Previously on the Best and Worst of Friday Night Smackdown: Otis Dozovic’s mom made Mandy Rose a fruitcake as a thank you for giving her son a ham and kissing him on the cheek, but Dolph Ziggler found the cake and stomped on it. This is legitimately the best story on Smackdown right now, that that however you want.
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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Friday Night Smackdown for January 3, 2020.
Best: A Night Of Returns
We got three big Superstar returns of one kind or another on this episode, instantly improving Smackdown’s roster and, for the most part, actually playing on pre-existing relationships.
Firstly, we’ve got the story of The Miz.
TLC 2019 was supposed to be Daniel Bryan taking on The Fiend for the Universal Championship. Unfortunately Daniel got his “entire hair ripped out” by said Fiend, so The Miz had to step in and take his place. Miz has been trying to be a good dude for a while now, but internally you know he just kind of assumed he could do a better job at this than Bryan, who he’s never liked, no matter how much they’re both pretending. Bray Wyatt upped the ante a bit by vaguely threatening Miz’s family, but the true insult came in the match itself, when Wyatt showed up as “Bray Wyatt” and not The Fiend. He didn’t even fight back for most of the match, and still won. And if that wasn’t enough to shame Miz, Wyatt was going to murder him with a comically large mallet on behalf of The Fiend until Hairless Daniel Bryan showed up and bailed him out. So from the Miz’s point of view, he’s pretty much been humiliated in like thee directions.
On last week’s show, Miz had an opportunity to redeem himself in a number one contender triple threat against Bryan and King Corbin. The first time out, he failed to win due to Corbin dropping out of the match and then showing up anyway to cause a no contest. The second time out, even with Corbin taken out of the equation, he lost to Daniel Bryan, clean, via submission. Now the humiliation is both professional AND physical. So Miz is back at the bottom of the pecking order, watching the NXT rookie he still hates continue to rise above him in every situation despite career-threatening injuries and forced hair removal. What’s he gonna do, go back to hosting dumb talk show segments? It’s enough to frustrate anybody, so when Kofi Kingston tries to talk up Miz’s accomplishments and present him with a plate of pancakes celebrating the new year — with syrup, for once, signaling some serious character growth for the New Day — Miz’s inferiority complex kicks in and he knocks it to the ground.
They have a match about it, and Miz loses again. That’s the final straw for him, and he attacks Kingston after the match and screams at the fans for not appreciating what he’s given them despite everything he’s been through.
It’s Miz’s true self finally bubbling back up to the surface; no matter what he does, no matter what he accomplishes, he’s always going to be the awkward rookie in the trilby being told he doesn’t belong. He might win the most championships in the biggest wrestling promotion in history over an entire decade, but if somebody ties with him, the accolade’s worthless. He says it’s about revenge, but it’s about inadequacy. He says he wants Daniel Bryan to defeat The Fiend at Royal Rumble, but does he? Or does he just still think he can beat one instead of the other?
Later in the show, Queen Cathy Kelley tries to get an interview with him and knocks on his door, but Johnny By God Mundo answers instead. In case you haven’t been following his career since he left WWE way back in 2011, his accomplishments include:
- winning the Impact World Championship
- winning Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide’s Mega, Latin American, and World Cruiserweight Championships
- winning the Lucha Underground’s Championship, Gift of the Gods, and Trios Championship
- marrying one of the best women’s wrestlers in the world both in real life and in a lime green wrestling wedding
- briefly gaining ownership over a magical gauntlet that gave him electricity God powers, which he used to play air guitar on his ab muscles
- dressing up like Indiana Jones so his wife could chop off the Luchasaurus’ head with a She-Ra sword
- recording a hit song
- filming his own action movie
And that’s just scraping the surface. I could humorously summarize shit he did in Lucha Underground all day. But now he’s back, ten times the wrestler he was before, and he’s apparently reuniting with his old Dirt Sheet co-host. I’m all for those two teaming up again, especially given how good Johnny Smackdown is at killing monsters on wrestling shows, but if you’re struggling with an inferiority complex you probably shouldn’t hang out with a guy who can do anything he wants and looks like this.
