SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
NOVEMBER 20, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA. AT AMWAY ARENA (“THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON FOX NETWORK
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
Ring Announcers: Greg Hamilton
-They opened with The Street Profits backstage. Angelo Dawkins said, “Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhh.” Montez Ford began singing. They said they’re just two days away from paying tribute to the Undertaker. Then lighting struck and the lights went purple. They heard “Rest… In… Peace!” And in walked Big E. He laughed at his gag. He said he may not be the Undertaker, but they are just two days away from losing to New Day. Ford said they’re going to knock Kofi’s Jamaican accent back. Big E talked up New Day. Street Profits fired back by talking themselves up. Ford got slightly serious at the end, which was refreshing. Then he closed with, “We want the smoke!” Big E said New Day are at Smackdown. He told them not to be sour and clap for the ten-time champs and feel the power. He got in Ford’s face and shook with intensity.
-Cole welcomed everyone to ThunderDome as New Day made their ring entrance. Cole said New Day is at Smackdown because they are two days away from Survivor Series. He said, “It’s the one time a year Raw and Smackdown Superstars go head to head.” Graves said he’s heard others from Raw have taken up the invite to appear.
-Xavier Woods said he thought he was going to see a giant fist. Kofi said they thought they’d check into Smackdown hotel one more time. Xavier said they have a few words for the Street Profits. They did a sit-up mid-ring as a tribute to Undertaker, also. They were interrupted by Sami Zayn. He complained about them talking about Undertaker. He said the only reason Undertaker is calling this his final farewell is because he knows he owes him some revenge. He said Taker chokeslammed him at MSG, and WWE management is trying to protect Taker and let him take the easy way out. He said Bobby Lashley will not have the easy way out. Sami said he’s not there to hurt New Day. He said he should be talking about the hottest act on Smackdown, the champion of the people, Sami Zayn. Kofi and Xavier said they could say something. Xavier said his outfit looks great. He said he looks like a recently-divorced dad who just put a down payment down on a studio apartment. They were interrupted by King Corbin’s entrance theme.
Corbin walked out and asked Sami if he’s really going to just stand there and let those guys talk about him like that. He said it was bad enough when Drew McIntyre came over last week, but now New Day. He asked if they didn’t just have a farewell match a month ago. Xavier said that was their farewell match as Smackdown Superstars, and now they’re Raw Superstars paying a visit. Kofi said it’s very different. (They were self-aware.) Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode then walked out. Ziggler said he doesn’t have an issue with Corbin, but he doesn’t like Sami at all. He said New Day aren’t supposed to be there. He said they should be the tag team champions right now. Roode said if they had a match with them again, they’d be Raw Tag Team Champions. Kofi said, “So that’s what we know?” Kofi and Xavier offered to defend the tag titles tonight, but against “Who? Who? Who? Who?” They goaded the two pairs of heels into arguing over who was better. Sami said he and Corbin aren’t a team, so they’re not interested, but they’d win if they were. Roode & Ziggler looked like they were about to go after Sami & Corbin as New Day cheered them on, but then they turned and attacked Ziggler.
The Street Profits then came out and went after both pairs of heels. New Day helped clear the ring. Ford then did a running dive onto Corbin, Roode, and Sami.
(Keller’s Analysis: At least the New Day seemed self-aware of already being back on Smackdown and making fun of that fact. It’s two days before Survivor Series, and so this is to be expected – wrestlers from Raw paying a visit. Why did Smackdown management invite them? Try not to think that hard or it’ll be frustrating. I’m still grateful they’re not all wearing matching red or blue t-shirts.) [c]
(1) NEW DAY (Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston) & THE STREET PROFITS (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) vs. SAMI ZAYN & KING CORBIN & ROBERT ROODE & DOLPH ZIGGLER
Cole said WWE executive Adam Pearce made the match official during the break. He mentioned New Day and Street Profits had been exchanging friendly fire on Twitter with Fleets. Graves said the Profits are looking to rip the torch out of the hands of New Day this Sunday. Kofi got in early offense against Roode, then stomped away at him in their corner. He told the Profits to watch close to see how it’s done. The New Day tagged each other, but didn’t tag in the Profits at first. Corbin made a comeback against Xavier and scored a two count. Corbin grabbed Xavier by his throat and looked over at Xavier’s partners. Xavier sunset flipped Corbin, then tagged in Ford. Ford took Corbin down with a clothesline and a standing moonsault. Some chaos broke out. Kofi ended up diving onto Ford by mistake. Dawkins yelled at him, “What was that, man?” [c]
Back from the break, Ziggler had Ford on the mat in a chinlock. Dawkins eventually rallied against Sami, who was tagged in by Roode against his will. Dawkins then tagged in Ford for a top rope frog splash for the win. Cole noted Sami was only in the match ten seconds or so. Graves said he was forced in the match by Pearce and never wanted any part of it.
