WWE FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN PRIMER 1/8: Apollo with Big Intercontinental Challenge, Dolph & Roode Want the Smoke & Gold

BY FRANK PETEANI, PWTORCH.COM CONTRIBUTOR


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

WWE FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN PRIMER
JANUARY 8, 2021
TAMPA, FL. IN THE THUNDERDOME AT TROPICANA FIELD
AIRS ON FOX NETWORK, 8:00 p.m. EST
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH.COM CONTRIBUTOR

Announcers: Michael Cole and Corey Graves

Match Results and Segments from Last Week

  • Universal Champion Roman Reigns opened the show alongside his cousin Jey Uso and council Paul Heyman. He talked about what he did for his cousin as well as Heyman, until recent rival Kevin Owens interrupted. Kevin said the Big Dog has become the Big Bitch and said he would fight Jey later in the evening. Later, Kevin would petition Adam Pierce to make the match. Reluctant at first, Pierce would eventually grant the match.
  • Intercontinental Champion Big E defeated King Corbin via DQ when former champion Sami Zayn got involved. Steven Cutler & Wesley Blake (Knights of the Lone Wolf) also got involved until Apollo Crews came out to help Big E. This led to a tag match where Big E & Apollo defeated Corbin & Sami. Corbin and his knights walked out on Sami. Later, with Apollo backstage, Big E would pay tribute to the late Brodie Lee and then issue an open challenge to the Intercontinental Championship. This was accepted by Apollo right away.
  • The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott & Liv Morgan) defeated Natalya & Tamina.
  • Bayley & Carmella defeated Smackdown Women’s Champion Sasha Bansk & Bianca Belair. Carmella pinned Sasha.
  • Sonya Deville made her return by just walking through backstage but didn’t say a word.
  • Smackdown Tag Team Champions the Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) held a New Year’s Smoke-tacular. This would eventually be interrupted by Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode.
  • Daniel Bryan & Otis (with Chad Gable) defeated Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro.
  • Kevin Owens defeated Jey Uso. They brawled afterwards into the Thunderdome. Eventually Roman Reigns showed up and threw Kevin off the stage and onto a table.

Here are some WWE exclusives following last week’s show, including Billie Kay because I know some of you like her schtick:

Items Advertised by WWE

Smackdown delivers two championship matches tonight as the new year continues to unfold and we head towards the Royal Rumble. People continue to declare via various methods including on TV, social media, etc. WWE’s official preview is not up as of yet, but two matches have been advertised for tonight:

  • The Street Profits take on Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode in a SmackDown Tag Team Title Match.
  • Apollo Crews to challenge Intercontinental Champion Big E next week on SmackDown.

SmackDown Tag Team Championship: Street Profits (champs) vs. Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode

Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode once again challenge the Street Profits for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. They’ve had a few shots, one of which was the first night post-draft and a few weeks ago but came up short both times. They own a non-title victory over the Profits from the end of the November.

As part of last week’s attack, Montez’s knee was “injured” and WWE is playing up that issue, questioning whether they can retain despite this issue. The Profits have been champions since February when they defeated Seth Rollin & Murphy for the Raw Tag Team Championship. They “switched” titles with New Day when they were drafted to Raw and the Profits to Smackdown. Ziggler & Roode are one-time holders of the Raw Tag Team Championship. Apparently, they are the Dirty Dawgs now:

Frank’s Analysis: I was personally glad when Ziggler & Roode interrupted the segment last week. They were serious and meant business which is what you want to see out of a heel team, despite what you may think about these men and how they’ve been pushed. I liked how they presented themselves in the interview afterwards despite Ziggler doing his typical yelling. I could see a title change tonight.

Intercontinental Championship: Big E (champ) vs. Apollo Crews

I talked about what led to this match in the recap section of the report. In 2020, Apollo Crews finally realized WWE gold when he won the U.S. Championship defeating Andrade (remember him?) on a Raw episode in May. He lost the title to current champion Bobby Lashley at Payback in August. Big E won his first singles title since 2014 when he won the Intercontinental Championship from Sami Zayn in a lumberjack match.

Tonight, Apollo looks to regain gold as he challenges Big E for the Intercontinental Championship. Here’s Apollo in a WWE exclusive:

Frank’s Analysis: I don’t see a title change, but rather a vehicle to lead to whatever they have planned for Big E. I could see Sami getting involved and wanting a rematch. Corbin could get involved as well. They’re so start/stop with Apollo that it’s hard and not worth predicting what they may do with him.

Other Expectations and Final Thoughts

It looks like the feud is not over between Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns, so we’ll see what they have in mind. I don’t see Owens as a Royal Rumble winning candidate, so another title match at the event could be in order. Having brawled outside the ring and into the Thunderdome could indicate a Falls Count Anywhere match could be in the offing. I’m curious if another title match between Sasha Banks and Carmella is in the cards, with Carmella pinning Sasha last week. Outside of the perpetual issues on WWE television, Smackdown continues to be the show to watch. I look forward to seeing how things play out on multiple fronts.

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

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