Friday, 1 January 2021

WWE SmackDown Highlights 1 January 2020

 

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WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction, Highlights from January 1

Sana Ejaz Khan

    Credit: WWE.com

    Happy new year, and welcome to coverage of the first WWE SmackDown of 2021.

    WWE was looking to start the year on the right foot after a difficult 2020 as it prepares for the annual Royal Rumble pay-per-view on January 31. 

    Roman Reigns has picked up a couple of wins over Kevin Owens in both a TLC and a cage match. This week, The Tribal Chief made a request to management in relation to KO.

    We also saw Big E battle Baron Corbin in a non-title bout just one week after he defeated Sami Zayn to win the Intercontinental Championship.

    Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair teamed up to face Bayley and Carmella after both teams lost to Asuka and Charlotte last week. 

    Let's take a look at everything that happened on this week's SmackDown. 

Opening Segment

1 OF 6

    After WWE paid tribute to Jon Huber with a graphic and recapped last week's Steel Cage match, Reigns made his way to the ring with Paul Heyman and Jey Uso. 

    The universal champion talked about how his gold glove is a reference to how everything he touches turns to greatness. He says Heyman was discarded and he saved him. He said Uso has had the best year of his career because of what he learned from The Tribal Chief. 

    Owens came out and Reigns yelled at him that he had his chance and failed. KO said despite everything Reigns has tried to do to him, he is still standing. He told Reigns he should be embarrassed because he had to use Uso to win. 

    Owens said he is going to request a match with Jey to give him some payback before leaving. 

                                  

    Grade: B+

                                  

    Analysis

    Reigns has been at the top of his game for a long time and this promo was another example of how far he has come since turning heel.

    As always, KO gave a strong showing on the mic, too. These guys work well with each other because their images are so different. Reigns is the poster boy while KO is the working man's hero. It's a great combination.

    This was a decent way to kick off the first show but an actual match might have been a better choice. 

Big E vs. Baron Corbin Turns into a Tag Team Match

2 OF 6

    Big E's first match after winning the IC title was also the first match of 2020. King Corbin served as his opponent while Sami Zayn worked with the commentary team.

    The two powerhouses locked up and traded some takedowns to get things going. After a couple of minutes, Corbin took control and grounded his opponent.

    Wesley Blake and Brandon Cutler watched as their boss dominated the action. The King countered Big E's apron spear but he ended up running right into The Big Ending. 

    Zayn, Cutler and Blake attacked E to cause a disqualification. The big man fought hard but Apollo Crews ended up making the save and taking out everybody. After the break, this turned into Crews and E vs. Zayn and Corbin.

    The hot tag led to Big E throwing Corbin around the ring with a trio of belly to belly suplexes followed by a running splash. After a close call with a Helluva Kick, Corbin and his knights abandoned Zayn. Crews hit him with a powerbomb for the win. 

                                

    Grade: B

                                       

    Analysis

    This was a fun pair of matches even if it would have been more satisfying to get one long bout over the two segments. However, anything that gets Crews on TV is acceptable.

    Zayn is one of the absolute best heels in WWE right now. Every little thing he does is perfect for his character and he elevates everyone around him.

    It was a little surprising to see Crews get the pin instead of Big E but if it leads to some kind of push, it makes sense. 

The Riott Squad vs. Tamina and Natalya

3 OF 6

    Billie Kay accompanied Natalya and Tamina to the ring for their match against Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott. Kay tried to yell encouraging words but Tamina told her to keep quiet.

    After the opening salvo from Nattie and Morgan, Tamina took control of Riott and put her in the corner. The green-haired grappler rolled out and tagged her partner for a flurry of strikes.

    The Riott Squad worked together to take Tamina down with a double Russian leg sweep. For some reason, Kay decided to switch sides and root for Riott and Morgan.

    Thanks to a distraction from Kay, Morgan was able to pin Tamina. Kay celebrated like she did something special but The Riott Squad acted like they wanted nothing to do with her. 

                               

    Grade: C+

                                 

    Analysis

    This was a fast-paced match that could have been a lot better had they been given five more minutes. Morgan looked especially good with some of her strikes to Tamina.

    The weird stuff with Kay was funny but made no sense. Does she want to beat The Riott Squad or join it? We don't know yet. Should we care? 

