This week’s WWE Smackdown episode featured a big triple threat match featuring champions from two brands along with another appearance from Brock Lesnar.
It was on last week’s episode of Smackdown when we found out that Brock Lesnar will get another Universal Championship match against the “Tribal Chief” Roman Reigns. That match will take place at WWE’s Day 1 PPV on Saturday, January 1, which is just three weeks away.
We also found out on Thursday that WWE released Jeff Hardy, who was getting a mild push on Smackdown in recent weeks. The story goes that Jeff was behaving erratically for some reason during a match as well as some other weird things, so WWE was concerned. They wanted him to go to rehab for drug/alcohol abuse, Jeff said no and now he’s gone. Chances are he’ll resurface in another wrestling promotion in three months or more, but I just hope Jeff can find happiness and peace with whatever he does in his life.
Also, I want to mention that WWE Hall of Famer Blackjack Jack Lanza passed away this week. He lived a long life at 86 years old with a long career in wrestling first as a wrestler (before my time as a fan) and then he was a top agent/producer during WWE’s massive Attitude Era as well as many more years. Vince McMahon commented on Lanza’s death saying: “His loyalty and dedication will never be forgotten.”
From the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, this is Smackdown for episode #1164. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.
There was a graphic to start the show saying this was In Memory of Jack Lanza 1935-2021.
The commentary team of Michael Cole and Pat McAfee welcomed us to Smackdown, which is sponsored by Progressive as usual. It’s a Hollywood Smackdown since they were in Los Angeles.
Let’s Hear from Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn made his entrance in a wheelchair with a neckbrace on along with his left leg in a cast while two guys were looking after him. I guess they were male nurses. They showed a video package of last week’s Smackdown when Brock Lesnar convinced Zayn to challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship (Zayn earned the title shot one week earlier). Prior to Zayn’s match, Lesnar beat him up and Reigns beat Zayn easily. That’s because Lesnar wants to be the guy that takes the Universal Title from Reigns.
Sami Zayn was in the ring in his wheelchair with his two guys standing behind him. Zayn said it took the most dominant athletes in WWE history to put him in this wheelchair. Zayn said it took Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns to do this to him. Zayn claimed he didn’t want to call it a conspiracy, but Zayn pointed out that they don’t like eachother. Zayn said he was robbed. Zayn said that the betrayal of Brock Lesnar hurt more than the German Suplexes and F5’s. Zayn said now he has to do what is right – he has to sue. Zayn said he’ll sue Adam Pearce, Sonya Deville, the referee that rang the bell, he’ll see Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman and anybody that had something to do with robbing Zayn of his championship opportunity.
Paul Heyman made his entrance saying he’s sorry that you’ve been subjected to this spiel about suing and litigation from Sami Zayn. Heyman got into the ring with Zayn saying that “my people” to the litigating around here and said that “his people” own Hollywood to begin with. Heyman reminded us of his name, so Zayn said he wasn’t finished talking and told Heyman to not block the camera. Zayn repeated himself, Heyman kept on talking and Zayn stood in the wheelchair. Zayn said he happened to know that Roman Reigns isn’t there tonight. Heyman claimed that Reigns was in Samoa training for his match. Zayn said that he is a world-class athlete that can rip Heyman’s head off while adding that Roman Reigns isn’t there, so there is nobody to save Heyman.
Here comes Brock Lesnar to a huge pop. Lesnar was in overalls looking like the farmer that he is. Big ovation for Lesnar, who walked around the ring before he joined Zayn, Heyman and the two indy wrestlers that were looking after Zayn. Lesnar grabbed a chair that he brought in the ring with him.
Lesnar approached Heyman in the corner of the ring and Heyman handed Lesnar the microphone. Lesnar sat in the chair across from Zayn in the wheelchair. The fans chanted “Suplex City” for Lesnar.
