This week’s WWE Smackdown episode featured the return of Brock Lesnar, who is back after being suspended in late October.
Lesnar has been suspended since the October 22 edition of Smackdown when he attacked WWE Official Adam Pearce along with others around the ringside area. At the end of last week’s Smackdown, WWE announced that Lesnar’s suspension was lifted and he would return to Smackdown this week. In addition to Lesnar’s return, WWE is also advertising King Xavier Woods vs. Jey Uso and Sheamus vs. Cesaro in singles action.
From the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, this is Smackdown for episode #1163. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.
This week’s show began with a replay of last week’s Smackdown with Sami Zayn winning a battle royal to earn a Universal Title shot and the announcement of Brock Lesnar’s return, which did not make Universal Champion Roman Reigns happy.
The show began with shots of packed house in San Antonio with the commentary team of Michael Cole and Pat McAfee welcoming us to the show.
Let’s Hear from Brock Lesnar
The music of Brock Lesnar hit to a big pop as the “Beast Incarnate” was wearing some of his mountain man attire including a flannel shirt and jeans along with the unique hairstyle along with the beard. McAfee called Lesnar the “Alpha Male of Our Species” that he has used in the past. Pat also asked if Lesnar had gotten bigger. Lesnar was greeted with “Suplex City” chants.
Lesnar started by saying that his suspension has been lifted. Lesnar said he’s here tonight for one reason and one reason only, the Universal Championship. Lesnar was about to say more, but here comes Sami Zayn in his green jacket and hat.
Zayn walked down to the ring saying that finally, their paths are crossing. Zayn claimed that aside from UFC Championships and WrestleMania main events, there are a lot of similarities between them. Zayn said that they are Canadian Alpha Males doing their thing. Zayn told Lesnar he’s a fan and he loved his look saying he should have done it years ago. Lesnar told Zayn to shut up while noting he didn’t know who Sami was. Lesnar asked if Zayn was a fan of his? Lesnar said that Zayn had a lot of balls coming out there interrupting him. Lesnar said that he lives in Saskatchewan, he lives in Canada, he hunts things there, he kills there and he eats there. Lesnar wanted Sami to tell him who he is. Zayn claimed he was the locker room leader on Smackdown as well as the number one contender for the Universal Championship. Zayn said he’s next in line to take on Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship. Lesnar said he gets suspended and Zayn becomes number one contender, so Lesnar laughed. Zayn said once he defeats Roman Reigns at Day 1, Lesnar can face Zayn and Zayn said he’s happy to do that for him.
Lesnar said that they are playing you. Zayn said there is a whole conspiracy against him. Lesnar suggested Zayn fights Roman tonight instead of at Day 1. Lesnar yelled out the match and looked up as if it was on a marquee. Zayn said he didn’t want to do it in Texas, which drew boos. Lesnar encouraged Zayn to fight Roman Reigns tonight here in San Antonio. Zayn said he needed more preparation and Lesnar told him to shut up. Lesnar told Zayn to fight Reigns tonight. Zayn said that they had creative differences and Lesnar backed Zayn against the ropes. Zayn thanked Lesnar for the advice, then he said no thank you and Zayn touched Lesnar’s chest. Lesnar pulled on Zayn’s hand to cause pain, so Zayn agreed to the match tonight. Lesnar said he’s going to witness all of this first hand and Lesnar told Zayn he’s got his back. Zayn said that you’ll see a new Universal Champion…tonight! Zayn left.
Analysis: That may have been the most talking Lesnar has done in a promo in years. It’s rare to see Brock talk that much, but he did just fine and managed to manipulate Zayn into having a match against Reigns even though Zayn didn’t want to do it. Sami is such a great talker and I enjoy his annoying heel character so much. I’m just glad that Sami is being featured more even though he’s a joke character at times. That’s okay because Sami can pull it off.
Sami Zayn was shown talking to Sonya Deville, who mentioned Adam Pearce was having travel issues and wasn’t there. Zayn mentioned to Sonya what happened when Lesnar walked up to them. Sonya said that she can make the match, so it’s Roman Reigns defending the Universal Championship against Sami Zayn. Lesnar said he gets to face to winner at Day 1, Sonya said yes and Lesnar was happy about that. Zayn was left alone with a frustrated look on his face since he was forced into the match by Lesnar.
