2020 totally sucked, but it's a brand new year now and WWE Smackdown has the opportunity to set the tone for how 2021 is gonna go. Oh… crap!
WWE Smackdown Recap for Friday, January 1st, 2021
After an "In Memory of Jon Huber" graphic, the first WWE Smackdown of 2021 begins. Then we get a recap of last week's steel cage match and Roman Reigns heads to the ring with Paul Heyman and Jey Uso. Eventually, he gets there.
Promo: Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns wishes us a happy new year as the face of the WWE. He says 2020 was tough, but when you're the tribal chief like him, you make it work. He says everything he touches turns to greatness. He takes credit for saving Paul Heyman's career and calls him the most honest man he's ever worked with. He also says this has been the best year of Jey Uso's career, also thanks to Roman. To impress upon viewers just how heelish he's being, WWE pumps up the piped-in boos to overpower Roman.
Reigns shares more touching praise for his cousin when Kevin Owens interrupts. Reigns says nobody cares about Owens and tells him to move on. He says he gave Owens a big payday and now he's done. Owens says that Roman and his family failed to destroy him and now he's still here. He says him standing there now is proof "the big dog is gone and he's been replaced by a giant bitch." Owens wants a match with Jey Uso tonight and he's gonna go backstage where Vince McMahon is currently already rewriting the entire show and tell him to book it.
Big E vs. Baron Corbin
The Progressive Match Flo shows Big E winning the Intercontinental Championship on Smackdown last week. The Champ heads to the ring as Smackdown takes a commercial break. The Ratings King of Friday Nights, Baron Corbin, comes to the ring with his lackeys, the Lone Rangers. Sami Zayn joins commentary. Big E and Baron Corbin have a match… for a little while. Sami Zayn interrupts and attacks Big E. The Lone Rangers join in the beatdown. Apollo Crews runs out to make the save.
Winner: Big E by DQ? They don't say.
Oh, the reason there's no victor declared is because this is one of those transitions where they cut to commercials and come back with a tag team match.
Big E and Apollo Crews vs. Baron Corbin and Sami Zayn
Have I ever mentioned how much I hate that? If it happened once in a while, it would be one thing, but when it happens multiple times a night every show, it's too obvious a pattern. Anyway, they have a match. Sami is too much of a dick to get along with even Corbin though and Corbin ends up taking the Lone Rangers and leaving. Crews pins Sami with a powerbomb.
Winners: Big E and Apollo Crews
Backstage Kevin Owens argues with Adam Pearce. Pearce says he can't give Owens a match with Jey Uso. He can give him a match with anyone else. Owens says Roman Reigns. Pearce can't do that either. Owens reminds him that the fans are the authority. Pearce agrees to give Owens a match with Jey Uso. Smackdown takes a commercial break.
Big E and Apollo Crews talk about their victory backstage. Kayla Braxton runs up for an interview. She asks Big E what his plans are for 2021. He says he'll be a fighting champion and will issue an open challenge next week. Crews interrupts and accepts the challenge.
The Riott Squad vs Tamina and Natalya
Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott are in the ring. Billie Kay comes out and then she brings out the team of Tamina and Natalya, who she is apparently managing? They have a match. In the middle of the match, Billie Kay starts managing the Riott Squad instead. After Tamina totally whiffs a superkick sending Ruby Riott tumbling out of the ring, Kay coaches Morgan into rolling up Tamina for the win.
Winners: Riott Squad
Billie Kay moshes her way backstage with the Riott Squad. You know what? I wouldn't hate this pairing.
Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair vs. Carmella and Bayley
Sasha Banks heads to the ring before Smackdown takes a commercial break. Then Bianca Belair comes out. Then Carmella (with Reginald). And then Bayley. They have a match. Reginald interferes a little. Carmella pins Sasha after an X-Factor.
Winners: Carmella and Bayley
Roman Reigns is very unhappy that WWE gave Kevin Owens a match against Jey Uso. He feels very unappreciated. He orders Paul Heyman to figure out who made the match. Smackdown takes a commercial break.
Promo: The Street Profits
After the break, Sonya Deville is seen walking backstage. Then the Street Profits are in the ring for a New Years Day "Smoke-Tacular." Sorry guys, but Snoop Dogg already beat you with that on his live stream last night. And also, let me just say right here — watching Snoop Dogg smoke blunts and dance around his living room in a totally half-assed production that ended up crossing over with CNN at one point was the best possible way to ring out 2020.
Anyway, the Street Profits. They say they're gonna do great things in 2021. Then Angelo Dawkins pulls a tarp off of a drumset and he sits down to play a little bit. Montez Ford then shares some 2021 predictions, which is an excuse to take some shots at Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, and… well, he was gonna start on Robert Roode but Roode and Ziggler attack and beat the crap out of the Street Profits. After some commercials, Kayla Braxton asks Ziggler and Roode why they attacked the Street Profits. Ziggler says the Profits have been provoking them for months and they deserved it. Roode says they want the tag titles.
Daniel Bryan and Otis vs. Cesaro and Nakamura
Daniel Bryan comes to the ring with Otis and Shorty G. Cesaro and Nakamura follow. Apparently, this stems from a skit filmed earlier today where Daniel Bryan was training at the remedial wrestling school run by Shorty G where Vince McMahon sent Otis to learn to wrestle. Cesaro and Nakamura happen upon a training session and mock them. Bryan explains he's using Otis's child-bearing hips to train for throwing people out of the ring in the Royal Rumble. And so we have this match. And it's definitely a match. Bryan makes Nakamura tap out after Cesaro and Nakamura control most of the match.
Winners: Daniel Bryan and Otis
Backstage, Paul Heyman tells Roman Reigns that Adam Pearce is the one who made the match. Roman is like, "oh, that makes sense since he's the only guy who's made matches on camera for the past few months."
Kevin Owens vs. Jey Uso
Kevin Owens comes to the ring. Smackdown takes a commercial break. Then Jey Uso comes out. They have a match. Owens actually wins with a stunner
Winner: Kevin Owens
Owens hits another stunner on Uso and waits for Roman to come out, so Owens grabs some handcuffs and cuffs Uso to the top rope. He beats up Uso some more but no Roman. So Owens unchains Uso from the rope brings Uso into the crowd area of the Thunderdome where there are conveniently two tables set up. Owens puts Uso on the tables and climbs up onto one of the LED stages, but before he can jump off, Roman comes out of nowhere and attacks. He and Uso double-team Owens and beat him with chairs. They beat him down for quite a while, smashing his face into the LED boards. Finally, Reigns tosses him off the stage and through those tables from before. Smackdown goes off the air with Roman looking pretty satisfied with himself.
Thoughts on WWE Smackdown This Week
Smackdown is better than Raw, and it has actual interesting storylines, but it still suffers from some of the same staleness as all WWE programming does. I'm not sure what the point of this extended feud with Kevins is. Is Owens going to win in the end? That seems unlikely, so shouldn't this feud be over? The Smackdown men's tag team division is abysmal, but the women's title picture has a lot of potential. So it's a mixed bag, which is a disappointing start to 2021 when the last episode of 2020 was so good.