Lesnar to Zayn: “How you doin’ buddy?” Lesnar mentioned the wheelchair, a neckbrace and male nurses. Zayn told Lesnar it’s not funny. Lesnar said he thinks they got off on the wrong foot. Zayn said that the physical pain is a 10 and his feelings are like a 20 out of 10. Lesnar said that last week Zayn said that they were friends and tonight Zayn said they are friends. Lesnar said that they are both Canadians, which Sami agreed with saying they are “Canadian Alpha Males.” Lesnar asked Sami if he thought he could beat Reigns and Lesnar said that he did Zayn a favor. Lesnar pointed out that he didn’t think Zayn was going to beat Reigns and Zayn realized Lesnar thought he was doing a favor for him. Lesnar asked where Sami was from, Sami said Montreal and Lesnar spoke some bad French. Lesnar wanted Sami to come with him to Saskatchewan to go hunting and fishing. Zayn said that he’s actually a vegan, so he wanted to speak to him about that. Lesnar wanted Zayn to go with him.
Heyman grabbed the microphone before Lesnar and Zayn could leave the ring. Heyman wondered what he was watching. Heyman said three years ago he would have seen Lesnar take Zayn to Suplex City instead of acting like best friends with him. Heyman did a Lesnar introduction speech as if he was doing a promo talking about Lesnar’s credentials, so Lesnar was fired up. Lesnar beat up the two nurses and tossed them out of the ring. Lesnar kicked Zayn while he was in the wheelchair and Lesnar tossed the wheelchair out of the ring. Lesnar hit an F5 on Zayn. Heyman had a smirk on his face. Lesnar’s music played to end it.
Analysis: This went on a bit too long since it was nearly 20 minutes long, but it ended the way most people expected with Brock Lesnar kicking Sami Zayn’s ass again. Heyman’s role was interesting because even though there was no sign of Roman Reigns, Heyman was used to motivate Lesnar like he had done in the past and once Heyman did his promo routine, that’s when Lesnar kicked some ass. I don’t think this needed to be as long as it was even though I find Zayn entertaining and Lesnar is doing solid promo work. I just think it dragged a bit. I hope there’s some payoff for Zayn in this story, but I’m not sure what that is.
The announcers hyped the triple threat tag team match later in the show.
Brock Lesnar was shown walking backstage with Kayla Braxton asking what Lesnar was doing out there. Lesnar told her to ask his advocate, Paul Heyman.
Los Lotharios were in the ring for a tag team match. Rick Boogs was on stage doing a guitar-playing introduction of the Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura. That led to Pat McAfee doing his unique dancing at ringside.
Shinsuke Nakamura & Rick Boogs vs. Los Lotharios (Angel & Humberto)
Boogs knocked down Humberto, then Boogs brought Angel into the ring and Boogs press slammed Angel over the top to the floor. Humberto did an eye gouge followed by some punches to the back. Boogs powered out of that with a spinning slam. Nakamura tagged in with a Kinshasa knee to the head for the pinfall win after less than two minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Shinsuke Nakamura & Rick Boogs
Analysis: 1/2* This was rushed. I assume it was going to be longer, but the opening segment went long. Los Lotharios were an undefeated team before this and now they picked up a loss in a match that was less than two minutes. Weird booking. Also, Nakamura hasn’t defended his IC Title in a long time, nor has he had a meaningful feud. Please do something with him.
There was a backstage scene with Kofi Kingston standing by a covered item with the Viking Raiders, Drew Gulak, Mansoor and Ricochet standing around it. There’s a reveal.
This Monday on Raw, Bobby Lashley wants to get into the WWE Championship match at Day 1. Will he get his way? That’s all they advertised.
There were graphics shown asking who is the best tag team in WWE to set up the main event.
There was the backstage scene of Kofi Kingston along with the midcard wrestlers I mentioned. King Xavier Woods appeared, he pulled the purple cover off and Woods had a new crew. This crown looked better and less cheap than the last one. Woods said that he and Kofi will fight valiantly to prove they are the greatest tag team (no disrespect to Viking Raiders) in all of WWE. Woods said “huzzah” to end it. They all shouted “huzzah” as well.
A replay was shown from two weeks ago when Drew McIntyre found out he was not on the battle royal list. Last week on Smackdown, Drew told Sonya Deville that he wanted to see Adam Pearce.
Adam Pearce was shown in his office when Drew McIntyre showed up with his sword. Drew said he heard Pearce was the reason he wasn’t in the battle royal. Pearce said that Sonya made the list and there was also a higher authority involved. Pearce told Drew he can’t take that sword to the ring tonight. Drew jammed the sword into the wood desk and left.
