Smackdown – January 29, 2021

Date: January 29, 2021
Location: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves

It’s the final show before the Royal Rumble and that means there are probably going to be a few surprises to really hammer things home. That can be a good thing but sometimes they leave you wondering if this is really all that WWE has to offer. Hopefully that is not the case here as there are some things that need to be upgraded. Let’s get to it.

Opening sequence.

Here is Daniel Bryan to get things going and he is rather excited that it is Royal Rumble weekend. As his daughter likes to say, we are just two sleeps away. Bryan talks about being proud of everything he has accomplished in his career, but he has one thing left to do: win the Royal Rumble and go on to the main event of Wrestlemania. No one knows what that means more than him and to climb that mountain one more time involves him going through twenty nine other men.

The honest truth is that he doesn’t know how many more Wrestlemania Moments he has left, but if he wants to go to the main event one more time, he is going to have to win the Royal Rumble. The Alpha Academy has him ready and he can’t wait to see everything you’ll only see at the Rumble….and here are AJ Styles and Omos. AJ talks about throwing everyone over the top to win the match, with Omos adding in that AJ is here because of the Quarterly Brand To Brand Invitational.

With that idea having been successfully dragged out of mothballs, AJ says Bryan doesn’t look ready for the Rumble. Bryan is in his sports coat, so AJ thinks Bryan might be the GM again. The challenge is on for tonight and AJ shoves him down, with Omos getting between them. Bryan seems in, and if Omos is there or not, Bryan is going to give AJ a beating.

We look back at Bayley and Bianca Belair running the obstacle course, with Bayley attacking Belair after losing.

Bayley brags about winning, plugs Belair’s WWE Network Chronicle special, and promises to beat her again tonight. Then Belair can go into the dark-est hole of her life.

Bianca Belair vs. Bayley

The 8K cameras are back and yeah they’re still creepy in a way. Belair slams her down a few times to start and it’s already a standoff. A suplex gives Belair two but Bayley is back up with a running clothesline for two. Belair’s arm is banged up so Bayley shouts DING DONG, which is enough to make Belair snap. A bunch of forearms to the back have Bayley out on the apron, followed by a standing moonsault back inside for two. We take a break and come back with Belair driving shoulders into Bayley’s ribs in the corner but Bayley fights back.

Cole says Bayley is jealous, prompting Bayley to shout “I’M NOT JEALOUS MICHAEL!” A knee to the face gives Bayley two (the replay made it look even worse) and it’s time to go back to Belair’s arm. The middle rope elbow gives Bayley two but Belair grabs a crucifix for the same. Back up and Belair punches her in the face but the bad arm gives out on a Glam Slam attempt. Belair manages a hot shot though and the KOD finishes Bayley at 10:48.

Rating: C+. Belair has grown on me at a crazy level over the last year and I’m liking her more and more in the ring every time. A win in the Royal Rumble isn’t out of the question and that is pretty impressive given that she only debuted in the Royal Rumble last year. Good stuff here, with Bayley putting her over clean to give Belair a huge win.

Post match Belair can’t believer what she has accomplished because that was the biggest win of her career. She sounds like she is near tears and says the only thing that tops this is winning the Royal Rumble.

Dominick Mysterio vs. King Corbin

Dominick jumps Corbin during the entrances and the beatdown is on in the aisle as we take a break. We come back with Rey Mysterio on commentary and the opening bell, which sees Dominick make Corbin chase him. That lets Dominick hit (mostly) an awkward looking slingshot knee to the head. Back in and Corbin hits a belly to back suplex and knocking Dominick down while shouting at Rey.

Dominick manages to send him into the corner and nails a middle rope dropkick as Rey coaches from the floor. The 619 is broken up so Dominick settles for a hurricanrana into the corner. Corbin sends him face first into the corner as well, only to have Dominick come back with a tornado DDT for two. Corbin cuts him off again though and the End of Days is good for the pin at 4:44.

Rating: C-. Dominick continues to seem like he is trending towards a heel turn and the more I think about it, the more interested I kind of am in seeing it. That’s about as non-committal of a position as I can come up with for it but that’s just how Dominick goes. He doesn’t have much to him other than being Rey’s son, but at least he can do a thing or two in the ring.

Post match Corbin goes after Rey but gets taken out.

Big E. offers Sonya Deville a dollar and an Arby’s coupon to find out his Royal Rumble number. That isn’t happening, so here are Miz and John Morrison (erg) to suggest they might cash in on Roman Reigns tonight. Morrison makes some Gamestop stock jokes and that’s enough for Sonya to leave. Big E.: “I love the pop culture reference too.” He has things to do though so a lot of laughter ensues but Big E. gets serious and calls them over the hill with no chance to win the Royal Rumble. The brawl is on with Big E. not having much trouble taking both of them out. Referees break it up.

