Welcome to this week’s WWE Smackdown review. We are in the month of July, which means the second half of the year is here. I had a decent Canada Day (July 1 which is Canada’s birthday) on Thursday and I hope my friends in America have a good Fourth of July celebration for Sunday, but really all weekend. Get those barbecues out. Have some fun. As for WWE, the Thunderdome era is ending soon because, in two weeks, Smackdown is back on the road in Houston for the July 16 episode of Smackdown. I’m looking forward to that. It will be the go-home Smackdown for the Money in the Bank pay-per-view.
From the WWE ThunderDome at the Yuengling Center in Tampa Bay, Florida, this is Smackdown for episode #1141. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Please visit TJRWrestling.net daily for our regular updates on the wrestling business featuring WWE news coverage, insightful columns from our team along with reviews about wrestling’s past (including my reviews of every WWE PPV ever listed in order) and present. Let’s get to it.
The opening video package showed highlights of the Roman Reigns/Paul Heyman promo talking about how there was nobody left for Roman to face. That led to Edge making his surprise return for his first appearance since WrestleMania. Edge got the upper hand and ended Smackdown standing tall.
The show began with Michael Cole noting it was the penultimate edition of Smackdown at the Thunderdome. The crowd was there on the screens with the show sponsored by Progressive as usual. It’s Michael Cole and Pat McAfee on commentary.
Let’s Hear from Edge
Edge made his entrance in street clothes with the thick beard. Edge will challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Title at Money in the Bank on July 18.
Edge said that WrestleMania was supposed to be the culmination of a ten-year story. Edge said it was ten years to the day from when he had to retire as the World Heavyweight Champion. Edge said he envisioned it so much, he knew it would happen and then it didn’t happen. Edge noted that wasn’t in his plans or vision. Edge said that it rocked him, so he took some time, he rolled the match back in his brain and he even watched the match back, which he normally doesn’t do. Edge said that his one fear of Daniel Bryan being in that match cost Edge the win while noting that Bryan stopped the tapout during a Crossface and Bryan pulled a referee out. Edge said he could complain about Jey Uso stopping Edge and he would have been justified in complaining about it. Edge said in 2006 he would have complained, but in 2021 he understands there will always be excuses and obstacles while talking about how he has spent his entire career knocking down obstacles or he wouldn’t be there right now. Edge: “I don’t stop.”
Edge said now that he’s been in there with Roman one on one, he knows he can beat him and more importantly, Roman knows it too. Edge said that they both felt it. Edge knows that Roman won’t admit it, but Edge has proof. They showed an image of Edge holding Roman in a submission (with a steel bar stretched across Roman's mouth) with Edge asking for a zoom on Roman’s eyes. When it tilted up to Edge’s eyes, it was a look of a man that knows how he can make another man feel and when you make that look you live in that man’s head for life. Edge said that deep down, no matter what the odds say, no matter what it says on paper, Edge is the guy that has Roman’s number. Edge: “I’m gonna beat you. It’s just a matter of when. I’m inevitable and I’m going to be the Universal Champion.” Edge left with a smile on his face.
Analysis: It was a strong promo from Edge. I’ve said it ever since he came back to WWE 18 months ago that his promo work since returning is as good as it’s ever been and he was always a good talker anyway. Edge brought the intensity here while also showing a lot of confidence in his abilities. Everything he said about the WrestleMania match was true. He said he wasn’t making excuses even though he was, but when you make valid points it’s okay to do it that way. I think they will do a nice job of making Reigns vs. Edge feel like a big deal.
Jimmy Uso was shown talking to Paul Heyman in the dressing room of Roman Reigns. Jimmy was fired up saying that he’s with Roman Reigns and when Roman gets here, they are going to take out Edge together. Heyman said nothing as he stared at Jimmy.