Sasha Banks entered for singles action. They showed her win while teaming with Naomi last week and Naomi got in Sonya Deville’s face after the match. Shayna Baszler entered as the opponent. They showed some highlights of Baszler in action including stomping on the arms of Nia Jax and Eva Marie, both of whom were released. McAfee called it a “future endeavors kick on the stairs” which is a funny way of putting it.
Sasha Banks vs. Shayna Baszler
Baszler with a running kick to the chest, but Banks avoided a stomp to the arm. Banks with an armdrag that sent Baszler out of the ring. Banks with a baseball slide, Baszler got a hold of the ankle and Banks sent her into the apron. Banks with the double knee attack on Baszler and back in for a two count. They went to break there.
Banks was still in control as she sent Baszler into the turnbuckle, then a double knee attack and then Baszler came back with a running knee attack. Baszler with a gutwrench suplex for a two count. Banks fought back with strikes to the face, then an armdrag across the ring, Banks with a rising kick and a double knee stomp to the ribs for two. Banks went for a DDT out of the corner and she hit it with Baszler kicking out at two. The crowd was firmly behind Banks, Baszler kicked Banks into the turnbuckle and then Baszler applied the Kirifuda Clutch. Banks countered it into a pin attempt. Banks went for a Bank Statement submission, but Baszler got out of it, Baszler blocked a kick and Baszler hit a knee to the face. Baszler went for a slam, but Banks turned it into a hurricanrana pin for the pinfall win after ten minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sasha Banks
Analysis: ***1/4 This was a really good match between two of the better women’s wrestlers in WWE. I liked some of the strikes that Baszler did with Banks doing a terrific job of selling the physicality of those moves. It’s all about making the fans believe and Banks is so great at that. Banks got the win with a counter move to show that it was a close matchup, so it’s not like Baszler is hurt that much from the loss.
There was a backstage scene of Sonya Deville talking to Adam Pearce on Facetime since Pearce is caught in traffic. Pearce said maybe it’s best if he stays away since Brock Lesnar is there and Pearce said he wants to “remember the Alamo” tonight. Pearce said he’s going to go and Sonya has got this under control. Drew McIntyre walked into the office to talk to Deville. Drew wondered who was responsible for him not being in the battle royal. Sonya said Pearce made the list, but he’s not here. Drew said Sonya was passing the heat and Drew held his sword while telling her that he wants to talk about Pearce.
Analysis: The reason Pearce was away is because he’s scared of Brock Lesnar, so even though Sonya wanted Pearce there, it looked like no sign of Pearce this week. As for McIntyre, it makes sense for him to want to find out why he wasn’t in the battle royal. It’s a way to keep Drew away from Reigns. I think that’s going to be a rivalry to watch in 2022 and should be awesome.
Happy Corbin made his entrance wearing a shirt and shorts while Madcap Moss was in his usual attire. Corbin has leg tattoos, so McAfee wondered what was on his legs and said that they looked like camouflage. McAfee: “Happy, there’s graffiti on your shins!” The fans booed Corbin for his talk show segment up next.
There was another reminder that Roman Reigns will defend the Universal Title against Sami Zayn later on Smackdown.
Happy Corbin was in the ring with Madcap Moss where they sitting on chairs. Corbin mentioned the battle royal last week, Moss mentioned eliminated guys last week and Corbin thought it was a hilarious prank that Corbin eliminated Moss. Corbin mocked Jeff Hardy for forgetting that Sami Zayn was still in the match. Moss had a terrible joke mocking Hardy. Corbin ripped on Drew McIntyre for being a crybaby that tried cutting people with his sword. Moss ripped on McIntyre checking on a battle royal list and called him a “Scottish Worrier” instead of warrior. Terrible joke. I know it’s a terrible joke on purpose to get heat, but it’s still lame that it makes TV.
Drew McIntyre entered with the sword while Moss left the ring. Hardy went up to Corbin from behind and Hardy gave Corbin a Twist of Fate. Moss went after Hardy, so Jeff gave Moss a Twist of Fate. McIntyre bounced off the ropes and hit a Claymore Kick on Moss. Hardy and McIntyre celebrated their dominance. McIntyre and Hardy put some hats on their head to end it. The fans loved them.