Tomorrow on Backstage: Tamina vs. Natalya to determine the #30 entrant in the Royal Rumble. So they’re doing that instead of the men’s #30 and the women’s #1 and #2? Sure why not.

We look at Sasha Banks defeating Reginald last week, which gave Carmella a Royal Rumble title shot.

Sasha Banks is walking through the back when Kalisto hits on her a bit. With that out of the way, Sasha runs into Reginald, who offers her a bottle of win to go with losing her title. Banks hits on him and then promises to break Carmella’s jaw. Reginald can keep the wine because he needs a drink.

Long video on Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns.

Bad Bunny will be performing his song about Booker T. at the Royal Rumble.

Sami Zayn stops Shinsuke Nakamura in the back because he finds it suspicious that the Raw wrestlers are here. He also thinks Nakamura and Cesaro are splitting up so since Sami helped liberate Nakamura, it’s time for Nakamura to return the family. Sami needs his Intercontinental Title back and takes credit for everything Nakamura has done in NXT and WWE. Nakamura says he appreciates everything Sami has done but Sami can go to h***.

We get a split screen sitdown interview with Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens (in an Ever Rise shirt). Owens doesn’t think anything is going to be different on Sunday because he has beaten Reigns twice. There is nothing that Reigns or his family can do to keep Owens down because he will be the Last Man Standing. Paul Heyman joins Reigns and tells Owens not to speak of the tribal chief that way. Owens asks if Reigns is going to let Heyman rehash his old statements so Reigns says we should talk about Owens’ family.

What kind of a man was Owens’ father? Owens’ father is (not was) a great man, so Reigns needs to watch where he is going. Reigns asks if Owens’ father is a smart man, which Owens confirms and again warns Reigns about where he is going with this. Reigns says Owens isn’t built for this because he isn’t a castle, a knight, a bishop or a queen. Owens is a pawn and Reigns is the king because everything revolves around him.

What Owens doesn’t understand is that he will never be Universal Champion and it isn’t his fault. That makes Owens a fool and his father a fool too. If that’s the case, it means Owens’ grandfather is a fool as well. Owens isn’t happy but says he knows what Reigns is trying to do. On Sunday, they’re going to be in the same room, but Reigns says Owens still doesn’t get it. One day Owens is going to see his grandfathers again and they are going to call him a disgrace for not acknowledging Reigns as his tribal chief.

Owens throws his water down and says the only thing his grandfathers would acknowledge Reigns as is a delusional jackass surrounded by yes men. Reigns is some mafia boss who projects toughness to hide that he is an emotional bully. Owens goes off, shouting about how his family made him the man he is today.

After Sunday, he is going to be the same Kevin Owens, but he’ll be Universal Champion. Reigns’ feed cuts out and Owens storms off. This was GREAT and you could feel the emotion because it felt like two adults talking with one of them going very personal to drive the other over the edge. The mind games were awesome but the emotions were better and that’s why this feud has worked so well.

Video on Goldberg vs. Drew McIntyre.

AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan

Omos is here with AJ but AJ sends him to the back to do this one on his own. Cesaro is on commentary as they go to the mat with AJ not being able to keep Bryan down. The test of strength lets them trade some flips until Bryan’s cross armbreaker sends AJ over to the ropes. Bryan starts working on the arm but AJ gets up for a shoulder. There’s a knee to the ribs to put Bryan down again but he’s right back with a butterfly suplex.

Cue Sami Zayn (he’s got signs) for a distraction though, allowing AJ to knock Bryan off the top. A whip into the steps has Bryan down and we take a break. Back with AJ slowly pounding Bryan down but a running corner dropkick rocks AJ for a change. There are some kicks to the chest as Cesaro is getting annoyed at Sami at ringside. A top rope hurricanrana gives Bryan two but AJ is right back with the Calf Crusher.

The rope is finally grabbed and Sami yells about how the referee is finally doing his job. The Phenomenal Forearm is pulled out of the air though and the YES Lock (or most of one) goes on, with AJ getting a foot on the rope. Hold on though as here’s Big E. to run Sami over but Cesaro jumps Big E. for his efforts. Bryan dives onto Cesaro and Sami but AJ throws him back inside. That’s enough for Sami to come in to jump Bryan for the DQ at 12:10.

Rating: B-. There was a lot of stuff going on at ringside but I think I can live with twelve minutes of these two doing their awesome things to each other. This was what you would expect from an AJ vs. Bryan match and as usual, I could have gone for another twenty minutes of so. Like they wouldn’t have made it work.