Rick Boogs was on the stage saying he came to rock with the one true king in all of WWE, Kingsuke Nakamura. That’s what he called Shinsuke Nakamura, so maybe that’s an official name now. The graphic said “King Nakamura.” Pat McAfee was doing his dancing routine while sitting on top of Michael Cole briefly and then Pat was dancing on the table. They showed a clip from two weeks ago when Nakamura beat King Corbin to be King Nakamura. Last week, Nakamura had a ceremony.
Big E made his entrance as Nakamura’s tag team partner.
Apollo Crews, the Intercontinental Champion, entered with Commander Azeez. They showed Baron Corbin last week looking despondent saying he lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in investments and he was sad. The entrance of Baron Corbin still said “King Corbin” even though he no longer uses that name. Corbin left some of his hair along with an unkempt beard. Greg Hamilton almost said “King” Corbin and then corrected it to “Baron Corbin” as the "king" music stopped playing.
Apollo Crews (w/Commander Azeez) & Baron Corbin vs. Big E & “King” Shinsuke Nakamura (w/Rick Boogs)
Nakamura started with Crews and Crews got the advantage after hitting a shoulder tackle. Nakamura knocked down Crews with a spin kick. Nakamura with a running knee lift on Crews. Big E and Nakamura did some “good vibrations” boots to the throat. Big E with a back elbow on Crews. Crews slapped Corbin in the chest to tag him in. Corbin hit Big E with a clothesline on the floor and Corbin tossed Big E over the barricade at ringside.
Corbin was in control of Big E with a chinlock, Big E back up and Corbin hit a back elbow. Crews tagged in with an impressive dropkick. Crews with a chinlock, then a kick to the head and Big E sent Crews out of the ring, but Corbin tagged in. Corbin with a clothesline on Big E, punch to Nakamura and Corbin hit a front slam on Big E. Crews hit Nakamura with a German Suplex, they went to the floor and Nakamura hit a spin kick on Crews on the floor. Rick Boogs went on the microphone saying that a Mercedes was being towed (with a Corbin license plate) in the parking lot. They showed a video on the screen with Corbin realizing it was his car and Big E hit the Big Ending on Corbin for the pinfall win after nine minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Big E & “King” Shinsuke Nakamura
Analysis: **1/4 The match was okay, but the finish was about as lame as it gets. I've watched WWE for many decades now. I don't know if I've ever seen the "car being towed on the parking lot" distraction finish very often. It's a fresh idea I guess, but not necessarily a good one. It’s nice for Big E to get a win there.
After the match, Baron Corbin was sad after the loss.
Analysis: I realize that the story is that Corbin is unable to make payments on his big purchases now. I don’t know if it’s going to be a good thing. Also, WWE has trademarked the phrase “Happy Corbin” so somehow it might lead to that.
They replayed Bayley pinning Bianca Belair in a mixed tag team match last week. Bayley made her entrance looking confident in street clothes for another confrontation with Bianca Belair.
Let’s Hear from Bayley and Bianca Belair
Bayley bragged about beating Bianca Belair last week. Bayley was critical of Bianca as a champion while noting her own 380 days as the Smackdown Women’s Champion. Bayley said that Bianca is falling short of expectations as a champion. Bayley said it would be so sad to see Bianca fall apart in front of the boys and girls that worship her. Bayley said that Bianca is nothing to Bayley.
Bianca Belair made her entrance as the Smackdown Women’s Champion. Belair said that Bayley needs a good crack in the mouth. Belair said that she has this title and beats Bayley over and over again. Belair said that Bayley is obsessed with her. Bayley said that she is in Belair’s head. Belair said that Bayley is in her head because Bayley keeps coming up with excuses because that voice will always be in her head. Belair said that the way to end this is to embarrass Bayley to the point of no return. Belair said if the officials will allow it, she will defend the Smackdown Women’s Title on the line against Bayley in an “I Quit” Match.
Bayley laughed about it. Bayley said that she has never quit anything in her whole life. Bayley said she’s accomplished more than Bianca is ever going to accomplish. Bayley said if Bianca can make Bayley quit then maybe Bayley would quit Smackdown, she may quit WWE and competing altogether. Bayley said that Bianca is not the champion that she portrays herself to be. Bayley said that Bianca has no chance of winning this match and Bayley accepts.
