LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 11/6: Alt perspective, detailed coverage of Banks vs. Bayley, Survivor Series qualifiers, more

By Brandon LeClair, PWTorch contributor


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
NOVEMBER 6, 2020
ORLANDO, FL AT WWE THUNDERDOME IN AMWAY CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON FOX NETWORK

Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves

-The show opened with a thunder crack over a wide shot of the roof of the Thunderdome. Michael Cole welcomed the audience to the show by saying Survivor Series is only two weeks away.

-Sasha Banks’ music hit and she strutted onto the stage and down the ramp. Cole said it’s time for “The Boss” to defend her title. He and Corey Graves talked about Sasha’s title win at Hell in a Cell, calling it one of the most hellacious they’d witnessed. Graves wondered if Sasha would be able to hang onto the title. Cole tossed to a video package hyping the feud, saying it comes to an end tonight.

After the video, Kayla Braxton interviewed Bayley in gorilla. She said watching the package must have brought back so many memories. Bayley said it brought her visions of joy watching her beat Sasha with a steel chair. She said the video failed to highlight the best part of Sasha’s career – every time she defends a title, she loses. Bayley promised to end the rivalry the same way it started, with Sasha “crippled in the ring by her own failure.”

Bayley headed to the ring. Cole said she’s extremely confident, talking up her 380 day title reign. He teased that the winner of this match will face Asuka in a champion vs. champion match at Survivor Series. In the ring, Greg Hamilton provided traditional championship introductions.

(1) SASHA BANKS (c) vs. BAYLEY – Smackdown Women’s Title match

Sasha Banks and Bayley locked up at the sound of the bell. Bayley backed Sasha into the corner and was quickly forced to break. Sasha turned the tides and took the action back to center. Sasha slapped Bayley and wrestled her to the mat. The two rolled to their feet, still locked up, and engaged in a brief test of strength. Bayley took Sasha down by the leg and covered her for a quick one count.

Bayley and Sasha remained locked up as they returned to their feet. Sasha dropped Bayley to the mat and tried to apply the Bank Statement, but Bayley quickly rolled under the bottom rope to safety. Cole sent the show to commercial.

Banks and Bayley traded baseball slide attempts to the outside when the show returned from commercial. Banks managed to rip Bayley’s legs out from underneath her, slamming her face against the edge of the ring. Banks brought her back inside and hit leaping double knees into the corner, covering her for a two count.

Bayley retreated to the apron. Banks caught her with double knees again. Sasha charged for a repeat, but Bayley catapulted her using her legs up and onto the edge of the ring. Bayley slid her back in the ring and covered her for a two count. Bayley hung Sasha up in the ropes and wrenched at her neck, taking full advantage of the referee’s count. Bayley dragged Sasha to the center and scored another near fall.

Sasha got turned inside out by a clothesline, then was hoisted onto the top turnbuckle. Bayley tried to set up a superplex, but Sasha kicked her away and connected with a flying Meteora. Bayley rolled haphazardly to the outside. Sasha headed to the apron and hit a leaping cross body to the floor. The show went to break.

Banks climbed to the top rope when the show returned from break. Bayley knocked her back to the apron, but Banks rolled through her legs, out of the ring and hooked Bayley into a power bomb position. Bayley rolled through it into a hurricanrana off the edge of the announcers desk. Bayley tossed Sasha back inside, but got dropped into the corner. Banks hit a running kick through the ropes to the outside, then connected with a leaping elbow onto the apron.

Sasha climbed to the top rope and connected with a frog splash, scoring a near fall. Both women struggled to the feet slowly. Banks set up for and hit the backstabber, but Bayley rolled onto her feet and hooked Sasha for the Bayley-to-Belly. Banks fought free, dropped Bayley and briefly grabbed the Banks Statement, but Bayley used the edge of the ring to pull herself to the outside and away from harm.