Sheamus entered for a match against Drew McIntyre. Cesaro was shown watching the TV screen due to his rivalry with Sheamus. It’s an old rivalry renewed once again.
Analysis: The first 40 minutes of Smackdown had about one minute of in-ring action. That’s not good. They used to have more in-ring action on this show before the last draft took place two months ago.
Toni Storm was shown getting ready backstage when Sasha Banks walked up to her. Sasha told Toni she’s got this tonight while saying she has trained all over the world. Sasha said there’s not a hybrid like Toni. Sasha laughed about Toni tossing a pie in Charlotte’s face and Toni said that “pie-back is a bitch” and Banks said so is Charlotte. Sasha told Charlotte that when she makes a mistake, it’s going to be Toni Time.
Analysis: Nice pep talk from Banks to try to show the viewers at home that the top woman on Smackdown believes in Storm, so WWE wants the fans to support Storm as well.
Drew McIntyre made his entrance without the sword. They showed Adam Pearce trying to remove the sword from the desk, but he couldn’t do it.
Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus
They started out punching as you would expect. Drew sent Sheamus into the turnbuckle followed by a couple of chops, but then Sheamus came back with a clothesline. Drew with an elbow to the jaw while Sheamus was trying his forearms, but then Sheamus knocked Drew down on the apron. Sheamus with the ten forearm shots to the chest. Sheamus went for an attack on the floor, Drew moved and Drew hit a belly to belly suplex on the floor.
The match continued with Sheamus hit the backbreaker for a two count. Drew came back with a hard chop to the chest followed by a Future Shock DDT. Drew set up for the Claymore Kick, Sheamus managed to counter it by hitting a jumping knee strike for a two count. Sheamus set up in the corner, he went for a Brogue Kick, Drew avoided it and got a rollup for two. Drew with a headbutt, Sheamus with a shoulder tackle, Sheamus sent Drew into the corner and Drew hit a Claymore Kick for the pinfall win after nine minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Drew McIntyre
Analysis: *** The usual good match between familiar opponents. Whenever they wrestled on Raw in the last year, Drew usually won those matches and Drew won again here. I liked the finish because it was done in a way where it wasn’t obvious what was coming, but when Drew hit the Claymore Kick, we knew that was the end of the match.
There was a backstage scene with Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss, who were pushing the wooden desk (with a sword in it) across the floor.
There was a video package about the passing of Hall of Famer Jack Lanza. They showed Jack applying the claw hold and mentioned Lanza as part of being part of the Blackjacks tag team. After retiring from the ring, Lanza worked behind the scenes and became a mentor for future Hall of Famers. The video ended saying Jack will always be one of the most beloved members of the WWE family.
Naomi made her entrance for her singles match.
There was another plug for the triple threat tag team main event.
Paul Heyman was shown with a bag over his shoulder when Kayla Braxton showed up for an interview. Heyman didn’t like her doing that and wanted her to stop doing that. Kayla asked Heyman if he’s the Advocate for Brock Lesnar? Kayla told her to please stop doing that. Kayla wondered how Roman Reigns was going to react to what happened tonight? Heyman stared at her, looked around and then just walked away quietly.
Analysis: That was Heyman realizing he screwed up because he motivated Brock Lesnar and was smiling while Lesnar was kicking Sami Zayn’s ass earlier in the show. I would assume there’s a scene next week with Roman Reigns asking Heyman what he was doing with Lesnar.
A Progressive Match Flo was shown about Naomi’s issues with Sonya Deville. This has gone on for four months.
Naomi did a promo calling out Sonya to have their match. Sonya Deville entered for her match in black leather attire. Sonya introduced Natalya as the ring announcer and Shayna Baszler as the timekeeper.
Naomi went after Baszler on the floor and sent her into the apron. Naomi kicked Natalya off the apron to the floor. Deville regrouped to the floor. Deville, Baszler and Natalya surrounded Naomi.
