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    Sunday, January 17, 2021

    The SmackDown BreakDown (1/15/21): Adam Pearce, Former #1 Contender

    Sonya Deville used Perfume! It's super effective! I'm Ricky Publico, and this is the SmackDown BreakDown. 

    Creepy Paul Heyman aside, this week's episode of SmackDown basically taught RAW how to pull off a bait-and-switch in the main event. The secret ingredient? Subverting expectations (and totally not sucking, that too). And while it wasn't as explosive as last week, it was still a million times better than RAW in terms of literally everything. With that out of the way, let's explore why this episode was a teeny bit disappointing. It was still a great one, but hear me out. 

    For starters, there was the bait-and-switch in the form of Adam Pearce and Kevin Owens. Don't get me wrong; I'm not complaining about seeing Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens at the Royal Rumble. That deserves to be the main event over the Rumble match itself, as requested by the Tribal Chief. But at the same time, I saw it as them backing away from a bold storyline direction that they already set up perfectly. I wanted to see Adam Pearce in action! I have been denied of my inner desires once again.

    It's a weird complaint, I know, but the Adam Pearce direction is such a SmackDown thing to do that I already expected them to execute it beautifully. Pearce being a former wrestler was just icing on top of the cake at this point because Roman Reigns doesn't have to deliver a wrestling clinic to tell a compelling story inside the ring. Am I really that crazy to expect a drama-filled Roman Reigns vs. Adam Pearce match? In a parallel universe, Scrap Daddy and the Big Dog would be tearing it up as we speak.

    But on the flip side, that's basically why the bait-and-switch to Kevin Owens worked like a charm. I was so convinced that SmackDown was willing and Gable to diverge from the normal route of wrestling storytelling that I didn't even realize they were setting up the more mundane option. Kevin Owens' return didn't feel like a surprise though, either because it was an obvious option or because commentary didn't bother hyping it up as a surprise. Michael Cole's got jokes but can't even muster a gasp or two?

    Did I already mention that this show opened with a long-winding Jey Uso promo? Because man, that took forever to finish. For some reason, he didn't have that Uso swag we all know and love. We can say it's because he's a heel and he's not there to please the crowd, but you shouldn't bore the audience, either. It did provide a contrast to his cousin Roman's less-is-more kind of vibe, so that's nice. Still hated that opening promo, though. Good thing Shinsuke Nakamura saved us with a janky one-liner. 

    Now that I've mentioned the magic word, let's delve down to what made this show great. Babyface Shinsuke Nakamura is back, bitches! We could say he already returned last week with his gauntlet performance, but it's not official without his OG entrance music. They may have closed the beach where he usually surfs because Nakamura is out here kneeing people's heads off. Anyone else itching to see good ol' Nak re-capture his 2018 moment at this year's Royal Rumble Match?

    And as if Shinsuke Nakamura scoring a win wasn't enough, they also gave Cesaro the rub by decisively beating Daniel Bryan in yet another instant classic. I love how D-Bry's story arcs always involve highlighting an underutilized wrestler. As someone who has actually won a battle royal, Cesaro was the perfect opponent for Bryan, who aims to add a battle royal or Rumble victory to his resume. The storyline implications were as good as the match itself and that's why it's easily match of the night. 

    THE FINAL BREAKDOWN: I feel like I've said this earlier, but this week's episode was a solid one from top to bottom and still a perfect way to bookend a long-ass week. While they did step back from making bold decisions, I can't really complain when we're getting Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens murdering each other for sport. Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro were the stars of the night and even Rey and Dominik Mysterio didn't make me gouge my eyes out. Great show as always!

    Show Grade: A

    BreakDown Thoughts That Are Not Stupid, You Are

    • They finally found a proper storyline for the Mysterio duo that doesn't involve dating the Mysterio children in any capacity. Now that's more like it. It's been a while since we've seen Dominik compete and they found the right opponent tall enough to tower over him. It's also a reminder that King Corbin actually has an impressive set of accolades. 

    • I never took Bayley's heel catchphrase seriously, but I'm glad it got her a talk show. I'm also impressed how her segment wasn't a long-winding talk show and they just went straight to the point, while adding a little bit of room for the usual talk-show banter. I'm not sure what to feel about the obstacle course next week, though. Obstacle courses are usually a lame vehicle for a rivalry. Just ask Lashley and Sami. 

    • Is Apollo Crews joining the dark side under the tutelage of Roman Reigns? Now that's something worth checking out. We got a teeny-tiny glimpse of it when Crews grabbed Sami Zayn's tights to win the match, but I'll be needing more than that if he really wants to be solidified as a proper heel. You're learning from the Tribal Chief himself, after all. 

    Header image from WWE.com


    Ricky Publico (@nyamnyamgarbage) is Smark Henry's resident main roster reviewer...  for better or worse. A known lover of tournaments, he's a sucker for well-executed promos and fast-paced matches. While he enjoys nitpicking shows, he now prefers enjoying wrestling for what it is instead of stressing himself over things he can't control. He's anxious about the future, now more than ever. LET HIM IN.

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    Item Reviewed: The SmackDown BreakDown (1/15/21): Adam Pearce, Former #1 Contender Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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