rose to his feet and broke the hold with a punch to the stomach. Ziggler turned Owens into a neckbreaker and scored a near fall. Dolph raked at the eyes of Owens and set up for another neckbreaker, but Owens broke out of it. Dolph caught Owens with a boot, but KO hit him with an atomic drop and then a running senton.
Owens clotheslined Ziggler to the outside, but Dolph quickly returned to the ring. Owens caught him with a spinning side slam for a near fall. Owens climbed to the top rope and went for a Swanton, but Dolph got the knees up. Ziggler covered Owens for a two count. Both men struggled to their feet.
Ziggler called for a super kick, but Owens caught him with one of his own. Owens went for the pop-up power bomb, but Ziggler countered it into a Famous-er for a cover and near fall. Ziggler went for another kick, but Owens blocked it and went for a Stunner. Ziggler pushed him away and rolled Owens up for a two count. Owens countered into a roll up of his own for a two. Both men shot to their feet and Owens caught Ziggler with a Stunner for the three count.
WINNER: Kevin Owens in 11:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Solid match, but who cares about qualifying for this team? Both Owens and Ziggler were Raw guys two weeks ago. Two of Raw’s three competitors thus far were Smackdown guys two weeks ago. There’s no brand loyalty, there’s no need for this stupid gimmick to occur. It’s shoehorned, like most of the stipulations in WWE’s Pay-Per-Views, and it allows them to take an entire month off creatively. It’s just bad, lazy booking.)
-Progressive’s Match Flo covered Daniel Bryan’s rise to prominence and in-ring return two years ago.
-After the break, Natalya cornered Adam Pearce backstage to request she be named captain of Smackdown’s Women’s team at Survivor Series. Billie Kay walked up and threw her name in the ring. Bianca Belair stepped in and began arguing with Natalya over hear “B.O.A.T” nickname. “That name isn’t as cute as you think it is,” she declared. Pearce made a triple threat match for tonight, with the winner earning a spot on the Survivor Series team.
-Cole and Graves tossed to a pre-recorded interview Corey Graves conducted with Lars Sullivan. Corey asked if it’s okay to call him “Lars.” Lars intimated that Corey would rather call him “the freak.” He said he’s ostracized from society and people walk to the other side of the street when they see him. Graves said it’s because others can’d do the “freakishly athletic” things that Sullivan can.
Lars offered to play along. He told a story about two brothers singing “freak show” at him when he was a child. Sullivan said it made him cry, and the boys just laughed at him. The teachers joined in, too. Sullivan seemed to grow angry, but then laughed. He said twenty minutes later, the laughing stopped but the screaming continued for hours. “I wasn’t allowed back to school after that.”
Graves asked Sullivan what he wishes to accomplish. Lars said he wishes to unleash a lifetime of pain and humiliation on anyone who gets in his way, and to make the world his personal playground and hell on Earth.
(LeClair’s Analysis: This is much closer to what I was hoping to see out of Sullivan. I thought the childhood story was effective, but the ending got a little to wordy and crossed into cliche wrestling monster territory. I’d like to see them stay away from that with Lars, and instead focus on the quiet, reflective and calculated side of Lars he showed in NXT and in the earlier part of this promo.)
-Bianca Belair headed to the ring for the triple threat Survivor Series qualifier.
-After the break, Belair continued to wait for her opponents in the ring. Cole tossed to a recap of last week’s match between Seth Rollins and Murphy.
Backstage, Murphy asked Aliyah Mysterio if she’d spoken to her family. Aliyah said her mom has been supportive and wants her to be happy, but Rey and Dominick won’t even talk to her about him. Murphy said he understands why they can’t stand him, but he’s a changed man. He said he plans to go to the ring and publicly apologize to them tonight.
-Back in the Thunderdome, Billie Kay headed to the ring, followed by Natalya. Cole and Graves talked about what Billie may be capable of in a singles role.
(2) BIANCA BELAIR vs. BILLIE KAY vs. NATALYA – Women’s Survivor Series Qualifier
Billie Kay pushed Bianca Belair and Natalya to start the match They surrounded her, and Billie quickly left the ring. Bianca and Natalya locked up and Bianca quickly got the better of her, hitting a handspring back elbow. Billie Kay returned to the ring but was quickly tossed to the outside again.
Natalya dropped Belair with a clothesline. Billie Kay rushed back in, tossed Natalya out and covered Belair for a two count. Kay managed to hit Belair with a hurricanrana. Natalya took out Kay with a suplex. Bianca dropped Natalya and then hit a handspring moonsault on Kay for a two count, broken up by Natalya.
Natalya set up Belair on the mat and hit a leapfrog running dropkick. She hooked Bianca up for the Sharpshooter and rolled her over. Billie Kay grabbed a chin lock on Belair. Natalya recognized the dual submission and let go, grabbing Kay. Kay fought out and tossed Natalya into the ribs of Belair, then hit Natalya with a kick. Kay covered both women repeatedly, scoring only two counts over and over.