WINNERS: New Day & Street Profits in 13:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: So they had IC Champ Sami do the job in this match instead of Ziggler or Roode? What’s the point of that? The match was fine, with the requisite miscommunication and tension between New Day and the Profits.)
-The announcers hyped the rest of the line-up for Smackdown including Seth Rollins vs. Murphy and Daniel Bryan vs. Jey Uso.
-They showed Bryan chatting with Kayla Braxton backstage. Bryan’s got a new mowhawk-type haircut. Sami stormed into the area yelling at the referee, wondering how he could even consider that tag legal. He asked Bryan if he thinks this is funny. He asked if he thinks he’s better than him. Bryan lifted his facemask as Sami got near his face and yelled at him. Bryan shoved at Sami as Sami complained about him always getting the spotlight when he returns. Sami got up and yelled he won’t forget what he just did.
(Keller’s Analysis: So Sami lost so they could have him complaining in the next segment?)
-Kayla interviewed Bryan. She threw to clips of the prior Smackdown match he had with Jey and the post-match attack by Jey. She asked if he was concerned about returning so soon to face Jey in a rematch. Bryan said he understands her concern. He said he saw Jey’s interview last week where he said what he did to him was nothing personal. He said he actually believes him because Jey has a devil on his shoulder, telling him what to do, pushing him hard. He said everyone, including him, has an angel on one shoulder and a devil on another. He said got intense as he said the devil is speaking to him louder about how his daughter cried and reminding him about his time in the hospital. He said Jey should be concerned. He added, “To be fair, if Jey’s listening, it’s nothing personal.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Bryan breaks through the scripting and makes you as a viewer feel what he is feeling.)
-Pearce revealed that he chose Otis to be the final member of Team Smackdown. Chad Gable congratulated him and said, “We did it! We tapped into your inner alpha, and now anything is possible.” Natalya came up to Pearce and asked why he is making her wrestle Tamina for a spot on the team. He said he did have the power to pick one woman, a proven leader with championship pedigree, and that’s why he chose Bayley. Natalya yelled at him and asked what he’s thinking. He said he’s thinking her match is next. She huffed and turned toward the ring entrance tunnel.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m enjoying already the dynamic with Otis and Gable. Gable showed more energy and personality in 20 seconds with Otis than he had in the prior year on WWE TV. I’d like to see more first-hand footage of Gable coaching Otis.) [c]
-Seth Rollins looked into the camera and addressed Murphy. He said he was a nobody, and he gave him new life and he is responsible for every good thing he has in his life. He angrily said in return he was betrayed and stabbed in the back. He said he will no longer suffer for his mistakes, and he will make Murphy pay for them. He said he will teach him his final lesson tonight and he will go back to who he was before he led him – nothing and no one.
(2) NATALYA vs. TAMINA – Last Chance Qualifying match for Team Smackdown
Bianca Belair joined Cole and Graves on commentary. She said she’s excited to represent Smackdown on Sunday. Bayley came out to joined the commentators. As the match began, she said she shouldn’t have had to invite herself out there. Bayley said she is the captain. Belair told Bayley she didn’t even earn her way onto the team, she was just appointed. They showed Riott Squad watching the match and reacting cartoonishly to the action. They fought at ringside briefly, and then back in the ring Natalya forced Tamina to tap out to a Sharpshooter.
WINNER: Natalya in 2:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Belair kind of soft-talked her way through her short stint on color and mumbled a bit. Bayley was good here being obnoxious)
-Riott Squad walked to the ring and joined Bayley, Natalya, and Belair in the ring. Bayley acted cocky. Natalya signaled to Belair that she’s crazy.
-Cole threw to a video package on the Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre match getting set up with Drew’s win last week.
-Drew McIntyre made his ring entrance. [c]
-Roman Reigns made his ring entrance alongside Paul Heyman. Reigns took his time entering the ring. He insisted on sitting at the head of the table where Pearce was about to sit rather than opposite of Drew. He glared at Drew with little smile breaking through. Drew stared back.
