It's hard to turn away from the pure pleasure of watching Donald Trump's world collapsing around him. There's no possible way pro wrestling can top that. But alas, duty calls, and Smackdown must be recapped.
WWE Smackdown Recap for Friday, January 8th, 2021
Promo: Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns, Jey Uso, and Paul Heyman head to the ring…very… slowly… to kick off Smackdown. Eventually, they get there and Roman cuts a promo about how he respects Kevin Owens and never meant for him to get hurt because, as the locker room leader, he cares about all the wrestlers at Smackdown. Well, somebody has to. Roman says it isn't his fault Owens got hurt and Adam Pearce is to blame.
Roman demands Pearce come to the ring. He does. Roman tells Pearce he wants him to get eyes on Roman's package. Pearce gets down on his knees, but Roman says he's talking about a video package. It's a recap of last week. Pearce looks relieved… and maybe a little disappointed.
Roman wants Pearce to take responsibility for Kevin Owens being on the injured list and unable to support his family. He's also upset Pearce made a gauntlet match to decide Roman's next opponent, which Roman feels should be his own job. He basically says Pearce is bad at his job, which is technically true of everyone in WWE management. Roman bullies Pearce for a while and then leaves. What a productive segment.
Big E vs. Apollo Crews – Intercontinental Championship Match
After a commercial break, Apollo Crews challenges Big E for the Intercontinental Championship. The gimmick for this match to go to commercial break is that both men pin each other. After the break, the ref says it's a draw because both of their shoulders were on the mat. Crews knows he won't get another shot at winning a belt this decade, so he slaps Big E and demands the match continue. It does. Big E wins.
Winner: Big E
Should have taken the draw, Apollo.
Backstage, Adam Pearce complains about his job on the phone when Sonja Deville shows up. It looks like she's here in some kind of middle management role like Pearce. She says she wants to put the past behind her, but seems to still be hanging onto some resentment at Mandy Rose. Deville suggests Cole put himself in the gauntlet match tonight.
Alyse Ashton interviews Bianca Belair, who enters the Royal Rumble. Bayley shows up to talk some trash and also enter the Rumble.
Carmella cuts a promo passive-aggressively complaining about Sasha Banks. Carmella would make a good wrestling blogger.
Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode vs. The Street Profits – Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match
Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode challenge The Street Profits for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships and ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZz Wha?! Huh?! Oh, sorry, I have a medical condition where I immediately fall asleep whenever Dolph Ziggler is in the ring. Well, it looks like I'll have a lot more opportunities for impromptu naps because Ziggler gets the pins to win the belts.
Winners: Ziggler and Roode
Paul Heyman interrupts Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville. He says he's uniquely positioned to understand Pearce's history and says he pulled some strings and got Pearce added to the gauntlet match. It was a good promo by Heyman.
Billie Kay pitches joining the Riott Squad to Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan. They turn her down, so she starts crying. When Liv consoles her with "it's not that we don't want to," Billie says she knew they'd come around and accepts the offer to join. She says she's been practicing being punk by listening to Blink 182, making Ruby scowl. I love everything about this segment.
Rey Mysterio vs. Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Adam Pearce
Rey Mysterio heads to the ring. Sami Zayn follows, but stops on the stage to cut a promo about the conspiracy against him. He has a camera crew that's filming a documentary about the conspiracy. He refuses to accept his loss to Big E for the Intercontinental Championship in a rigged match. He says he's the rightful Intercontinental Champion and rallies the digital audience in the WWE Thunderdome to storm the Capitol of Florida, which is a Walmart.
Rey attacks him and pins him in 20 seconds. Shinsuke Nakamura comes out and they have a respectable match until Nakamura pins Rey. The Ratings King of Friday Nights comes out next and gives Nakamura an opportunity to wrestle as a babyface, overcome Corbin, and hit the Kinshasha. Daniel Bryan is out next, and he and Nakamura have a match far better than this episode of Smackdown deserves and, amazingly, Nakamura gets Bryan with the Kinshasha too.
Roman Reigns comes out with his entourage and stands on the top of the stage through an entire commercial break. Then Adam Pearce comes out and walks down to the ring reluctantly. Reigns and Uso jump Nakamura and beat the shit out of him as Pearce watches. Superkick. Superman Punch. Frogsplash. Reigns puts his arm around Pearce and explains that he does what he wants to do and Smackdown is his show. He tosses Pearce in the ring. Uso superkicks him. Roman tells the timekeeper to ring the bell. Then Uso puts Pearce on top of Nakamura and Reigns makes the ref count.
Winner: Adam Pearce
So Pearce will fight Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble. That's actually smart booking, as the Rumble matches are the draw of the Royal Rumble so it's the perfect time to give loser indie wrestling fans from 20 years ago this dream match.
Smackdown was a mixed bag tonight. It's consistently the best WWE show of the week, though that isn't saying much. The gauntlet match had a lot of good wrestling and the opening promo and Roman Reigns stuff was entertaining as always. The other stuff was pointless filler.