Will SmackDown see new champions so soon in the new year?
The Street Profits take on Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler while Big E takes on Apollo Crews! Who walks away winners on this golden edition of SmackDown?
- WWE Intercontinental Championship: Big E VS Apollo Crews; Big E wins and retains the title.
- SmackDown Tag Team Championships: The Street Profits VS Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler; Roode & Ziggler win and become the new SmackDown Tag Team Champions.
- WWE Universal Championship #1 Contender’s Gauntlet Match: Adam Pearce wins and will challenge Roman Reigns for the title at the Royal Rumble.
PLAY BY PLAY
Roman Reigns heads to the ring!
The Head of the Table leads his Special Counsel, Paul Heyman, and cousin, Jey Uso, into the ThunderDome. He is stoically confident while Jey chirps up a storm about what they did to Kevin Owens last week to start 2021. Fans give thumbs down on their screens while Heyman again fetches the mic for Roman. “A lot of talk about last week. A lot of discussion about what we did to KO. Let me just start by saying, I like Kevin Owens. He’s a pain in my ass, yes he is, but I respect someone as ambitious as Kevin Owens. Someone who won’t lay down, who won’t give up.”
But Roman never wanted any thing bad to happen to Kevin. Kevin just put Roman in a “tough spot,” backed Roman against the wall and Roman did what he had to do. But Roman wants the same thing for everyone in that locker room. Roman loves the SmackDown roster. In order to lead someone, you have to care about them. Roman cares about everyone here, and their families. Why do you think he does what he does? Roman is putting food on everyone’s tables, but Kevin doesn’t have a chance to come to work anymore. Not because of Roman, so don’t blame Roman and say Roman’s the bad guy. There’s someone to blame, and it’s WWE official, Adam Pearce.
Roman cuts to the chase and tells Adam Pearce to get his ass out there. Heyman tells someone to call Pearce because Roman Reigns is calling. This makes for lousy television waiting on Pearce! Can commentary do something? Corey Graves asks on behalf of Roman to get Adam Pearce to the stage. Pearce walks out and goes to the ring. Pearce asks Roman what he can do for him. “What can you do for me? As a matter of fact, why don’t you watch this clip right here?”
It’s a recap package of two weeks ago, the Steel Cage Match, that Jey Uso cheated Kevin out of. And then it’s Pearce giving Kevin his grudge match with Jey for New Year’s SmackDown. And of Roman being upset that it was made. And Heyman telling Roman it was Pearce. And then it’s of Kevin calling Roman out while beating up Jey. And of course, of Roman retaliating and ganging up on Kevin with Jey, which ends with Roman throwing Kevin off the top of the ThunderDome set, and down through tables.
Back in the present, Roman shakes his head while Jey glares at Pearce. “What do you have to say for yourself?” Pearce doesn’t know what he’s supposed to say. What does anyone want him to say? Roman wants Pearce to be a man and take responsibilities. We have witnesses! What did Roman say about Kevin? “It was done! We were moving on.” Roman won’t let Pearce talk because he’s already done enough. Roman said he was done with Kevin but what happened? Kevin asked a favor of his old friend. And you would think someone who has known someone else that long, they’d care about their wellbeing and make the right choices for them.
What does Pearce even do around here anyway? Roman says Pearce doesn’t need to answer that, he already knows because he knows everything because of who he is. That is why Roman has Heyman. They do their jobs, just look at the stats and analytics. But what does Pearce do? He manages the talent and makes the right decisions for them. But he threw Kevin into the deep end! And then what happened? Well Kevin’s not here now and now he can’t provide for his family. And Pearce is to blame. But because Roman is a good guy, Roman will give Pearce his chance to redeem himself.
But what does Pearce do? Book a gauntlet match! WWE official Pearce is making choices for the Head of the Table, the Tribal Chief, THE Universal Champion! Like Roman can’t just pick his own opponent! Like Roman hasn’t done enough work around here! Like he hasn’t carried the WWE for YEARS! And yet he can’t choose for himself? Like he’s not good enough! Does Pearce think Roman isn’t good enough? No one is saying that! Pearce just wants to line up the best challengers for Roman. That’s what Pearce is doing, that is Pearce’s job. Oh give him a round of applause~! What’s next? Pearce gonna get in on the match? That is a conflict of interest and ridiculous.
