SmackDown Takeaways: Fight, Owens, Fight
By Ryan Satin
FOX Sports WWE Analyst
Friday Night SmackDown this week was jam-packed with fun moments and solid storyline progression.
This was one of those episodes in which it seemed like there was something for everyone to enjoy.
Cesaro and Dolph Ziggler mixing it up. An obstacle course showcasing impressive feats of strength. Entertaining character development for Sami Zayn and Billie Kay. An intergender match. Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns being badasses.
Let’s unpack the four biggest takeaways from Friday Night SmackDown on Jan. 22, 2021:
KO one-ups Roman Reigns again
Roman Reigns has been a few steps ahead of everyone else since his return over the summer, but Kevin Owens' outsmarting him two weeks in a row makes KO look strong before challenging for the Universal Title at Royal Rumble.
Owens put up a hell of a fight against Reigns in their previous encounters, but his record against "The Head of the Table" made him look like less of a threat coming out of them.
A new spark was needed to heat things up again.
This was accomplished Friday by having KO save Adam Pearce from the clutches of Roman Reigns with two Stunners and a Pop-Up Powerbomb through a table.
The end of show brawl also wisely helped drive home the Last Man Standing element of their match next Sunday.
Can they somehow top their other matches? Owens will probably do something wild to ensure the answer is yes.
Paul Heyman also had the line of the night about New Yorkers while selling the possibility of a match between him and Adam Pearce.
It was gold.
Bianca Belair lifts Otis
"The EST of WWE" proved she actually IS the strongEST on Friday during an obstacle segment with Bayley that saw her use a Fireman’s Carry to lift Otis from point A to point B on her shoulders.
If anyone tells you they aren’t impressed by this, immediately jump on their back holding a bag full of weights to see if they can stay standing. If they can, give them a pass. Otherwise, shame them.
Bianca Belair shows she has what it takes to be the face of SmackDown’s women’s division time and time again, with the "it" factor she possesses in segments such as this, as well as her athletic prowess, in-ring skill, role model attitude and endless charisma.
With Royal Rumble around the corner, she’s unquestionably a favorite to win – not just for these reasons but also because she’s one of the few competitors with momentum heading into the annual match.
As I mentioned in my exclusive review of her upcoming "Chronicle" episode, Bianca says she won’t be satisfied unless she wins the whole thing this time around.
Having the ability to create memorable moments such as carrying Otis around will certainly help push her in the right direction.
Cesaro defeats another former world champ
The renewed singles push for Cesaro continued this week with a win over Dolph Ziggler.
While their match was short, both wrestlers impressed with the time they were given, and the finish looked rad.
A win for Cesaro, as well as screen time in a segment with Daniel Bryan in which he came out on top, is good for everyone. "The Swiss Cyborg" is one of the best wrestlers in the company, and it’s a relief to finally see that showcased again on SmackDown in a meaningful manner.
I will say, though, it seems like they could’ve chosen a different opponent for him. Not because they don’t have incredible chemistry in the ring, which they do, but because Dolph should be protected more after winning the SmackDown Tag Team titles.
Even if the point was to convey that Cesaro can defeat former world champions, it has been a long time since people thought of Dolph in that manner, and he didn’t need to be sacrificed here — especially in a match that lasted less than four minutes.
Sasha Banks versus Reginald
Some of you reading this might say this wasn’t an actual intergender match, and to those of you, I say, "Huh?!"
No, Reginald didn’t punch Sasha’s lights out or anything, but it was still fun to see him maneuver his way around the SmackDown Women’s champion in an acrobatic manner until she eventually outsmarted him.
There were also some pretty cool spots in the match.
Going forward, I would like to see the relationship between Carmella and Reginald develop a little more for a matchup such as this to be more impactful, should it happen again.
If Reginald is given more of a character, it would add value to a tap-out in the middle of the ring, such as when Carmella’s former friend James Ellsworth did it for Becky Lynch and Asuka.
Right now, all we really know about him is that he’s a sommelier who somehow knows how to flip well.
Let’s go a little deeper.