Date: January 1, 2021
Location: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
We have finally made it to the new year and that means it is time to start getting ready for the Royal Rumble. Last week saw a pair of huge matches as Kevin Owens got cheated out of his shot at the Universal Title and Big E. won the Intercontinental Title. That sounds like a good place to start for the new year so let’s get to it.
In Memory Of Jon Huber/Luke Harper.
We open with a long recap of Roman Reigns needing Jey Uso’s help to retain the Universal Title over Kevin Owens.
Here are Roman Reigns, Jey Uso and Paul Heyman to open things up. Reigns says Happy New Year and talks about how rough 2020 was. However, when you’re the Head of the Table and the Tribal Chief, you can make it work. Look at everything he accomplished in 2020. Heyman is the most honest man he has ever done business with and Jey has had the best year of his career by just listening to Reigns. Reigns praises Jey for being Main Event Uso all along and knocking it out of the park, which is why Reigns loves him.
Cue Kevin Owens but Reigns says turn the music off. Reigns rants about how Owens won’t go away no matter what and he’s sick of Owens as a result. Owens says that since he’s still standing here, Reigns and his family have failed. That failure makes it clear that the Big Dog has been replaced by a giant b****. As for tonight, Owens is here to fight Jey and after that beating, Reigns’ family will have nothing to celebrate.
We look at Big E. winning the Intercontinental Title last week.
Big E. vs. King Corbin
Non-title with Sami Zayn, who is already ranting about a conspiracy, on commentary. They run the ropes to start with Big E. elbowing him down for an early two. Corbin gets in a shot to the face of his own and then hits Big E. in the throat. Big E. gets sent into the post (Sami: “You love to see that.”) so Corbin tries the slide under the post clothesline, only to walk into the Big Ending. That’s enough to draw Sami in for the DQ at 2:52.
Post match the Knights Of The Lone Wolf come in for the beatdown on Big E., drawing in Apollo Crews for the save.
Apollo Crews/Big E. vs. Sami Zayn/King Corbin
Joined in progress because it was sanctioned during the break and we don’t need to waste time seeing that happen. Sami elbows Crews in the corner and hands it off to Corbin for a running clothesline. Crews gets sent outside for a cheap shot from the Knights, followed by being thrown back outside for no cheap shot this time. Back in and Crews snaps off a powerslam, allowing the hot tag to Big E.
The suplexes abound, setting up the Warrior Splash (Graves: “Like getting run over by a Big Rig.”) for two. Corbin grabs Deep Six as Sami argues with the Knights on the floor. Crews comes back in to go after Corbin in a Backlash 2016 Kickoff sequel. Corbin doesn’t like that and argues with Sami before walking out. That’s enough for Crews to grab the Toss Powerbomb to finish Sami at 6:13.
Rating: C-. Not much of a match but it made Crews look good in the process. I’m not sure what that means going forward but if it means Crews vs. Big E. instead of Corbin vs. Big E., I certainly approve. Big E. wasn’t really a factor here, though he had his big moment last week already. Now build him up a challenger in a hurry.
Kevin Owens talks to Adam Pearce about the match with Jey Uso, but Pearce says he can’t do that because it’s just asking for trouble. Owens can have anyone else on the roster instead. Owens: “Fine. I’ll take Roman Reigns.” That’s enough to get Pearce to agree to the match with Uso.
Big E. talks about how things have been good for him since he won, with fans celebrating him from Rome to Rochester (Brodie Lee’s hometown). He has had little Amanda’s (Brodie Lee’s wife) and Nolan’s (Brodie Lee’s son) celebrating with him and like the 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs (Brodie Lee’s hockey team), he will be a fighting champion. The open challenge is on and Apollo Crews is right there to accept.
Riott Squad vs. Tamina/Natalya
Billie Kay is here with Tamina and Natalya, who she has put together to deal with the Squad. Morgan rolls Natalya up to start but gets shoved down as Billie yells at everyone. The distraction lets Natalya get double dropkicked into the corner so it’s off to Ruby vs. Tamina. That doesn’t last long as it’s quickly off to Liv for a double Russian legsweep. Hang on though as Billie is now in the Squad’s corner, with Ruby yelling at her a bit. Billie tries to play coach, allowing Liv to roll Tamina up for the pin at 2:25.
Post match, Billie celebrates the victory.
We look back at last week’s Women’s Tag Team Title match.
Bayley/Carmella vs. Bianca Belair/Sasha Banks
Reginald is here with Carmella and Bayley. Belair takes Carmella down without much effort to start and then lifts her up by the arm. Bayley comes in and gets dropkicked down for a trip to the floor. That means a dive from Banks for two back inside as we take a break. Back with Bayley getting two on Belair and working on the arm, which was apparently hurt during the break.
The double arm crank doesn’t last long as Belair suplexes her way to freedom, only to have Carmella break up the tag attempt. A kick to the ribs sets up another armbar but Belair powers out without much trouble. It’s off to Banks for the trash talk off with Carmella, who sends her to the apron. Banks hits the running knees in the corner so Bayley comes in for the save. Belair tries to use her hair to pull Banks over for the tag but Bayley grabs it instead.
