SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)…
KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JANUARY 14, 2022
LIVE FROM OMAHA, NEB.
AIRED LIVE ON FOX
Commentators: Michael Cole, Pat McAfee
-They opened with a highlight package of last week’s Smackdown including Roman Reigns calling Paul Heyman trash, but then defending him when Brock Lesnar got snippy with him because, apparently, Heyman tugged at his heart strings by saying he loved him. They also showed Seth Rollins revealing himself as Reigns’s next challenger.
-Michael Cole introduced the show as the camera panned the crowd in Omaha, Neb. Pat McAfee hyped the Reigns-Seth “Face to Face” segment later. They showed Seth up close backstage cackling. Cole hyped Lita’s appearance later, her first in around 20 years on Smackdown.
-The Usos made their ring entrance, carrying their Smackdown Tag Team Titles with them. Jimmy talked about going to war with New Day last week, and they beat them, but they respect them. He said they’re the only team to push them hard. Jey said they let everybody know they run this show and who The Bloodline is and who the best tag team in the world is. “We the ones!” they said together.
Jimmy said they should be celebrating or helping Reigns in his “Face to Face” with Rollins. Jimmy said management is already lining up teams, and they’ll knock them down. Jimmy said there will be a Fatal Four-way match to determine the top contenders for their titles. Jimmy did an impression of a ring announcer and began by introducing Los Lotharios. Next was Cesaro & Mansoor, then Jinder Mahal & Shanky, and finally The Viking Raiders. When Shanky walked out, Cole marveled at his size and touted him being 7 feet tall and 315 pounds.
Before the bell, Jimmy gave instructions to the competitors, but then superkicked Mansoor and Erik. Everyone brawled and they cut to a break.
(Keller’s Analysis: This segment ended 12 minutes into the show and felt like filler, which wasn’t buoyed by the Usos trying to entertain with mock ring announcer voices for the entrances for the tag teams. It also doesn’t help that there’s an admitted make-shift tag team among the top four, and it’s not like any of the contenders have done anything to justify being one match away from a tag team title match. The three actual teams have been so marginalized, this just feels like it’s shining a spotlight on poorly WWE has booked the supporting cast of tag teams in anticipation of this moment that the Usos needed credible challengers.) [c]
(1) THE VIKING RAIDERS vs. JINDER MAHAL & SHANKY vs. CESARO & MANSOOR vs. LOS LOTHARIOS (Humberto Carrillo & Angel Garza) – Fatal Four-way for no. 1 contendership
The Usos joined the commentators at ringside. A few minutes in, Cesaro and Jinder set up a stereo superplex on Ivar, but Erik entered and delivered a tower of doom to all three. Then they cut to a break at 4:00. [c]
Back from the break, Cesaro started his Swing on Ivar, but Jinder broke it up. Mansoor kicked Jinder in the head. Shanky tossed Mansoor out of the ring. Erik then dropkicked Shanky hard into the corner. Garza and Humberto dove through the ropes and tackled Mansoor and Cesaro. Back in the ring, Ivar assessed the situation, then ran the ropes, but Humberto and Garza double dropkicked him. Ivar made a comeback. Ivar and Erik then gave Humberto the Viking Experience for the win.
WINNERS: The Viking Raiders in 10:00 to earn a future title match.
-The Usos stood on the announce desk and told the Raiders that they’ll be one and done against them.
(Keller’s Analysis: Just last week the Raiders lost in four minutes to Madcap Moss & Happy Corbin, and now WWE wants us to take them seriously as contenders? This type of short-term booking that depends on having either (a) zero memory or (b) not taking any prior match outcomes seriously as having any ramifications on anything is among the worst aspects of WWE booking.)
-Clips aired of last week’s Naomi vs. Charlotte match with Sonya Deville rewriting the rules of the match as it progressed.
-Backstage, Sonya was texting on her phone and acting very cold when Naomi walked up to her. Naomi said it’s cold, just like her heart. Naomi said she doesn’t want to hear from her because all she does is lie. She said her toying with her is one thing, but messing with her career and an opportunity against a champion is something she won’t let slide. She said she has never heard a reason for her “hating on me this hard.” When she threatened to hit Sonya, Sonya said when she has a jacket on, Naomi can’t touch her. Sonya said she has it in for her because she waltzed into her office with “main event character vibes when everyone knows you’re just an extra.” She told her to keep her hands off of her unless she wants to get fined, removed from the Rumble, or fired. Naomi shook her head and left. Adam Pearce walked in and asked why it was so cold.