    Riott and Morgan continuing to rack up wins needs to lead to a shot at the tag titles soon. They have the momentum. They just need the final push. 

Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair vs. Bayley and Carmella

4 OF 6

    Belair and Carmella kicked off the action. The EST forced Mella to the mat and began working over her arm. Bayley got the tag and ran into a dropkick from Belair. 

    Banks and Belair worked together at ringside to take out both opponents with some double-team offense. We returned from a break to see Bayley and Mella controlling the pace.

    The Boss desperately reached for a tag as The EST struggled to break free from Bayley's grasp. She hit a beautiful vertical suplex but Carmella tagged in and prevented her from making the tag.

    Banks finally came in and went wild on Carmella. Corey Graves made a Mandalorian joke as he watched the real love of his life take a beating from the SmackDown women's champion. 

    Belair took out Bayley at ringside while The Boss was able to lock in the Bank Statement on Mella. Reginald pulled her out of the ring and Banks made him pay. This allowed Mella to hit her finisher to get the pin. 

                            

    Grade: B+

                           

    Analysis

    This was a really good match that everybody should take the time to watch. All four women performed like they were working a big PPV.

    Mella getting the pin will set her up for a rematch with Banks for the title down the line, but the real shining star in this bout was Belair.

    The EST always looks so crisp with every movement. She hits a textbook suplex that makes it obvious how many people do not know how to do it properly by comparison. 

    Bayley and Banks are two of the best in WWE and put those skills on display. One of the best things about The Role Model is her ability to bring others up to her level and we saw that in this bout. 

Daniel Bryan and Otis vs. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura

5 OF 6

    Daniel Bryan and Otis teamed up to take on Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura. Cesaro took control early and brought Bryan to the corner to Nakamura could tag in.

    We returned from the break to see Cesaro and Nakamura still dominating The Yes Man. The Swiss Superman got a two-count with a slingshot elbow. 

    Bryan was able to reach Otis and The Dozer started running over Cesaro. Chad Gable encouraged him as he threw Cesaro around and hit the Caterpillar. 

    Bryan came back in with a sunset flip from the top rope for a two-count. Nakamura hit a kick to the face before almost getting him in an armbar. Otis broke it up but got taken out in the process. Bryan put Nakamura in the Yes Lock for the win. 

                                

    Grade: B+

                           

    Analysis

    Again, WWE delivered a solid tag team match. This was the fourth in a row on this show but each one felt different in their own way.

    The team of Otis and Gable could either be great or a joke. It depends on how WWE books them moving forward. The pre-match video showing Otis and Bryan working on hip technique was not a great sign.

    Cesaro and Nakamura remain two of the best and most underutilized stars on the roster. Let's hope they have more success in 2021. 

Kevin Owens vs. Jey Uso

6 OF 6

    As soon as the bell rang, Owens tackled Uso and began unloading on him with rights and lefts. He stomped Uce into the mat and slammed his head against the top turnbuckle. 

    No matter what Uso tried to do, Owens maintained the upper hand. He told Uso none of this was his fault and he should blame Reigns as he continued to beat him down. 

    We came back from a commercial to see Uso prevent Owens from hitting a superplex. KO avoided the splash and hit a Stunner for the win. This happened about 30 seconds after we returned.

    Owens did not stop there. He continued to beat up Uce as he tried to draw Reigns out. He cuffed Uso to the top rope and kept punishing him while The Tribal Chief remained backstage. 

    He put Uso on some crates near the stage and climbed part of the set. He was about to leap onto him when Reigns appeared out of nowhere to attack him. Uso recovered and helped his cousin beat KO down with chairs.

    The beatdown lasted several minutes and ended with Owen being tossed through a table from about 10 feet up. The show came to a close with Reigns standing tall over his fallen foe. 

                                 

    Grade: B

                                  

    Analysis

    The match with Uso and the beatdown that followed made Owens look like a badass but it wasn't much of an actual wrestling contest. It was still highly enjoyable.

    Uso is so good at selling and Owens is incredible at the verbal aspect of the game. Together, they kept everybody's eyes on them until Reigns showed up to bat cleanup.

    The table spot at the end looked great. This feud has been awesome and it's not surprising WWE wants them to keep it going. They will likely have a rematch at The Royal Rumble. 

    Overall, this was a good show. WWE booked some solid matches and advanced some storylines. Deville's first promo after her return is going to be interesting. 

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