Roman says the conflict of interest here is… It’s starting to sound like people think Roman is stupid. No one said that. No it sounds like you think he’s a fool. Is he a fool? Is he stupid? Pearce would never say that. Then what is he saying? Is Pearce stupid? Pearce asks what’s this all about. Well if neither of them are stupid, then who? Vince McMahon? Is he stupid? Pearce is saying Vince is stupid, is that it? Pearce asks Heyman what’s going on but Roman continues. If Pearce isn’t stupid and if Vince isn’t stupid, then he must be saying Roman is stupid!
“And that is where the problem lies, because if you think I’m stupid, then you’re insulting me. And if you’re insulting me, that means you don’t respect me. And if you don’t respect me, then you don’t respect my family. And when people around here don’t respect me, my family, our bloodline, there’s consequences!” Roman grabs Pearce, Pearce asks him to stop and even Heyman tries to reason with Roman. Pearce has total respect for Roman. Heyman gives a suggestion to handle this calmly. Roman cools off and smooths out Pearce’s suit jacket for him.
Roman takes the title belt and puts it on his shoulder. “My mistake.” Maybe no one here is stupid. And maybe right not, Pearce is safe. With that, Roman leads Heyman and Jey back out of the arena. Was that a veiled threat to Pearce’s job security?
WWE Intercontinental Championship: Big E VS Apollo Crews!
The Powerhouse of Positivity is ready to make SmackDown #ThinkBig, but his first challenger is no small threat! Will Apollo be too much for Big E to handle? Or will three not be enough, will he need five?
The bell rings and Apollo dropkicks Big E down! Then BOOTS him! Cover, TWO! Apollo is starting fast and furious and he drags Big E to a drop zone. Apollo goes up, leaps, but has to roll through as Big E moves! Big E CLOBBERS Apollo with an elbow! Big E smirks and nods as he drags Apollo to the apron. He stands on Apollo then lines up a shot. Big E runs over to APRON SPLASH! The ref counts, Big E gets in at 3, and he watches Apollo get up. Big E waistlocks, lifts but Apollo lands on his feet! Apollo boots back from the ropes, then rallies with clotheslines! Apollo rams Big E into a corner, rams in more, then runs corner to corner at Big E, to SPLASH back!
Apollo waistlocks and GERMAN SUPLEXES! But he holds on to GERMAN SUPLEX again! And AGAIN! Cover off the hat trick, TWO! Big E survives but Apollo watches him roll out. Apollo slingshots but Big E moves. Apollo lands, mule kicks and MOONSAULTS! Direct hit and down goes Big E! The ring count starts, Apollo puts Big E in at 6, covers, TWO! Apollo keeps cool and puts Big E in the corner. Apollo hoists Big E up top, climbs up to join him, but Big E fights back with body shots! Apollo still brings Big E up to SUPERPLEX! But it’s a cradle cover! But for who!? The ref counts three, but who won!?! Apollo thinks he did, but so does Big E! SmackDown goes to break as this sorts out!
SmackDown returns and the officials are still reviewing the confusing cradle cover. Both men had shoulders down as legs hooked up, so the ref says it was a double pinfall draw. Draws go to the champion, but Apollo isn’t satisfied. Big E says rules are rules, but Apollo gets mad and SLAPS Big E! Apollo wants his second try right now, and Big E agrees to it! The match restarts with the bell, and Big E gets Apollo for an OVERHEAD BELLY2BELLY! And another! And then the side Belly2Belly! Big E is fired up, runs and hits the BIG SPLASH! Big E claps it up, scoops Apollo, but Apollo slips out and bails out!
Big E runs but into Apollo’s knee! Apollo hurries up top, leaps, FROG SPLASH! Cover, TWO!! Big E survives and Apollo is furious! Apollo drags Big E up, military press but Big E slips off. Big E runs but Apollo gets around. Big E fights the backslide, Apollo runs and rolls him up, TWO! SUPERKICK! Apollo runs to BOOT, and then SPINEBUSTER! STANDING MOONSAULT! Cover, TWO! Apollo continues to grow frustrated and even mutters, “What do I have to do?!” Apollo drags Big E up, reels him in, but Big E rolls Apollo, TWO, to the STRETCH MUFFLER!
