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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
DECEMBER 25, 2020 (TAPED TUESDAY)
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. AT TROPICANA FIELD (“THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON FOX BROADCAST NETWORK
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
Ring Announcers: Greg Hamilton
-The NFL post-game ran long so Smackdown started about 6 minutes late. They went promptly to Cole introducing the show and Roman Reigns making his ring entrance. Cole gave the background on Reigns, clearly indicative of expectations that some people were watching who aren’t typical both because of it being on Christmas night and also coming right after an NFL game. He also explained the rules of the cage match. Graves said no one has come closer to knocking Reigns off of the mountain than his opponent tonight. As Owens came out, Graves said Owens “might not be your prototypical WWE Superstar, but he belongs.”
(Keller’s Analysis: With all of the different body types that have drawn big money and headlined pro wrestling events over the last century, I’m not sure WWE has to “apologize for” or “explain” Owens’ having something other than a muscular lean bodytype.)
(1) ROMAN REIGNS (w/Paul Heyman) vs. KEVIN OWENS – Cage match for the Universal Title
Reigns scored a two count early after throwing KO into the cage. Reigns went for an early Superman punch, but KO ducked and delivered a DDT. Both were down and slow to get up. KO landed a cannonball in the corner for a near fall a minute later. The showed Heyman taking a deep breath of relief at ringside. Reigns countered a Pop-up Powerbomb into a power legdrop for a near fall. He punched away at KO in the corner. KO punched back and then landed a frog splash for a near fall. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Owens landed a powerbomb for a near fall. Graves said Owens looks frustrated, but he has to keep his cool. Cole said Owens might have just given Reigns his best shot. Graves said Reigns would never admit it, but maybe Owens earned some of Reigns’s respect this past Sunday. Owens blocked Reigns’s superplex attempt and landed a fisherman’s buster instead off the top rope. Owens crawled onto Reigns ten seconds later and scored a near fall. Owens set up a Stunner, but Reigns pushed him off and landed a Superman Punch for a near fall. Graves said Reigns knows he’s in a fight tonight. Reigns sat up and had some words for Owens, then turned up the vicious intensity, throwing Owens into the cage twice and then applied a guillotine through the ropes. Owens pulled Reigns throat-first across the top rope to force Reigns to release his hold. Both stood. Reigns charged, but KO kicked him in the head and gave him a Stunner for a near fall. They cut to another break. [c]
Owens was trying to escape after they came back to the match. Graves said it’s a change in strategy for Owens. Owens knocked Reigns down and climbed to the top. Reigns leaped and grabbed Owens’ ankle. Owens superkicked Reignds down and then went for a senton, but Reigns lifted his knees. Reigns quickly speared Owens for a believable near fall. “Are you kidding me?” exclaimed Cole. Graves said Reigns looks baffled. Reigns was going to leave out the door. He was casual about it. Owens grabbed his ankle. Reigns signed as Graves said Reigns winning is just a formality. Reigns yanked the door into Reigns’s face and got aggressive, ramming Reigns’s head into the cage over and over. Reigns dropped to the mat. Cole wondered if he could make it to the door and escape.
Jey Uso swung the door at KO’s face but Owens shoved it back at him. Reigns then grabbed KO just as he was about to drop to the floor. Owens went for a Pop-up Powerbomb, but Reigns countered with a Superman Punch. He went for a spear, but Owens moved. Reigns crashed into the cage. Owens then hit a Stunner. Owens struggled to his feet. Jey handcuffed Owens’ wrist to the cage. Owens hung outside the cage door and his feet almost reached the floor, but not quite. Reigns sat up and smiled. Cole said Owens was so close, “but that damn Jey Uso handcuffed him to the cage.” Reigns stepped over Owens and casually left the ring and dropped to the floor as Reigns taunted him and Owens yelled at him. “You can’t keep me down, you little bitch.” Reigns dropped to the floor to officially win. Heyman kneeled and handed Reigns the Universal Title with a look of glee on his face. Cole said you can’t take anything away from Owens. Reigns smiled at Owens smugly as Owens stared back at him, still cuffed.
WINNER: Reigns to retain the Universal Title in 26:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match. That finish suggests Reigns vs. Owens isn’t over yet. Reigns continues to be a cocky heel who is very willing to accept any help to stay on top, which in theory should help him get booed and be perceived as a villain no matter how “cool” he comes across otherwise. The overall vibe to the show made this Smackdown feel like a big deal. With the NFL lead-in, WWE is definitely aiming to score a bit viewership number rather than waving a white flag because it’s Christmas and people are out of their usual viewing routines.)
