After losing to Roman Reigns at TLC and again in a steel cage match on Christmas night, Kevin Owens is not ready to abandon his pursuit of the universal champion. That much was clear on Friday’s edition of SmackDown, with Owens again calling out Reigns for his cowardice in needing his cousin, Jey Uso, to help him pick up wins in their previous matches.
Owens would get his wish and face Uso in the night’s main event, picking up a win before continuing the assault post-match. As has happened over and over in his rivalry with Reigns, though, the numbers game would come back to bite Owens and he would end yet another edition of SmackDown beaten down and laid out.
Reigns, Uso outsmart Owens again
Roman Reigns opened the show with an in-ring promo, talking about how all he touches now turns to gold, singling out Paul Heyman and Jey Uso as proof of this. Reigns said he saved Heyman from being cast aside by WWE while elevating Uso to the best year of his career and a position as a true main-event talent. Kevin Owens then interrupted while Reigns objected, saying nobody cares what Owens has to say after losing to him twice. Owens said that his appearance on the show proves that Reigns and Uso failed in their attempts to destroy him. Owens said he didn’t want anything to do with Reigns tonight but wanted Uso in the ring and would demand it happen later in the show. Owens made a passionate appeal to Adam Pearce to make the match, with Pearce agreeing after initial hesitation. Reigns would demand Heyman find out who disrespected him enough to allow the match to be made.
Kevin Owens def. Jey Uso via pinfall after a stunner. The match was a brawl from the jump, but Owens eventually took things over and kept his attack focused on Uso’s leg. Owens would finish off Uso after a stunner for the win before turning to the camera to ask, “Where are you, Roman?” He then proceeded to beat up Uso, as he had promised earlier in the night, attacking him and hitting a second Stunner. Owens handcuffed Uso to the ropes before hitting him with a superkick, all while continuing to call for Reigns to show some pride and save his family. Owens took Uso to the entrance ramp and was about to put Uso through a table when Reigns attacked. Uso and Reigns then worked over Owens with a pair of steel chairs and threw him from the LED board area of the ThunderDome through tables below to end the show.
While everyone involved continues to do a good job, there needs to be something different with the story at some point. Owens continually putting himself in positions where he’s outnumbered and takes an obvious beating isn’t really doing anything to further the story. Yes, Reigns needs Uso to help him and, yes, Owens is trying to drive home that Reigns is being a coward because of this. But Owens saying this and then falling into the same traps every week doesn’t develop the story, nor does it make him look particularly smart. Still, the content was solid if taken in isolation. Grade: B
What else happened on WWE SmackDown?
Big E def. King Corbin via disqualification after interference from Sami Zayn. Zayn was on commentary and ran in to break the pin after Big E hit the Big Ending on Corbin. Corbin’s Knights of the Lone Wolf ran in also, attacking Big E until Apollo Crews ran in to make the save. This, of course, led to an immediate tag match.
Big E & Apollo Crews def. Sami Zayn & King Corbin via pinfall after Crews hit Zayn with a sit-out powerbomb. Zayn nearly hit Corbin with a Helluva Kick after Crews moved out of the way. After the ensuing argument between teammates, Corbin left Zayn alone and Crews quickly hit a sit-out powerbomb for the win. Later in the show, Big E said he’d issue an open challenge for the intercontinental title next week, which Crews accepted.
The Riott Squad def. Tamina & Natalya via pinfall when Liv Morgan pinned Tamina with a roll-up. Billie Kay was supposed to be wrestling, but after she entered and was backed by Tamina, she was shoved aside in favor of Natalya. Kay attempted to manage the team instead. When momentum swung, Kay ran to manage the Riott Squad. She continued to switch sides until her involvement distracted Tamina and allowed Morgan to roll up Tamina for the win.
Carmella & Bayley def. Bianca Belair & Sasha Banks via pinfall after Carmella hit Banks with a facebuster. Banks had Carmella locked in the Banks Statement but Reginald interfered to pull Carmella from the ring. This created a distraction that allowed Carmella to take out Banks for the win.
Sonya Deville made her return after losing a Loser Leaves WWE match at SummerSlam. Deville was announced as having been reinstated and was shown walking through the backstage area.
The Street Profits hosted a New Year’s Day Smoke-Tacular. As they offered up predictions for 2021, mocking the likes of Sami Zayn, Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler, Roode and Ziggler ran in and attacked the SmackDown tag champions, including brutally attacking the leg of Montez Ford with a steel chair.
Daniel Bryan & Otis def. Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura via submission when Bryan put Nakamura in the LeBell Lock. Cesaro and Nakamura made fun of Bryan, Otis and Chad Gable as they were training for the Royal Rumble earlier in the night, leading to the match. After some back-and-forth action, Bryan caught Nakamura for the finish.