WWE FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN PRIMER 1/1/21: New Year’s Day Edition of Smackdown, Big E vs. King Corbin, Sasha & Bianca vs. Bayley & Carmella, The Head of the Table Has a Request



JANUARY 1, 2021

Announcers: Michael Cole and Corey Graves

Remembering Jon Huber (Luke Harper/Brodie Lee)

I typically include some words when a wrestler or wrestling personality passes away. Out of respect to Wade Keller, I held off posting anything this past Monday in my Raw primer because of an article posted that put PWTorch.com in a situation that had to be handled. I’m not here to weigh in on that. I want to at least say something about Jon Huber, whom we lost last Saturday.

In WWE, his Luke Harper character was one that I had hoped would be pushed higher on the card and given more than he was given. That said, I thought he knocked whatever he did out of the park. The Wyatt Family was a significant part of the card from the moment they arrived in the summer of 2013 until they disbanded. They would come back from time to time, including a period in 2015 that saw the introduction of Braun Strowman. Personally, I will never forget the ladder match he had with Dolph Ziggler at TLC 2014 for the Intercontinental Championship. Also, who could forget the match the Wyatts had with the Shield at Elimination Chamber earlier that year. I wish there were more of an extended program between the Shield and the Wyatt Family, but later that year both factions broke up.

He arrived in AEW this year as Brodie Lee and was revealed as the Exalted One of the Dark Order. He went on to become the TNT Champion defeating Cody Rhodes in dominant fashion. He would lose it back to Cody in a dog collar match on Dynamite with Greg “The Hammer” Valentine in attendance (Greg lost in the first match of its type at Starrcade 1983 to Roddy Piper). He unsuccessfully challenged Jon Moxley for the AEW Championship at this year’s Double or Nothing.

Above everything else, Jon was a father of two boys (Brodie and Nolan) and married to his wife Amanda. So much testimonial has come out about the family man he was, and on Dynamite this week Jon Moxley said they came first to Jon despite his love for professional wrestling. It reminded me of Owen Hart’s and Eddie Guerrero’s passing to be honest, since both men were active wrestlers and lauded as family men. Jon was beloved by his peers, and if you saw the tribute show AEW did on this week’s Dynamite episode, you could see the genuine love and emotional everyone expressed. I was in tears throughout the episode, and especially seeing members of the Dark Order getting emotional and the pictures they revealed.

Rest in peace Mr. Huber. May your family find the strength to pull ahead in life and have the love and support they need. It’s time for me to write my Smackdown primer because well, it’s Friday. You know what that means.

Match Results and Segments from Last Week

  • Roman Reigns defeated Kevin Owens in a Steel Cage match with the help of his cousin, Jey Uso, to retain the Universal Championship.
  • Raw Women’s Champion Asuka & Charlotte Flair defeated Bianca Belair & Sasha Banks and Bayley & Carmella to retain the Women’s Tag Team Championship.
  • Daniel Bryan defeated Jey Uso. Later, he entered himself into the Royal Rumble and expressed his desire to win it, something he’s never done (he should have won it in 2015 but … who am I to question).
  • Big E defeated Sami Zayn in a Lumberjack match to win the Intercontinental Championship for the second time in his career. (Did anybody notice Raw’s Angel Garza and Drew Gulak were lumberjacks?)

Here is a WWE exclusive with Big E before and after his big win:

Items Advertised by WWE

We kick off 2021 with an edition of Smackdown coming off a Christmas episode with saw more than three million viewers watch the program. We head towards the Royal Rumble where U.S. Champion Bobby Lashley from Raw has declared entry along with Bryan in the men’s rumble. Nia Jax has done the same for the women. I’m sure we’ll get more entries as we roll along. Here’s the hype video WWE has used for tonight’s show:

Two matches and a non-wrestling segment have been announced for tonight:

  • Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair battle Bayley & Carmella.
  • Intercontinental Champion Big E goes head-to-head with King Corbin.
  • Roman Reigns makes special request of WWE Management in the wake of his Universal Title win over Kevin Owens.

Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair vs. Bayley & Carmella

Coming out of last week’s triple threat elimination match for the Women’s Tag Team Championship, the two teams that challenged Charlotte Flair & Asuka unsuccessfully for the titles will go at it in a tag team match tonight.

Sasha eliminated the team of Bayley & Carmella by pinning Bayley after a Frog Splash, just like her idol the late WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero. Charlotte would later eliminate the team of Bianca & Sasha by hitting Natural Selection on Bianca. Bayley distracted Bianca earlier by returning after her elimination and jumping on the apron.

There are a lot of entanglements in this tag team match. Sasha & Bayley have a long history and recently feuded over the Smackdown Women’s Championship following their break-up. Bayley recently defeated Bianca in a one-on-one match. Sasha retained the Smackdown title over Carmella in two matches including one at TLC.

Frank’s Analysis: This is a way to set up feuds moving forward. I’m sure we’ll see more of Bianca vs. Bayley, and I’m sure Bayley vs. Sasha hasn’t seen its last chapter. I would imagine there’s another match in the offing with Sasha and Carmella, and I could see a mini feud between Carmella and Bianca. This is perfectly fine way to keep everyone occupied as we head towards the Royal Rumble.

Non-Title Match: Intercontinental Champion Big E vs. King Corbin

Big E finally capitalized on his singles run last week when he defeated Sami Zayn for the Intercontinental Championship in a lumberjack match. It is his second reign after having been a multiple time tag team champion with New Day and holding the IC title from late 2013-mid 2014.

Tonight, Big E takes on King Corbin in a non-title match, and without question the Knights of the Lone Wolf (Steven Cutler & Wesley Blake) are expected to accompany Corbin. They last helped him defeat Murphy. Regarding championships Corbin has only held the U.S. Championship since coming to the main roster in 2016. Big E and Corbin have faced each other in various tag team matches. Their last encounter was when Big E gave him the Big Ending after Corbin disrespected the Undertaker on Smackdown:

Frank’s Analysis: I don’t have much to say here, as it looks like Corbin will be the first challenger for Big E. I’m sure a rematch with Sami Zayn could happen at some point as well, and he could even get involved in the match tonight. Either way, Big E has a few challengers to keep him occupied as his reign starts.

Universal Champion Roman Reigns’ Special Request

Roman Reigns has made a “special request of WWE management” according to their preview after defeating Kevin Owens in a Steel Cage match with the help of his cousin Jey Uso to retain the Universal Championship.

The nature of the request is not clear. Jey handcuffed Kevin to allow Roman to leave the cage. As Roman was leaving, Kevin said “you can’t keep me down, you bitch.”

Frank’s Analysis: I’m not going to speculate on how this will play out. With Daniel Bryan declaring for the Royal Rumble, I suspect there’ll be another match with Kevin and Roman at the PPV. Roman should keep the title, but it’s partially a shame that Kevin won’t get a title run out of this since he’s worked so hard in this feud. Hopefully, he’s rewarded down the line. I’m sure he’s happy with the fact he’s being featured alongside the top star.

Other Expectations and Final Thoughts

I don’t see Smackdown retaining the viewership they had last week, but with a strong show and it being New Year’s Day, I’d bet some of those viewers could tune in to see how WWE follows up on things. As I’ve said, I look forward to Smackdown these days much more than Raw. The stories are better and more intriguing.

I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy and a Healthy New Year. 2020 was trying on all of us in many different ways. The calendar turning 2021 doesn’t wipe things away, but I could understand the ending of 2020 helping everyone from a psychological standpoint. We’re not out of the woods with the COVID-19 pandemic, but I do believe there is light at the end of the tunnel.

One of the positives I could extract from 2020 was my entry into the rotation of cohosts on the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Post Show. I enjoy joining Wade or Zack Heydorn when he “tags in” for Wade, and in particular I love talking to you the readers and listeners. I appreciate all the follows on Twitter and the interaction. Let’s keep it going in 2021. PWTorch VIP members look for the next episode of WWE Then and Now sometime late next week. I thank everyone who pushed play on episode #1. If you haven’t listened, go check it out in VIP archives!

Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Thank you for reading!

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