Welcome to this week’s WWE Smackdown review. This show is the first Smackdown episode since Sunday’s Elimination Chamber PPV event. The big news on the Smackdown side of things was that Edge showed up to deliver a Spear to Roman Reigns after Reigns defended the Universal Title against Daniel Bryan in a short match. After the Spear, Edge made it known that he will challenge Reigns for the Universal Title at WrestleMania on April 10-11. That means we should see plenty of Edge on the road to WrestleMania over the next six weeks. There is also Fastlane on Sunday, March 21 as well.
From the WWE ThunderDome at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, Florida, this is Smackdown for episode #1123. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Please visit TJRWrestling.net daily for our regular updates on the wrestling business featuring WWE news coverage along with reviews about wrestling’s past and present. Let’s get to it.
The show began with a shot of the ThunderDome, the WrestleMania sign and the screens full of fans. The announce team of Michael Cole and Corey Graves welcomed us to the show.
Let’s Hear from Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns, the Universal Champion, made his entrance with Special Counsel Paul Heyman and cousin Jey Uso by his side.
Since Reigns takes a long time to get into the ring, they aired a video package from Elimination Chamber. It showed highlights of the Smackdown match, which was won by Daniel Bryan. Immediately after Bryan beat Jey Uso to win the match, Bryan had to face a fresh Roman Reigns. That was a quick match with Reigns beating an exhausted Bryan in under two minutes. After Reigns retained the Universal Title, Edge appeared and hit a Spear on Reigns. That let us know Edge was challenging Reigns for the Universal Title at WrestleMania on April 10-11.
Reigns made it clear that Smackdown needs him. Reigns said that the Elimination Chamber needed him, so he answered the call because that’s what the Head of the Table does. Reigns said he defended the Universal Championship against the winner of the Elimination Chamber match and Roman smashed Daniel Bryan. Reigns said it was the most exciting ass whooping of the year, maybe the decade. There were “you suck” chants for Reigns. Roman said if you put anybody else in this role, you would throw a party, but not Roman because he lives and operates in this ring at a higher level. Reigns said it wasn’t a perfect night because of one man…Edge. You think you know him? Reigns said yeah, Edge got him and he Speared Roman in his ring, on his night. Reigns said that Edge had to point at the sign and make it official: Roman Reigns vs. Edge in the main event of WrestleMania. Reigns said that Edge doesn’t want or need this in his life. Reigns said he’ll give Edge an opportunity to back out of it. Reigns told Edge he’s got a beautiful family, Edge is a father and a husband – Roman doesn’t want to hurt him. Roman appreciates his legacy, his comeback, but Roman doesn’t want to hurt him. Roman told Edge this is why a man like you just doesn’t stand a chance against a man like Reigns.
Daniel Bryan showed up in jeans, a t-shirt and some flannel. Bryan said that Reigns described his Universal Title defense as nearly perfect. Bryan got into the ring saying from his perspective, he agreed with Roman’s assessment. Bryan sarcastically said that Reigns deserved to be celebrated. Bryan spoke about how there were rumblings about people thinking differently. Bryan said some people think it was cowardly. Bryan spoke about how he lasted the whole way in the Elimination Chamber and Roman demanding the match start right there, so that isn’t a real champion. Bryan wondered why the Head of the Table wanted to wrestle in the second match of the night and said he would have thought Roman was the main event, but Roman probably didn’t want Bryan to be ready. Bryan said that he knows how good Reigns is because he was in Roman’s first match in WWE (that’s TLC 2012). Bryan said that there has been a lot of discussion about Bryan and Reigns in their careers, so Bryan suggested a match at Fastlane with Bryan challenging Reigns to a Universal Title match.
Jey Uso spoke up saying that Bryan lost. Jey told Bryan he has to get through the right-hand man, which is Jey. Jey warned Bryan about how he was going to “get got.” It sounds better when Jey says it.
Reigns wondered if Bryan really wanted Roman to hurt him again. That led to Jey hitting Bryan with a forearm to the face. Bryan was out of the ring and Jey tossed Bryan over the barricade. Reigns was laughing about it as the heels left.
