There was not a new episode of Smackdown on New Year’s Eve. Instead, WWE decided to air a special show covering the top ten moments in WWE in 2021.
The show was hosted by the Smackdown announce team of Michael Cole and Pat McAfee in an empty arena while they were surrounded by champagne bottles that you might see at a New Year’s Eve party. Becky Lynch joined the hosts for the show. She stuck around for the whole countdown. Becky no-selling a high five from Cole is great.
— WWE (@WWE) January 1, 2022
The format was simple with WWE airing several minutes of the moment that they were focusing on. Here are the ten moments that were featured.
10. Randy Orton & Riddle winning the Raw Tag Team Titles from AJ Styles & Omos at SummerSlam.
9. Kevin Owens hit a Stunner on Logan Paul at WrestleMania 37. It came after Owens beat Sami Zayn in a singles match at WrestleMania.
— WWE (@WWE) January 1, 2022
8. Bobby Lashley beating Goldberg to retain the WWE Title at SummerSlam.
Analysis: If you are going to pick a Lashley moment then pick when he beat The Miz for the WWE Title on Raw earlier in the year. Beating Goldberg wasn’t that big of a deal.
They showed when Nikki A.S.H. beat Charlotte Flair for the Raw Women’s Title after a Money in the Bank cash in. It was not one of the top ten moments.
7. Charlotte beat Nikki A.S.H. and Rhea Ripley at SummerSlam to win her 12th Women’s Title. Charlotte made Nikki tap out while in the Figure Eight submission.
They showed a video about Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura long with guitar-playing buddy Rick Boogs along with the dancing skills of McAfee. It certainly got better when the crowds were back.
A video aired about the year of Baron Corbin going from a king to a guy that lost his crown. After that, he lost his money and then he won his money back (after Money in the Bank in Las Vegas) to become Happy Corbin. This storyline wasn’t that interesting.
They showed a video about new stars like Omos, Reggie, Xia Li and others.
6. Bad Bunny & Damian Priest defeated The Miz & John Morrison at WrestleMania 37.
Analysis: I was impressed by Bad Bunny at WrestleMania. He did some cool moves during the match and looked he absolutely belonged in the ring.
They showed the video of Seth Rollins “invading” Edge’s house during their great feud in the second half of the year.
"Yeah, he'd get his ass beat." – @PatMcAfeeShow
— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) January 1, 2022
5. Edge defeated Seth Rollins in a Hell in a Cell match at Crown Jewel in October.
Analysis: Incredible match that I rated five stars out of five. One of the best matches of the year for sure.
They showed a Progressive Match Flo replay of Bianca Belair winning the Royal Rumble in January.
4. Bianca Belair defeated Sasha Banks in the main event of WrestleMania 37 on Night One. Belair won the Smackdown Women’s Title from Banks.
Analysis: It was a very good match while also making history with two black women in a WrestleMania main event match.
Pat McAfee called for his favorite Michael Cole moment of 2021 – it was John Cena’s return at Money in the Bank in July. Cole was very excited as was McAfee and all the fans watching as well. It wasn’t actually one of the top ten minutes.
Analysis: I find it strange that they wouldn’t include that as one of the top ten moments. Cena’s return was the biggest of the year in my opinion (I acknowledged it a few times in my 2021 WWE Johnny Awards column) and the pop he received was as loud as anything this year. I guess they just didn’t want to include Cena’s return for some reason.
When Becky Lynch found out she was only number three on the list, she wasn’t happy about it. Becky thought she should be number one.
3. Becky Lynch returned at SummerSlam and defeated Bianca Belair in 27 seconds to become the Smackdown Women’s Champion.
— WWE (@WWE) January 1, 2022
Becky Lynch was not happy with Michael Cole for ranking her moment third. Cole said he thought that Becky should have had all of the top ten moments.
There was a video package about Drew McIntyre as a top star on the Smackdown brand.
2. Big E cashes in Money in the Bank on Bobby Lashley on the September 13, 2021 edition of Raw and Big E beat Lashley to become the WWE Champion.
Analysis: That was an awesome moment. One of my favorite Money in the Bank cash-ins ever. Big E deserved it as much as anybody that has ever held MITB in the past. This was the best moment on Raw for sure.
1. Brock Lesnar returned at SummerSlam to confront Universal Champion Roman Reigns at the end of the show. Paul Heyman was stunned. Lesnar and Reigns had a staredown while the fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. Reigns backed away with Heyman while Lesnar was cheered. It was Lesnar’s WWE return after about a year and a half away.
Analysis: From my recent review of the Top 10 Surprising WWE Returns column last week: “It’s a good choice for the number one spot because Brock Lesnar is one of the biggest WWE superstars ever, so when he came back sporting a new look at SummerSlam in August, it was a big deal. The crowd greeted him with cheers while the Universal Champion Roman Reigns was surprised and Paul Heyman (Lesnar’s former advocate) was even more stunned. I loved the reaction of Smackdown announcers Michael Cole and Pat McAfee as well. That added to the moment. They did a great job of making it feel like a big deal.”
A video package aired about WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns defending the title against Brock Lesnar at Day 1 on New Year’s Day. It’s the same nearly five-minute video that aired on Raw this past Monday.
There was a rundown of some of the big matches at WWE Day 1 on New Year’s Day. Check out the TJRWrestling WWE Day 1 PPV preview right here.
The show ended with Pat and Becky going to celebrate the New Year without Michael Cole because he’s a nerd. That was the end of the show.
I thought they hit on most of the good moments. They clearly went for things that happened in front of the crowd because SummerSlam made up five of the moments. Half of the list from one show? That seems like too much. WrestleMania had two spots on here too. I wouldn’t have included the Lashley win over Goldberg (Lashley winning the WWE Title), Charlotte’s win or RK-Bro’s win, but it’s not up to me.
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