It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. It’s that time of year where we get those wonderful WWE Shop photos of superstars awkwardly wearing festive jumpers and everyone looking just a little too jolly. I do hope we get Lars Sullivan beating up Santa or something. I’d love to be a fly on the wall for Roman Reigns’ family dinner on Christmas Day. How awkward. But we’re not quite there yet as we’ve got the TLC pay per view to enjoy first. So let’s get to the brand new ThunderDome 2 from Tropicana Field and see what developments we have this week.

Why wait until TLC?

Oh, joy. A contract signing. They always go so well, don’t they? There must be so many contracts signed backstage without any issues whatsoever and yet when they put them in the ring all hell breaks loose. When will they ever learn? Especially Adam Pearce. Poor guy is like a magnet for bad things happening. This was an attempted contract signing between SmackDown Women’s champ Sasha Banks and the lady who has been attacking her every week Carmella. The Boss is SO done with her. I must admit I was worried about her title reign post-Bayley but this version of Carmella is the perfect foil for her right now.

Interestingly I never felt like Carmella was someone who was suffering from being overexposed or that needed reinvention but this new heel persona does play into her real-life problems with social media and the fans etc, so it’s working really well for me. Banks hasn’t changed up too much as a face which I like, as I hate it when people pander to the crowds too much after insulting them for years. After some bitchy back and forth, Carmella manipulated Sasha into putting her title on the line in the SmackDown main event and, oh boy, things escalated fast but I love it.

Dolph Ziggler vs Montez Ford

I haven’t really been excited about a Ziggler match since about 2010 but here we are. Montez Ford on the other hand is money all day long. We talk a lot about Big E breaking out and becoming a new singles star but damn Ford has absolutely everything. If he’s not at the top of the food chain in a few years then something’s gone crazy wrong and I’m opening a can of whoop-ass on whoever dropped that ball. The Street Profits definitely have a lot of life left in them yet though so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Despite Ziggler being one of the most skippable people on the roster, you know he’ll at least go out there and put on a decent match, especially with a guy the calibre of Montez Ford. This was a close bout between two men looking to get the advantage in their escalating feud and Dolph managed to get the win after a distraction from Robert Roode on the outside. Those dastardly scoundrels have been doing a number on the Profits recently and will surely get their opportunity at TLC.

Sami Zayn vs Big E

Poor Sami. All he wants is some attention from the WWE higher-ups and some decent merchandise. Is that too much to ask? Big E gets new music and all that and what does the actual IC champ get? Nothing but mocked and disrespected. I’d be angry for him if he wasn’t so hilarious every week. These two are a constant highlight of SmackDown for me and I’m so glad they’ve been paired together. Not only can they have entertaining matches together but the promos always make me smile too.

I’m glad that Big E seems to be getting used a bit more lately as I was worried they had forgotten about him. The rumours of him against Roman Reigns seem to have died down a bit now, with Goldberg now being thrown in the mix, but who knows. As much as I’d love a Big E main event run, as long as he gets a sustained singles push, then I’m all for it. This match felt a little early in the feud and I had the feeling it’d have a screwy ending which it did, with Zayn escaping with a count-out win. I get the feeling he’ll be facing Big E in a much bigger match sooner rather than later.

The head of the table

Poor Jey Uso. He just can’t catch a break, can he? No matter what he does, he seems to be letting the family down according to the Tribal Chief himself Roman Reigns. Jey’s done so much over the weeks to try and keep him happy but he keeps getting used as an example to illustrate what happens when Roman gets angry. Kevin Owens doesn’t seem to be scared of him though. Instead, KO comes out week on week to show how he wants to provide for his own family and won’t back down from Roman. Having followed his career for years I’m always pleased when Kevin gets a decent push on the main roster.

This week’s SmackDown allowed KO to deliver one of the better promos he’s had a chance to do lately. Despite being a despicable guy you really can’t trust, there’s something very likeable about him. Mostly because when you see him on social media, you know he’s actually really lovely. And this week we learnt that he’s friends with tables, ladders and chairs. Oh my. If you’ve followed his career long enough, then you’ll know that’s very true and that he’s always willing to do whatever’s necessary, especially with those items in the ring. Just ask Sami Zayn. Another killer promo segment with Jey trying to prove himself to Roman again only to get put through a table by Owens. Reigns got his revenge later backstage and told KO that he’ll be taking the food off his table. Damn chills every time Roman talks these days.