Belair was laughing at Bayley, so Bayley asked what was so funny. Belair said she realized how excited she was to hear Bayley say those words: “I quit.” Bianca’s music played to end it.
Analysis: They did a good job here. Bianca is improving on the microphone while Bayley knows her own heel character so well, so she always delivers quality promos. I’m not surprised that they are doing this match again due to the lack of heel women on Smackdown to challenge Belair right now. Since Bianca beat Bayley at the last two PPVs, you can say Bayley doesn't deserve another shot. However, it was Bianca that issued the challenge since she is sick of Bayley laughing at her and wants to make Bayley quit to put an end to this rivalry. Due to how they did it, this isn’t a case of Bayley getting another shot from management – it’s because Bianca wants that. It’s the right way to do it in order to set up a third match.
Jimmy Uso walked into the private dressing room of Paul Heyman. Jimmy said that he’s going to call out Edge in the main event of the show and beat the hell out of him. Heyman smiled about it. Heyman didn’t say a word.
Kevin Owens made his entrance for the Last Man Standing Match. Owens had Kinesio tape on his left arm. That match is next.
Sami Zayn made his entrance as the heel in the match. It was mentioned by Michael Cole that it was seven years since there was a Last Man Standing Match on Smackdown.
Money in the Bank Qualifier - Last Man Standing Match: Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
Owens with a cannonball attack against the turnbuckle and Zayn bailed to the floor. Owens whipped Zayn into the barricade two times. Zayn came back with a clothesline. Owens gave Zayn a back body drop over the barricade. Owens tossed Zayn into the Thunderdome screens with Owens saying it was a guy named “Steve” that sounds made up, but it was funny. Owens hit a Swanton Bomb off the barricade on Zayn on the floor. Owens left the ring whipped into the hood of the announce table. Owens to the barricade, Zayn got up and Zayn slammed Owens onto the announce table. The table did not break as Owens was holding his back and got up at a seven count. They went to break there.
Owens was in control in the ring with repeated shoulder tackles against the turnbuckle. Owens kicked the ropes while Zayn’s throat was across the middle rope. Owens with punches along with a hard chop that led to Zayn bumping to the floor. Owens drove Zayn back first into the ring post and Owens lifted up Zayn so he was crotched across the ring post. Zayn was back up at a seven count. Owens rocked Zayn with an uppercut and then Owens brought out a table from under the ring. Owens stacked two tables by the ring post. Owens teased a suplex through two tables. Zayn held the turnbuckle to block it and Zayn drove Owens throat first into the top rope. With Owens on the floor, Zayn hit an impressive somersault dive over the top onto Owens. That was great. Zayn worked over Owens with punches in the ring, Owens grabbed the nose and they exchanged punches. Zayn delivered an Exploder Suplex into the turnbuckle and Owens was back up at six. Zayn went for a move off the ropes, but Owens countered it into a cradle suplex out of the corner. Zayn was down for an eight count. Owens with two superkicks, Zayn told him to bring it and Owens hit a third superkick. Owens with a chop to the chest, Owens was on the top rope and Owens shoved Owens in the back leading to Owens doing a senton bump through the two tables on the floor! Owens was down for seven, eight and got back up at nine! The match continues.
The match returned with Zayn in control with Sami setting up another table on the floor. The replay was shown of Owens going through two tables. Owens sent Zayn face first into the ringpost. Owens was favoring the left arm injury so Zayn was going after it. They went to the apron with Zayn hitting a Dragon Suplex on the ring apron. That was brutal, but Owens was back up to his feet at seven. Back in the ring, Zayn hit the Helluva Kick on Owens with Owens up at seven again. Zayn hit the Helluva Kick again, then he held Owens up and Zayn said this is karma for everything Owens has ever done. Zayn hit a third Helluva Kick as referee Charles Robinson counted and Owens rolled out of the ring onto his feet to survive the count at nine. Brilliant! Zayn complained about it. Zayn went for a running DDT on the floor, but Owens hit a superkick to stop Zayn. Owens sent Zayn into the ropes leading to a Popup Powerbomb. Zayn got back up at eight and Owens hit a Stunner that sent Zayn out of the ring to the floor. Owens gave Zayn a Powerbomb through the announce table. Owens gave Zayn another Powerbomb through another table that was ringside. Owens gave Zayn a Powerbomb onto the ring apron. Zayn was counted down as the count went up to seven, eight, nine and ten. Kevin Owens wins after 24 minutes.
