Welcome one and welcome all to the first-ever WWE SmackDown review. Each week I’ll be taking a look at the show and trying to figure out what was good, what was bad, and what was downright ugly and as this was the kick-off episode for 2020 it makes sense to start right here, right now.
That’s right folks; it’s time to lace up our boots and head to the ring.
Sasha Banks & Bayley vs. Lacey Evans & Dana Brooke vs Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
After a short backstage segment where we saw The Miz tell Daniel Bryan how he isn’t happy that it’s not him facing The Fiend at the Royal Rumble, but Bryan won fair and square so go out there and pimp slap him (or words to such effect) it was time to head down to squared circle for even more talking.
I get it, the show has to start with some kind of back and forth, this is how it is and is how it will be until the sun goes out, but these things are usually a waste of time and, even though this was mercifully short, this was no exception.
I didn’t learn a great deal here that I didn’t already know, so I’m not quite sure what the point behind it was unless it was to expose just how the role reversal we now have for Bayley and Lacey Evans isn’t working.
I was one of the many calling for The Hugger to turn heel but the fact is it’s not going to plan. The difference between her character and Sasha’s so obvious it’s becoming painful to watch. The best way to get a new persona over is for the audience to believe that it’s part of you. With Banks, you can imagine that she can be a real-life asshole if the situation calls for it, but with Bayley, not so much.
Her promos are falling flat and she doesn’t seem to have that spark of nastiness that all great pro-wrestling villains seem to possess. Whether or not this is something that can be taught remains to be seen, but for this writer at least, it might be time to go back to the drawing board.
As for Lacey Evans, I didn’t rate her as a bad guy and I don’t rate her now her allegiances have switched. She’s improved in the ring, I’ll give her that, but she’s still not the main event material the WWE seems intent on pushing her as.
Someone who hasn’t improved, even a little bit, is Dana Brooke. Seriously, whenever I watch her wrestle I’m convinced she’s going to hurt herself or someone else. The senton off the top turnbuckle that won this match was a prime example. There is no way I can ever be convinced that she didn’t mess that up, coming dangerously close to landing her full weight on a prone and vulnerable Sasha Banks which would’ve been a massacre. Luckily, she missed but for someone who’s entering her fourth year on the main roster, this is unacceptable.
Thank God for Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross.
Lil’ Miss Bliss is, with the exception of Becky Lynch, the best talker in the woman’s division and easily one of the best wrestlers, week in and week out, that the WWE has to hand and Nikki Cross is just Nikki Cross. Insane, mental, and always fun to watch.
The match itself was passable, nothing to write home about but good enough. The problem here was I thought that the show would pick up as we went along but, for whatever reason, it just didn’t yet if you take this at face value then it was okay.
Winners: Lacey Evans & Dana Brooke
Vince McMahon Bull-Honky Alert
Ugh…just…ugh. This has the stench of Big Vinnie Mac all over it.
“Otis my boy!. You’re playing the simpleton to a tea, I couldn’t be happier, and as a reward, we’re going to put you in a love triangle with Mandy Rose and Dolph Ziggler. But this will be different from all the other times we’ve used this angle as the kicker is that Dolph’s going to destroy a cake that your mother made and that you gave to Mandy.”
The man’s a genius.
This was the first of three consecutive backstage segments, broken up by an Elias song back in the ring, that had me questioning just why the hell I was watching SmackDown. Only The Miz and The New Day one made any real sense and this whole Shorty G gimmick that they’ve forced on poor Chad Gable has McMahon’s dirty fingerprints all over it.
“Hey, he’s shorter than most of the other superstars we have, let’s poke fun at him because of it.”
Somebody, please, shoot me.
Chad Gable vs. Dash Wilder
Nope. Nuh-huh, I’m not doing it. I am not now, nor never will I, refer to Chad Gable as Shorty F**king G. Sorry.
Anyway, this match was here to serve two purposes. The first of these was to show that The Revival couldn’t buy a win if their lives depended on it and the second was to bring Sheamus back into the SmackDown fold.