Analysis: Good job by Bryan stepping up to Roman and questioning the way Roman won at Elimination Chamber. It’s what the audience is thinking too, so it’s smart to have a babyface like Bryan bring it up. I know a lot of fans want to act as if Fastlane isn’t a thing, but it is happening, so they need some big matches. This would set up Bryan against Jey later in the show.
There was a backstage scene with Adam Pearce talking to Sonya Deville. Edge showed up to mention the possibility of Daniel Bryan getting a Universal Title shot against Roman Reigns even though Bryan was in the same Rumble match that Edge won. Edge said that they need to talk.
Analysis: Edge does have a point there.
Jey Uso was shown backstage talking to Roman Reigns. Jey apologized to Roman about what he did. Roman said that he didn’t have to apologize and wanted Jey to take care of business.
Edge was back in the office with Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville. Edge mentioned that they talked to him about possibly doing Edge and Bryan against Reigns and Jey. Pearce said this fell into their lap. Pearce said that Bryan will face Jey and if Bryan wins then he faces Reigns at Fastlane for the Universal Title. Edge didn’t seem happy about it and he left.
Rey and Dominik Mysterio made their entrance. Chad Gable and Otis entered with Chad queuing up the replay of Otis splashing Rey last week. It was the heel turn for Otis and Gable.
Rey and Dominik Mysterio vs. Chad Gable and Otis
Rey had his ribs taped up to sell the attack from last week. Otis with a running body attack and then an elbow drop. Otis with a body slam toss across the ring. Otis with a running shoulder tackle to the ribs. Gable made Otis settle down when Otis was punching Rey repeatedly. Gable with a gutbuster driving the knee into the ribs. Rey got free from Gable with a kick and then Dominik tagged in. Dominik with chops, a corner splash and Dominik used his legs to send Gable into the turnbuckle. Dominik jumped off the turnbuckle with a Tornado DDT for two. Rey tagged in with a senton splash on Gable, Dominik sent Gable into the ropes and the Mysterios hit a double 619 kick on Gable. Rey up top and he hit a splash on Gable for two as Otis made the save. Otis tagged in, Rey jumped and Otis hit a front slam like Mark Henry used to do. Otis went to the middle rope and jumped off with a splash on Rey for the pinfall win after about four minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Chad Gable and Otis
Analysis: *3/4 It’s all about elevating Otis as a strong heel. I don’t know if Gable and Otis teaming up long term will be a thing or if they will just focus on Otis getting a heel push. There’s no more Caterpillar and less of Chris Farley-like grunting from Otis. Otis was popular with the fans last year before COVID-19, but WWE must have felt he had more value as a heel. Let’s see how it goes with him.
It’s official for later on Smackdown: Daniel Bryan vs. Jey Uso. If Bryan wins then he challenges Roman Reigns for the Universal Title at Fastlane.
They showed Big E getting taken away on a stretcher last week. Apollo Crews was shown backstage.
Apollo Crews made his entrance. They showed a replay of Apollo’s brutal attack on Big E last week. That was after Shinsuke Nakamura beat Crews in a match. Big E did a stretcher job and is at home selling injuries this week.
Apollo Crews had some new gear. He was wearing tights. Crews also had a white and dark green towel. Crews said that you (the fans) really don’t know anything about him. Crews said for far too long, he’s been humble and respectful, but he hasn’t received that same respect. Crews said he’s not from the hood or suburbia. Crews said that he is from Nigeria, he is a real African-American and this is the real him. Crews said that his ancestors are royalty, his great grandfather controlled some of the richest lands in Nigeria and he spent days draped in gold along with five wives. Crews said his word was law, his power was feared and this is what he stands for. Crews said that those colors mean wealth, dominance and power. Crews said that Big E found that out first hand last week. Crews spoke about how he didn’t go to catering, he went back to his roots. Crews stared into the camera and spoke about how Big E will never disrespect him again. Crews said that Shinsuke Nakamura will suffer the exact same thing.
Analysis: That is one of the longest promos Crews has done in WWE and he’s been there for several years now. I don’t mind getting a bit of a backstory for Crews whether it’s bullshit or legit. It’s going to make people notice Crews more, so that’s a good thing for him.
Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance. Crews attacked Nakamura in the ring while Nakamura was posing in the ring. Crews sent Nakamura out of the ring. Crews tried to attack with the steel steps on the floor, but the referee made him stop and the show went to break.
Apollo Crews vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Crews was in control with a clothesline. Crews whipped Nakamura into the turnbuckle and a suplex. Crews with a headlock, Crews with a German Suplex, but Nakamura was able to flip over and land onto his knees. Nakamura with a running kick. Nakamura with a kick to the chest followed by kicks to the body. Nakamura with a kick to the back of the neck along with an axe kick and Nakamura hit a sliding knee for two. Crews with three German Suplexes in a row for a two count. Nakamura with a spin kick to the head, Nakamura with a kick to the back and the sliding German Suplex. Crews bailed to the floor, Nakamura followed, Crews with a kick and Crews sent Nakamura into the steel steps. Nakamura slapped on a sleeper, Crews held his scarf by the turnbuckle and he used it to send Nakamura into the turnbuckle. Crews with an enziguri kick and an Olympic Slam for the pinfall win after five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Apollo Crews
Analysis: **1/4 It’s a solid win to continue the heel momentum of Crews. It sucks that Nakamura is the one to do the job, but that’s what happens sometimes. Somebody has to lose the matches to put over the guys getting a push. I’m happy Crews is getting a shot to show what he can do as a heel.
Post match, Crews put on his towel/scarf and smiled about his win.
Roman Reigns was in his dressing room with Paul Heyman informing Roman that if Daniel Bryan wins tonight then he gets a Universal Title match at Fastlane. Roman: “So the tag team match is scrapped?” Heyman replied saying that was only “if” Daniel Bryan wins tonight. Reigns was left to think about it.
Tamina (w/Natalya) vs. Liv Morgan (w/Ruby Riott)
There were no entrances. They were in the ring and the bell rang. Morgan with a headscissors takedown and then Tamina came back with a kick. Tamina tossed Morgan across the ring. Tamina with a charging corner attack for a two count. After Liv got in a few shots, Tamina hit a back elbow to knock her down. Tamina hit a suplex for two. Tamina slammed Morgan face first into the mat. Morgan with a step up enziguri, then a dropkick and some punches. Morgan jumped off the second rope with a dropkick for two. Natalya yelled at Tamina to finish her. Morgan charged, Tamina moved and Tamina hit a Samoan Drop. Tamina fired up with a loud scream. Tamina with a spinning sidewalk slam for the pinfall win after about four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Tamina
Analysis: *1/2 They are trying to establish the veteran team of Tamina and Natalya as a strong heel tag team, so that’s why Tamina was dominant here. It sucks for Liv, who is terrific as an underdog babyface. I don’t mind building up teams, though. They need more women’s teams in WWE.
Bianca Belair was shown walking backstage to make her WrestleMania announcement at the top of hour two.
This Monday on Raw: The Miz defends the WWE Title against Bobby Lashley. There could be a title change. Plus, Drew McIntyre returns after Bobby Lashley attacked him at Elimination Chamber, so we will find out what is on Drew’s mind.
Bianca Belair’s WrestleMania Decision
It was promo time with WWE Official Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville in the ring. They put over Bianca Belair as the Royal Rumble winner that gets to make her WrestleMania Decision right now. Bianca Belair made her entrance with Bianca flipping her long hair around. There were “EST” chants for Belair.
Belair said that it’s been three weeks, five days and she even knew the hours/minutes since she won the Royal Rumble match that changed her life. Deville wondered who will it be at WrestleMania? A video aired about Raw Women’s Champion Asuka. There was also a video about Smackdown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks. They completely ignored the possibility that it could be NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai.
Belair said she knows everybody has been waiting for her WrestleMania decision. Belair said that her momma said that life is all about choices. Belair said that the choices that you make define who you are. Belair was about to make a choice, but Reginald made his entrance.
Reginald said that this choice will define Bianca’s legacy in WWE. Reginald said that you saw what Sasha Banks can do in the ring. Reginald said that Belair was elevated from Sasha’s genius. Reginald got into the ring saying that Bianca’s journey has been inspiring to so many. Reginald said that we are in awe because Bianca is living her dream, but if Bianca challenges Banks then that dream will be a nightmare. Reginald said that when Bianca is on the mat realizing she made the wrong choice, she will realize she was nothing but a loser.