Bayley retrieved a kendo stick from under the ring. The referee took it from her, which afforded her the chance to grab her chair. She tried to hit Banks, but Sasha kicked it away and tossed it to the outside. Bayley hit Sasha with a Bank Statement, and then the Bayley-to-Belly for a believable near fall. Bayley climbed to the top rope and connected with the top rope elbow for a another close two count.

Banks struggled to her feet. Bayley caught her with a running knee and a spinning back drop for another two count. Graves said you have to appreciate the urgency with which Bayley is firing off her offense. Bayley let Sasha writhe around for a moment, but then pounced, locking in Sasha’s own Bank Statement. Bayley used the ropes for leverage, but Sasha managed to roll through it into a cover for a two count.

Bayley pulled herself to the apron. She charged at Sasha’s head and neck, but Sasha moved, sending Bayley crashing into the ring post. Banks hit Bayley with the backstabber and locked in the Bank Statement, securing a tap out quickly.

WINNER: Sasha Banks in 19:00, still Smackdown Women’s Champion

Sasha celebrated up the ramp, but was ambushed by Carmella. She kicked Banks in the gut, then hit the face buster onto the stage.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Really good match. Creative offense, and creative use of the ring to create interesting spots. These two have incredible in-ring chemistry, it’s just too bad the feud wound up coming off so poorly after the incredible lead up to the eventual turn. Hard to imagine a feud with Carmella not feeling like a bit of a step down after the prime billing this has taken. Guess we’ll see.)

-Kevin Owens approached Jey Uso backstage. He asked Jey how he’s doing, saying it seems like it’s been a rough couple of weeks. He jokingly suggested that Roman has Jey getting him his coffee. Jey took offense. Owens de-escalated, saying they’re going to be partners at Survivor Series and he hoped to change his history of bad performances there. He suggest Jey switch to decaf. Jey looked on angrily.

-Out of the break, Cole and Graves talked up The Undertaker’s “Final Farewell” at Survivor Series.

-Kayla Braxton welcomed Jey Uso to the interview set backstage. She tossed to a video package covering what happened on last week’s show. She asked him to explain his actions. Jey said he did what he had to do. “D.B. is my friend, but he’s not family.” Kayla said that’s true, unless he doesn’t fall in line. Jey grew impatient. Paul Heyman walked into frame. He said Roman wants to speak with him. Kayla said it appears Paul has a better spot in the family than Jey. “Still throwing shade, huh Kayla?” Jey walked away.

(LeClair’s Analysis: It’s a little strange to see Kayla becoming so partial, given her typical nature. Still, I think it’s good to have an interviewer who is clearly observing what’s happening and responding to it emotionally, rather than with a robotic script. Jey continues to be conflicted, and effective. I look forward to this story’s developments each week.)

-Rey Mysterio was shown frantically calling his daughter Aaliyah. Dominick approached. Rey asked him to go get his gear. King Corbin attacked Mysterio as the show went to break.

-Paul Heyman admonished Jey Uso for not asking permission to give an interview to Kayla. Jey seemed to think this was ridiculous, but bit his tongue. Paul said he’d bring Roman out to speak with Jey. Roman emerged seconds later. He asked Jey why he’d do an interview. “There’s a chain of common around here. You come talk to me, and if you can’t find me, you talk to Paul.”

Roman asked Jey about Kevin Owens. Jey said he was just cracking jokes. Roman said if he’s cracking jokes about Jey, he’s cracking jokes about him. He said he’s talking about the whole family. He told Jey he should take care of it. Jey agreed and left. Reigns asked Paul if he was aware of the KO situation. Heyman seemed nervous. Reigns told Paul he’s supposed to know everything and see everything so that Roman doesn’t have to. He told Paul to find Adam Pearce. “We’re gonna handle the Owens situation tonight.”

-Back in the Thunderdome, King Corbin was already in the ring. Rey Mysterio’s music hit and he headed to the ring, nursing the beating Corbin gave him earlier. Dominick accompanied him.

