Welcome to The Shovel. I'm Jude Terror, feeling refreshed after El Presidente and The Chadster took over recapping the shows on Wednesday. Phew, what a relief! Now I'll be in top form to make fun of Smackdown, so let's get right to it!
WWE Smackdown Recap – January 15th, 2020
Smackdown begins with a video recap of the saga of Adam Pearce, a man who'd successfully retired from in-ring competition but was forced to return to the ring because Pornhub shut down their user uploads. Now he's set to face Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble.
Backstage in Roman's dance dressing room, Roman and Paul Heyman examine the Royal Rumble contract that was just delivered to Roman. Heyman thinks the match is lacking a good stipulation. He's gonna handle it.
Jey Uso vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Jey Uso heads to the ring. He cuts a little promo. It looks like Roman may have rewarded Jey Uso for his loyalty with a new pair of chompers just like his own, so I can't pay attention to anything he's saying. I think maybe he enters himself into the Royal Rumble? He goes on to talk a bunch of trash to Shinsuke Nakamura until Nakamura comes out to shut him up. He has his original babyface theme music back. Cool!
Nakamura says that if Roman is the big dog, Uso is his little puppy. Oh shit! He basically said Uso is Scrappy Doo! Those are fighting words, so they have a match. Cesaro comes to the ring mid-match to support his friend (and to telegraph turning on him from a mile away). Don't trust him, Shinsuke! He's a Paul Heyman guy! Well, CEsaro doesn't interfere… this time… and Nakamura pins Uso after the ref catches Uso trying to cheat by putting his feet on the ropes to pin Nakamura.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Also, Cesaro has entered the Royal Rumble.
Paul Heyman talks to Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville about the Royal Rumble contract. He makes a pitch for the match to be a no DQ match, but I can only pay attention to Sonya's facial expressions after Heyman stops mid-promo to compliment her perfume. Pearce signs the contract.
Jey Uso throws a tantrum backstage to referee Charles Robinson about counting the pin on him in the previous match. He says he can get Robinson fired. Oh damn, are we gonna get a crooked ref angle? It's been a while since we had one of those.
Kayla Braxton interviews the Street Profits. They want the smoke, and also a rematch for the Smackdown tag team championships.
Apollo Crews getting some mentoring from Roman Reigns when Heyman arrives with the NO DQ contract, signed by Adam Pearce. Roman says he won't stand it. He wants a Last Man Standing match. He tells Heyman to make it happen, and Pearce has to sign the contract in the ring tonight.
Natalya vs. Liv Morgan
Billie Kay, who is really doing her best but failing to look punk rock, comes out with the Riott Squad and gets on commentary. Liv and Natalya wrestle. Morgan manages to drag a decent match out of Natalya until Billie gets in a scuffle with TAmina and runs through the ring, distracting Liv so Natalya can roll her up.
A credit to the patience of Liv and Ruby, they don't immediately tell Billie to get lost, which is good because I like this pairing.
Rey Mysterio vs. Baron Corbin
Rey Mysterio comes out with his kid, who gets on commentary. Then "The Ratings King of Friday Nights." They have a match. Nothing remarkable here except one really whiffed dropkick to the knees of Corbin that gets compounded by a really bad camera angle. Most of the drama in this match comes from Corbin trying to screw with Dominik until he finally gets riled enough to try to get in the ring, distracting Mysterio and letting Corbin hit the End of Days for the pin.
Winner: King Corbin
Paul Heyman returns to Adam Pearce to sell the Last Man Standing match. Pearce is really torn up here. On the one hand, he's definitely going to die in that match. On the other hand, didn't you read that New York Times article about online porn stars struggling to make a living? We'll find out what he decides in the ring later.
Rey Mysterio tries to calm down Dominik, who wants to fight Baron Corbin. Bless Rey's soul, he puts over Corbin as a serious threat. He says he knows who they can talk to if Dominik wants to take down Corbin. This feels like the plot to a WWE video game.
Ding Dong, Hello! with Bianca Belair
Bayley, wearing a blazer and sunglasses, hosts a talk show called Ding Dong, Hello! The set is a stool, an armchair, and a door in the ring. When Bianca Belair comes out, Bayley makes her stand behind the door and ring the doorbell. Then she says "I wonder who that can be?" and opens the door. It's so stupid, it works.
Belair steals Bayley's chair so Bayley stands for the interview. She claims she has a sneak preview from the upcoming Belair documentary but it's just footage of Bayley pinning her. Bayley continues to insult Belair under the guise of interviewing her. She challenges Belair to an Ultimate Athlete Obstacle Course Challenge next week. Belair accepts.
Daniel Bryan vs. Cesaro
In an "earlier tonight" video, Shorty G trains Otis and Daniel Bryan. Kayla Braxton wants an interview. She wants to know why he got that stupid haircut, but Bryan just talks about the Royal Rumble. He says he has mutual respect for Shinsuke Nakamura even though Nakamura beat him last week. Cesaro shows up and talks trash.
Bryan comes to the ring, followed by Cesaro. They have a match. An epic bout in which Cesaro comes out victorious in a match that would definitely be a turning point in his career if Cesaro ever had any hope of becoming a world champion in WWE.
Kayla interviews Carmella. Carmella talks trash about Sasha Banks. Sasha Banks runs up and shoves her. Carmella is surprised even though the interview is filmed in that ring they have backstage so Sasha had to have been standing inside the ring behind the camera the entire interview. Reginald breaks up the fight.
Apollo Crews vs. Sami Zayn
Before the main event, we see Paul Heyman coaching Apollo Crews on Talking Smack last week. It seems Crews is being groomed to join Reigns' stable, but first, he has to win a title. He beats Sami Zayn in a match and then gets in the face of Big E, who is wearing a Ghostbusters sweater.
Winner: Apollo Crews
A hell push might be just what Apollo Crews needs, but the problem is, Big E can't lose the title so soon because his own push is just getting started. What to do?
Contract Signing: Roman Reigns and Adam Pearce
Roman Reigns heads to the ring with his posse. Adam Pearce comes out. Reigns signs the contract. Pearce says, "I've waited all night for you to do that." He leaves the ring with the contract. As he's walking up the ramp, he starts to limp. He complains that his knee is acting up. He says that the contract specifies that in the event of an injury a suitable replacement can be found. Pearce says he has a suitable replacement. Kevin Owens comes out and signs the contract. So it will be Reigns vs. Owens again at the Rumble in a Last Man Standing match.
So Adam Pearce gets the last laugh? Well, there's still another two episodes of Smackdown before the Royal Rumble, so there's plenty of time for Roman Reigns to get his revenge. Tonight's episode of Smackdown was fun. It's the best show WWE puts out each week. Not a high bar, but it's something.