Sasha Banks made her entrance as the Smackdown Women’s Champion. It looked like Pearce and Deville left the ring to Belair, Reginald and Banks.
Banks told Reginald that he should never speak for her. Banks pushed Reginald away. Banks told Belair that she is more than the champion, she is the standard. Banks told Belair if she wants to make history and the topic of conversation then Bianca should choose Banks. Sasha spouted Belair’s catchphrase, then Sasha said that she is the best, she is number one and that makes Belair second best.
Belair looked at the Smackdown Women’s Title. Belair said that Banks has a whole lot to say, so Bianca will make her eat her words. Belair said that she will show the world that she is the BEST of WWE. Belair: “So Sasha…it’s on.” Belair pointed at the WrestleMania sign. There was some pyro as both women smiled.
Analysis: This was fine, albeit a bit longer than it needed to be. The Reginald stuff isn’t necessary and I’d rather they just keep him out of it so the focus is on the women’s wrestlers. I fully expected them to do Banks vs. Belair at WrestleMania and I think it should be a lot of fun. That’s a face vs. face match, so the fans won’t be against either woman. Belair will get a chance to show what she can do against a very talented worker in Banks, who makes everybody around her better. It’s going to be one of the biggest matches at WrestleMania and it’s a first-time-ever match, so that’s cool with me. It’s also the second Royal Rumble winner that picked a Smackdown wrestler to challenge at WrestleMania, so it shows how Smackdown is the “A” show now. It has been since they went to Fox in October 2019.
King Corbin was shown backstage with Sami Zayn walking up to him with Sami’s documentary crew nearby. Sami wanted to know Corbin’s thought about Sami’s conspiracy claims against WWE. Sami said that it was his idea to team up with Corbin. Sami said that he had good chemistry with Corbin when they won a few weeks ago and he thinks if they work together they can beat the Street Profits. Zayn said that they can be Tag Team Champions if they work together. Zayn suggested they can be the “New Can-Am Connection” or “The Kingdom of Liberty.” Corbin said he agreed they can win tag team gold and dominate the division. Corbin wanted the documentary crew to get out of his face and stop recording him. Zayn told his guys to edit that last part out.
Analysis: Zayn is great. Truly one of my favorite heels in all of WWE. Corbin is not a favorite, but he’s fine in his role.
The Street Profits entered for their tag team match.
King Corbin entered with Sami Zayn, who had the documentary crew with him. The announcers commented how they thought that The Street Profits should have got a title rematch since they were long-term champions. Cole brought it up and Graves agreed with him.
King Corbin and Sami Zayn vs. The Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins)
Ford with an arm drag on Zayn. The Smackdown Tag Team Champions Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode were shown watching on TV backstage while drinking out of red solo cups like the Street Profits. Corbin with a shoulder tackle on Dawkins. Impressive leapfrog by Dawkins followed by a dropkick. Zayn told the documentary crew that the referee wasn’t enforcing the rules. Corbin yelled at the documentary crew when they got in his way. Ford hit a dropkick to knock Corbin off the apron into the barricade. That led to a break.
Corbin was in control with a repeated elbow smashes to Ford. Zayn drove his knees onto the back of Ford against the ropes. Corbin whipped Ford into the corner, Ford got a boot up and hit a step-up enziguri. Dawkins tagged in against Zayn with clotheslines followed by a corkscrew flying elbow. Dawkins with a splash followed by a bulldog for two on Zayn. Corbin back in, Dawkins with a dropkick and he sent Corbin out of the ring. Zayn hit a DDT for a two count. The documentary filmed Corbin, so Corbin shoved a guy down and yelled at them. Ford hit a somersault dive (over Zayn) over the top on Corbin. That was awesome. Dawkins with a spinning neckbreaker on Zayn and Ford tagged in with a Frog Splash off the top onto Zayn for the pinfall win after eight minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins)
Analysis: **1/2 A solid win for the regular tag team over the two singles wrestlers that can’t seem to get along. Ford continues to be a highlight reel in every match with that somersault dive over Zayn onto Corbin on the floor. The Frog Splash is always a highlight. Dawkins was impressive after getting the hot tag too. It’s possible that the Street Profits get the titles back at WrestleMania. With all of that said, I really hope Zayn gets something meaningful to do heading into WrestleMania because he deserves it.
