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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
OCTOBER 8, 2021
LIVE FROM SAN JOSE, CALIF.
AIRED LIVE ON FOX BROADCAST NETWORK
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Greg Hamilton
-They opened with Bianca Belair entering the ring mid-ring-entrance as Michael Cole introduced the show. The ribbon scoreboards said it was the “season premiere” of Smackdown. Becky Lynch was lounging with her feet up in the aisle at a desk. Meanwhile, Sasha Banks was at the commentary desk. Pat McAfee asked what was going on.
-Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville stood mid-ring and said they were assembled to make the triple threat match between Belair, Banks, and Lynch official. Cole narrated a clip of Lynch interfering last week and costing Belair her match against Banks. Then a clip of Lynch yanking Belair off of a cover on Charlotte on Raw earlier in the week aired, followed by Sasha Banks running in and attacking them.
Lynch said, “The Man has come around to San Jose. They love me, who wouldn’t?” She told Belair she must feel bad being on a hot losing streak. She called Banks “a disco ball-looking fool.” She said there will be payback for not thanking her for helping save Summerslam when Sasha couldn’t make it. Sasha said the people missed her. She asked if she’s jealous her spotlight is bigger than hers and Belair’s combined. Belair interrupted them both and said the only conversation they should be having is about when they’re going to sign that contract.
Belair told Lynch if she wants to bring up Summerslam, all she did was ride off of her hard work to get an opportunity. She said Becky wasn’t “prepared,” as she has claimed, but rather she was just lucky. Becky bragged: “26 seconds.” Belair said she is the common denominator to every big match this year. Belair told Lynch and Banks to get in the ring. When they didn’t move, Belair tried to toss the heavy desk chair out of the ring. It took two tries. Lynch overturned the table she was sitting at and then headed to the ring. Banks then attacked Belair from behind. Lynch joined in the fight. McAfee wondered if there was a contract that was supposed to be signed. Belair lifted both Banks and Lynch. Banks broke free. Belair swung Lynch’s feet into Banks and then slammed Lynch onto Banks through the table. Belair stood and twirled her hair braid. Cole mentioned that Crown Jewel will be in “the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” That’s the first mention of the country I’ve heard so far this season.
(Keller’s Analysis: Ultimately Belair was the clear babyface and the other two were arrogant jerks, so it’s a basic solid set-up for the triple threat match. One-on-one match set-ups are better typically because it’s just clean and clear who is worth rooting for. Lynch continues to be really entertaining in this persona.)
-Backstage Rey and Dominik Mysterio were chatting when Kayla Braxton walked up to them. She asked what winning King of the Ring would mean to him. Rey said next to being Universal Champion, being King of the Ring is the next best thing. He said it’d be great to be king and rule all of WWE. Rey said it’d make him sick if Sami Zayn became king. Dominik said some things to Rey off-mic afterward and Rey listened intently, but it seemed sort of tense. Cole said Dominik just told Rey he was going to stay behind and not accompany him to the ring.
-Rey began his ring entrance. [c]
-They showed a graphic with the King of the Ring brackets. Rey vs. Sami and Cesaro vs. Finn Balor is the left bracket, and Kofi Kingston vs. Jinder Mahal and Xavier Woods vs. Ricochet is the other bracket. Then they showed an image of King Nakamura returning his crown honorably to Adam Pearce, but looked a bit dejected that he had to.
(Keller’s Analysis: Shouldn’t Nakamura get a chance to wrestle to retain his crown? Or Happy Corbin, for that matter? Or do you only get one term? Maybe that concept can be introduced in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?)
(1) REY MYSTERIO vs. SAMI ZAYN – King of the Ring Tournament First Round match
Cole talked about the first King of the Ring tournament taking place in 1985. McAfee mentioned Steve Austin won the tournament once. Sami bailed out early to ringside. Rey flipped onto him and took him over with a head scissors. He played to the crowd as Cole said he’s a magician. Cole said winning the KOTR is symbolic of strength, integrity, leadership, and family. Sami threw Rey sliding shoulder-first into the ringpost. Dominik, for some reason, then walked out to apparently check on his dad as they cut to a break.