Apollo fights free with the free leg and Big E staggers. Apollo runs, Big E scoops but Apollo slips out to ENZIGURI! Waistlock and lift, but Big E flying mares out of the bomb! Apollo runs, into the Urenag-E! Big E hurries to scoop Apollo, for the BIG ENDING! Cover, Big E wins!
Winner: Big E, by pinfall (still WWE Intercontinental Champion)
Apollo wanted the fight, he brought the fight, but he lost the fight! Big E says he respects Apollo, but you don’t slap Big E and you don’t play around, either! Will Big E make 2021 the biggest year of his career?
Adam Pearce talks with someone.
He tells them we all heard what Roman said. Right now, Pearce is “damned if I do, damned if I don’t.” But he needs to call them back because in walks Sonya Deville! It seems they are going to be working together. But to think she’d want an officiating job. Well, considering her own 2020, as crazy as it was, she isn’t proud of what she’s done. But she will put the past behind her. She isn’t bitter about her former best friend beating her in a Loser Leaves WWE match and then goes off the Raw to join someone else in a team, leaving Sonya in shambles. She is grateful to learn and help Pearce here. And he needs it with Raw and SmackDown and getting in a match tonight.
What? No, Pearce is not in any match. Oh, why not? Well he hasn’t had a match in over six months, so he isn’t confident enough to beat a referee, let alone Roman. No more matches for Pearce. But he welcomes Sonya to the team, will she be able to lighten the burden of running the brand?
Backstage interview with Bianca Belair!
The EST has just declared for the Women’s Rumble, but DING DONG, HELLO~! It’s Bayley. Bianca eliminated 8 women last year but not Bayley. Well, Bayley wasn’t in that match. Right, duh. Bayley was too busy adding to her historic reign as SmackDown Women’s Champion! But Bayley will be in the match this year, and vows to win it. So Bianca can eliminate as many as she wants, but she won’t win. But even if she does, she’ll just squander the opportunity!
Bianca says they’ll wait and see. If she had won last year, she would’ve been “honored” to have challenged a champion like Bayley. But she can’t do that this year because Bayley isn’t champion now! Maybe it was Bayley who squandered her reign. Bianca walks off, but will the Rumble settle all scores?
She has some champagne and says it is very sweet. “Just like the feeling of pinning Sasha Banks last week. I did do that. After all, Sasha has worked so hard, making sacrifice after sacrifice to bring her WWE dream to fruition.” But Mella will commend her on that, and on becoming Sports Illustrated’s 2020 Superstar of the Year. That was the year Mella took a vacation, though. But Sasha can keep doing what she does. Things just come to others more naturally. All the hard work in the world doesn’t matter when the raw talent is just that much better. And when it comes to talent, Mella is untouchable. Will Mella be toasting herself as she continues to go after the SmackDown Women’s Championship?
SmackDown Tag Team Championships: The Street Profits VS Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler!
Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins like making jokes and having fun, but there’s no more of that this week! The “Dirty Dawgs” did the champions dirty on New Year’s SmackDown, but will the Profits still be up after settling the score?
SmackDown returns as the challengers make their entrance. The introductions are made, the belts are raised, and Dawkins starts with Ziggler. They circle, Ziggler goes after a leg, but Dawkins waistlocks. They go to a corner and Ziggler walks up the ropes to elbow Dawkins away. Ziggler comes back with a headlock, Dawkins wrenches out and gets a headlock of his own. Ziggler powers out but Dawkins runs him over! Things speed up, Dawkins hurdles then whips Ziggler to dropkick him down! Cover, TWO! Dawkins brings Ziggler up, wrenches, and tags in Ford. The Profits whip and double shoulder Ziggler down! Roode protests but the Profits hit the back suplex splash! Cover, TWO!
Ford makes sure his leg is alright, after what the Dirty Dawgs did last week. Ziggler ROCKS Ford with a haymaker, tags in Roode, and they mug Ford in the corner! The ref counts, Roode lets off to taunt Dawkins. Roode goes over to Ford, elbows him, then chokes him on the ropes! And rakes the eyes! The ref counts, Roode stops at 4, then brings Ford up to bump him off buckles. Roode throws hands but Ford counter punches! Ford rocks Roode, throws hammering fists and even stomps! Roode hits back and kicks the bad leg! Ford falls and scrambles but Roode runs in, only to be put on the apron. Roode forearms but Ford DECKS him!