That just earns her a hair whip into the post, leaving Banks to get superkicked by Carmella. The Bronco Buster misses though and the Bank Statement goes on, with Reginald pulling Carmella to the floor. The threat of violence from Banks has Reginald backflipping off the apron but the distraction lets Carmella hit a swinging X Factor for the pin at 10:04.
Rating: C. I guess one Carmella title feud wasn’t enough. It’s not exactly thrilling but it’ll work fine enough for another title match if they have to. That isn’t going to last long term but at least Banks is likely to have another successful defense in there. Carmella has been a little better as of late so this is hardly a disaster, but it’s a little disappointing.
Roman Reigns isn’t happy with the main event being made because whoever made the match doesn’t respect him. Reigns sends Uso to find out who did it.
Sonya Deville is back and everyone is surprised to see her.
Here are the Street Profits for the 2021 Smoketacular. Montez Ford lists off all of their accomplishments this year but Angelo Dawkins wants to know what is under a blanket. That would be a drum set, because Dawkins needs to play a bit. Ford has some predictions for 2021, like the “I Was Intercontinental Champion” shirt (which they introduced) becoming the #1 seller at WWE Shop. Next up we have Dolph Ziggler, who has ripped off Shawn Michaels for so long that he is going to be dubbed the Heartache Kid. Cue Ziggler and Robert Roode and the big beatdown is on, with Ford’s leg being destroyed with post and chairs.
Post break, Ziggler and Roode say that’s all on the Street Profits’ hands because they want the Tag Team Titles. They want their title shot and won’t stop until they get it. Of note: the team now seems to officially be the Dirty Dawgs, making me wonder which names were rejected.
Daniel Bryan/Otis vs. Cesaro/Shinsuke Nakamura
This is fallout from Cesaro/Nakamura not liking Bryan training with Chad Gable (at ringside) and Otis earlier today. Cesaro headlocks Bryan down to start and hands it off to Nakamura for a chinlock as we hear about Cesaro and Nakamura’s battle royal success. Bryan is sent outside for an uppercut from Cesaro as we take a break.
Back with Cesaro slamming Bryan down and handing it off to Nakamura for the kicks. Bryan avoids a big one though and it’s off to Otis to start wrecking things. The Caterpillar hits Cesaro and Bryan comes back in for a sunset flip on Nakamura. Back up and Nakamura’s armbar doesn’t work, as Bryan reverses into the YES Lock for the tap at 10:00.
Rating: C+. The Otis/Gable addition was a little weird but, again, they are already starting to rise up the card a little bit while also gaining some credibility. I’m not sure how Cesaro and Nakamura have already fallen down, but the Nakamura ship sailed years ago. At least Bryan is being kept strong though, and that could mean a lot in the future.
Roman Reigns gives Jey Uso one more pep talk.
Kevin Owens vs. Jey Uso
Owens unloads on him to start and stomps Uso down with no trouble. They head outside with Owens hitting a backsplash on the floor, followed by another for two back inside. Back in and Owens starts in on Jey’s recently injured leg, including crushing it on the rope. Uso gets in some right hands for a breather and a superkick puts Owens down on the floor. They head outside with Owens hitting his own superkick and throwing him over the announcers’ table. We take a break and come back with Jey shoving Owens off the top. Jey has to bail out of the Superfly Splash though and Owens hits the Stunner for the pin at 7:25.
Rating: C. The post break stuff was rather short and the match was almost a squash. This should be setting up the next Reigns vs. Owens match at the Rumble and if so, they did a nice job of reheating Owens in a hurry. It wasn’t a competitive match or even close to one of the most part, but that wasn’t the kind of match they should have had here.
Post match the beatdown is on, with Owens telling Reigns to come help his family. Jey gets handcuffed to the top rope so the leg can be further destroyed. Owens finally gets tired of the beating and unhooks the cuffs, allowing Jey to stagger up the aisle. That just earns Jey another beating, including a superkick onto a table. Owens loads up something but here’s Reigns to jump him from behind. Jey grabs a chair and the big beatdown is on, with Reigns unloading with said chair. Owens gets sent into various screens and then gets tossed off the stage through a table to finally end the beating.
Overall Rating: C+. There wasn’t much done here, but with the show going up against the college football playoff, they weren’t going to have any kind of an audience in the first place. The wrestling was just mostly there, but it does seem to be setting up things for the future, which is the best way to use a show like this. Don’t waste the big stuff when you won’t have an audience, and they didn’t make such a mistake here. Not a great show, but a smartly done one.
Big E. b. King Corbin via DQ when Sami Zayn interfered
Apollo Crews/Big E. b. King Corbin/Sami Zayn – Toss Powerbomb to Zayn
Riott Squad b. Tamina/Natalya – Rollup to Tamina
Carmella/Bayley b. Sasha Banks/Bianca Belair – Running X Factor to Banks
Daniel Bryan/Otis b. Shinsuke Nakamura/Cesaro – YES Lock to Nakamura
Kevin Owens b. Jey Uso – Stunner
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