Winner: Kevin Owens
The win by Owens means that he is in the Men’s Money in the Bank Contract Ladder Match.
Analysis: ****1/4 This match was outstanding. They looked like two guys that were legitimately trying to kick eachother’s ass all within a wrestling match where they are doing big moves and protecting eachother as best as they can. They did some huge bumps like Owens going through the tables, Owens taking the suplex onto the ring apron and then Zayn taking three Powerbombs at the end of the match. There were several other big moments. I think my favorite spot was after Zayn did the Helluva Kick three times in a row and it looked like he might win, but Owens rolled to the floor where he was able to stand on the floor, which meant he was still standing. It was a clever spot that I really like in these kinds of matches. Anyway, Owens winning makes sense (since Zayn won the last match) although I want Zayn in the ladder match too, so it sucks that Zayn is likely going to miss out. For now, it’s just Owens in the match. As much as I like Owens vs. Zayn matches, it would probably be a good idea to not do this match again for at least a few months or even longer. Give them a break from eachother.
Edge was interviewed by Megan Morant. Edge said that he’ll go out there, he’ll get a beatdown on Jimmy Uso, then here comes Roman Reigns and Edge doesn’t care. If they want to try that, they will have to face an angry, vindictive son of a bitch.
Sonya Deville made her entrance for the next woman in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. They showed last week when Sonya introduced Carmella in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match.
PLUG TIME: I am always writing about current shows and things from the past too. I’m a historian, so I love to look back. Over the last week, I posted two retro PPV reviews. Here’s my review of The Bash 2009 looking at a show that had matches like Randy Orton vs. Triple H Three Stages of Hell, CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy and John Cena vs. The Miz, but the match of the night was clearly the Intercontinental Championship match between Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho. It was one of the best matches of that year too…I also reviewed the first ever Money in the Bank pay-per-view from 2010, which was an excellent show from top to bottom. It was the first show with two Money in the Bank ladder matches and both of them were awesome with Kane winning the first one for Smackdown while The Miz won the Raw match. Kane also became World Heavyweight Champion later in the night as the first man to cash in Money in the Bank the same night he won it. I also liked Rey Mysterio vs. Jack Swagger and the Sheamus vs. John Cena Steel Cage match main event is solid even with interference…Another retro post wasn’t a pay-per-view, but there was a lot of reminiscing on June 27 about CM Punk’s “Pipebomb” promo from Raw. I wrote this article the next day, so I re-posted for a perspective from ten years later. I wrote some updated 2021 thoughts in there too…As a reminder, I have reviews of nearly every WWE PPV in history listed in order on this post on TJRWrestling. I usually post one or two reviews per week and sometimes more if I can in addition to all of the writing about current shows. It’s a lot, but I love what I do, so I’m going to keep going as best as I can.
It’s on for Money in the Bank: Bianca Belair defending the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Bayley in an I Quit Match.
Baron Corbin was shown walking backstage looking sad. Rick Boogs walked up to him making “king” related jokes. Corbin said “screw you, man” and kept on walking.
Women’s Money in the Bank Announcement
Sonya Deville introduced the next woman in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Zelina Vega. That means Zelina is back after leaving the company and she looked good as usual.
Zelina Vega did a promo about how great it was to be back in WWE and how she’s going to win Money in the Bank to become the Raw, Smackdown or NXT Women’s Champion.