-The announcers hyped Sami vs. Big E, Daniel Bryan vs. Jey Uso, and Charlotte & Asuka defending their tag titles. [c]
-Asuka made her ring entrance first. Then Charlotte. The announcers recapped how Charlotte replaced Lana as Asuka’s tag partner.
-Charlotte said before the match from mid-ring that “it looks like Christmas came early as the Queen and the Empress have returned to Friday Night Smackdown.” (IT’S CHRISTMAS, so Christmas did not come early.) Bayley walked out and entered the ring and bragged about her long title reign. Sasha Banks’ music interrupted and she danced her way to the ring. Sasha asked Bayley if she wants to talk about who the Smackdown Women’s Champion is now. Bianca Belair then danced her way onto the stage. She entered the ring and said she’s the EST of WWE. Carmella then walked out with her sommelier. She entered the ring and said, “Look at all of these witches. Oh, what I meant to say is bitches.” She asked everyone to look at her. Charlotte covered Asuka’s eyes. Carmella said there is only one woman in the ring who is naughty and nice and only one who is nice and naughty.
-Cole hyped that the match would be a triple threat elimination next.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s very strange that they didn’t announce this, and then the four other women came out one at a time and suddenly Cole knew it’d be a triple threat match. Why not just announce it ahead of time?) [c]
(2) CHARLOTTE & ASUKA vs. BAYLEY & CARMELLA vs. SASHA BANKS & BIANCA BELAIR – WWE Women’s Tag Team Title match
Charlotte and Asuka beat up Bayley at the start. A bit later, Belair and Carmella battled. Carmella tagged in Charlotte. They showed Riott Squad watching on a monitor backstage. Charlotte and Belair dropkicked at each other at the same time, then both kipped up at the same time. Bayley and Asuka tagged in. Bayley scored a near fall after a Bayley-t0-Belly. Then they cut to a break. [c]
After more back and forth action for several minutes, Bayley rolled up Belair from behind. Belair gave Bayley a spinebuster for a near fall. Belair tagged in Bayley who landed a top rope splash for the three count to eliminate Bayley & Carmella.
Sasha and Charlotte circled each other as the match shifted to two-on-two standard tag rules. Sasha applied a Bank Statement seconds in. Charlotte stood and powered out, then went for a quick figure-four. Sasha rolled her up for a near fall. Charlotte gave her a boot and then applied the figure-four and tried to bridge. Sasha tried to reach for Belair. Belair gave Sasha her ponytail to drag her to her corner. Belair then tagged in officially. Graves called it ingenious.
Belair scored a near fall with a small package on Charlotte a minute later. Charlotte quickly countered with a figure-four. Banks charged in with a Meteora to break it up. Charlotte grabbed her face in pain. Graves said it’s legal in a triple threat match (as if it’d prompt a DQ in a regular tag match). Charlotte hot-tagged Asuka. Asuka knocked Sasha onto Reginald at ringside. What’s he still doing there. Bayley distracted Belair and then Asuka rolled her up for a two count. Asuka threw kicks to Belair’s chest. Belair caught Asuka’s leg and powerbombed her. Bayley yelled at Belair from ringside about how her partner was down and out at ringside still. Asuka tagged in Charlotte who hit a quick Natural Selection for the win.
WINNERS: Charlotte & Asuka in 17:00 to retain the Women’s Tag Team Titles.
-The Street Profits stood backstage and talked about the matches still to come. They heard Sami Zayn yelling at a social media worker off to the side. He wanted to know who authorized the Big E match to be a lumberjack. He told her not to shrug and walk away. She shrugged and walked away. He turned to the Profits and said he doesn’t have time for their nonsense. They said they had a gift for him. Sami softened his stance and apologized and said he’s been under stress. The gift box had a t-shirt that said “I Was Intercontinental Champion.” Sami yelled, “You’re not funny!” He stormed off. The Profits told him he forgot his shirt.
-Daniel Bryan walked onto the stage as his music played. Jey Uso attacked him from behind on the stage. Pat Buck, Jamie Noble, and several referees tried to calm Uso. Uso pushed past them and slammed Bryan. Cole wondered if Bryan would be able to still wrestle as scheduled. [c]
(3) DANIEL BRYAN vs. JEY USO
Uso was waiting in the ring for Bryan after the break. Buck checked on Bryan, who crawled into the ring and told the ref he wanted to wrestle. The ref called for the bell. Bryan charged at Uso, but Uso beat him down. Jey dominated for several minutes, including scoring near falls. Bryan avoided a diving headbutt, but Jey avoided a charging Bryan seconds later, then landed a hip attack in the corner. Bryan backdropped a charging Jey over the top rope. Jey grabbed his left ankle. Bryan dove though the ropes at him, but Jey side-stepped him and shoved him into the announce desk. Bryan clutched his arm. Back in the ring, Jey met Bryan on the top rope. Bryan got the better of their struggle for positioning and delivered a back suplex off the top rope. They cut to a sudden break. [c]
Bryan scored a two count shortly after returning from the break. Bryan kicked away at Jey and then played to the audience as he got fired up. He began “Yes!” chants. “The fans on the monitors visibly joined in. Jey caught him with a superkick and then landed a top rope frog splash. Jey couldn’t make the cover at first as he favored his injured leg. When he made the cover, Bryan kicked out at two. Jey climbed to the top rope again, but Brian lifted his knees this time. He then maneuvered into a LeBell Lock attempt and settled for a half crab. Jey crawled over and grabbed the bottom rope to force a break. They brawled on the mat. Jey rolled onto Bryan and pummeled him with elbows to the side of his head and then a headbutt. Bryan ducked a Jey superkick and landed a running knee for a clean three count. He led the ThunderDome in “Yes!” chants.