The Riott Squad vs Billie Kay & Natalya

If you haven’t seen the latest Liv Morgan documentary on WWE Network then please go and give it a shot, even if she’s not too high on your favourite wrestlers’ list right now. It’s a fascinating insight into her journey and really makes you want to get behind her. Same can be said for the Lana one actually. I love these new perspectives on wrestlers and I know some people don’t think they should break kayfabe so much, but it’s actually a really good way of getting fans. I certainly care far more about numerous wrestlers after watching their documentaries.

The set-up for this match was questionable at best with Billie Kay giving out her headshots on Talking Smack during a Riott Squad segment. I can’t be disappointed though as it’s Billie Kay and she’s wonderful. Well, I say wonderful but she lost this week. Poor soul accidentally hit Natalya and then got kicked by Ruby and Liv. I feel like her career could be going a lot better than it is but she just needs to try harder and keep giving out those headshots. I’d hire her myself if I could. Maybe I’ll slide into her DMs.

Chad Gable & Otis vs Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro

Gable and Cesaro in the same match? Oh, you are spoiling me. Sadly, they then ruined it by having Otis in it as well but hey you can’t have everything. If the rumours are true then Vince McMahon sent Otis back to the PC to get some additional training, so that’s something. Especially if it happened to Keith Lee too, which is completely ridiculous, but it is Vince so not that surprising. I’m just glad that Otis is away from all the ridiculous Miz and Morrison stuff AND that we’ve got Chad Gable back.

The story is about Gable trying to push Otis to get the best out of him, while Gable is also trying to find himself. Nakamura and Cesaro on the other hand are a seasoned tag team by now and just trying to regain their place on the ladder. Did this week’s lesson go well for the Alpha team? Well, not quite. Otis had the upper hand and was about to do the Caterpillar but Gable wanted to tag in. One failed jump later and he fell victim to a swing and a Kinshasa and the 1-2-3 went to the former tag champs. Thankfully, Gable said it was a great learning experience so I’m all for a little positivity. I hope 2021 brings them better luck.

SmackDown Women’s Championship – Sasha Banks (c) vs Carmella

It’s like Christmas has come early with a TLC preview in the main event this week. Carmella’s words really got to Sasha earlier in the night and made her put up the title in what may have been a rash decision, especially considering Banks’ history with keeping titles on the main roster. I’m sure Corey Graves is loving being able to watch Carmella every week now. I must admit I’m a little jealous of him but not too much as he does have to sit next to Michael Cole and hear him shout BOSS TIME all the time. Both women were eager to pick up the victory and the title and that effort really showed in a stellar match.

After a lot of back and forth action, where it looked like either woman could walk out as champion, Banks managed to lock in the Bank Statement which seemed like a sure-fire end to the match. However, Carmella’s waiter friend got involved, pulled Banks out and managed to get a DQ as everyone was beating everyone and the ref lost control. Yelling ‘is that enough for you Sasha?’ Carmella completely lost it and smashed a bottle over the women’s champ leaving her on the floor in agony. Now that’s how to leave a lasting impression and end a show.

The best of SmackDown

  • Carmella – she managed to get a title match and make sure her name was on everyone’s lips by the end of the night
  • Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns – a really intense verbal and physical feud
  • Paul Heyman – so simple yet effective in his current role
  • Big E – a great performance and heading in the right direction
  • Chad Gable – he lost but he’s Chad Gable

The worst of SmackDown

  • Dolph Ziggler – I wish he wasn’t here to show the world
  • Natalya – she’s really not the BOAT
  • Jey Uso – sorry Jey, it wasn’t your best night
  • Otis – I think he needs the PC and Alpha Academy combined

In summary…

This week’s SmackDown felt like a decent build towards the TLC PPV. I’m really looking forward to Reigns vs Owens and definitely Banks vs Carmella after the brutal attack. I wonder if they’ll give the women a gimmick at some point. I wouldn’t be against it but I’d guess they don’t want too many on the card. I would definitely like an IC title match added as well as I think Big E needs a strong singles showing on a PPV to move in the right direction in his career. And keeping King Corbin to a minimum always pleases me. Let’s see what the go-home show brings next week.

All images and videos courtesy of WWE.