WWE FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN PRIMER 1/15: Sign on the Dotted Line Mr. Pearce, Shinsuke vs. Jey, A Royal Challenge for Rey

BY FRANK PETEANI, PWTORCH.COM CONTRIBUTOR


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

WWE FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN PRIMER
JANUARY 15, 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, his cousin Jey Uso, and council Paul Heyman opened the show. He talked about what he recently did to Kevin Owens and then called out WWE official Adam Pearce. He expressed frustration that a gauntlet match had been booked for later in the evening to determine whom will challenge him for the title at the Royal Rumble. He physically threatened him, but then let go.
  • Big E defeated Apollo Crews to retain the Intercontinental Championship. The match appeared to be over when Crews superplexed Big E and hooked his leg for a pin. Both shoulders were down, but it all worked out as they had to go to commercial break. The match was restarted upon returning from break. (Isn’t it so ironic how all that works out?). At any rate, read this tweet and watch the video of the interaction between Paul Heyman and Apollo on Talking Smack. It’s interesting that Roman Reigns retweeted it:

  • Sonya Deville was given the job as Adam Pearce’s assistant.
  • It was announced that Smackdown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks was named #1 Superstar of 2020 by Sports Illustrated. Carmella acknowledged she was Sports Illustrated Top Wrestler of 2020 (thanks Carmella!), but said she had to work hard at that. Everything came natural for Carmella.
  • Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode defeated the Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) to win the Smackdown Tag Team Championship.
  • Adam Pearce won the gauntlet match to become the challenger to Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship. Rey Mysterio defeated Sami Zayn. Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Rey, King Corbin, and Daniel Bryan. Pearce reluctantly defeated Shinsuke after he was beaten down by Jey Uso and Roman.

Here are some WWE exclusive videos from last week:

Items Advertised by WWE

We continue to head towards the Royal Rumble, which takes place Sunday January 31. The event is taking shape with the WWE Championship in place (Drew McIntyre vs. Goldberg), and Roman Reigns vs. Adam Pearce (for now) for the Universal Championship. Several more wrestlers have declared or been added to the Royal Rumbles, and I’m sure we’ll get other matches on the undercard added as we move along. Here’s the hype video WWE has put out for tonight’s show and what’s advertised in their preview:

  • Roman Reigns and Adam Pearce set for Universal Title contract signing.
  • “Main Event” Jey Uso to face an irate Shinsuke Nakamura tonight.
  • Rey Mysterio looks for retribution against King Corbin this week on SmackDown.

Contract Signing: Universal Champion Roman Reigns and Adam Pearce

Adam Pearce is set to challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble because of what happened last week. Tonight, they will sign the contract for the match.

According to Wikipedia, Pearce started his career back in 1996 and actually appeared as enhancement talent for WWE (then WWF) from 1997-’99. He spent the next several years in various promotions including Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and the National Wrestling Alliance. He’s been in WWE since 2013 in various roles including trainer and producer for NXT and started appearing on main roster TV with an appearance on Smackdown in 2018. He started to appear as a “WWE official” mid-last year. Here’s a tweet from Roman Reigns where he retweets a video from Pearce pleading Roman to not go through with the match. Watch the video:

Frank’s Analysis: It’s hard to say much about these contract signings because we’ve seen so many of them through the years. Watching that video, it makes me think more that they’re going to have the match. I know a lot of people think they’ll still pivot to Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Roman and that can still happen for sure, but the fact that they went out of their way to have Pearce put out the video makes me think otherwise. It’s weird for me to say this, but I think I want to see Roman vs. Pearce just to see what they’ll do. We’ll see what happens.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jey Uso

On the heels of what happened during the gauntlet match last Friday, Shinsuke Nakamura will face Jey Uso one-on-one. As I mentioned earlier, Jey Uso started attacking Shinsuke after he had beaten Daniel Bryan in a gauntlet match. He had previously beaten Rey Mysterio and King Corbin. Roman Reigns joined in on the attack, rendering Shinsuke helpless. Roman then took a reluctant Adam Pearce and put him on top of Shinsuke, and the referee counted three.

Had Shinsuke won the gauntlet match, it would not have been his first crack at a world title. He had two chances but came up short against Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship back in 2017. He won the 2018 Royal Rumble but didn’t defeat A.J. Styles at WrestleMania for the same title. He gave A.J. a low blow after match, turning heel in the process. He had a months-long feud with A.J. but couldn’t capture the title. Since then, he’s had runs with the U.S., Intercontinental, and Smackdown Tag Team Championships. Jey and Shinuke were opposite each other in an eight-man tag match in the run-up to WrestleMania 35. Shinsuke paired with Rusev in a four-team fatal four-way match to challenge the Usos at said WrestleMania. Here are some tweets:

https://twitter.com/btsportwwe/status/1347947642580586497?s=20

Frank’s Analysis: I’ve long wanted Shinsuke to do something more substantial, but who knows what goes on behind closed doors. Rumors were always out that he was in “cruise control,” his heart wasn’t really in it. Who knows? The issue here is a few weeks ago he was jobbing out to Otis in like two minutes. He’s been on pre-shows on the losing end of eight-man tag matches. Vince will job wrestlers out, but when he’s in the mood to push them, they start winning out of the blue and there’s an expectation on our part to take them seriously. If they’re going to push Shinsuke, great, but it may be hard for some to get invested after not being pushed for so long.

Rey Mysterio vs. King Corbin

Rey Mysterio came up short to Shinsuke Nakamura last week in the gauntlet match with his son Dominik in his corner. King Corbin was next up to wrestle Shinsuke and as he made his way out, he attacked Dominik followed by Rey. Tonight, they go one-on-one.

Corbin defeated Rey back in November to qualify for team Smackdown at Survivor Series. They interacted weeks later when Corbin insulted the Mysterio family backstage, making fun of Rey’s daughter Aalyah’s relationship with Murphy.

Frank’s Analysis: There’s not a ton to this as it’s just an undercard feud and something to do for both men, which is totally fine. I would think Rey could get a good match out of Corbin, but hard not to be cynical and look for a garbage finish, so why would it matter?

Other Expectations and Final Thoughts

I’ve had a big presence on PWTorch audio as I joined Wade Keller this past Monday to break down Raw. Last night, I recorded my VIP exclusive show WWE Then and Now with Zack Heydorn talking the Royal Rumble events from 2011 and last year. Check out the Raw post show if you haven’t done so and VIP members look for WWE Then and Now as it should be dropping sometime today if it hasn’t done so by the time you read this article. It was a blast doing both shows and I hope you enjoy both. As far as tonight, I think they are some good hooks. In addition to what I’ve mentioned, I’m more intrigued by what they may do with Apollo Crews. It’s hard to get too enthused because his push has been so start/stop, but the fact that he interacted with Paul Heyman could signify something important. Smackdown continues to be the better program for many reasons.

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

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