Royal Rumble is just five short weeks away, and the SmackDown superstars are looking to gain momentum heading into one of WWE’s big four PPVs. Friday nights are always ripe with fantastic wrestling, tight storylines, and exciting moments, so choosing just three isn’t always going to be easy. Seeing as this is the first “SmackDown Recap” article here on Love Wrestling, I’m laying out some guidelines. 1) Anything that happens on SmackDown can make the list. Whether it’s a match, promo, vignette, or appearance, it’s eligible. 2) … well, that’s about it. Without further ado, here are the four best moments of the January 1st edition of SmackDown.
4) The Head of the Table Celebrates
SmackDown started hot (and honestly never really let off) with Roman Reigns entering the ring flanked on either side by Paul Heyman and Jey Uso. After bragging about successfully defending his title last week in a steel cage match against Kevin Owens, Reigns said that everything he touches turns to gold. For example, his cousin Jey Uso had become a main event talent since Reigns’ return. In truth, Reigns is right (and that is what makes a good heel great). Since returning, everything he’s done has been can’t-miss television. However, their celebration was interrupted when KO emerged on the entrance ramp and said that Reigns failed his family because he couldn’t keep KO down. Owens then challenged Jey Uso to a match later in the night. The segment was flawless from start to finish. Reigns, who once had a tough time connecting with audiences, has settled in perfectly as a heel. The segment set the tone and gave us a narrative thread to follow throughout the night.
3) Bayley and Carmella def. Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair
I know this was a rematch from the week before. And, yes, like you, I‘m not a fan of random women’s tag matches, especially when the champion eats the pin. However, none of that mattered when the bell rang, and these four outstanding athletes went to work. The match was hard-hitting and exciting. Belair looked right at home with SmackDown’s three other top female stars. During the climax of the match, Reginald saved Carmella from the Bank Statement. He then entered the ring to do some “flippy-shit.” The distraction allowed Carmella a chance to recover long enough to deliver a Mella Buster. Carmella pinned Banks for the victory. I want to mention that the transition from what looked like a crucifix pin into the Mella Buster was one of the most beautiful transitions into a finishing move I have seen in some time. The entire match was a testament to the talent of these women. There were multiple moments in this match where I was literally saying, “Oh my gawwwd!”
2) The Return of Sonya Deville
Since before the pandemic, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville were embroiled in one of the most visceral rivalries of 2020. Both women were able to build momentum that elevated them from tag-team midcarders to singles stars. The feud culminated at SummerSlam in a match in which the loser had to leave WWE. Deville lost. And we haven’t seen or heard from her since. Until tonight. In a very short, blink-and-you-miss-it segment, Sonya Deville walked through the backstage area to the surprise of her fellow superstars. I loved it for many reasons 1) It’s logical. It makes sense in kayfabe that WWE could reinstate Sonya Deville in 2021. 2) There is no doubt Deville was a break-out star in 2020. The WWE Universe was buzzing when a video of her backstage was tweeted. It will be interesting to see what WWE has in store for her in 2021. I happen to think, whatever it is, she is going to nail it.
1) Tribute to Jon Huber
WWE paid tribute to the Jon Huber who recently passed away. It’s always difficult to write about the death of someone you never knew personally, but it’s clear to anyone that watched him perform he loved what he did in the ring. More importantly, Jon was a loving and caring person who was taken from this world much too soon. He has touched the lives of so many people within the wrestling world and beyond.
The first edition of the WWE SmackDown Recap is in the books. There were many honorable mentions, including Billie Kay playing manager for both the Riott Squad and the team of Natalya and Tamina, as well as Sami Zayn just being an unlikeable goof who even Baron Corbin can’t stand. With so many options, what was your favorite part of SmackDown? Let me know! Leave a comment below!
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