Ziggler runs in but is sent out, and elbowed down! Ford builds speed to FLY! Direct hit on the Dirty Dawgs at the ramp! But the leg gives out as he gets up! Dawkins checks on Ford but this is looking bad as SmackDown goes to break.
SmackDown returns and Dawkins is stomping away on Roode in a corner! Ford works to walk off the pain in his leg but Roode elbows Dawkins. Dawkins blocks a suplex but so does Roode. Dawkins still gets Roode up and over! Roode writhes but Dawkins gets him for an EXPLODER! Dawkins watches Roode rise, runs in the corner, CYCLONE SPLASH! And a BULLDOG! Cover, TWO! Dawkins drags Roode up, Ford forces himself to climb to the apron, but Roode throws body shots! Dawkins rocks Roode back, headlocks, but Ziggler tags in as Roode powers out, and Ziggler dropkicks Dawkins down! Cover, TWO! Ziggler taunts the Profits and claws at Dawkins’ eyes!
Ziggler stalks Dawkins to ropes, drags him up and say she follows the rules, as he rakes Dawkins’ eyes again! The ref backs Ziggler off but Roode gets a cheap shot in! Ziggler stalks Dawkins, clamps onto his neck then wraps on a facelock. Dawkins endures, Ziggler pushes up to add leverage, but Ford reaches out for Dawkins. Ziggler gator rolls Dawkins away from Ford, but Dawkins crawls his way back! Ziggler claws Dawkins’ face again! Roode tags in as the ref reprimands, and Roode stomps Dawkins! Roode clubs Dawkins, turns him, and hits a neckbreaker! Cover, TWO! Roode taunts Ford and asks about the leg, then he stomps Dawkins more.
Roode stalks Dawkins, Ziggler talks some trash, and Roode throws hands. Dawkins gets up, Roode whips him hard into the corner! Tag to Ziggler, and Ziggler whips Roode for Roode to whip Ziggler, Dawkins dodges! Ziggler only gets buckles, and Dawkins throws Roode out! Dawkins sees Ford wants in, and he crawls over, but Roode trips Ford off the apron! Ford ROCKS Roode with a haymaker then RAMS Roode into the barrier! Ford drinks what’s left in his cup and is fired up! Ziggler anchors Dawkins but Dawkins kicks him away! Hot tag to Ford! Ford fires up and rallies with big clotheslines! Mule kick, front kick, then a feint to CLUB Ziggler, and BACK HAND him!
Roode runs in, Ford back drops him! Ford hobbles, dodges Ziggler and back suplexes. Ziggler lands on his feet but runs into a DISCUS LARIAT! Cover, TWO!! Ford fires up as he crawls to a corner. Ford drags himself up top, takes aim but his leg bugs him. And Roode grabs on, only for Ford to kick him away. Ziggler springs up, SUPER FACEBUSTER!! Cover, TWO!! Ford is built Ford tough as he survives that! Ziggler takes aim and does his best HBK, but Ford SUPERKICKS first!! Cover, Roode breaks it! Dawkins gets in, Roode kicks him first but Dawkins throws Roode out! Dawkins coaches Ford as Ford crawls over!
Ziggler crawls after Ford, Roode is back up but Dawkins throws hands! Roode falls, but Ziggler BLASTS Dawkins off the apron! Ziggler back suplex, Ford sunset flips! TWO!! CHOP BLOCK to the bad leg! Tag to Roode, fisherman hook, GLORIOUS PERFECT PLEX! Cover, TWO!?! Roode cannot believe it! But Roode drags Ford up, reels him in, but no DDT! Ford ENZIGURIS! Ziggler tags back in, storms over, shove and GLORIOUS ZIGZAG!! Cover, the Dirty Dawgs win!!
Winners: Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler (NEW SmackDown Tag Team Champions)
The Profits put up a fight but the bad leg was a disadvantage they couldn’t overcome! And then to add insult to injury, Ziggler and Roode CLOBBER the Profits out of the ring! Will these “aces” ride high in 2021?