Daniel Bryan was interviewed backstage by Kayla Braxton. Bryan had a lot of confidence saying he likes his chances facing Roman Reigns more than Edge’s chances. Bryan said he didn’t know if Edge had what it takes to beat Roman. That led to Edge showing up, so Edge wondered if Bryan beats Reigns then Edge would face Bryan and Edge wondered who would his match against Bryan at WrestleMania. Bryan said he’ll keep that answer to himself while adding that it won’t mean anything unless he beats Jey Uso tonight. Bryan left.
Analysis: It’s just a way to tease a possible match between Edge and Bryan at WrestleMania. I don’t expect it to happen at WrestleMania, but doing that match at some point later this year is a good idea to me.
Seth Rollins made his entrance in white pants, a white jacket and the black glove on his right hand.
Let’s Hear from Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins said that his complaint letter last week got a huge response on social media. Rollins was told that his people said that it was trending. Cesaro made his entrance in street clothes and he got into the ring with Rollins.
Rollins said that they go back a long way. Rollins said forget about two weeks ago and then said that Cesaro wasn’t a loser, but he was a loser because of the situation he was in. Rollins told Cesaro to stand in the ring like the star that he is. Rollins wondered who says Cesaro can’t grab the brass ring or crack the glass ceiling because Rollins is a star. Rollins said that pound for pound, Cesaro is one of the strongest and most technically gifted performers in WWE history. Rollins wondered: “Why is it that you always seem to come up short?” Rollins asked what is it that Cesaro is missing? Rollins said that he will tell Cesaro because Rollins has it – a killer instinct. Rollins claimed he could give it to Cesaro. Rollins said that he can lead Cesaro because Rollins has grabbed the brass ring, shattered the glass ceiling and accomplished everything in WWE that Cesaro has only dreamed of. Rollins said imagine them working side by side on Smackdown, they would be unstoppable. Rollins said if Cesaro listened to him two weeks ago, Cesaro would have won the Elimination Chamber match and beaten Roman Reigns to become Universal Champion. Rollins said that it is never too late to start again. Rollins told Cesaro to embrace the vision. Rollins asked Cesaro to think it over for a week or two weeks. Cesaro gave his answer by tripping up Rollins and Cesaro delivered the Cesaro Swing as the fans cheered for it. Cesaro stopped, then he started the Cesaro Swing again and Rollins was screaming about it. Cesaro kept on going for about 20 or more spins. Rollins sold it like he was dazed and then Cesaro decked him with an uppercut. Cesaro’s music played to end it.
Analysis: That was well done. Cesaro didn’t answer with words. He answered with actions. That Cesaro Swing was pretty funny because Rollins even took his jacket off as he was swinging all around the ring. I’m all ready for this Rollins vs. Cesaro rivalry. They are two of the best wrestlers in WWE, so as long as they get a chance to have some long matches on PPV I’m excited to see it. It might be a case where they do a match at Fastlane, Rollins wins in cheap fashion and then Cesaro beats him at WrestleMania.
Daniel Bryan made his entrance as Cesaro was leaving, they touched knuckles and Bryan’s main event match is up next.
There was a Black History Month video featuring WWE superstars Drew McIntyre, Sasha Banks and Montez Ford reciting some quotes from Maya Angelou. That’s cool.
The guests on Talking Smack this week are Seth Rollins, Bianca Belair and Daniel Bryan. Those are some big names. The hosts are Kayla Braxton and the great Paul Heyman. It’s a fun show on WWE Network because Heyman is so awesome on it.
Jey Uso entered for the main event.