Welcome To The Usos Outside Of The Penitentiary
As for Daniel Bryan, he’s already putting The Miz behind him and moving on to more important things. He’s had a lot of practice doing that. The announced main event of the night is Bryan teaming up with Roman Reigns (who has “built enough momentum” lately to return to his pre-sickness OP self) against half-assed heel supergroup Dolph Ziggler and King Corbin. Like Miz, Reigns is hoping Daniel Bryan defeats The Fiend, because he’s entering and planning to win the Royal Rumble, and he’d like to finally have a match at WrestleMania people like. He didn’t say that last part. Here are some possible spoilers if you’d like to read some speculation on the likelihood of that.
The tag team match happens, and of course The Fiend interferes so there isn’t a finish. Bryan gets choked out and slammed through the little prop announcer charging station barricade to build some more drama for the championship match at the Rumble. I’m not expecting Bryan to win there, but if he kicks whatever machine’s powering those red mood lights, I’ll consider it a victory.
With the match over and Bryan incapacitated, the corny heels pounce on Roman and try to recreate the Passion Of The Alpo Christ moment from last month. Before they can complete the dirty deed, however, Roman’s cousins The Usos make a surprise return to make the save.
Jimmy and Jey have been dealing with a lot of personal and professional problems over the past six months, so let’s hope they’re back and have their heads on straight. They’re an all-time great tag team in WWE, and I think seeing them energized, enjoying themselves, and staying healthy in and especially out of the ring is a top resolution for 2020. Plus, “The Bloodline” has been an underrated (and unofficial?) faction, Roman’s best when he’s got a pair of dynamic running buddies, and it finally addresses the problem of Roman never, ever having backup. Good, constructive stuff!
A Shameful Thing; Lobster Head
Not making as much sense as the previous two returns is the return of Sheamus.
During the show, “Shorty G” — Jesus Christ, are we still calling him that? — finds The Revival backstage and tries to give them some good advice about not letting assholes like Elias* make fun of them and hurt their feelings. In response, they make fun of him for being short, because of course they do, despite him only being two inches shorter than them. It’s like Stone Cold Steve Austin making fun of Bret Hart for being short, that’s the difference. Between this, the women’s division, Elias’ ongoing descent into terribleness, and the Otis x Mandy Rose story, way too much of Smackdown is about people making fun of each other like they’re in middle school. Even “The Fiend” spends most of his time as Pee-wee Herman. My kingdom for a fucking adult on these shows.
Anyway, “G” and Dash Wilder have a match, which “G” wins via submission in a whopping two minutes, 55 seconds. Remember those American Alpha vs. Revival matches from NXT? Me either! After the match, The Revival beats down Shorty until former everything champion SHEAMUS returns with a slimmed down physique and a return to his classic look. No return to the classic theme, though, unfortunately. After making the save, Sheamus immediately attacks the guy he just bailed out, who is half his size, because reasons.
I guess you can’t be a top star in WWE unless you indiscriminately hate everybody. “I’m the toughest in the room” bits where guys randomly switch alignments on the fly and prove they’ve got “ruthless aggression” by beating up smaller, tired people who’ve already wrestled have never been my thing. Good to see Sheamus back, though, and props to Smol Chad for selling a Brogue Kick with a full-on neck bump.
Worst: A Promo Nightmare
One of the two matches announced before the show was a women’s division triple threat tag team match featuring Bayley and Sasha Banks against Lacey Evans and Dana Brooke, and, somewhat randomly, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. Instead of, you know, just doing the match they’d advertised, Smackdown still needs to open the episode with a goddamn promo parade to “set it up.”
So that means we have to get a long, game show NXT-quality heel promo about New Year’s resolutions from Bayley into an “I’ve always tried to set a positive example” promo from Lacey Evans. Two equally bad things. What nightmare world have we entered where the impressionable, try-hard, workhorse Horsewoman who had the deepest and most meaningful connection with fans in the history of the promotion about fan connections is the villain, and the antique dog-whistle lady who spent all year calling people “nasties” and walking out just to do nothing, turn around, and leave is the hero? Just to say it again, even though I’m bordering on some serious “we get it, just accept it” content, “I got a haircut because I hate you” and “I’m just like you because I LOVE MY CHILD” are some stupid-ass character motivations. By the time we get to the one person with a microphone who can talk, even she’s like, “it doesn’t make much sense that we’re in this match, but all right, let’s get it over with.”
The decided-by-manatee alignments frustrate me, but the actual match is fine. It got almost 14 minutes, and while parts of it were a little disjointed and clumsy, I thought Evans and Dana Brooke both looked as good as they’ve looked in a while. I think wrestlers like Evans and Brooke are better in tag team situations, where they don’t have to anchor the entire match. The only Lacey Evans face turn rationale I can truly understand is that heels should be calling the match, and Lacey desperately needs somebody in there telling her what to do.