-Sami Zayn made his ring entrance. [c]
-Sami ranted about Johnny Knoxville being the latest nuisance in his life. They replayed clips of last week’s interactions with them. Back live, Sami stood on a ramp at ringside and said he can do anything that Knoxville does. Sami said everyone knows what “Jackass” is, but he’s debuting “In-Zayn.” A hokey show-opening jingle with graphics played. Cole asked, “What on Earth does he have planned?” Sami ran to the back, then was wheeled out in a shopping cart by two men in black pants and shirts. Sami was a little testy with them as they teased pushing toward the ramp. McAfee said this is like Evel Knievel.
As Sami kept stalling, McAfee said Knoxville would have nearly killed himself three times by now. They finally pushed him toward the ramp, but then Sami yelled for them to stop. He leaped out of the cart and told fans to shut their mouths. He said he just wanted to be sure it was safe. He entered the ring and pointed at the “X” on the crash pad in front of the announce table, so the cart was supposed to fly over the ring entirely to the other side of the ring. Rick Boogs showed up, smiling. Sami told him to deliver a message to his friend Shinsuke Nakamura. As Sami said he’s taking back his Intercontinental Title, Nakamura appeared behind him and kicked him. Boogs entered the ring and pressed Sami over his head and then threw him onto the crash pad at ringside with an “X” on it.
(Keller’s Analysis: Sami entertains me with virtually everything he does, and this was no exception. This whole skit was very juvenile, but only Sami could save it.)
-Megan Morant interviewed Aliyah about facing Natalya in her debut match on Smackdown. Aliyah said she has dreamed since she was a little girl of stepping inside a WWE ring. She said she’s nervous and hopes she doesn’t throw up or embarrass herself. Natalya walked up to her and said there’s no shame in losing to her because she has the most wins of any woman in WWE. She was clutching her “Guinness Book of World Records” and said she holds three records. Aliyah said she didn’t know that book was still a thing. Natalya shot her a nasty look. Aliyah ran to the ring. [c]
-After the break, Natalya was ranting about how the “Guinness Book” is “very very much still a thing and a very important thing at that.” She said her three records reflect her legacy in WWE and it’s why she’s the favorite to win the Rumble. She listed her records: Most matches of any woman, most PPV matches of any woman, and most wins by any woman in WWE.” She said she’ll beat the record of 3.8 seconds for a win by any woman in WWE history.
(2) ALIYAH vs. NATALYA
Natalya attacked Aliyah before the bell. The ref scolded her as she continued to beat her up, stomping away at her in the corner. The ref asked if Aliyah is okay to wrestle. The ref said she’s unable to compete. She then yelled she can compete and begged the ref to reconsider. The ref reconsidered. Natalya smiled as Aliyah clutched her abdomen. Aliyah rolled up Natalya for a three count in record time. Cole called it a major upset. The ring announcer said she has set a record for the fastest victory ever 3.7 seconds.
WINNER: Aliyah in 3.7 seconds.
(Keller’s Analysis: This is a fun little storyline to give some meaning to what appears to be a feud now between Natalya and Aliyah. Natalya clutching the world record book and going on and on about it’s importance boorishly does make you want to see her get shown up in the ring.)
-Backstage Pearce and Deville were watching Natalya on the monitor. Pearce said she brought it on herself.
-Cole hyped that Lita would be out next. [c]
-They aired a clip from eight years ago on Raw of Seth and Reigns when they were in The Shield. Triple H and Randy Orton walked out and got their attention. Seth then attacked Reigns and Dean Ambrose from behind with a chair.
-McAfee hyped they’d go “Face to Face” later.
-Cole stood mid-ring and introduced Lita. He said she’s been a trailblazer and broken through glass ceilings and has been an inspiration for a generation of WWE Superstars. Lita made her ring entrance. McAfee stood and said he can’t believe he was in the same building as her. Cole asked how it feels. Lita said she’s home. Fans chanted “Lita!” She said it gives her chills every time.
Cole said many wrestlers today talk about how she inspired them including Bayley, Liv Morgan, Naomi, and Becky Lynch. He asked why she is coming back to participate in the Rumble. She said she was one of the first woman to main event Raw “with my bestie, Trish Stratus.” She talked about being the first woman to wrestle in a cage match and a TLC match. She said she wound up in the WWE Hall of Fame, too. She said on most days she is fully satisfied with her career until recently. She said there wasn’t a women’s Royal Rumble match when she competed, and she wants that. She said she thinks she has one run left in her. She said she’ll enter the Rumble and mow through 29 women and main event WrestleMania. Charlotte’s music then played.