Kay argued with the referee. Natalya took her down and applied the Sharpshooter. Kay nearly tapped, but Belair broke it up and tossed Natalya into the ring post. Billie rolled up Belair and put her feet on the ropes, but Belair kicked out. She immediately scooped Kay up onto her shoulders and hit the Kiss of Death for a three count.
WINNER: Bianca Belair in 5:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Billie Kay is certainly rough in the ring, but Natalya and Bianca Belair helped her along here. Belair got to show off her offense again, and she was the clear choice to win this match and join the Survivor Series team. Given Smackdown’s relatively thin depth on the women’s side, I’d like to think Natalya may wind up earning her way onto the team at a later date, and that’s probably the right move. Bianca had to win this one, though.)
-Carmella appeared in a close up promo backstage. She said she’s “that woman” who calls the shots and makes her own rules. She says she’s willing to do anything it takes to get ahead, and she always wins. She said next week, the entire world will find out why she’s untouchable.
-Murphy headed to the ring to deliver his apology. Cole said he’d do so next.
After a promo for Susan G. Komen, Murphy moved to the center of the ring, joined by Aliyah Mysterio. He said he understands why Rey and Dominick Mysterio hate him, but promised he’s not the same man he once was. He said as a man, he must apologize to them face to face. He asked Rey and Dominick to come to the ring.
They didn’t immediately appear. “Please, guys. I get it. I get everything I’ve done, but I need to apologize to you.” Murphy grew upset. Aliyah tried to calm him. Seth Rollins’ music hit and he walked onto the stage. Rollins said he hates to be the one to say it, but Rey and Dominick are never going to forgive him. “Rey and Dominick are never going to accept you as you are, and they’re never going to accept whatever is going on between you and Aliyah.”
Rollins said though they will never accept him, he will. “I will always accept you as you are, I will forgive you for what you’ve done.” Rollins said he accepts and embraces the relationship between Murphy and Aliyah. He said he’d marry them now if that’s what they wanted. “There’s a place for all of us in the greater good,” Rollins said. He said he accepts Murphy and he accepts Aliyah, no matter what her last name is.
Seth said Aliyah is starting to understand the truth, that Seth isn’t the bad guy and that Rey has forced his hand. Rollins said the way Rey has talked to Aliyah over the last few weeks hasn’t been protective, it’s been controlling. He called Dominick a coward.
Dominick attacked Rollins from behind. Rollins quickly turned Dominick over and took over. Murphy pulled them apart and attacked Rollins. Seth slid from the ring. Dominick punched Murphy. Murphy took down Dominick and starting firing away. Rey Mysterio’s music hit and he rushed to the ring. He attacked Murphy. He and Dominick set Murphy up for the 619, but Aliyah stepped into their path. Rey and Dominick tried to get Aliyah to leave with them. Aliyah said she isn’t going, because she loves Murphy. She repeated it. Rey and Dominick left, disgusted. Aliyah helped Murphy to his feet and they hugged, then kissed.
Seth smiled from atop the stage. Rey and Dominick walked up the ramp, heads hung low. Graves said he can’t believes what they just witnessed. “She’s in love!” he declared.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Eek. I get it, Aliyah is an of-age adult, but this just feels a little weird to me. The hug was awkward, the kiss was even more awkward. It was truly time for this angle to end when its participants moved to Smackdown, but unfortunately, it drags on, with continuously disappointing results.)
-Backstage, Daniel Bryan warmed up for his match with Jey Uso. Kayla Braxton approached, asking if Bryan’s approach has changed after what Jey went through with Roman earlier. Bryan said no, but remarked how impressed he’s been with Jey. He said Jey couldn’t beat Roman Reigns, but he brought his best, and he expects nothing but the best from Jey Uso tonight. He continued to warm up.
-The Street Profits headed to the ring. Cole and Graves talked up their champions vs. champions match with New Day at Survivor Series. The show went to commercial.
Out of the break, the Street Profits said they were flattered to see New Day dress up as them on Raw. Montez Ford called them one of the greatest tag team of all time, but said they don’t plan to show up to Survivor Series looking for them to sign a box of Booty-O’s. He said they’re out to be the best, and they want the smoke. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura headed to the ring. Cole said it was a great opportunity for the former tag team champions.
(3) THE STREET PROFITS (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) vs. CESARO & SHINSUKE NAKAMURA
Angelo Dawkins and Cesaro began the match by teasing a lock up. Cesaro surprised Dawkins with an uppercut. Angelo quickly shot to his feet, jumped over Cesaro a number of times off the ropes, then tagged in Montez Ford. Shinsuke Nakamura entered the ring, but Ford dropped him with a big leaping dropkick.