Analysis: A bad talk show segment by Happy Corbin again, but at least this one ended on a happy note with the babyface duo of McIntyre and Hardy cleaning house to shut up the annoying heels. It worked to pop the crowd. It’s not really that interesting in terms of advancing stories.
There was a Xia Li comic book video shown about how she’s The Protector of her family. Li debuts next week on Smackdown in Los Angeles.
Viking Raiders entered for tag team action against Los Lotharios after a break.
This Monday on Raw, Edge is the guest on Miz TV. Plus, Becky Lynch defends the Raw Women’s Title against Liv Morgan and Big E vs. Kevin Owens in a Steel Cage match.
The Los Lotharios team made their entrance. They have been on a winning streak as a highlight was shown when Angel beat Rick Boogs last week.
Viking Raiders (Erik & Ivar) vs. Los Lotharios (Angel & Humberto)
The Raiders used their power early with Ivar hitting a splash and Erik with a clothesline. Humberto avoided Erik and hit a suicide dive. Angel kicked Erik down. Humberto held Erik in a chinlock leading to Angel about to do a kick, but then Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs were at the commentary position to distract. Erik sent Humbert out of the ring and then Angel did a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Erik for the pinfall win after about two minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Los Lotharios (Angel & Humberto)
Analysis: * Dumb finish to a short match. It gives Los Lotharios the win, so it’s good for them to get the win, but nobody is going to remember the match.
Post match, Viking Raiders went over to Nakamura and Boogs, who played the guitar, so everybody started doing the “raid” dance by pounding their chest repeatedly with McAfee joining in.
The Progressive Match Flo was shown about Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair humiliating Toni Storm last week by sending two pies in the face of Storm.
Toni Storm was interviewed by Kayla Braxton. Toni said now she’s known as the girl that had two pies thrown in the face. Toni said that Charlotte can try to embarrass her all she wants, but Toni wants a title match. Toni said that she is not afraid of her or intimidated by her as well as all of her title wins and fancy robes. Toni said that Charlotte has more experience, but Toni believes she is going to prove her dead wrong. Toni said that she might be “Two Pie Toni” but she has a better nickname “Toni Storm Smackdown Women’s Champion.” Toni left with confidence.
Analysis: They need to put Toni in the ring and book her to get some wins for her to get that title shot. It’s not that complicated. They have barely put in the ring on Smackdown. Give her a chance to show what she can do.
Jey Uso made his entrance with brother Jimmy. They are the “The Ones” that are part of The Bloodline and they are the Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
The Usos did a pre-match promo. I missed it as I had to answer a phone call. When that was done, Xavier Woods announced that Kofi Kingston was back. Kofi was out for about a month due to an injury angle.
Analysis: Kofi was gone for the birth of his daughter – Kofi’s third child since he has two sons with his wife. Congrats to Kofi and his wife.
Jey Uso vs. Xavier Woods
Jey missed a running hip attack in the corner, Woods hit a jumping kick to the head. Woods with the Honor Roll clothesline out of the corner. Woods went to the top rope, Jimmy grabbed him and that led to a DQ. It only went about two minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Xavier Woods
Analysis: *1/4 Another short match that meant nothing due to the DQ. They will probably set up a tag team title match out of this, which is not a surprise since these teams have wrestled many times over the last few years.
Post match, New Day cleaned house and The Usos retreated with their titles.
Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman were in their office with Reigns saying so Kofi was back and Pearce wasn’t there while noting that was a surprise. Reigns mentioned Lesnar in Zayn’s corner tonight with Heyman said that caught him by surprise. Reigns said he’s going to smash Zayn and if Lesnar comes near him, Reigns will smash Lesnar too.
Charlotte Flair entered as the Smackdown Women’s Champion in non-wrestling gear.
There was a backstage scene with New Day walking there with Aliyah saying she was so happy for them. Kofi and Xavier talked to Kayla Braxton. Kofi said that they are going to destroy the Tag Team Championship reign of The Usos at Day 1 just like The Usos destroyed Xavier’s crown. That was it.
Analysis: There’s the title match I mentioned earlier. It’s on at Day 1 in four weeks. Maybe a title change? It’s possible, but I like The Usos as champions.