Pearce and Sonya are excited to see that match.
Anything can happen, but now what? A new challenger? A rematch? Maybe bring some legends back? But first, Heyman walks in. Heyman says hello to Sonya and she lets Heyman talk with Pearce. Pearce says if this is about the gauntlet match, just save it. Heyman just shrugs. Heyman says he likes Pearce and doesn’t want hostilities. Heyman says he was being the reasonable one tonight. And not for concern of Roman’s actions leading him to what happened to Braun Strowman, i.e. suspension, but what Roman’s actions were leading to for Pearce.
Heyman knows Pearce won’t believe him, but their paths moving forward will demonstrate Heyman is saying the truth. Heyman greatly admires Pearce. You’re right, Pearce doesn’t believe that. Then Heyman will prove it to Pearce. How many people know both of their histories? How they got here? How many people understand the legend of “Scrap Daddy,” Adam Pearce? Where would Pearce have been if he’d been managed by “Paul E. Dangerously?” Heyman knows Pearce’s accomplishments and why he was chosen for this job. But let’s be honest, we all know he didn’t dream of this job. This wasn’t what he envisioned. Pearce wanted to be “THE champion” in WWE.
That is why when Heyman’s boss, and your Tribal Chief, instructed Heyman to pull the right strings, well let’s just cut to the chase. The gauntlet match tonight? Heyman pulled strings. Pearce IS in the gauntlet match, and could pursue the dream he’s had since he was a little baby. And that is all thanks to the Universal Champion, Roman Reigns. Personally and professionally, Heyman is so happy for and so proud of Pearce. “A pleasure doing business with you.” So now instead of five, it’s SIX men in the match! But when the other five are King Corbin, Rey Mysterio, Sami Zayn, Shinsuke Nakamura and Daniel Bryan, will Scrap Daddy just be scrap iron?
Billie Kay finds The Riott Squad backstage.
Hello there! Billie has been reveling in their win from last week, and wants to take the Riott duo and make it a full squad again! Official squad, yeah? No, sorry, Billie, thanks but no thanks. Oh. Okay… Billie starts crying because of how no one wants her around. 2021 is supposed to be better than 2020 but it’s not! Liv says it’s not that they don’t want her- Billie cheers right up and says she knew they’d come around. She can be “punk rock” and “edgy!” She’s been listening to Blink 1-8-2 recently, and she has studied up on mosh pitting. “This is going to be great!” Billie goes off before Ruby can say anything, and now Ruby just looks to Liv. What was Liv supposed to say!? Wow, she actually put “mosh pitting” on her resume… Is Billie going to (not) fit in just fine with the Squad?
WWE Universal Championship #1 Contender’s Gauntlet Match!
The Tribal Chief took offense to this match being made, but perhaps passive aggressively, he is using it to his advantage. Will Scrap Daddy Pearce stand a chance of even just getting through one round? Well, fortunately for him, Rey Mysterio starts this match first, accompanied by Dominik! And who he faces is… Sami Zayn! Sami has a film crew with him to document what’s going on. “When I first got wind of this gauntlet match, wherein the winner gets an opportunity for the Universal Championship against Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View, I demanded that WWE Management put me in the match.” To Sami’s surprise, he was granted that request!
But wouldn’t you know, he’s one of the first entrants in the match! The starting position, the position with the least statistical probability of winning! What a “coincidence.” And there seem to have been a string of “coincidences” that have cost Sami these last few months. But then you realize these aren’t coincidences, but part of a MASSIVE CONSPIRACY targeting Sami Zayn! Yes, it is! Sami has been saying this for months but no one believes him. And therefore, Sami has his film crew. And not the WWE corporate drones but “unbiased documentarians.” They are here to make a documentary about the anti-Sami conspiracy! The very thing that cost Sami his Intercontinental Championship!
When this all comes to light, the world will see Sami is the rightful champion! Sami is and remains THE CHAMPION OF THE PEOPLE!! But he isn’t one to complain or feel sorry about himself, he is here to fight injustice. That starts with Rey Mysterio! Sami will beat Rey, and the rest of the field, because “Sami Zayn is undeniable!” He finally puts the mic away, and the bell rings to start the match!