(2) KING CORBIN vs. REY MYSTERIO (w/ Dominick Mysterio) – Men’s Survivor Series Qualifier

Rey Mysterio charged at King Corbin and was immediately dropped with a big spine buster. Corbin covered him for a two count. King Corbin tossed Mysterio into the corner, then fired off a pair of punches and knees. Corbin draped Rey’s neck over the middle rope and drove his body weight down on it.

Rey fell to the outside. Corbin followed him and connected with a punch to the chest. He tossed Mysterio back inside and stayed close, but Mysterio fought back with shoulders to the midsection. Corbin was undeterred and easily dropped Rey to the mat. Corbin tossed Rey to the outside. Cole and Graves largely ignored the match, talking only about Murphy and Aaliyah.

Corbin followed Mysterio to the outside. He charged at him, but Rey dodged, sending Corbin crashing into the steel steps. Mysterio tossed Corbin into the ring and elbowed him in the face. Mysterio shot off the ropes and Corbin took him out with a shoulder. Corbin went for a choke slam, but Mysterio rolled through it into a cover, scoring a two count. Mysterio caught Corbin with a headscissor to the outside.

Seth Rollins’ music hit and he appeared at the top of the stage. Rollins put his hands up in peace. The show went to commercial.

Mysterio hit a leapfrog splash onto Corbin when the show returned from break. Seth Rollins cheered Corbin on from atop the stage. Corbin recovered quickly and gave Mysterio a pair of elbows into the corner. Mysterio fought back and a series of kicks to the head. He went for a moonsault, but Corbin caught him and hit an impressive backbreaker. Corbin scooped up Mysterio and sat him on the top turnbuckle.

Rey punched Corbin away and dove at him, but Corbin caught him for a pair of backbreakers and a big falling front slam for a near fall. Corbin drove his knee into Mysterio’s back and wrenched at his head and neck. He mounted Rey and punched him repeatedly. Corbin continued to mercilessly pummel Mysterio as the second hour of the show began.

King Corbin applied a bear hug. Rey fought out of it and kicked Corbin in the face. He kicked Corbin’s leg out from underneath him and followed up with a basement dropkick. Mysterio hit a leaping senton onto the head and neck of Corbin for a cover and a two count.

Corbin shot Mysterio off the ropes and went for End of the Days, but Mysterio rolled through it. Corbin rolled to the outside and punched Dominick. Rey leapt onto Corbin on the outside. Mysterio went to check on Dominick, allowing Corbin to recover and regan control. Back in the ring, Corbin set up for a power bomb, but Rey tripped him into the ropes and hit the 619.

Seth Rollins rushed to ringside and attacked Dominick. Rey shot to the outside to protect him. Aaliyah and Murphy walked to the ring. Rey told them to leave. He slid back in the ring and got caught with End of Days for a three count.

WINNER: King Corbin in 15:00

(LeClair’s Analysis: If you like slow, methodical, plodding King Corbin beatdowns, have I got the match for you. If not, yuck. This wasn’t a good match, and even worse, it was focused entirely around the Mysterio’s against getting mercilessly beaten and/or tricked by Seth Rollins or other heels that are happy to do Seth Rollins’ bidding. This has just gone on far too long. King Corbin, for his part, is one of the most overexposed talents on the roster who rarely, if ever, performs to the level that his push dictates he should. It’s just old, all the way around.)

-Natalya headed to the ring after the break. Her opponents, Ruby Riott and Zelina Vega were already in the ring.

(3) RUBY RIOTT vs. ZELINA VEGA vs. NATALYA – Women’s Survivor Series Qualifier

All three women attempted roll ups ont of the gate, neither securing anything more than a one count. Zelina Vega was quickly dispatched to the outside. Ruby Riott rolled up Natalya for a two count. Natalya turned her over into a Mexican stretch. Zelina returned to the ring, slid between their bodies and covered Natalya for two.