(Keller’s Analysis: This talk of how great it’d feel to be king and all these great, noble things being king stands for all feels dirty given that it feels like p.r. for a Kingdom with actual kings and princes that paid WWE a lot of money while spreading propaganda to their fanbase, and now it seems they’re shining up the antiquated concept of royalty and unelected “rulers” in the 21st century. The language just feels different than in past years, more heavy-handed.) [c]
Back from the break, Cole said some have said Rey is acting like an overbearing little league dad lately. McAfee said he wasn’t sure whose side he was on. Cole said Sami has been trying to plant seeds of discontent between father and son. McAfee said he was befuddled that Dominik seemed to be listening to Sami. Cole said Sami has defeated Dominik three times. Sami eventually hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall. Sami removed a turnbuckle pad. Dominik put it back on. Sami was DISTRACTED by that and yelled, “Hey, what are you doing?” Rey then surprised Sami with a top rope senton. Rey then turned to yell at Dominik to get off the ring apron. Sami then charged into a DISTRACTED Rey from behind and knocked him into Dominik, before rolling him up for the win. Sami put on a crown and cape on the stage and sat on a throne. McAfee said people are saying online that if Sami wins the KOTR, “they will vomit all over their houses.”
WINNER: Sami in 8:00 to advance to the KOTR semi-finals.
-They showed Seth Rollins getting ready for a segment with Kayla backstage. Cole said Seth would present his defense of his actions last week. [c]
-A vignette aired on Hit Row, introducing the members B-Fab, Top Dolla, Ashante “Thee” Adonis, and Isaiah “Swerve” Scott all dancing to music.
-They went to Cole and McAfee at ringside. Cole touted Smackdown being “the most social show on Friday nights” (as if anyone cares at all).
-Cole threw to “a defense of Seth Rollins” video, but said it with an aura of skepticism and told viewers to decide for themselves. The video package spliced together a recap of Seth’s home invasion last week. Back live with Kayla, Seth was acting very pleased with himself. Kayla asked if he crossed the line last week. He said that seems to be the prevailing narrative, but he said through all the mocking and ridicule, he managed to beat Edge at MSG in a sanctioned match with a legal maneuver. He said he wasn’t celebrated or venerated. Instead, he was called a monster and demonized. He said for the past few weeks, he has still been the bigger man. He said he called out Edge to solve once and for all who the bigger man is. He asked if anyone has heard anything from him. “So I did what any sane man would do,” he said. “I told Edge I was going to go to his house, and I went to his house to get an answer to my challenge. So no, I didn’t cross any lines.” He got frustrated he still hasn’t gotten an answer to his challenge. He said he’s wasting his time talking to Kayla because she doesn’t have the power to do anything about it, so he’ll go find someone who does.
-During Zelina Vega’s ring entrance, a soundbite aired with her saying everyone should get used to referring to her as Queen Zelina. [c]
-As Toni Storm came to the ring, they aired a soundbite with her dropping the names of Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, and Joanna Jet. She said she wants to win the tournament and become the Queen of Rock.
-They showed the Queen’s Crown Tournament bracket: Toni Storm vs. Vega and Liv Morgan vs. Carmela in the left bracket, and Doudrop vs. Natalya and Dana Brooke vs. Shayna Baszler in the right bracket.
(2) ZELINA VEGA vs. TONI STORM – Queen’s Crown Tournament First Round match
McAfee said he can’t believe he’s part of this. Cole said Toni said her mom was a huge fan of 1980s rock, and that era of music has stuck with her. Storm caught Vega’s leg at the bell and rammed her hips into her head. Vega leaped onto Storm and punched away at her. Cole said both of them will be moving to Raw later this month. Vega applied an inverted chinlock and then stomped Storm’s head into the mat. Cole then corrected himself and said Vega is going to Raw, but Storm is staying on Smackdown. Vega countered a backslide attempt with a Code Red powerbomb for the clean win.
WINNER: Vega in 2:00 to advance to the semi-finals of the tournament.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was a strange outcome. Not sure if Storm is being “tested” or they’re just not high on her or if they’re just warming up to pushing Vega more. It’s not so much who won, but how decisive and quickly it happened.)
-A video package aired on the Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar match at Crown Jewel and the tension and seeming lack of trust Reigns has in Heyman.
-Roman Reigns made his ring entrance with Heyman and the Usos. They held up their title belts. [c]
-Reigns stood mid-ring and sternly insisted everyone acknowledge him. He then his special counsel had one job to do before tonight, and that was make sure his cousins, the Usos, were drafted to Smackdown. “And that’s what he did,” he said. Heyman smiled pridefully. He asked San Jose to acknowledge him. Reigns walked up to Heyman and put his arm around him and said, “I love you, Paul.” Heyman said, “I love you too, my Tribal Chief.” Reigns said his cousins love him too. Reigns said he’s part of their family, “the wise man to the Blood Line.” He said he wants him to be wise right now and come clean. He looked him in the eye and said he wants him to tell the truth. Fans chanted “Suplex City!” Reigns said that doesn’t exist. “This is the Island of Relevancy,” he said. He said he wanted Heyman to admit that he is responsible for Brock’s free agent status.
