WWE FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN PRIMER 1/22: Continued Hype for the Royal Rumble, Big E vs. Apollo for the IC Title One More Time, Obstacles for Bayley and Bianca



JANUARY 22, 2021

Announcers: Michael Cole and Corey Graves

Match Results and Segments from Last Week

  • Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Jey Uso with Cesaro as a guest commentator.
  • Apollo Crews was seen conversing with Universal Champion Roman Reigns. He later defeated Sami Zayn and had some heated words with Intercontinental Champion Big E.
  • Natalya defeated Liv Morgan.
  • King Corbin defeated Rey Mysterio due to inadvertent interference by Dominik.
  • Bianca Belair was a guest on the inaugural episode of Ding Dong, Hello hosted by Bayley.
  • Cesaro defeated Daniel Bryan.
  • Throughout the night they weaved elements of the contract signing between Universal Champion Roman Reigns and Adam Pearce. One point that was emphasized several times was that the contract was standard and contained all of the expected language. Roman wanted a stipulation for their match at the Royal Rumble. Initially it was a no DQ, but then he wanted Last Man Standing. During the closing segment, they made their way out for the signing. After Roman signed, Pearce left the table and made his way up the ramp. He displayed a knee injury and said it’s in the contract that management can find a suitable replacement opponent in any match. He introduced Kevin Owens as that replacement.

Here are the exclusive interviews from last week:

Items Advertised by WWE

Tonight’s episode of Smackdown will be one of two more as we make our way to the Royal Rumble. Both championship matches have been set and we’re getting more entrants into both men’s and women’s rumbles. Here’s what’s advertised for tonight in their preview:

  • Big E to battle Apollo Crews in an Intercontinental Championship Match
  • Bianca Belair to compete in Bayley’s Ultimate Athlete Obstacle Course Challenge

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

Tonight, we get a rematch between Big E and Apollo Crews for the Intercontinental Championship. Two weeks ago, Big E defeated Apollo, but not before there was a double pin in the middle of the match. Apollo demanded the match be restarted and went so far as to slap Big E.

I mentioned Apollo conversing with Roman Reigns. This was week after Paul Heyman was giving him a pep talk on Talking Smack. It’s hard to know where things are headed, but the good-wrestling smiling Apollo may be a thing of the past. Big E looks to retain the title he won Christmas night in a Lumberjack match against Sami Zayn with some big assistance from, Apollo.

Frank’s Analysis: I could see Apollo either joining Roman’s faction, or just changing his ways and becoming more aggressive. Whether that means he turns heel or just gains an edge remains to be seen. Either way, it’s good that Apollo is getting TV time and I’ve always believed he’s a valuable asset to the product.

Obstacle Course: Bianca Belair vs. Bayley

Bayley debuted her new show Ding Dong, Hello last week with Bianca Belair as her guest. Bayley showed video of her beating Belair several weeks ago on Smackdown. Bianca challenged her to a rematch, but Bayley rejected the request saying she already proved himself. She then challenged her to an obstacle course.

The last time we saw an obstacle course was back in 2018 between Sami Zayn and babyface Bobby Lashley. Here’s a little exchange on Twitter:

Frank’s Analysis: I don’t have much to analyze here as I anticipate your typical WWE comedy. They’re just keeping the feud going without doing another match. I’m not sure I understand the decision to have Bayley beat Bianca after Bayley lost to Natalya. That said, things could change come the Royal Rumble as both women would be at the top of my list as candidates to win.

Other Expectations and Final Thoughts

Outside of seeing how the Roman Reigns-Kevin Owens story plays out as well as Big E-Apollo, I’m curious where they’re going with Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro. Both men are immensely talented, and I believe there’s still plenty of ground to mine if you book them properly. Sometime today, the latest episode of WWE Then and Now will drop where Tyler Sage from the Podcast of Honor joined me to review the 2005 Royal Rumble and where the characters went from there. This Sunday, I will join Torch columnist Greg Parks on Wrestling Night in America to preview the Royal Rumble. I hope you all will listen and feel free to give feedback to me on social media!

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

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