Vega hit Natalya with a delayed spinning headscissor. Ruby Riott planted Vega face first to the mat, then climbed to the top rope. Natalya cut her off. Ruby pushed her away and went for a diving Senton on Vega, who rolled out of the way. Vega hit Natalya with a running bulldog, then planted Riott with a hurricanrana. Natalya returned to roll up Vega for a two count. Natalya stepped through into the Sharpshooter. Vega crawled to the ropes, but Natalya dragged her back to center. Ruby Riott returned and applied an arm bar simultaneously. Natalya let go and Vega tapped out.

WINNER: Ruby Riott in 3:00

(LeClair’s Analysis: Meh.

-The Street Profits approached Big E backstage, chanting “Big E rocks.” They brought up Survivor Series. Big E said they’re looking for a scoop. He told them to lay down, and Kofi and Woods won’t beat them up too bad. There was silence, then Big E broke into uproarious laughter. The Street Profits joined in. Billie Kay joined in.

Billie gave the Street Profits a headshot. Dawkins and Ford turned it down, saying they were on Raw at the same time. Billie was disappointed.

-Otis headed to the ring with new music. Cole said he’d face Seth Rollins after the break.

-Progressive’s Match Flo covered the ongoing story with the Mysterio family, Seth Rollins, and Murphy.

-Seht Rollins headed to the ring as Rey Mysterio, Dominick, and Aaliyah watched a monitor backstage.

(4) OTIS vs. SETH ROLLINS – Men’s Survivor Series Qualifier

Seth Rollins danced around the ring, hoping to feel Otis out. he shot behind the back and grabbed a waist lock. Otis broke free with ease and tossed Rollins into the corner. Rollins bounced back at him and Otis dropped him with a scoop side slam. Seth rolled to the outside to regroup.

Murphy appeared at the top of the stage and headed to the ring. In the ring, Otis took advantage of Rollins being distracted by Murphy, tossing him into the corner and then to the outside. Rollins kept his eyes fixed on Murphy. Otis bulldozed him and tossed him back in the ring.

Rollins managed to hit a quick sling blade for a two count. Seth kicked Otis in the gut, but Otis shook and danced it off. Seth chopped him, but Otis rubbed his belly and dropped Seth with a shoulder tackle. Otis pancaked Rollins, tossed him into the corner and hit a spinning body slam. Otis set up for a running splash, but Seth caught him with a boot. Rollins leapt at Otis, but Otis caught him with a fallaway slam. He followed up with the running splash in the corner.

Otis set up for the caterpillar, but Murphy jumped onto the apron. Otis went after Murphy, but he jumped down. Rollins kicked Otis in the jaw and hit the stomp for a three count.

WINNER: Seth Rollins in 6:00

(LeClair’s Analysis: Huh. Cole and Graves seemed to be about as perplexed as me. I’m not sure what they’re trying to do here, but, in any case, Otis has certainly fallen, and fallen big. Overall, I think Rollins is better fit for a long form Survivor Series math, but, let’s be honest, these things are ridiculous. My only point here is that, from a match quality perspective, (and that’s all we can hope for with Survivor Series) I’ll take Rollins over Otis.)

-An exasperated Seth Rollins tracked down Murphy backstage. He asked Murphy if he saw what he thinks he saw. Murphy pointed to Rollins, “messiah,” he said. Rollins was ecstatic. He welcomed Murphy back and walked away. Aaliyah approached, enraged. She shoved Murphy. Murphy told her to trust him, that it’s for the greater good.

-At the announcers desk, Corey said it’s good that Murphy appears to have seen the greater good. Michael Cole tossed to a pre-recorded interview he conducted with Lars Sullivan.

-Cole recapped what Graves talked to Sullivan about last week. Lars breathe heavily. He said he hates bullies, and he’s been a victim his entire life. Lars said bullies kicked him, pushed him, stole his lunch, mocked him, and called him freak. Sullivan said other kids just watched and laughed at his expense. Sullivan breathed dramatically. He talked about gaining muscle by lifting weights and learning to take care of himself.