Anyway, here’s Dana Brooke cannonballing pelvis-first into Sasha Banks’ ribcage.
If she’s gonna keep doing that, somebody teach her how to land with her back on her opponent with all her weight in her bottom like so instead of flipping all the way around into a sitting position before she makes contact. She’s either gonna miss them completely and land on her ass, or Banzai Drop them in their guts like she did here. Sasha’s spleen is a pancake right now.
Also On This Episode
Cesaro takes an excellently wrestled but kinda depressing loss — his special-ity — to Braun Strowman. This was good because of Cesaro, in spite of Braun’s entire … thing because super tired. I miss when Braun was crazy and unpredictable and might literally destroy the ring and everyone in it. Now he’s just a dancing remnant of a great character they should’ve pulled the trigger on two and a half years ago.
I like that Nakamura isn’t afraid of him, at least, and I’ll try not to notice that Okada and Ibushi are killing it for 40 straight minutes in the championship main event at the Tokyo Dome while the coolest character in New Japan history is doing post-match sneak attacks in the middle of Smackdown to set up a loss so a more important guy can get on the WrestleMania card. Sorry, I used up all my positivity and good faith in the Miz and Usos sections.
Speaking of former Chikara stars who I really thought were gonna be special in WWE but now mostly just make me depressed, here’s Vince McMahon’s 205 Live Doesn’t Exist version of Drew Gulak still doing Power Point presentations long after that stopped being a thing and getting squashed by Otis in two minutes. I mean, [shrug]
At least we get a followup segment from last week with Otis rightfully being upset that Mandy Rose just stood around and let Dolph Ziggler step all over his mom’s fruitcake. Otis didn’t see it, but his mom did, and that’s so much worse. Tucker shows up to take Otis away from her and continue to be the male best friend character in the first draft of a film school screenplay.
Mother Dozovic and Momma Storm should team up to give people advice on wrestling shows. Better yet, add Shelton Benjamin’s Mama and Linda McMahon to the sewing circle and give me the world’s weirdest Golden Girls reboot on WWE Network.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
The Real Birdman
You’d think The Usos would be trying to steer clear of handcuffs & open containers
Things to ensure you never win on Smackdown:
– Want to be taken seriously a tag team wrestler
– Avenge your family after a sociopath breaks into your home
– Be Swiss
Baron Von Raschke
Do you think Bobby Roode is home watching this Ziggler/Corbin thing thinking, “That suspension was worth it.”?
Get Dolph in with John Morrison and The Miz and you create the stable “Dads @ Hooters”
MIZ: This Fiend is a monster!
MORRISON: Meh. Talk to me when he locks someone in a coffin and steals their life energy for the sake of his immortal undead manager.
welp, there goes Sasha’s ribcage
So many times WWE manages to make their perception into our reality. They decide someone we like is garbage and then they treat him like it til we believe it is (look at Dolph, they’re doing it with Gable, Bo Dallas) but I will not let them convince me that Cesaro belongs on the trash heap.
Going to just assume the other 370 slides of Drew’s powerpoint were pictures of Sonya with the caption ‘are you really going to compete with that?’
Tonight’s show am being booked by Bizarro. All tag team competitors will be in singles competition and all singles competitors will be in tag team competition.
There’s a monster clown person entering my house and hanging out with my baby. Lemme wrestle ppl about it
*Elias really sucks right now, and sings a song that mentions how he hates Shane McMahon despite having been one of the main guys in Shane’s crew. You’re supposed to cheer him now, though, so don’t remember that! Remembering is bad for you! Just let them put SMILES ON YOUR FACES.
That’s it for this week’s Best and Worst of Smackdown. It still feels like it’s being booked by a committee of Fox executives, but this is the first week since switching networks (or at least since the first Fox episode) where it’s felt like an actual show. Some stuff happened, and it didn’t revolve around pee-pee and balls and dog food!
Drop down into our comments section below to let us know what you thought of the episode, give us a share on social media to help us out in the new year, and makes sure you’re here for next week’s show. That’s when we find out what MANDY ROSE’s mom thinks about OTIS. Swerve: Mandy is the Becky Conner of her family and her mom thinks Heavy Machinery’s great. See you then!