Heyman said he’s in a terrible situation because no matter what he says, it’ll sound like he’s spinning things. He said he’s been with his family for over 40 years. Reigns held his hand up to Heyman’s mouth under his chin and raised his head. Heyman looked bug-eyed at him. Reigns stared at him. Heyman said, “You chose me, rescued me, saved me, to be your special counsel because you knew I was the wise man. I’ve been accused of many things in my life and I’m guilty of even more, but I’ve never been accused of being stupid.” He said pulling the trigger now on a scheme to dethrone the Tribal Chief would be stupid. He told Reigns the better goal would be to give Reigns strategy and then leak it to Lesnar right before the match. “Wouldn’t that be the time to pull the trigger?” He said he knows Lesnar is lying because only someone stupid would tip off their scheme ahead of time. He said Reigns wouldn’t pick a stupid man to be his special counsel. He said Lesnar cannot stand the fact that at Crown Jewel, the conqueror will be conquered by Roman Reigns. Reigns held out his hand and asked for the mic. Heyman did so.
Reigns said he doesn’t want Heyman to tell him, he wants him to look into the camera and tell Brock. Reigns said, “Don’t worry, I’ll protect you because I can.” Fans chanted, “We Want Lesnar!” Heyman then looked into the camera and said he has to give him credit for outsmarting him. He said Frankenstein taught the doctor a lesson. He said he had the conversation with him years ago when he assured him he could beat Undertaker at WrestleMania. He said he was right. He said now, though, Lesnar has met his match, and that man’s name is Roman Reigns. Heyman said Reigns will walk in as Tribal Chief and he will fight him as a Tribal Beast, and he will learn that the winner and still reigning, defending, undisputed, uncontroverted WWE Universal Champion, Roman Reigns. He said that’s not just a prediction, that is a spoiler. “And you can believe that,” he closed with, before tossing the mic down. Reigns seemed satisfied as Heyman knelt before Reigns and handed him the Universal Title belt. Reigns left the ring and Heyman followed.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was some of Heyman’s best work yet while with Reigns, and it almost felt autobiographical. His character now feels like it’s drawing from his history of not always being trusted as an employee and as a boss over the decades.)
-Backstage Seth walked in on Pearce and Deville chatting. He asked if Edge is going to be there tonight. Pearce said he was scheduled to be there before he broke into his house. Seth said at the end of the night, he’s going to go to the ring and if Edge shows up, he expects him to answer his challenge. He said if he doesn’t show up, it’s on Pearce and Deville and their show won’t end well. Seth handed them a framed picture of Edge and Beth Phoenix kissing. He told them to return it to Edge later, then he cackled and walked away.
-Carmella made her ring entrance. They replayed the Liv Morgan-Carmela incident last week. Carmella admired the Queen’s Crown on the stage. [c]
(3) CARMELLA vs. LIV MORGAN – Queen’s Crown Tournament First Round match
Carmella had two women put her protective face mask on her before the bell. Carmella applied an early Code of Silence. Morgan pulled on Carmella’s mask to force a break. McAfee marveled at the technology that produced a pliable mask that also protects her face. Liv scored a near fall a minute in. Carmella made a comeback and snapped Liv’s neck over the top rope as she dropped to the floor. Then she landed a superkick on Liv for the win.
WINNER: Carmella in 2:00 to advance to the semi-finals of the tournament.
-Kayla interviewed Mace backstage. She asked what his goals are now that he’ll be competing in the singles division. He said when he looks at the locker room, all he sees are prey. He said he isn’t coming to Smackdown to compete, he’s coming to annihilate.
-Happy Corbin made his way to the ring, accompanied by Madcap Moss. They replayed Moss and Corbin cracking each other up last week. Cole said “Happy Talk” was up next with guests The Street Profits. [c]
-Happy Talk: Corbin said his friend Madcap Moss keeps him happy. Moss had another joke: “What instrument do you find in the bathroom? A tuba-toothpaste.” Corbin and Moss laughed uproariously. Kevin Owens’ music played and he marched out. He attacked Moss at ringside, then beat on Corbin in the corner. Moss grabbed him from behind. KO set up a stunner, but Corbin blocked it. They beat him down two-on-one. Moss delivered a neckbreaker on KO. Corbin and Moss laughed over his body.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s ridiculous the announcers didn’t update why The Street Profits never came out. Why does Corbin and Moss beating up KO mean they can’t still interview the Profits?)