They did this by having him storm the ring after Gable had picked up the win and was getting the post-match beatdown. It looked for all intents and purposes as if The Celtic Warrior was coming to the rescue but in an epic swerve they had him turn his attention to the beaten man and Brogue Kick him out of his boots.
Except, it would’ve been an epic swerve if they hadn’t done this exact same thing before. With Sheamus. Back in 2015.
Winner: Chad Gable
Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz
This match had been set up earlier in the evening as a way for The Miz to blow off some steam. The Fiend is in his head, and Kofi figured that this would be the best way for him to sort it out. Spoiler Alert, it wasn’t.
Kofi pretty much took this whole match a bit too lightly for The Miz’s liking and when he lost to that most devastating of finishers, the surprise roll-up, The Miz snapped and pounded the hell out of Kofi.
As he made his way to the top of the ramp, the crowd booed him and he just couldn’t get his head around it. Screaming “After everything I’ve been through” at the ungrateful bastards in attendance, this is the perfect set up to turn The Miz back into what he really should be, a total heel.
There are not many people better in the business today at playing that role than The Miz, babyface just doesn’t seem to sit right with him, and it might see the reformation of his tag-team with John Morrison, as he came out of the dressing room when they went back-stage to try to get a word with Miz. However, my money is still on him and Morrison feuding instead.
Winner: Kofi Kingston
Otis vs. Drew Gulak
A glorified squash match that was only on the card so Vince McMahon could yell “SEE!!! SEE!!! IT’S FUNNY!!!” at the monitor in Gorilla.
I’m refuse to acknowledge this any further in the hopes it will go away.
Braun Strowman vs. Cesaro
Finally, some actual wrestling broke out at a wrestling show. Who’d a thunk it?
Maybe it was the lack of decent work on show here but this was easily the best match on the card. Strowman is always good value if you’re looking for a wrecking ball and Cesaro could get a four-star match out of a broom in a telephone booth.
Admittedly it won’t live that long in the memory, Omega vs. Okada this wasn’t, but in a barren wasteland that was this week’s SmackDown, this was a gem.
After The Monster Among Men picked up the win, seeing off both Shinsuke and Zayn in the process, Nakamura attacked him. This is obviously setting up Braun to have a run at and with the Intercontinental Title and that can only benefit both the man and the belt.
I love Nakamura but sticking the gold on Strowman will push it to the forefront of SmackDown and that can only be a good thing in my opinion.
Winner: Braun Strowman
Roam Reigns & Daniel Bryan vs. Baron Corbin & Dolph Ziggler
Main event time and this could’ve been the match of the night and a perfect way to kick off 2020 on the blue brand. Could’ve been.
The problem here was the hokey crap they decided to stick in the middle of it just as it was starting to build up a head of steam.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Bray Wyatt and I can’t get enough Fiend in my life, but if they’d just kept his inevitable appearance and Mandible Claw on Bryan until the end, instead of doing the light trick to distract him just when he was getting going, then it would’ve been more impactful.
Instead, that kind of sucked the air out of the room and I always feel that when you can hear the guy in the middle yelling abuse at his opponent over the crowd, then something isn’t working.
Bryan even had to egg the audience on to get them back into the action in the ring but it would all descend into chaos after The Fiend took him out, leaving Reigns at the mercy of Corbin and The Showoff.
Just when it looked as if there would be a repeat of the dogfood incident from the other week, more Vinnie Mac shenanigans I suspect, The Goddamn Usos came out to make the save.
And it wasn’t just their cousin they rescued, but the entire episode of SmackDown itself as the people in attendance and your friendly neighborhood wrestling writer lost their collective minds.
Thank god for The Usos.
What should’ve been a great way for WWE to lay down a marker to the rest of the wrestling world in their first SmackDown of 2020 was a complete misfire.
The action was almost non-existent, there were too many segments that could’ve been cut and nobody would’ve missed them, and the sooner Vince sods off to XFL, the better.
It was a “Meh” kind of show and it should’ve been a “Holy S*it” statement of intent for the forthcoming year and if it hadn’t been for Jay and Jimmy’s triumphant return then it wouldn’t have even made “Meh” status.
Like I said, Thank God for The Usos.