‘The bullying stopped. I became the bully,” Sullivan said. He said it was fun. Sullivan said he even bullied the kids who just stood by and watched. He said he learned he could bully whoever he wanted and make them do whatever he wanted. “I could do whatever I want, I could do this…” He screamed at the top of his lungs, then laughed. “That’s bullying, that’s intimidation, and I love it.”

(LeClair’s Analysis: Eek. This was a step back for Sullivan as compared to the more collected demeanor last week. I dislike the overly dramatic, performative breathing and generic “bullied becomes the bully” angle. Too generic, too cliche, and delivered with little to no originality.)

-Jey Uso headed to the ring for his match against Kevin Owens. Cole sent the show to commercial.

-Kayla Braxton interview Kevin Owens in gorilla. KO said he has a tendency to speak his mind, and sometimes it creates problems. He said if Reigns’ and his “special council” have an issue, so be it. Owens said what Reigns instructed Jey to do to Daniel Bryan was out of line. He said he’s done plenty of questionable things in his career, but it was his own choice because he was his own man. “Jey, trust me, the beating you’ve got coming is 100% from me.”

Kevin Owens headed to the ring. Jey Uso waited for him, slumped over in the corner.

(5) JEY USO vs. KEVIN OWENS

Kevin Owens aggressively locked up with Jey Uso and shot him off the ropes, tackling him by the shoulder. Jey quickly came back at Owens, but Kevin slapped on a headlock, gave Jey a body slam and followed up with a senton for a quick two count. Jey managed to dump Kevin to the outside, but Owens held onto the apron.

Jey dropped Owens neck first along the top rope. Backstage, Roman Reigns instructed Paul Heyman to go to the ring. Owens tossed Jey to the outside and dove onto him with a leaping splash. Cole sent the show to commercial.

Jey Uso stomped at Owens in the corner.  Cole said Jey “turned up the aggression” during the commercial. Owens battled back, took Jey down and climbed to the top rope. Paul Heyman appeared on the ramp, distracting Owens long enough for Jey to catch Owen with a stiff kick. Owens fell to the outside.

Jey met KO outside and slammed his head into the steel steps. he tossed him back inside and turned on the bravado in front of Paul. Uso caught Owens with another hard super kick. Jey mounted Owens and punched him repeatedly. Jey grabbed a seated chin lock. Owens battled to his feet, pushed Jey away, and connected with a super kick of his own.

Owens dumped Jey in the corner and connected with the running cannonball. He climbed to the top rope and hit the senton off the top, covering Jey for a two count. Owens set up for the pop up power bomb, but Jey leapfrogged him and caught him with a neckbreaker for a near fall. Jey headed to the top rope, but Owens cut him off. The two traded punches on the top turnbuckle. Jey knocked Owens down and leaped, but Owens caught him with a pop up power bomb. Owens covered, but Jey was close enough to the bottom rope to drape his leg over it.

Roman Reigns’ music hit, turning the referee’s head. Jey gave Owens a low blow and a super kick. He followed it up with a top rope splash for a three count.

WINNER: Jey Uso in 12:00

Roman Reigns came to the stage. Jey met him atop the ramp. Roman put an arm around him. Jey nodded in approval as the show went off the air.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Solid match. I wish Kevin Owens were in a better spot, but alas, this is where we are, and nothing is hotter than the Roman Reigns/Jey Uso story. Still, any way you slice it, it’s impressive to consider Jey has now beat Daniel Bryan and Kevin Owens over the last two weeks. This continues to be the most interesting angle in WWE, and possibly all of wrestling.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: This show felt a little less consequential than the several prior, but it wasn’t necessarily a let down. Naturally, there’s a bit of a lull in storytelling when they’re trying to desperately to build a ridiculous war between two brands that have no real reason to compete. I continue to be genuinely enthralled by the Roman Reigns/Jey Uso angle, and I though the opening match was very strong. I think this show could’ve been far better served by placing the Women’s title match in the main event slot, rather than opening with it. I understand wanting to prioritize and put focus on the Reigns/Uso angle, but the lack of developments there tonight should’ve opened the door for Sasha and Bayley to move into that slot.

 

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