Rey Mysterio w/ Dominik VS Sami Zayn!
Sami talks to his crew to make sure they get a good shot of this, and Mysterio dropkicks him onto the ropes! Rey dials it up, 6 1 9!! And then a FROG SPLASH! Cover, Rey ELIMINATES Sami!! And yes, Sami’s camera crew DID get a good shot of that! The Great Liberator is done already, but here comes the King of Strong Style! Will he defeat the King of Lucha Libre to then take on the rest of the gauntlet?
Rey Mysterio w/ Dominik VS Shinsuke Nakamura!
SmackDown returns as the bell rings on round two, and these two kings of wrestling circle. They tie up, Nakamura headlocks but Mysterio fights and powers out. Things speed up, Nakamura runs Rey over! Nakamura dusts himself off, brings Mysterio up and scoops but Mysterio slips out and shoves. Nakamura sunset flips but Mysterio rolls through to BUZZSAW! Cover, ONE!! Mysterio keeps cool as Dominik cheers him on. Nakamura throws hands on Mysterio, knees low then whips but Mysterio reverses and runs to RANA! Nakamura bails out, Mysterio builds speed but slides into a spin and KNEE! Nakamura goes up to jump, but Mysterio avoids the guillotine knee!
Mysterio runs from the corner, slides and SUNSET FLIPS, but Nakamura rolls through to KINSHASA! Nakamura puts Mysterio in, covers, TWO!! Mysterio survives but Nakamura keeps his cool as he looms over Mysterio. Nakamura drags Mysterio up and into a corner for Bad Vibrations! The ref counts, Nakamura swaggers corner to corner, then runs in to DYNAMIC DROPKICK Mysterio down! Cover, TWO! Mysterio is still in this and Nakamura grows a bit annoyed. Nakamura drags Mysterio up, snapmares and drops a knee! Cover, TWO! Nakamura kicks Mysterio around and grins as he brings him up.
Nakamura puts Mysterio on the top rope, throws forearms then climbs, and brings Mysterio up, only for Mysterio to resist! Mysterio throws body shots then headbutts Nakamura down! Mysterio adjusts, leaps, SEATED SENTON! And BASEMENT SEATED SENTON! Nakamura flounders, Mysterio wheelbarrows and victory rolls, TWO!! Nakamura gets to ropes but Mysterio runs in, only to be put on the apron. Nakamura KICKS Mysterio down, but Mysterio blocks the buckle bump to headbutt and forearm back! Mysterio slingshots but Nakamura catches him to reel him in, but Mysterio RANAS free! Mysterio runs to hit the 619!!
Mysterio hurries up top, leaps, FROG SPLASH onto knees!! Nakamura wants the ARMBAR! Mysterio can’t hold on, Mysterio taps and Nakamura ELIMINATES him! And King Corbin attacks Dominik! The Wolf King shows no mercy for his enemies, and he POSTS Nakamura before he CHOKE SLAMS Mysterio into buckles! And then CHOKE SLAMS Mysterio to the mat! Clearly he is next, but will the Wolf King get through the King of Strong Style?
Shinsuke Nakamura VS King Corbin!
SmackDown returns and Corbin CLOBBERS and covers Nakamura, TWO! Corbin seethes as Nakamura survives but he drags Nakamura up to put him in a corner. Corbin puts Nakamura’s arms behind his back and throws body shots over and over! The ref counts, Corbin lets off at 4, then he bumps Nakamura off buckles. Corbin again traps the arms and unleashes body shots, then runs corner to corner. Nakamura dodges and Corbin POSTS himself! Nakamura swings one kick, Corbin ducks it, but he hits the WINDMILL! Corbin bails out, Nakamura leaps but Corbin catches him, and POSTS him in return! Corbin puts Nakamura in, covers, TWO!
Corbin argues with the ref but the count is the count. He looms over Nakamura and taunts him, to then throw haymakers! Corbin brings Nakamura up for a BIG back suplex! Cover, TWO! Corbin is furious and argues again, but the ref tells him the count is fair. Corbin looms over Nakamura, drags him up and reels him in to suplex, but Nakamura slips out! Nakamura dodges and DYNAMIC DROPKICKS! Corbin gets up first but Nakamura fires up as he fires off kicks! Corbin blocks one but Nakamura ENZIGURIS! Nakamura has Corbin in a corner, whips him corner to corner but Corbin reverses. Corbin runs in but only gets buckles, then a ROUNDHOUES!