WINNER: Bryan in 14:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was as good as you’d hope and expect. The attack before the bell gave Bryan something to fight back from. This clean win suggests a Bryan-Reigns feud could be up soon. The win for Bryan means something because Uso has been built up lately, and of course we’ll now watch for Reigns to make Jey feel like a complete and utter failure who let the family down. )
-They showed Big E backstage. Cole called it the biggest match of his career.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good to see Big E acting like a dignified, serious person before his title match.)
-They replayed the 2020 vs. 2021 animation. [c]
-Kayla Braxton interviewed Bryan backstage. Bryan said he always tries to practice a growth mindset. He said there’s something he’s never accomplished in his life, and he wants to do it – that being winning the Royal Rumble. He announced his entry into the match. Sami walked by with his Sami Award trophies and IC Title. He said Bryan has had it out for him since he won the IC Title. He blamed Bryan for having to defend against Big E. “I think you stooged to management to make this happen,” he said. He said karma would make him pay if that’s true. He said he will fail in the Rumble and he will laugh in his face. Bryan looked at Kayla and said, “I guess Santa didn’t give him a PS5. Is that what the kids are into?”
(Keller’s Analysis: Not just the kids, Bryan. Good to see Bryan declare himself for the Rumble like that. It does open up a possibility of a Reigns vs. Bryan match at WrestleMania, which I’m in favor of.)
-A recap aired of the Sami Awards.
-The lumberjacks made their way to ringside.
-Big E then made his ring entrance to his entrance theme. [c]
(4) SAMI ZAYN vs. BIG E – Intercontinental Title match
Cole explained that Sami cannot get himself counted out, as he has done in the past, because of the Lumberjack stipulation. It’s great to hear the basis for lumberjack matches being explained. Sami handed the ref the two Sami Award trophies that, as Cole pointed out, he awarded himself. Graves said Sami often rolls to the floor “to compose himself” and he can’t do that this time. Graves said Big E is laser focused unlike he’s ever seen before. Sami used a drop toe hold to send Big E into the corner. He stomped away at him and shoved him to the floor. Heel lumberjacks at ringside attacked Big E. Cole said the lumberjacks are supposed to do nothing more than throw the wrestler back into the ring. A couple minutes later Big E clotheslined Sami on the ring apron. Then he stomped away at him and went for a big splash. Sami moved. Big E landed on the floor. The heel lumberjacks attacked Big E again. Sami then flip dove and hit Big E. [c]
Back from the break, Sami was in control in the ring. Big E made a comeback once Sami got mouthy with him, giving him a belly-to-belly. Sami caught a charging Big E with a boot, but Big E countered with a uranage for a near fall. When Sami tried to escape. the babyface lumberjacks threw him back into the ring. (Chad Gable, by the way, was among the babyface lumberjacks.) Big E dragged Sami by his leg to mid-ring. Sami poked him in the eye and rolled him up for a two count.
Sami caught a charging Big E with a knee. When Sami climbed to the top rope, Big E went after him. Sami landed a sunset bomb for a near fall. Big E speared Sami off the ring apron onto the floor. The lumberjacks tossed Big E into the ring, then tried to get Sami in the ring. Heel lumberjacks attacked the babyface lumberjacks. They brawled. Graves said this is exactly what they didn’t want to happen. Sami fled to the stage. Apollo Crews chased him down and tackled him. The Profits, Otis, Gable, and Crews carried Sami back to the ring. Graves complained. Cole said this is precisely the purpose of this type of match. Big E gave Sami a belly-to-belly and a running splash followed by a Big Ending for the 1-2-3. Cole called it the biggest win of his career. Big E went up to Graves and said he told him it would happen.
WINNER: Big E to capture the Intercontinental Title in 13:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match, and good utilization of the lumberjack stipulation. Nice to see Big E get this win.