Liv Morgan showed up complaining about Carmella being put in the Money in the Bank match. Morgan said that Vega doesn’t even deserve to be in the match since she hasn’t been on Smackdown this year. Vega said she has competed in rings for years and she is popular. Vega said she can run circles around Morgan and Vega kept talking, so Morgan slapped Vega in the face to knock Vega down.
Analysis: Welcome back Zelina Vega, who deleted her "I support unionization" tweet from months ago. Of course she deleted it. She never should have left. Smackdown needs more women wrestlers, so that's fine with me. I hope that her husband Aleister Black is brought back to WWE, but WWE opted to release him. Black may want to move on. In Zelina's case, she left because of a dispute over wanting to use Twitch and other platforms. I guess whatever issues there were are resolved now, so Vega is back.
Liv Morgan vs. Zelina Vega
Vega was in control of the action with a boot to the face followed by a running knee for two. Morgan with a pin attempt for two. Vega got a rollup using the tights and the referee saw it. Morgan did a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! with tights (the referee didn’t see that) and it was enough for Morgan to win. It went two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Liv Morgan
Analysis: 1/2* Good for Morgan. Just put her in Money in the Bank match. It’s not like there are a lot of Smackdown women on the roster that they can go with. Vega looked okay when she was on offense.
Seth Rollins walked into the office of WWE Officials Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville. Rollins introduced himself to them since he was mad that they gave Edge the match against Roman when they promised it to Rollins. They said that they didn’t promise it to Rollins. Seth said that he deserved the opportunity. Pearce said that Edge won the Royal Rumble this year and did not get a one on one match. Rollins said that’s not on him since they put Daniel Bryan in the match at WrestleMania. Sonya told Seth he’ll get his opportunity if he beats Cesaro next week on Smackdown in a Money in the Bank qualifying match.
Analysis: It’s another rematch of familiar rivals. WWE loves rematches, that’s for sure. Cesaro vs. Rollins is always great, so I don’t mind seeing it again.
The Alpha Academy’s Chad Gable and Otis entered for a match.
The guests on Talking Smack are Bayley, Kevin Owens and Zelina Vega. Kayla Braxton is hosting with Pat McAfee. I will review it on TJRWrestling on Saturday.
There was a Progressive Match Flo showing the dominance of Otis (and Chad Gable) against both members of the Street Profits in recent weeks.
Otis (w/Chad Gable) vs. Angelo Dawkins
Otis with a clothesline and a splash. Dawkins had tape on his left shoulder to sell a previous attack. Otis hit an overhead suplex. Otis with a hard whip into the corner followed by another clothesline. Chad: “That’s my number one guy.” Otis went to the middle rope and hit a splash onto Dawkins. Otis hit a Vader Bomb splash for the pinfall win after about two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Otis
Analysis: 1/2* A squash match to put over Otis again. They are really pushing this big man with a clean shaven look. I don’t know how far it’s going to go with Otis, but his dominance continues.
Jimmy Uso and Paul Heyman were in the backstage area. Paul told Jimmy that all he has to do is be “Main Event” Jimmy Uso and Jimmy said he’ll do it. Jimmy made his entrance.
This Monday on Raw: The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) vs. Bobby Lashley & MVP. Plus, Miz TV with Ricochet, Drew McIntyre, Riddle & John Morrison as the guests.
Next week on Smackdown: Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins in a Money in the Bank Qualifying Match and King Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin in a Money in the Bank Qualifying Match.
Analysis: This creative team likes rematches a lot. I don’t know why they are so reliant on repeating matches so often. Mixing and matching these guys could have been better.
Let’s Hear from Jimmy Uso (and Edge)
Jimmy Uso called out Edge saying he can handle Edge on his own. Jimmy said he didn’t need his cousin with him. Jimmy said that this is not a trap. This is just Jimmy Uso calling Edge out. Jimmy called for Edge to bring his ass out there and that led to Edge’s music.