Nakamura hops up as Corbin flounders, FLYING KNEE! Cover, TWO! Nakamura powers up in a corner, runs in but into a DEEP SIX! Cover, TWO!! Nakamura survives, this is why he is the King of Strong Style! Corbin grabs Nakamura but Nakamura drags him into a TRIANGLE HOLD! Corbin stays up, dead lifts, and POWERBOMBS Nakamura down! Corbin flounders up and runs back in, but Nakamura dodges. Corbin slides put, slides in, into a KINSHASA!! Cover, Nakamura ELIMINATES Corbin!! Nakamura has trumped the King of Lucha and the Wolf King, is he the strongest king in WWE?
But here comes The GOAT, Daniel Bryan! These two have wanted to face each other 1v1 for so long, and here it is! Who wins this dream match come to life?!
Shinsuke Nakamura VS Daniel Bryan!
SmackDown returns, the bell rings and the two rush each other! Bryan dropkicks Nakamura down, brings him up for EuroUppers and KICKS! Bryan whips, Nakamura kicks back but Bryan throws Nakamura out! Bryan builds speed and DIVES! Direct hit sends Nakamura into the announce desk! Bryan puts Nakamura in, heads to a corner and climbs up, to hit a missile- NO! Nakamura dropkicks Bryan out of the air! Nakamura drags Bryan up, INVERTED EXPLODER! Bryan sits up slowly, Nakamura takes aim, KINSHASA into a Half Crab!! Bryan has the leg, sits deep on the hold, but Nakamura endures! Nakamura crawls, Bryan drags him away and shifts to an ANKLE LOCK!
Nakamura gets up, Bryan reels him in with the leg, and GERMAN SUPLEXES Bridging cover, TWO!! Nakamura survives but Bryan keeps his focus. Bryan watches Nakamura rise, and gives him a YES KICK! And then more kicks, hitting Nakamura from all sides! Nakamura flounders as Bryan kicks him around, and even kicks as he’s curled up! BUZZSAW, but it misses! Nakamura boots, then catches the clothesline into an ARMBAR! Bryan clasps hands, Nakamura gets them apart but Bryan rolls to is own ARMBAR! Nakamura clasps hands, rolls, but into the YES LOCK!! Bryan pulls Nakamura back, Nakamura moves around as he endures, refuses to give up, and reaches with a leg!
But Bryan makes it a RINGS OF SATURN!! But Nakamura gets the ropebreak with a leg! Bryan lets go in frustration, but he drags Nakamura back up. Bryan wrenches, elbow breaker to the arm! More YES Kicks, then another wrench to the arm. Nakamura is in the corner, Bryan just gives him more elbow breakers! And another KICK! Bryan hoists Nakamura up top, climbs up, but the Super Steiner is pushed away! Nakamura FLYING KNEES Bryan down! Cover, TWO!! Nakamura throws knees into Bryan over and over! Bryan rolls as Nakamura powers up and takes aim. BUZZSAW, but Bryan ducks it!
Bryan kicks a leg but Nakamura ducks the roundhouse! Roll-up, to the ARMBAR! Bryan makes it a cover, TWO!! Nakamura and Bryan both slowly rise, having exhausted themselves in this round. Bryan KICKS, Nakamura KICKS, then they throw forearms and haymakers! Bryan fires off fast hands, backs Nakamura to a corner, then KICKS away again! Bryan aims, to ROUNDHOUSE Nakamura down! Bryan fires up, runs corner to corner, and hits a dropkick! He keeps moving, another dropkick! A third trip, but a KINSHASA!! Cover, Nakamura ELIMINATES Daniel Bryan!!
Even after taking on Mysterio and Corbin, Nakamura gets through Bryan to make it to the final round! And Bryan shows respect by shaking Nakamura’s hand! Will we see these two battle 1v1 again later on down the road? But Roman Reigns heads back out? He, Heyman and Jey return to ringside to watch this final round closely. And we obviously know Nakamura’s last opponent is SCRAP DADDY! Will everyone get what they want after the break?