Let’s Hear from Charlotte Flair
Charlotte addressed Toni Storm saying the way to get noticed in this division is to mention Charlotte since Charlotte is the most decorated woman in sports entertainment history. Charlotte said that number one doesn’t even acknowledge somebody like Toni. Charlotte laughed about smashing pies in Toni’s face while claiming that everybody laughed about it. Charlotte said that if it was that easy to embarrass Toni with a pie, then just imagine what she can do to Toni in the ring. Charlotte claimed that what she said about Toni was simply fact while adding that Toni demanding a title shot doesn’t add up. Charlotte said “no” to Toni Storm’s title challenge. Charlotte left the ring looking confident as usual, but that’s when Toni Storm showed up with a pie in her hands. Storm got some pie revenge by slamming a pie in Charlotte’s face. Charlotte was screaming about it while Toni laughed. That was it.
Analysis: I mentioned last week that Charlotte getting the advantage was going to piss off some fans, but that’s okay because I figured Toni would get revenge this week and that’s what we got here. Flair sold it well by looking embarrassed after she was so confident in the ring. I still think they need to put Toni in matches, have her get some wins and build her up that way because that way a wrestler earns it instead of just saying they want a title shot.
They showed a highlight of Cesaro beating Ridge Holland last week. Sheamus entered for singles action. No Ridge Holland with him this week.
A video aired showing highlights of Ricochet in action. I think Ricochet is one of the most underutilized wrestlers in all of WWE. They don’t know what to do with him, so here’s a one minute video package.
Cesaro made his entrance for singles action. It’s a battle of former tag team partners known as The Bar who also competed in a Best of 7 Series over five years ago.
Cesaro vs. Sheamus
Cesaro with a waist lock into the turnbuckle and Sheamus with back elbows. Ridge Holland was watching on a TV backstage with Cole noting that Sheamus instructed Holland to stay in the back. Sheamus with a backbreaker. Cesaro to the apron, Sheamus with three forearms and a rolling senton for a two count. Sheamus with a chinlock, Cesaro came back with punches and a clothesline that sent Sheamus over the top to the floor. Cesaro followed up with a running uppercut that sent Sheamus over the barricade at ringside. Cesaro sent Sheamus into the hood of the announce table three times. Back in the ring, Sheamus was in first and that gave Sheamus the space to hit a jumping knee lift to the face. Sheamus told Cesaro that he was never in his league and Holland was a better man. Cesaro said that Sheamus was like a brother to him. Cesaro with a Brogue Kik and a double foot stomp to the body. Cesaro charged, Sheamus moved out of the way and Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick for the pinfall win after about five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sheamus
Analysis: **1/2 It was good for the five minutes they got. More time would have been nice for them because then we know it would be a lot better, but they weren’t given that chance. I liked the finishing sequence with each guy saying some words to the other, then Cesaro hit a couple of moves, but Sheamus avoided a corner charge and Brogue Kick finished it. I’m not sure if this was just a story for a couple of weeks or if it will continue.
There was a recap of Brock Lesnar convincing Sami Zayn to fight Roman Reigns tonight.
Sami Zayn made his entrance for his Universal Title match with about 30 minutes left in the show.
There was a backstage scene with WWE Official Sonya Deville talking on the phone with Naomi going up to her. Naomi said she couldn’t even enjoy her win from last week because she thought about Sonya doing everything she can to kill Naomi’s glow. Naomi wanted a match against Sonya and only her. Sonya said she’ll give her a match when Sonya is ready to take off the suit. Sonya said that when she has her ring gear then that’s one thing, but when the suit is on, Sonya is in charge and if Naomi touches her then Sonya will make sure Naomi won’t have a paycheck. Naomi asked if Sonya accepted the challenge, Sonya slapped Naomi in the face and Naomi got in her face. Sonya smirked and walked away.
Analysis: This story has gone one for months without really offering much in the way of a resolution. They are at least going to have a match at some point in the future, so that’s some progress I guess.
They showed a Raw Rebound video showing highlights from Monday’s Raw. This took about three minutes. Raw on Monday has Big E vs. Kevin Owens in a Steel Cage Match and Becky Lynch defends the Raw Women’s Title against Liv Morgan.