Charlotte walked out with her Smackdown Title belt around her waist. Charlotte took the mic from Cole and said she’s going to interview Lita. Fans booed. Charlotte asked how she’s doing, but then interrupted her and said, “I didn’t know this was Flashback Friday.” She said it’s so fun reminiscing about the good ol’ days. She said she’s in the Rumble, and she plans to throw Lita over the top rope, and that will end her “fun little” comeback. She said she’s dying to know how she’s going to handle the humiliation when she ends her comeback and crushes her WrestleMania dreams. Lita said she heard all about this version of Charlotte. She said she’s a regular Tonya Harding. Lita asked how she’ll throw anyone over the top rope with that giant head she has. She asked how she doesn’t just tip over. Fans chanted, “Giant head!”
Charlotte said when Trish Stratus, back at Summerslam 2019, begged her for a match because she was bored with being a mom, she of course said yes. She said Trish put up a good fight, but she lost. She said she broke her, so Trish retired. Charlotte said she’ll do that to her, too. Lita slapped Charlotte. Then she kicked her and delivered a Twist of Fate. Cole declared that Lita hadn’t lost a step, but then asked if she could pull off a miracle.
(Keller’s Analysis: If she hasn’t lost a step, as Cole put it, why does he think it’d be a miracle if she won the Rumble? Lita was good here start to finish here. Charlotte was really good being a smug heel, too. They did a nice job adding a storyline to the Rumble that fans will be eager to see play out, and they even set the stage enough that Lita winning and being Charlotte’s challenger feels possible.)
-They showed Ricochet breaking Ridge Holland’s nose at Day 1.
-Morant interviewed Sheamus about facing Ricochet. Sheamus asked her what is missing from the picture. He said it’s Holland, who should be with him, but instead he’s at home recovering. He said Ricochet is to blame for that. He said he’s going to make everything right and see how he likes it when he’s the one leaving the ring with a broken nose.
-Sheamus made his ring entrance. [c]
(3) SHEAMUS vs. RICOCHET
Ricochet made his ring entrance. A soundbite aired with Ricochet who said he will repeat what he did to Holand against Sheamus tonight. McAfee said Ricochet is like the result of a great “create a wrestler” because he can do it all. Ricochet head scissored Sheamus over the top rope. Cole said if this were the Rumble, Sheamus would be eliminated. Ricochet then landed a running corkscrew moonsault onto Sheamus at ringside. Sheamus entered the ring, but then bailed out to ringside. He yanked Ricochet by his ankle and Ricochet took a hard fall onto the ring apron and then to the ringside mat. Sheamus then catapulted Ricochet chest-first into the support beam under the ring. [c]
Sheamus had Ricochet grounded after the break. Ricochet made a comeback and scored a two count after landing what McAfee called a Lionsault onto Sheamus who was leaning over the middle rope into the ring. (Is he allowed to say Lionsault?) Ricochet leaped off the top rope with a 450, but Sheamus moved. Sheamus then delivered an Irish Curse backbreaker. Sheamus pounded away at Ricochet’s chest as he leaned him over the top rope. Cole said there’s no one as physical as Sheamus in WWE today. Sheamus put Ricochet on his shoulders and climbed to the top rope. Ricochet broke free and landed a sunset flip powerbomb for a two count. Ricochet tried to lift Sheamus, but Sheamus slipped free. Ricochet countered an Alabama Slam, but Sheamus landed a Brogue Kick out of nowhere for a sudden win. Cole said Sheamus defeated “a very game Ricochet.”
WINNER: Sheamus in 8:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: They made the most of the time they had and delivered a really good finishing sequence.)
-Backstage Pearce and Deville were chatting. Pearce had his suit jacket off and seemed as muscular as at any time in his career. They continued to obsess about the thermostat not working and how cold it was. Sonya took off her jacket. Naomi walked in and said she sees she doesn’t have her jacket on. Pearce intervened as Naomi approached her. Naomi told Pearce to step aside. She said all Sonya does it abuse her power, especially when it comes to her. Sonya, meanwhile, put her jacket back on. Pearce said she does deserve another match against Charlotte. Naomi was happy and told Sonya that she better “stay in her cage” next week.
-Kofi Kingston came out to New Day’s theme. Cole said Xavier Woods was injured last week. [c]
-Kofi stood in the ring with a scroll. He said he had a royal proclamation to read. He detailed Xavier’s calf injury which will keep him from participating in the Royal Rumble. Kofi said there will be royal Rumble participation, so therefore he will enter the Rumble.
(Keller’s Analysis: So even when Xavier is gone, we’re still not spared the King gimmick schtick.)
-Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss made their way to the ring. Corbin walked out and said he’s rich and handsome and made so much money on NFT’s this week, he bought himself a new gold watch. He said he’s excited to throw Kofi out of the Rumble in two weeks. Moss said that would be great and excellent. Corbin said they haven’t been that happy since they destroyed Drew McIntyre’s neck. They pointed at the big screen where the attack was replayed. Moss asked what you call Kofi when he’s so nervous about facing him, he loses control of his bowels. “The Poo Day.” Corbin laughed. Kofi one-upped them and mock-laughed and rolled around on the mat. Kofi said he has every intention in this match to “drop a royal deuce on your forehead.”
(4) KOFI KINGSTON vs. MADCAP MOSS (w/Happy Corbin)
The bell rang. McAfee asked, “Will a royal deuce be dropped on Madcap Moss’s face?” Kofi tossed Moss over the top rope, so Cole said if this was the Rumble, Moss would have been eliminated. Kofi leaped over the top rope onto both Moss and Corbin. They cut to a very early break. [c]
Kofi took Moss down with a leaping clothesline, then stooped over him and waved his hand near his butt. He followed with a Boom Drop. McAfee said he thought Kofi was going to actually make a drop on Madcap’s face. Moss rolled through on a Kofi crossbody, but Kofi countered into an S.O.S. attempt. Moss blocked that and landed his Punchline for the clean win.
WINNER: Moss in 5:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: They aren’t being shy at all about pushing Moss at this point. That was among the most embarrassing intra-match storylines ever, teasing the idea excitedly that Kofi might poop on Moss’s face. Kofi was a WWE Champion not long ago.)
-An ad aired for Raw hyping that Bobby Lashley would respond to Lesnar, plus more with Miz & Maryse. Very generic.
-Seth made his ring entrance. [c]
-Cole hyped Charlotte vs. Naomi in a “Championship Contender’s Match.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Hey, they added an apostrophe! Better late than never. That does make the euphemism for a non-title match a little better, but it still makes very little sense.)
-Roman Reigns made his ring entrance. Cole said Reigns is going to break Lesnar’s record in two days as the longest running Universal Champion – 504 days. When Reigns’s music stopped, some fans chanted “Roman Reigns! Roman Reigns!” Reigns chuckled. He told Seth, “Before you say anything, Omaha, acknowledge me!” Fans cheered and booed. McAfee boasted that #Smackdown was the no. 1 trend on Twitter. Seth began talking, and a louder “Roman!” chant broke out. Seth suggested they fist-bump “for old time’s sake.” Reigns said, “That’s beneath me now.” Seth said it appeared last week that he was the last person on Earth he wanted to see. Seth said their track record in title matches against each other is lopsided. “I’ve won them all,” Seth said. Reigns laughed and said, “You’re out here talking about the past, y’all. You must be sleeping under a rock. You don’t understand what’s happening here. I’m in God-mode nowadays, son. I’m the Tribal Chief, the Head of the Table, the provider, the Greatest of this Generation, no questions asked, the greatest Universal Champion of all time, which makes me the greatest to ever do this.”
Seth said he didn’t come out there to rain on his parade. He said he came out there to acknowledge all of his success and all of his championships and main events. He asked if he can look himself in the mirror and say he’s done it all by himself. He said that’s the big difference between them. He said he, Seth, is just fine without Reigns. He said he was climbing the ladder while Reigns was “riding the pine in the CFL.” He said he held his hand in the Shield days, and after he bashed him with chair, Reigns needed the Bloodline to hold him up. “The real questions I have for you is do you really understand who the greatest is here?” Cole said Seth was making some good points. “Let’s not forget, I created you and I can destroy you,” Seth said.
Reigns said Seth looks like a clown and sounds like a clown because he’s a clown. He said he doesn’t have the star power he has. He said if he was looking for a mega-star, he wouldn’t have chosen him from Raw. He said he wouldn’t even be the one he chose from his own household. He said if he wanted to headline the Rumble against a mega-star, he would have chosen his wife. Seth looked down and soaked up the words, but seemed to be ready to snap. The Usos charged into the ring. Seth ducked and stood on the announce desk. He leapfrogged Jimmy and then tossed Jey into the ringside steps. Seth then retreated from the three-on-one situation.
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s it? That felt like a flat, sudden finish. Fans don’t really have any reason to root for either of them here. Seth is annoying and Reigns is cool, but Seth made good points and had his henchmen try to blindside Seth. So all around, nobody really likeable there. I like the history being referenced, though, to make the match feel like a bigger deal.)