Shinsuke Nakamura VS Adam Pearce!
SmackDown returns and Roman is still on stage. Heyman calls for the entrance, and Pearce reluctantly walks out. Pearce nervously passes by Roman but Roman and the others follow behind to make sure he goes to the ring. Pearce still isn’t sure why he has to do this, but Jey goes into the ring instead? Jey gets in Nakamura’s face and says he’s about to get this work. Roman also steps inside the ring, and Jey DECKS Nakamura! Jey goes after Nakamura and so does Roman! The Bloodline is softening up Nakamura for Pearce?! Roman headbutts, Jey CLUBS and they both stomp Nakamura down! The ref reprimands but Roman looks to Pearce.
Jey SUPERKICKS Nakamura, Roman SUPERMAN PUNCHES him! Jey goes up to USO SPLASH Nakamura!! Roman smirks as he goes out and Pearce asks what’s going on. “This is what you need to understand. I do what I wanna do. This is my show. I employ you. Now do your job!” Roman shoves Pearce in, and Jey SUPERKICKS Pearce down!! Roman tells the timekeeper to ring the bell, and the bell does ring. This round is officially happening, but what is Pearce supposed to do now? Jey just drags him on top of Nakamura, and that counts as a cover! The ref is made to count, and Pearce wins!!
Winner: Adam Pearce, by pinfall (NEW #1 Contender to the WWE Universal Championship)
Roman said he’s able to pick his own challenger, and he just did! He has made ADAM PEARCE his opponent for the Royal Rumble!! Will everyone learn to fall in line behind the Tribal Chief?
This was a great episode! No filler, all progress in stories, and a lot of great action. The Intercontinental Championship match having that spot of controversy in the middle was actually very clever, as it also worked out as a commercial break. Naturally, Big E wins to keep his reign going, and I hope he gives a lot of people opportunities for matches. Big E should be the workhorse champion as neither Raw or SmackDown has that right now. To be fair, neither does NXT right now, but all the more reason. Big E should be a fighting champion, he should rack up wins and make this reign feel big.
Bayley and Bianca had a good promo section, and that will be a strong thread of the Women’s Rumble to parallel Charlotte Flair and Shayna Baszler on the Raw side of things. Mella had a good promo, and it’s just a matter of saying she and Sasha Banks are having a title match for the Rumble PPV. The SmackDown Tag title match was great. The story of Ford selling his leg really upped the match, really added to Ford’s toughness, and was actually a very good way of having the Profits lose. Sonya’s return being as management, not as a wrestler, is an interesting take on this, but I do think her mic skills will lend well to this. She can handle the Women’s Division here on SmackDown, maybe even start showing up on Raw, and something starts up with that.
And obviously, what can compare to the story with Roman Reigns. I like that he confronts Adam Pearce, pins the blame on Adam Pearce, then uses his and Heyman’s influence to force Adam Pearce into a situation Pearce can’t actually win. The gauntlet match was incredible, as most WWE gauntlet matches are, and I am actually surprised Nakamura was the one that made it to the end. I thought with things being three Heels and two Faces, and then Bryan wanting to win the Rumble so badly, that left it to Mysterio. But between Corbin attacking everyone, the incredible 1v1 of Nakamura VS Bryan, and Nakamura being the one Roman and Jey beat up, it seems Nakamura might be returning to Face? I like that, especially if Cesaro joins him because who wouldn’t love to cheer Cesaro as a Face?
But Pearce is made the pawn in Roman’s game, and now Pearce has a title shot at the Royal Rumble! Roman was surely going to win at the Rumble before, but now it’s guaranteed. Pearce can still put up a good fight, and maybe Jey won’t help Roman win this time, but Roman is still going to win so that it’s about facing the Rumble winner. I’m thinking Bryan wins the Rumble to check that off his career wish list, but maybe the PPV before Mania is about Roman VS Nakamura after what we got tonight. I would love Roman VS Nakamura for a tiny chance we get Nakamura VS Bryan at Mania for the title. But even Roman VS Bryan is a great story and match, so either way, SmackDown is winning!
My Score: 8.9/10
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