Pearce said his job is simple – get both of their signatures on the contract to make Sunday’s match official. Reigns told Pearce to sit down. Reigns said he knew he could do it, but Paul didn’t believe as much in him. He said he has been in his shoes before. “All these lessons already learned,” he said. “Paul told me years ago you’re the right guy in the right place at the wrong time.” (That sounds like a shoot, actually; something Paul would say.) Drew said he’s trying to get in his head. He said he’s going to get straight to the point. He said Roman told him to win a title, and he did. “Not for you, for me,” he said. He said he’s there to make the match official. He signed the contract and said to Roman, “It’s your turn. It’s your show. It’s your move.” He said if he can give him a piece of advice, “Please, underestimate me.” He told him to use these last two days to prepare for war.
Reigns smirked and was about to sign the contract. Paul took the used pen out of Roman’s hands and gave him a fresh one. Reigns dropped the pen and said, “You’re going to give me advice? You’re going to advise me? This is my show. WWE is mine. I give you advice. I’ll give you one last lesson.” He said at Survivor Series, he’s not going to understand the brutal truth, but one day he will. “You are a secondary title holder, you are a prop, you are a stand-in, you’re the guy with the title they get when I’m busy. ‘Roman’s busy, he doesn’t want to do it, let’s send Drew in.’ That’s who you are. The whole world knows who I am.”
Roman said, on the other hand, he is face of WWE, Drew’s Tribal Chief, and the head of the table. He said one day Drew will finally have the opportunity to be The Man and the Face of the Company and the champion, and when he does, he’ll look back at these nights and he’ll thank him. Drew smirked back at Reigns. Reigns said he is going to think about these moments and he’ll love him for them because of the lessons he taught him. Roman said he’d love him right back. He signed the contract. “Drew, you will always be my favorite number two,” he said with a wink as he set the pen down. Heyman scurried over and grabbed the Universal Title belt and presented it to Reigns. Reigns put it over his shoulder and left.
Cole said Drew was disrespected and embarrassed by Reigns tonight, so he wondered what was going through his head.
(Keller’s Analysis: That tapped into some reality, or at least perception that rings true, and I think it was effective. There’s really no way for Drew to lose now as that would prove Reigns right. I’m really curious what they do for a finish on Sunday. I fear it will be interference and won’t really say anything about either of them, but we’ll see. That’s the most Reigns has broke out and loosened up his cadence as a heel, and it was a little uneven at times, but overall really effective at making you want to see him lose and get knocked off his perch.)
-A video package aired on the Seth-Murphy saga.
-Seth made his ring entrance. [c]
(3) MURPHY vs. SETH ROLLINS
Murphy came out onto the stage with Rey Mysteiro, his daughter Aalyah, and son Dominik. Murphy entered the ring and Seth attacked him before the bell. He regrouped at ringside. Graves said Murphy threw away everything Seth could offer him just for love. Seth dominated early. Graves said this is going to be a reality check for Murphy. When Seth grabbed a kendo stick, Rey yanked on it. Seth punched him and threw him into the announce desk. Dominick went after Seth, but Seth punched him and threw him into the barricade. When Murphy climbed to the top rope, Seth shoved him hard to the floor. Cole said Murphy’s girlfriend Aalyah was looking on. Seth laughed and walked toward Aalyah. They cut to a break as she backed away from him. [c]
Back live, Seth was in control against Murphy. Murphy side-stepped a charging Seth and then flip dove onto him on the floor, largely overshooting him, but catching Seth’s raised arms. Murphy climbed to the top rope, but Seth met him up there and superplexed him. He rolled over into a Falcon Arrow in one smooth move for a two count. Murphy came back with a high knee to Seth on the ring apron. The Mysterio family watched from ringside, encouraging Murphy. Graves said Murphy doesn’t have what it takes to finish off Seth. Seth gave Murphy a stomp back in the ring. He made the cover, but Murphy put his leg over the bottom rope at two. Seth gave Murphy a buckle bomb. He yelled at the Mysterio family, and Murphy caught him by surprise with a high knee. He avoided a stomp and then kneed Seth. He followed with Murphy’s Law and he made the cover for the 1-2-3. Cole called it the biggest victory of Murphy’s career.
WINNER: Murphy in 11:00.
-As the Mysterio family congratulated Murphy in the ring, Sasha Banks began her ring entrance.