Post match Cesaro beats on Big E. in the ring but here’s Shinsuke Nakamura to kick Sami and AJ in the head. Nakamura and Cesaro have a staredown but Sami is up to knock Nakamura into Cesaro, meaning nothing bad can happen. The villains are sent outside and it’s time for a smark dream six man (With I guess Big E. being the least internet friendly name?).

AJ Styles/Cesaro/Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura/Daniel Bryan/Big E.

Nakamura misses a sliding knee to start and gets clotheslined down by Cesaro. Nakamura hits a kick to the back of the head as Cole tries to figure out the lineups (this seems to be a little tricky for him). A front facelock lets Nakamura drag Cesaro into the corner for the tag to Big E., who is uppercutted down. Sami comes in to strike away at Big E.’s head, which doesn’t seem to hut that much as he’s over for the tag to Bryan without much effort.

A double hiptoss drops Sami to give the already legal again Big E. two. Sami kicks Bryan in the back of the knee to put him in trouble and AJ wraps the leg around the post. We take a break and come back with AJ stomping on the knee and giving it a DDT. Zayn’s superplex is broken up though and Bryan nails a missile dropkick.

The hot tag brings in Big E. for the rapid fire belly to belly suplexes to all three villains. Cesaro is back up with that sweet springboard corkscrew uppercut for two but the Neutralizer is broken up. Big E. loads up the Big Ending but this time it’s Miz and John Morrison coming out to jump Nakamura and Big E. for the DQ at 9:53.

Rating: C+. This was another good one with quite the talented lineup so I’m not sure how much you can complain here. I mean aside from the same ending, but given how much time there is left in the show, I think you know where this is going. The Royal Rumble shows always have something like this going on so it’s forgivable to see this much interference, even if it was in a pretty nice match.

Post match the big beatdown is on but here’s Otis for the save and yes indeed that’s where we’re going. Otis cleans house as commentary asks who is going to be able to dump him over the top. Last week Bianca Belair fireman’s carried him and walked around with him. I don’t think it’s that big of a task. Anyway a double Caterpillar hits Miz and Morrison and we take a break.

AJ Styles/Cesaro/Sami Zayn/Miz/John Morrison vs. Shinsuke Nakamura/Daniel Bryan/Big E./Otis

Miz and Bryan go straight to the brawling to start as Cole thinks it’s a ten man tag, with Corey Graves being there to handle the counting and explain that it’s a handicap match. Miz takes Bryan outside and drops the knee onto the announcers’ table, setting up the Figure Four back inside. That’s broken up with some right hands (a counter you don’t see often enough) but Sami comes in with a Blue Thunder Bomb. Graves: “We could be two days away from the Road To Zaynylvania!”

Morrison comes in to put Bryan down again and Miz adds a kick to the ribs. Bryan finally manages stereo crossbodies with AJ and everything breaks down without Bryan making a tag. Cue Sheamus to be the partner though and the hot tag brings in in to run over everyone. The Irish Curse sets up the Cloverleaf on Sami but Morrison makes the save. The parade of secondary finishers is on with Sami being the last man standing. That doesn’t last long though as Sheamus hits a heck of a Brogue Kick to pin Sami at 5:25.

Rating: C. I didn’t hate this and some of that is due to Sheamus kicking Sami’s head off at the end. It was a little chaotic and having it come after about thirty five minutes was a lot, but the talent was all there and they did some chaotic action at times. Now granted I’m not sure how much this helps build the Rumble, but at least it was something different. I can completely get someone not liking it though as it was rather WWE with all of the rapid fire additions.

Post match (of course) Miz and Morrison jump Sheamus but Braun Strowman makes his big return to wreck EVERYONE to end the show. Now that works as a big moment to hype up the Rumble.

Overall Rating: B-. This was a rather weird show but I liked what I got out of the whole thing. Owens and Reigns had a great segment and the last forty or so minutes were designed to build to the Rumble. It’s not like the pay per view needs that much build so anything we got here was a bonus. Much like the main event(s), I can see why someone wouldn’t be a fan, but I want to see the Rumble and that’s what matters the most.


Bianca Belair b. Bayley – KOD

King Corbin b. Dominick Mysterio – End of Days

Daniel Bryan b. AJ Styles via DQ when Sami Zayn interfered

Daniel Bryan/Big E./Shinsuke Nakamura b. AJ Styles/Cesaro/Sami Zayn via DQ when Miz and John Morrison interfered

Daniel Bryan/Big E./Shinsuke Nakamura/Otis/Sheamus b. AJ Styles/Cesaro/Sami Zayn/John Morrison/Miz – Brogue Kick to Zayn

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