-They cut backstage to Deville and Pearce chatting about the women’s match contract that wasn’t signed. Naomi barged in and asked why she wasn’t included in the Queen’s Crown tournament. Deville said she’s not worthy. Naomi said she’s a two-time Smackdown Women’s Champion. She asked to be traded back to Raw. Deville said she has a match next week on Smackdown. Naomi asked, “Against who?” Deville revealed, “Me.” Naomi smiled and said, “It’s on!”
-Finn Balor made his ring entrance. [c]
(4) FINN BALOR vs. CESARO – King of the Ring Tournament First Round match
Cole talked about how the King of the Ring has launched careers over the years such as Steve Austin, Sheamus, Triple H, Kurt Angle, Don Muraco, and Harley Race. (What career can be launched in this tournament? Ricochet is 32 and he’s the youngest wrestler in the tournament. This might be the oldest average age of a KOTR tournament yet.) Back and forth hard-hitting action early, as you’d expect with these two. Balor backdropped Cesaro, but when he charged at him, Cesaro gave him a lift-and-drop uppercut for a two count. Balor rolled to the floor. They cut to a break. [c]
When Balor climbed to the top rope, Cesaro knocked him off balance with an uppercut. Then he gave Balor a headbutt and a superplex for a two count. After Balor kicked out, Cesaro applied an STF. Balor leveraged Cesaro’s shoulders down for a near fall. They continued moves and counter-moves until Cesaro dove at Balor, but went shoulder-first into the ringpost instead. Balor then landed a flip dive onto Cesaro at ringside. They teased that earlier. Back in the ring, Balor landed a Coup de Gras for the three count.
WINNER: Balor in 12:00 to advance to the KOTR semi-finals.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match, interrupted by the commercial, but a level higher than most of what you see in WWE.)
-They replayed the derailed contract signing earlier.
-Backstage, Becky was emphatically telling Pearce and Deville that no one has changed the game the way she has, including Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. She said, “The Man is an institution; the Man is the show.” She said she has delivered on every request they’ve made of her, and her opponents somehow earned this match against her with sneak attacks. She said she wanted the record to show she gave the people the biggest match possible once again. Deville said all that’s left is her signing the contract so the match can happen and she can show she’s better than Banks and Belair. Pearce and Deville were relieved when Becky signed it and left.
-Seth Rollins made his ring entrance. [c]
-Cole said next week is a Supersized Smackdown on FS1, moving off of Fox to accommodate baseball playoffs. They hyped a Brock Lesnar appearance, Balor vs. Sami and Carmella vs. Vega in tournament semi-final matches, plus Sasha vs. Becky.
-Seth stood in the ring and said he’s been waiting his whole life for a moment like this. He called on Edge to answer his challenge. Edge didn’t come out. Seth asked him not to leave the people waiting. He said he can name the time and place and stipulation of his choice. He offered to have the match in his living room with his wife and daughters cheering him on. Seth asked what happened to the Rated-R Superstar and the Ultimate Opportunist. Seth cackled and said he knows what happened to that guy. “I ended him with one stomp at Madison Square Garden,” he said. He said if he won’t show up and answer his challenge tonight, he’ll take it as an admission from him that he is not Edge-lite and that he is better than him in every conceivable way. Seth said he is disappointed. He called Edge a coward. The big screen then showed Edge arrive in the parking garage in a black SUV. His music played and he headed to the ring.
Seth took off his jacket and looked ready for a fight. Seth grabbed a chair from ringside. Edge speared Seth in the ring, and then tackled him onto the announce desk. He threw him into the ringside steps and then choked him with a cable briefly. Edge threw him into the ring, then grabbed a chair and stomped off a crossbar. He brought it into the ring and tried to put it in the mouth of Rollins. Seth elbowed himself free and scurried away. Edge yelled, “You, me, Hell in a Cell!” Seth’s jaw dropped as Edge smiled and nodded. Fans chanted “Yes!” and threw their arms into the air. They showed close-ups of Seth and Edge as Edge’s music played to end the segment.
(Keller’s Analysis: A Hell in a Cell match is a good payoff for this feud. Seth has been effectively obnoxious and Edge convincingly intense. Edge has put on a ton of muscle since before WrestleMania. Are they going to put that match on Smackdown to pop a rating? Or the next PPV, despite the draft roster shifts? Or in a stale environment on a Thursday afternoon in Saudi Arabia?)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Solid episode. The glorification of royalty in a way that felt like it was bought and paid for by Saudi Arabia got kind of creepy and off-putting. The tournament gives the show’s matches a sense of structure and relevance that they often don’t have. The Reigns-Heyman segment and Balor vs. Cesaro were the strengths of the show.