Jey Uso vs. Daniel Bryan
Jey with a shoulder tackle and Bryan with an arm drag that sent Jey across the ring. Jey charged, Bryan jumped off the turnbuckle with a backflip and Bryan hit a running clothesline on Jey. Bryan set up Jey on the top rope leading to a hurricanrana off the top for two. Bryan stomped on the elbow of Jey, who bailed to the floor. Bryan ran the ropes as he went for a dive, but Jey stopped him with a superkick. Jey picked up Bryan on the floor and drove Bryan’s injured left knee into the announce table. Jey picked up Bryan and drove him knee first into the ring post. Bryan was selling the left knee injury from when he hurt it (as a storyline injury) at Elimination on Sunday. Story continuity is a good thing.
The match returned with Jey wrenching the left knee of Bryan. When Bryan tried going for a submission, Jey punched the left knee repeatedly. Bryan came back with forearms, then ran the ropes and Jey hit a Samoan Drop for two. Jey went up, then went for the Uso Splash, but Bryan moved and Jey hit the mat. Bryan worked over Jey with kicks to the body, Jey with an uppercut and Bryan sent Jey over the top to the floor. Bryan ran the ropes leading to a running kick to the face. Bryan with a running knee off the apron onto Jey on the floor with Bryan selling his left knee injury. Bryan jumped off the top, Jey moved, Bryan was selling the knee injury again and Jey sent Bryan into the corner. Jey with a dropkick to the back of the left knee of Bryan. Jey slapped on a half crab submission, Bryan rolled through with kicks and then Jey put on the half crab submission even tighter this time. Bryan kicked Jey to break free. Bryan came back with a roundhouse kick to the head for two. Bryan set up in the corner, he charged and Jey hit him with a shoulder tackle to the knee. Jey with a superkick for a two count. Jey climbed to the top rope, Bryan knocked him down and Bryan hit a butterfly superplex off the top. Bryan slapped on the Yes Lok submission, but Jey was able to get to the ropes before Bryan could properly apply it. They were on the floor with Jey whipping Bryan into the steel steps. Jey picked up Bryan and sent Bryan into the steel steps. The referee was counting them out of the ring leading to a ten count. The match went about 13 minutes.
Match Result: Double Countout
Analysis: ***1/4 That was a result that I didn’t expect. The action was very good for the most part with Jey doing a nice job of targeting Bryan’s knee and Bryan continuing to fight back. I thought the result would be a win for Bryan and then they would do Reigns vs. Bryan at Fastlane as mentioned. It appears that isn’t the case now. I thought they could have booked the finish a bit better here, but I understand wanting to make it look close with the double countout.
After the match was over, Roman Reigns went into the ring and beat on Bryan with punches. Bryan came back with a Yes Lock attempt, but then Jey hit a superkick on Bryan. Reigns with a Spear on Bryan and then the Guillotine headlock on Bryan. Reigns stood over a fallen Bryan with the Universal Title. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: I figured we might see Edge there at the end to make Roman back off, but that didn’t happen. It's not clear if WWE is doing the tag team match with Edge/Bryan facing Roman/Jey at Fastlane. Reigns may not be defending the Universal Title at that show. I don’t think it’s the best idea to have Reigns and Edge in the same match before WrestleMania. Nothing is official yet. Maybe we’ll find out next week.
Three Stars of the Show
- Daniel Bryan
- Jey Uso
- Apollo Crews
7 out of 10
Last week: 6.5
2021 Average: 7.03
This was a pretty good episode of Smackdown with a nice balance of wrestling and promos. I like how Daniel Bryan stepped up to go after the Universal Champion Roman Reigns, but then Bryan failed to beat Jey Uso (double countout finish), so no title shot for Bryan at Fastlane. There’s still time to set that up if they want to or go with Edge/Bryan vs. Reigns/Jey as Edge mentioned earlier in the show. That story was told in a logical way throughout the show.
They furthered the heel turns of guys like Apollo Crews (nice promo by him), Otis and Chad Gable while also giving them wins over some credible opponents. When I watch Smackdown, it feels like they do a better job of giving storylines to more people on the roster compared to Raw. It’s the shorter show too, yet they have more personalities that make me interested in the show.
The most newsworthy item moment was Bianca Belair making it official that she’s challenging Sasha Banks for the Smackdown Women’s Title at WrestleMania. It could be a great match and I think Belair should win.
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