Xia Li made her debut with some cool animations appearing with her as part of her entrance. Li stood beside Naomi, then Li sent Sonya out of the ring. Li with an elbow and a spin kick on Natalya. Naomi with a springboard kick on Baszler, Li wit ha spin kick and Deville was left alone. Sonya ducked a punch from Naomi and Li kicked Deville. Naomi set up for a move off the ropes, but then Natalya and Baszler saved Deville, so the heels retreated. Naomi and Li did a bow of respect at eachother. Pat: “That was really cool.”
Analysis: It was a fine way to debut Xia Li as an ass-kicker that’s a babyface that was there to help Naomi deal with the heels. I don’t know why WWE is so against having Naomi and Sonya having an actual match, but here we go again with a non-wrestling segment between them.
Riddle and Randy Orton aka RK-Bro were shown backstage. They met up with the Jackass Forever crew led by Johnny Knoxville with Riddle saying he was a huge fan of them. Knoxville said he had a move to show them – he grabbed his buddy by the groin and took him down. Riddle asked for advice, Chris Pontius said, “stay lubricated” and Orton didn’t have anything to add, so he left. Riddle chatted more with the Jackass guys to end it.
Charlotte Flair, the Smackdown Women’s Champion, entered for singles action.
They showed musicians Migos appearing at WWE’s Day 1 PPV on January 1 in Atlanta, which is their hometown. I don’t know much about Migos. I doubt Vince McMahon does either.
Toni Storm entered for a singles match. They showed the pie throwing incidents by both women over the last two weeks.
Charlotte Flair vs. Toni Storm
This was a Championship Contender’s Match where Storm can get a title shot if she gets the win.
The bell rang leading to Flair hitting a punch to the face. Storm came back with a basement dropkick and a running hip attack against the turnbuckle. Storm ran the ropes with a cross body block for two as the fans chanted “Let’s go Toni” for Storm. Flair came back with a boot to the face. Flair went up for the moonsault, Storm moved out of the way and Charlotte hit a standing moonsault (that’s the “Andrade spot”) on Storm’s back for two. Storm got a rollup for two followed by a German Suplex for two. Flair to the apron where she drove Storm’s throat into the top rope. Flair sent Storm into the ring post. Flair stomped on Storm repeatedly, Storm to the floor, so Flair put Storm against the ring post and Flair stomped on Storm again, which led to a DQ finish. It went four minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Toni Storm
Analysis: ** It’s disappointing that it was such a short match. I get that they wanted to tell the story that Flair was frustrated that she couldn’t find a way to win, but it was only four minutes long when Storm won this match by DQ. I think if they did that kind of finish during a longer match with Storm getting a lot of nearfalls would be a lot better than this match was. Storm getting the win should lead to a title shot.
They went back into the ring with Flair hitting a running boot to the face. Flair posed with her Smackdown Women’s Title and her music played even though she lost the match.
Analysis: Charlotte was pretty happy for somebody that just lost a match. Why should we care about matches if the wrestlers don’t try to be angry when they lose? Weird booking.
The Usos made their entrance for the main event match.
The Raw Tag Team Champions Randy Orton & Riddle aka R-Bro entered to a good pop from the crowd. A WWE Twitter poll asked the fans who the best team in WWE was:
RK-Bro – 43%
The Usos – 34%
The New Day – 23%
Analysis: I think they spent about 15 minutes from the time The Usos made their entrance to when the bell rang to start the match. This is my way of saying WWE knows how to kill time when they want.
RK-Bro (Randy Orton & Riddle) vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) vs. The New Day (Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston)
The rules are that two guys are legal in the ring while the other four guys are on the apron. The first pinfall or submission gets the win.
Riddle exchanged some moves with Kofi, who connected with a dropkick. Woods with a sliding clothesline, Kofi with a splash and Woods with an elbow drop. Riddle fought back with punches, but then Riddle hit a forearm. Riddle with a running knee, Jay made a blind tag and decked Riddle with a punch. Usos cleared the ring so the four opponents were on the floor and both Usos hit a suicide dive onto the four guys on the floor. That led to a break.
Next Tuesday on NXT 2.0 it’s the in-ring debut of Harland.
