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    Saturday, January 2, 2021

    The SmackDown BreakDown (1/1/21): New Year of Relevancy

    Jey Uso and Roman Reigns on WWE SmackDown

    This time last week, we didn't think we would have to be worrying about whether WWE would be honoring Luke Harper. Happy New Year, SmackDown fans. Ricky is still out for the weekend, so it's ya boy Ro taking over one last time for the SmackDown Breakdown.

    After last week's episode focused on nothing less but the most important people on the Blue Brand, we're back to normal programming this week. Not to say that it's been terrible, but as always, for some strange reason SmackDown is more bearable to watch.

    Part of that is, of course, the greatness that is Roman Reigns. The Tribal Chief establishes himself as the face of SmackDown and greets everyone a happy new year. Kevin Owens, the man who will not die, comes out to interrupt—because he is not dead—and challenges Jey Uso, the big reason why he isn't Universal Champion after two tries. Reigns doesn't want this to happen, because he wants to move on (and probably protect his cousin).

    Of course, the match ends up happening, because Owens is a great and sensible babyface. He logics his way into getting Adam Pearce (mysteriously hesitant because he is afraid of Reigns) to agree. Owens beats Jey because Main Event Jey Uso isn't really a winner when he goes up against actual main-eventers. After the win, he demands Roman come out to face him in another brawl, and handcuffs and beats up Jey when he doesn't. It takes a while for Reigns to come out, by which point he and Jey beat Owens up around the ThunderDome setup. The show ends after Reigns sends Owens falling and crashing through a table.

    This ending leads me to wonder: where was Daniel Bryan in all this? I assume this "shocking" ending was to write KO off for a while (even though he survived a much more brutal beatdown in the TLC go-home episode) so if the next feud was going to be Reigns/Bryan, wouldn't it have made sense for him to try and help Owens? Bryan and Jey had a match last week, while Bryan and Owens were established as being friends a few months ago. I thought that would have been the thread to connect it. Otherwise, it probably means Owens isn't being written off just yet.

    Lastly, where was the drama in the final shot? Cole and Graves are fixated in stunned silence after Roman throws Owens into the table, and it has the opposite effect. Not having a frenetic call—even one that sounds contrived from Michael Cole—undercuts what Roman just did, even though it's not like he threw him off the top of the cell. While it was a good moment, it just could have been a lot better.

    In other news, Big E's Intercontinental Championship reign is rolling off to a hot start. We're not getting endless rematches with Sami Zayn, as the SmackDown creative team is prepared to make some use of its midcard to feed E. We got Baron Corbin this week (apparently that two-week story with the Mysterio family was just to introduce the Knights of the Lone Wolf), then we're getting a match with Apollo Crews next week. This is the depth we needed in the middle of the card.

    It's also extending to the women's division, too. SmackDown has fewer women than RAW, but they were able to field enough for two tag matches with women and a little more, with Sonya Deville being back and Billie Kay being relegated to valet duty. Going by this episode alone, you'd never know that RAW has the bigger roster.

    The only thing I didn't like was the Street Profits continuing this feud with Roode and Ziggler. Again, this is a months-long feud imported from RAW because of the Draft, and was only postponed because of the New Day story heading into Survivor Series. Imagine—we're still getting a story from before the Draft! They don't even bother to go into why Montez Ford felt the need to win via a handful of tights during a rollup two weeks ago (yes, I remember). I understand they're still building up other tag teams in the division but we are so over this.

    THE FINAL BREAKDOWN: Not as good as the Christmas Day episode, but it wasn't a bad way to kick off the new year. Nothing super memorable, though (mostly because of the lame, unemotional commentary in the last segment). Not much Royal Rumble hype either.

    Show Grade: B

    BreakDown Thoughts That Didn't Make It

    • Speaking of Cole and Graves's silence, I didn't hear any acknowledgment of the Brodie Lee tributes people have been doing all night. It's bad enough that WWE didn't really hold a moment of silence for him, but it's worse when the voices that are directly talking to the audience during the shows didn't call them out for everyone to appreciate. At least the RAW team marked out for them.
    • Was going to complain about the bait-and-switch tactic they did for the Big E/Corbin match, but if it means getting more people on the show and it's done sparingly, I guess it's okay.

    Photo from WWE.com

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    Item Reviewed: The SmackDown BreakDown (1/1/21): New Year of Relevancy Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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