Sami Zayn was still in the ring seated in the corner. I think he was in the ring for about ten minutes at that point. There was another commercial.
Next Friday on Smackdown in Los Angeles: Jeff Hardy vs. Corbin and Naomi vs. Sonya Deville. Pat McAfee: “Middle Management will get kicked in the mouth by Naomi.” Something like that.
Sami Zayn did a promo saying Texas was his least favorite state in America and he never dreamed of his winning his first Universal Title here. The fans booed. Zayn said that Brock Lesnar was like his Guardian Angel that set up this match. Zayn said that he is going to shock the world by upsetting Roman Reigns and becoming the Universal Champion. Zayn said that he will never have to thank the fans because they don’t support him in his conspiracies and said that the only person he has to thank is Brock Lesnar.
Brock Lesnar made his entrance with the fans cheering and Zayn wanted the fans to make some noise for Brock Lesnar. Zayn said that he knows Brock isn’t there to help Zayn win. Zayn said that at Day 1, Lesnar would have an easier time against Zayn than if he faced Reigns. Zayn said that Lesnar’s track record against Reigns hasn’t been great. Lesnar didn’t like that, so Lesnar hit two German Suplexes. Lesnar with another German Suplex across the ring. Lesnar delivered the F5 to Zayn as well. Lesnar stood over Zayn while the fans chanted “one more time” for Lesnar to do it again. Lesnar picked up Zayn and hit another F5 on Zayn, much to the delight of the crowd. Lesnar lifted up Zayn, put him up against the turnbuckle and Lesnar left. Cole reminded ups that Roman Reigns will be out here in a moment.
Analysis: Poor Zayn got his ass kicked like I’m sure most viewers figured was going to happen. The fans like Lesnar kicking ass, so that’s what they got to see here. This was about 20 minutes after Zayn initially walked out to the ring to have a match.
Roman Reigns made his entrance as the Universal Champion for day 460 (thanks Cole) of his title reign. Reigns was joined by The Usos and “Wise Man” Special Counsel Paul Heyman. Even though Sami Zayn was just decimated by Brock Lesnar, he still has to compete in this match for some reason. After Zayn collapsed to the mat, The Usos propped Zayn back up on the corner turnbuckle. Pat called him “Weekend at Sami” which is pretty good.
WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns vs. Sami Zayn
Reigns did his yell that he likes to do, Zayn walked out of the corner and Reigns hit a Spear. Reigns slapped on the Guillotine Choke, Zayn tapped out and Reigns won in about 10 seconds.
Winner by submission: Roman Reigns
Analysis: No point in rating that. Poor Zayn got decimated and Reigns got the easiest win of his career. Zayn can continue to complain about the conspiracies against him since that should not have been a title match.
The graphic was shown letting us know that Reigns will defend the Universal Title against Brock Lesnar at the Day 1 PPV on January 1.
Reigns celebrated the win with The Bloodline. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: I admit I didn’t think they would do Reigns vs. Lesnar at Day 1, but that’s certainly a way to make it feel like a big deal.
Three Stars of the Show
- Brock Lesnar
- Sami Zayn
- Sasha Banks
6.5 out of 10
Last week: 6.25
2021 Average: 6.96
It was a bit of a weird show this week where only one match really got a lot of time and everything else felt rushed or too short. I think WWE needs to be more consistent with the matches. By only having one match go over ten minutes (Banks over Baszler), it’s really not a lot of wrestling on the show. I get that they wanted to put Lesnar all over the show and that’s what they did, but some of the matches were rushed with bad endings. It was hard to get into it this week.
They really pushed the Lesnar/Zayn story throughout the night leading to Reigns cleaning up the scraps so to speak because Lesnar wanted to face Reigns again and now that’s on for the Day 1 PPV.
I just think the show wasn’t that interesting. I expect a better effort from Smackdown.
The next WWE PPV is Day 1 on New Year’s Day from Atlanta. Here’s what we know so far:
WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Brock Lesnar
WWE Championship: Big E (c) vs. Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Usos (c) vs. The New Day
Thanks for reading. Please check out my reviews of every WWE PPV ever listed in order. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. My contact info is below.