Cesaro ran at Ford, but Montez hit him with a flipping neckbreaker. Cesaro rolled to the outside. Ford dove over the top rope onto Nakamura. He ran at Cesaro, but Cesaro tossed him into the air and over the barricade with an insane amount of hang time. Cole sent the show to break.
Cesaro head Ford locked in a grounded arm hold when the show returned from break. Ford slowly worked his way back to his feet and drove his elbow into Cesaro’s ribs. Cesaro shook the off, tagged in Nakamura and gave Ford a suplex. Nakamura covered him for a two count, then applied a rear chin lock, transitioning into an exploder. Ford landed on his feet and caught Nakamura with a leaping kick. Montez reached Angelo Dawkins, Nakamura tagged in Cesaro.
Dawkins took down Cesaro with a pair of clotheslines and then a leaping elbow. Nakamura charged, but Dawkins flattened him in the corner. He caught Cesaro with a running bulldog out of the corner and covered him for a two count. Cesaro battled back with a big uppercut, tagging in Nakamura.
Dawkins managed to push Nakamura away and hit Cesaro with an overhead throw. Nakamura caught Dawkins with a kick, then a second one into the turnbuckle. He positioned Dawkins horizontally on the top rope and kicked him in the stomach before tagging in Cesaro. Cesaro hit a gut wrench power bomb and covered, but Ford saved the match for the Profits.
Dawkins managed to roll up Cesaro for a two count. Cesaro caught Dawkins with a massive clothesline for a two count of his own. Dawkins managed to push Cesaro into Nakamura on the ropes, then hit Cesaro with a spine buster. He tagged in Montez Ford, then gave Nakamura a superplex. Ford flew off the top rope with a big splash for a three count.
WINNERS: The Street Profits in 10:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Good match. I said last week that it’s crucial that The Street Profits get off to a hot start on Smackdown because of the way the tag champions have historically been treated. I’m glad that WWE seems to agree, at least thus far. It’s time to start booking the Smackdown tag division a bit more coherently, and hopefully that’s begun with this influx of new talent following the draft.)
-Backstage, Sami Zayn talked about his match against Bobby Lashley at Survivor Series. He said there’s no one more fitting than him to represent the “people of all continents.” He claimed to be the champion of the people, loved and adored by people of countries everywhere. He said Bobby Lashley only represents one country. “Let’s not even get into it,” Zayn laughed. He said he plans to prove that the Intercontinental champion is greater than the United States champion.
-Sasha Banks headed to the ring. Michael Cole shushed Corey Graves so he could yell “Boss Time!” He sang her praises as she walked to the ring with the Smackdown Women’s title. “Long live the Boss, the Boss is next on Smackdown!” Cole exclaimed.
Cole and Graves teased Sasha Banks vs. Asuka at Survivor Series after the break while Sasha waited in the ring.
Sasha said don’t talk the talk unless you can walk the walk. She said she promised she’d finish what Bayley started, and take the one she loved the most – the Smackdown Women’s championship. Banks thanked Bayley for ending an era. She called Bayley her sister and said she planned to take over the company with her. Sasha said when Bayley took a chair and tried to ruin her career, she realized it wasn’t their friendship that was unstoppable. “It was me. I am the standard, the blueprint, the leader, and your brand new Smackdown Women’s champion.” Sasha held up the title triumphantly.
Banks turned her focus to Asuka. She said there’s no doubt in her mind that she’s the best of the best. Bayley’s music cut Sasha off. “Turn off the music, idiots!” Bayley yelled. She said the whole world knows Sasha can win a championships, but can’t hold onto one. Bayley reminded Sasha that she held the Smackdown Women’s title for 380 days. She admonished Sasha for taking her chair, and her title.
“You didn’t technically, legally beat me for it, you forced me to sign that contract under duress.” Bayley said she isn’t a sore loser, and she plans to do Sasha a favor. Bayley said everyone knows Sasha can’t beat Asuka without her in her corner. She challenged Sasha to a rematch for the Smackdown Women’s title on next week’s show. “I want you to enjoy your predictable 13 day title reign,” Bayley said.
“I hope you bring all you’ve got, because backstabbing bitches never win,” Sasha said. She dropped the mic and held up the title. Cole said he wants to see the match made official. Graves backed up Bayley’s claim that Sasha can win titles, but can’t retain them.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Meh. Sasha still seems “off.” I can’t quite put my finger on what’s going on here, but it’s almost as though she recognized that the angle with Bayley turned out to be a dud, despite it having some of the best build WWE has had in a while. These two could have, and should have main evented a Pay-Per-View. Hell, the way it was going for a while there, it looked like they could theoretically main event WrestleMania. Instead, they wound up in the mid-card on a B-level Pay-Per-View, and now it looks like their blow off will come on free television next week. It’s time to cut losses and move on, I guess.)