(Keller’s Analysis: Seth can absorb this loss as long as they continue to push Murphy so he gains from this win. That said, it’s not as if zero damage was done to Seth losing this match clean. He needs something fresh and something interesting where he can look like a top tier act again. As usual, these two were good in the ring together. Unlike the feud, their matches don’t overstay their welcome.) [c]
-Asuka made her ring entrance. Cole interviewed both of them. He talked about the history between them. He said this is the end of a bitter rivalry, which started this past summer when Sasha Banks took the Raw Title from Asuka. “Damn right I did,” Sasha said. She let out an obnoxious, villainous laugh. Asuka shot back some words at her and mockingly said, “You are not the boss of me!” Sasha called her sweetheart and threw back to Cole.
Cole said Asuka beat her at Summerslam for the Raw Women’s Title and has held it ever since. Sasha didn’t like that and got pouty-faced. Sasha asked Cole if he’s forgetting what time it is. She said it’s always Boss Time. She said Asuka is one of the greatest. Asuka interrupted and yapped some more. Sasha mock-laughed back at her and said she’s “got the jokes.” She said on Sunday, it won’t be a laughing matter. She said she has no doubt she is the best of the best. Asuka said, “You can’t see me!” and then she rolled her tongue. Sasha said she can see her and for once she can understand her, but keep her fingers out of her face. She said they don’t have to wait until Sunday. Cole left the ring. Asuka yelled, “You are not ready for Asuka!” Sasha said, “The Boss was born ready!” Carmella then attacked Sasha from behind. Asuka just watched as Carmella stomped away at her and hung her upside down in the corner. Then Carmella left Sasha lying in pain as Asuka continued to look on.
(Keller’s Analysis: Sasha was about as unlikable as she’s ever been in this segment. It’s like she has a binary choice being being a pathetic complaining self-pitying victim or a cocky arrogant full-of-herself jerk. Not sure which is less marketable as a babyface.)
-Kayla interviewed Jey backstage. She asked if he’s allowed to talk to her. Jey said, “Kayla’s still got jokes. Yeah, I’ve got the green light to talk to you.” He said Bryan talks like he’s not responsible for his own actions. He said he threw Bryan off the stretcher because he wanted to, and everything he did was his decision. He said Reigns is telling him to “go get him.”
-Bryan’s ring entrance began. [c]
(4) JEY USO vs. DANIEL BRYAN
Uso came out looking confident and ready for battle. They fought back and forth early. Jey took control at ringside, throwing Bryan into the ringside steps. He then cleared the announce desk. Graves said he hopes everyone in the Bryan family turns off their TVs. Bryan recovered and threw Jey into the ring. Bryan landed a dropkick off the top rope, then threw roundkicks and punches in the corner. Bryan knocked Jey to the floor, then dove through the ropes and speared Jey at ringside. Jey backdropped Bryan onto the table, and it collapsed. They cut to a break. [c]
Jey was on the attack after the break. Jey yelled that it’s not personal. Bryan made a comeback, but Jey caught him on the top rope and superplexed him. Bryan countered a Samoan Drop into a crucifix for a near fall. Bryan then went for a facelock, but Jey escaped. Jey drove knees into Bryan’s ribs. Bryan knocked Jey off balance on the top rope. Bryan then met him up there and back suplexed him. Bryan then threw a barrage of Yes Kicks and scored a near fall. Bryan stomped on Jey’s head over and over as he held his arms. Bryan then led the audience in “Yes” chants, but when he charged Jey, Jey superkicked him. Jey superkicked him a second time and a third time. He followed with a top rope splash, but Brian lifted his knees and small packaged Jey for the win.
WINNER: Bryan in 14:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match, as you’d expect from these two. Jey continues to shine, and certainly it helps to have Bryan as an opponent when it comes to that. Glad to see Bryan get a win here, especially because now you have to wonder how Reigns will react. I’m surprised the announcers didn’t push that more on commentary afterward, though. They really didn’t push how much pressure Jey is under to perform successfully because of Roman.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: I don’t think this episode did a particularly good job building Survivor Series. Other than Drew-Reigns, they didn’t add anything to the show. The Team Raw vs. Team Smackdown matches for the men and women weren’t clearly defined or hyped. I got no sense of the dynamic on the men’s team. As for Asuka and Banks, neither came across likable and despite some talk from Cole about their history – which was a good approach – Sasha and Asuka just came across as mutually obnoxious. There was a chance here for both to seem classy and underline the pride at stake for both of them. It’s a PPV match, not a TV main event, so they didn’t need to be so antagonistic. It was a lost chance to make the match feel important and have both come out of it more likable.