The match continued with Woods hitting a forearm on Jey. Kofi tagged in with a cross body block off the top for two. Riddle tagged in against Jey with a gutwrench suplex for two. Jimmy made the tag, he held Riddle around the waist and Jey punched Riddle. Orton into the ring to try to help his partner, but The Usos used that to beat up Riddle some more. Riddle was whipped into the ring post. The Usos continued to isolate Riddle in their corner of the ring while taunting Orton. Jey grounded Riddle with a front headlock, Riddle nearly tagged out and Jey whipped Riddle into the turnbuckle. Jey taunted Orton, Riddle avoided a corner attack and Jey hit the turnbuckle. Riddle sent Jimmy over the top to the floor. Jey prevented a tag and then Jimmy pulled Orton off the apron. That drew boos. Jey hit a neckbreaker on Riddle with New Day making the save. The match went to a break.
The match continued with Riddle as the face in peril, Kofi managed to tag an Uso and stop Riddle from tagging out. Kofi with a double foot stomp to the chest of Riddle. The Fans were going crazy for Orton with “Randy” chants while Woods hit a suplex on Riddle for two. Riddle tried momentum by running the ropes, but Woods hit him with a back elbow. Riddle and Woods exchanged chops, Woods with a kick to the knee and Kofi tagged in. Riddle with multiple kicks on Kofi and Woods to break free. Orton was fired up after getting the hot tag against Jey. Orton with two clotheslines, then a powerslam on Jey and a powerslam on Jimmy. Orton sent Jey into the announce table. Woods went to attack Orton, who moved and Orton with a belly to back suplex on Woods on the commentary table. Orton caught Woods and gave him a belly to back suplex on Kofi. Orton sent Jey to the apron leading to Orton hitting a draping DDT. Jey managed to break free and hit a superkick. Jey jumped off the top, Woods tagged himself in and Orton hit an RKO on Jimmy. Jey with a superkick on Orton to send him out of the ring. Woods with a superkick to Jey, Woods with a backbreaker on Jey and then Kofi went up to with a double foot stomp into a backbreaker for the pinfall win after 19 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The New Day
Analysis: ***1/2 This was a great tag team match. Unlike everything else on Smackdown, they got a lot of time and made the most of it with Riddle as the face in peril leading to Orton getting the hot tag. The fans really came alive when Orton tagged in, so I thought they would get the win. Instead, the team that went into the match without titles ended up as the winners with New Day pulling off the win. The work was good, they got a lot of time and the finish was a good call since it was clean. Having New Day beat The Usos like that lead can lead to WWE saying they “gained momentum,” which is what WWE loves to say during the build to a PPV match.
Post match, The New Day celebrated in the ring. The other teams were out of the ring.
It was announced that Universal Champion Roman Reigns will be back on Smackdown next week in Chicago. Cole mentioned Brock Lesnar, so he’s likely there too. They ended the show with a graphic about Reigns returning next week.
Analysis: Roman Reigns was certainly missed this week. Good to know he’ll be back next week.
Three Stars of the Show
1. The New Day
2. Randy Orton & Riddle
3. (tie) The Usos
3. (tie) Drew McIntyre/Sheamus
Brock Lesnar’s flip phone deserves recognition too!
6.25 out of 10
Last week: 6.5
2021 Average: 6.95
It felt like an average show to me. The main event tag team match was very good and certainly helped the show a lot because match quality before that was below average. With that said, it wasn’t like it was a big match with a big storyline. It was just a match that didn’t mean anything in the run. The other match that was above average and got time was Drew McIntyre beating Sheamus in their typical good match.
Some of the other finishes sucked and the one women’s match didn’t even start. The angle was okay, but that Naomi/Sonya story is dragging on too long without a resolution.
Roman Reigns was missed. No doubt about it. I did enjoy some of the Brock Lesnar with Sami Zayn and later with Adam Pearce. Lesnar is showing off his personality a lot more, so that’s going to help him get more popular when he’s on camera. Then again, I don’t know many moose hunters from Saskatchewan, so it could be what they do there.
The next WWE PPV is Day 1 on January 1, 2022 from Atlanta. Here’s what we know so far:
WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Brock Lesnar
WWE Championship: Big E (c) vs. Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Usos (c) vs. The New Day
Edge vs. The Miz
Thanks for reading. Please check out my reviews of every WWE PPV ever listed in order. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. My contact info is below.