-Daniel Bryan headed to the ring for his main event, a Survivor Series Qualifier against Jey Uso. Cole said the match is next.
Daniel Bryan led a “yes” chant with the Thunderdome audience when the show returned from break. Jey Uso headed to the ring. Cole and Graves wondered if he’d be able to focus his emotion and take it out on Bryan.
(4) DANIEL BRYAN vs. JEY USO – Men’s Survivor Series Qualifier
Daniel Bryan and Jey Uso locked up in the center. Jey backed Bryan to the ropes, broke the hold at the referee’s request, and punched Bryan. Bryan backed away from the ropes and Jey quickly dropped him. Bryan rose quickly, and Jey gave him a body slam. Cole and Graves remarked on the aggressiveness Jey exhibited.
Jey Uso continued to punch Bryan around the ring. Bryan grew flustered and fired off a pair of swift uppercut jabs to the chest. He twisted Jey’s arm and bend it over his shoulder. Bryan tossed Jey off the ropes, but Uso turned it around on him and hit a Samoan drop. Bryan pulled himself to the corner while Jey let him recover, clearly conflicted.
Uso tossed Bryan to the corner, but Bryan flipped over the top, shot off the ropes and hit Jey with a running clothesline. Bryan shook off the cobwebs and fired off the “yes” kicks. Jey retreated to the corner and eventually ducked out of the ring, trying to regroup. Roman Reigns’ music hit. Roman walked down the ramp with Paul Heyman at his side. Jey Uso looked on with contempt. Cole wondered how it would change the dynamic of the match as the show went to break.
Jey had Bryan positioned on the top rope when the show returned from break. Roman Reigns looked on from the bottom of the entrance ramp. Bryan managed to counter Jey and hang him up in the ropes. Bryan hit a running dropkick, sat Jey up and went for a top rope back body drop. Jey managed to turn it around into a cross body for a near fall. Bryan turned it over for a near fall of his own.
Bryan and Uso battled to their feet, trading punches and kicks. Uso backed Bryan into the ropes, but Daniel managed to dump him to the floor. Jey caught Bryan with a kick to the face from the outside and set up for a splash. Bryan got his knees up and rolled Jey into the Yes Lock. Jey crawled desperately to the ropes, eventually managing to reach them and break the hold. Reigns continued to look on intently.
Bryan kicked Jey repeatedly in the corner. He connected with the running dropkick to the corner and attempted a second, but Jey shot out of the corner with a super kick. He headed to the top rope and connected with the splash, covering Bryan for a three count.
WINNER: Jey Uso in 10:00
Roman Reigns joined Jey Uso in the ring. Jey declared that he’s with Roman. “You’re the head of the table. I’m with you, alright.” Reigns gave Jey a look, then looked down at Daniel Bryan. Jey seemed to understand. He turned and kicked Bryan in the face, then leaped to the top rope and hit Bryan with another splash.
“I understand now!” Jey yelled. He told Roman he loves him. He paced in frustration. Roman told Jey to make Bryan understand. Jey dragged Bryan out of the ring and began beating him mercilessly. Jey screamed at Bryan the whole time, “I understand!” He tossed Bryan into the ring steps and cleared the announcers desk. Jey dropped Bryan onto the desk and began choking him. He climbed the steps and turnbuckle. Jey gave Bryan a massive splash off the top rope, to the outside, through the announcers desk.
Jey pulled himself to his feet and continued pounding on Bryan. Reigns licked his chops, smirked, turned around, and left the ring as Jey continued to lay waste to Bryan. The show cut to black.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Good match. I understand wanting to capitalize on the momentum they’ve built with Jey Uso recently, even at the expense of Daniel Bryan, who seems content to put over his peers every change he gets. Another turn in this story that continues to provide unexpected, excellent moments. I love the idea of Jey Uso doing Roman’s bidding, but I hope we get a clear and concise explanation as to how he arrived at this decision. I get that he “has to” in order to stay in the family, but Jey was adamant about hating Roman at the start of the show, even after having days to consider the consequences of his loss. Given how good this angle has been to date, I trust that those involved will have an adequate follow up next week, and I’m looking forward to it.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: I generally dislike this time of year for WWE, where storytelling appears to go out the window in favor of brand supremacy. Tonight’s show had a fair mix, though. They continued to work on Smackdown’s top stories, particularly Roman Reigns and Jey Uso, while filling time with Survivor Series qualifiers as needed. I’m particularly happy that they’ve kept the focus on the “in-house” main event angle, rather than just haphazardly transitioning to Reigns feuding with Randy Orton because they just happen to be champions. I’d also mark tonight’s show as a win simply because they didn’t fill the stage with pumpkins and have a ridiculous Halloween gimmick match just because it’s October 30th. Kudos to them for that. Small victories.