Edge did a promo on the ramp saying that Roman Reigns was using Jimmy just like he used Jey Uso. Edge reminded Jimmy that Roman made Jey acknowledge Reigns and now Roman's using Jimmy to do Roman's work for him. Edge said that Jimmy used to say he was “nobody’s bitch” and now Jimmy is one of Roman’s bitches. Edge said that Roman laid a perfect trap, but this is not a trap for Edge, it’s a trap for Jimmy.
Edge went down to the ring, Jimmy was looking around for help and there was nobody there to help. Edge sent Jimmy into the ring post two times in a row. Jimmy hit Edge with a superkick. Jimmy sent Edge into the steel steps and then into the ring with Jimmy punching Edge repeatedly. Jimmy kept looking around for help, but Edge came back with a boot to the face. Edge mounted Jimmy and punched him repeatedly. Edge applied a Crossface submission while choking out Jimmy, who tapped out quickly. Jimmy was selling the choke, then Edge set up in the corner and Edge hit a huge Spear to knock Jimmy down. Edge stomped through a steel bar that was part of the bottom of a steel chair. Edge used the steel bar that he put in Jimmy’s mouth just like Edge did to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania. Edge was yelling about how Roman should look at Jimmy’s eyes. Jimmy was tapping out as Edge pulled back some more. Edge let go and looked into the camera: “I don’t stop.” End show.
Analysis: It was an effective segment in terms of putting over Edge as a man that’s focused on beating Roman Reigns at Money in the Bank. Poor Jimmy Uso was made to look like a fool since he thought he would get help in the ring, but all he got was an ass kicking instead. I’m a bit surprised that Jey Uso has been off for about three weeks now while Roman Reigns was off the show completely as well. I guess it’s a case of WWE wanting to keep the focus on Edge and to use Jimmy as the pawn, so to speak, that Edge beat up to show how ready Edge is when he faces Reigns. It was a good segment overall.
Three Stars of the Show
- Kevin Owens
- Sami Zayn
All Canadians! Happy belated Canada Day to them.
7.25 out of 10
Last week: 7
2021 Average: 7.04
It was a mostly good episode of Smackdown carried by the long match between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in the middle part of the show. They had a nearly 30 minute Last Man Standing match with some huge bumps as Owens went through two tables at one point and then Zayn went through two tables, plus an apron bump to end it. Plus, they had some creative spots throughout the match with near finishes. I don’t know how many Owens/Zayn matches I’ve watched, but it was definitely one of the best they’ve done. I recommend it if you didn’t see it.
The rest of the show was a bit of a mixed bag. The finish of the tag team match with Baron Corbin losing because his car was towed away was a weak ending. It was cool to see Zelina Vega back in WWE, but then she lost to Liv Morgan in about two minutes. Otis was dominant again. The promo with Bianca Belair/Bayley felt repetitive while setting up an “I Quit” Match that might end the feud.
I thought Edge was terrific in his opening promo and the main event segment where he beat up Jimmy Uso. Edge’s intensity will help sell the Universal Title match against Roman Reigns. Fans will buy into it as a big match and as a fight. It's weird to go through a whole episode of Smackdown without Roman Reigns on the show, but that's what happened. Roman was missed because he's such a great performer, but I hope he enjoyed the week off. With live events coming back, Roman’s schedule is going to be a lot busier in a few weeks.
The next WWE pay-per-view on Peacock/WWE Network is Money in the Bank on Sunday, July 18. Here’s the lineup so far.
WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Edge
WWE Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Kofi Kingston
Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Ricochet vs. John Morrison vs. Riddle vs. Big E vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Kevin Owens vs. two more wrestlers. (Winners of Cesaro vs. Rollins and Nakamura vs. Corbin will be in the match.)
Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Asuka vs. Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Nikki Cross vs. Carmella vs. Zelina Vega vs. two more wrestlers.
Smackdown Women's Championship "I Quit" Match: Bianca Belair (c) vs. Bayley
Raw Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
Money in the Bank takes place on Sunday, July 18, streaming at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT exclusively on Peacock in the United States and WWE Network everywhere else.