Welcome to this week’s WWE Smackdown review. It’s the first Smackdown since WrestleMania 37 took place this past Saturday and Sunday (read my review of both nights here). The big news coming out of WrestleMania for the Smackdown brand is that Bianca Belair beat Sasha Banks to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship in a match that main evented Night 1 of WrestleMania. Roman Reigns also retained his Universal Title in a triple threat match with Edge and Daniel Bryan because Reigns got some help from cousin Jey Uso once again.
There is some commentary news on Smackdown as well because Michael Cole’s broadcast partner (since October 2019) Corey Graves was moved from Smackdown to Raw earlier this week. The new voice joining Cole on commentary is former NFL punter, sports talk show host, and a guy that has wrestled twice in WWE NXT…it’s Pat McAfee. WWE made that announcement on Friday morning. Pat is a lifelong wrestling fan that did some pre-show commentary in NXT in the past, he actually did Smackdown commentary on November 1, 2019, and he’s got a great personality, so I think he’ll fit in well.
From the WWE ThunderDome at the Yuengling Center in Tampa Bay, Florida, this is Smackdown for episode #1130. 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 highlights of the Universal Championship Match at WrestleMania when Roman Reigns pinned Edge and Daniel Bryan to retain the title. Reigns got some help from Jey Uso to win the title match as they played a clip of Reigns saying he was going to stack both guys and pin them, which is what he did.
The announce team of Michael Cole and Pat McAfee were at ringside to welcome Pat to Smackdown. Pat said it’s not about him, it’s about Roman Reigns and that led to the entrance of the champion.
Let’s Hear from Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns made his entrance in an "Acknowledge Me" shirt with the Universal Title in his hand. Reigns had cousin Jey Uso and Special Counsel Paul Heyman with him as usual. Reigns was greeted by heavy boos from the ThunderDome crowd. It was a slow walk to the ring for Reigns as usual. After some more pyro went off in the ring, Reigns was greeted by “you suck” chants with Heyman laughing about that.
Reigns said that they have put a lot of eyes on Smackdown. Reigns said for the new viewer, Reigns wanted Paul to talk about the men that Reigns beat at WrestleMania. Heyman talked about how Edge was an 11-time World Champion that’s a Hall of Famer that’s married to a Hall of Famer. Heyman mentioned Daniel Bryan was a 5-time World Champion that’s a future Hall of Famer that is also married to a Hall of Famer. Then Heyman talked about how even with those accomplishments, Reigns pinned both of them. Reigns took a page from Heyman’s playbook because he called his shot that he was going to smash them, stack them and pin them one, two, three. Reigns said that they acknowledged him. Reigns said that he’ll probably never be in a triple threat match again because nobody wants to face him. Reigns reminded us again that he stacked them and pinned them and then they acknowledged him. Reigns said if he can do it to Hall of Famers like that, who is going to want to challenge him next? Reigns said that nobody is on his level. Reigns said that he fulfilled his obligation by being on Smackdown and said it was time to fire up the jet and go home.
Here comes Cesaro with the interruption. Cesaro was in a dress shirt and jacket as he got in Roman’s face. When Cesaro walked over to the other side of the ring to get a microphone, Reigns left the ring with Jey and Heyman. Cesaro didn’t even say a word as Reigns walked to the back. Why not have Cesaro say something while Reigns was walking? They chose to slow build this.
Analysis: I liked the Reigns promo while Heyman put over how impressive Edge and Bryan have been in their career in order to make Roman’s win sound even greater. It was the usual Reigns promo in many ways where he bragged about his accomplishments. Reigns saying there was nobody left for him to beat immediately made me think of Cesaro as a possible new opponent or maybe Kevin Owens getting another shot at him. I’m certainly fine with Cesaro as the next man up, so to speak. That’s a fresh feud and something that Cesaro deserves as well.
The announcers talked about Cesaro’s big win over Seth Rollins at WrestleMania. They teased the single most impressive moment in WrestleMania history is up next.
There was a backstage scene with Cesaro walking up to Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville. Cesaro said that he wanted a match with Roman Reigns tonight and he didn’t need to put the title on the line. Pearce was about to say something, but then Sonya said she’ll talk to Roman and get back to Cesaro. Pearce seemed taken aback by Sonya saying that.
They showed the UFO spot by Cesaro at WrestleMania when he spun Seth Rollins around on his shoulders with Cesaro not even using his hands for it. That was the “single most impressive moment in WrestleMania history” they hyped up earlier.
Otis made his entrance with Chad Gable. They showed a video package of Otis’ recent dominance as a heel with Gable by his side. Rey Mysterio entered with son Dominik with Pat saying Rey looks so good he may still be wrestling by the time Dominik has a kid that starts wrestling. Good comedy.
Otis (w/Chad Gable) vs. Rey Mysterio (w/Dominik Mysterio)
Otis with a forearm to Rey’s back followed by a press slam. Otis sent Rey under the bottom rope to the floor, but Rey managed to get back up quickly. Rey with a necksnap against the top rope and then Otis tripped up Rey on the turnbuckle. Otis charged, Rey moved and Otis hit the turnbuckle. Rey hit a senton splash onto a standing Otis and Rey hit a running knee for two. Rey jumped off the ropes right into the arms of Otis, who hit a front slam on Rey. Otis went to the middle ropes and jumped off, but Rey moved out of the way. Rey hit a dropkick into the ropes, then a drop toehold into the ropes and Rey hit a 619 kick (Pat was very excited to see that in person). Rey jumped onto the back of Otis and hooked the arms into a crucifix pin for victory after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Rey Mysterio
Analysis: ** It went about as well as a short Otis match is going to go. It feels like Otis has beat the Mysterios in tag team matches a few times now, so I’m not surprised to see Rey get the win since WWE likes 50/50 booking so much. They did a decent job of having Otis hit some power spots and Rey avoided the big splash off the ropes leading to the win.
The duo of Rey and Dominik Mysterio celebrated the win while Otis and Gable were angry about the loss. It was one of those sudden pins where Otis didn’t sell after the loss, so he was back on his feet quickly.
There’s an interview with Paul Heyman up next.
Paul Heyman was asked by Kayla Braxton if Roman Reigns is going to accept Cesaro’s challenge. Heyman called Cesaro a “neanderthal” among other things. Heyman said that there was no rain delay at WrestleMania, they were tears over the beating that Reigns would give Edge and Daniel Bryan, which is what Roman gave them. Heyman said that Reigns walked out of WrestleMania as the champion while Edge and Bryan didn’t walk out of it. Heyman ripped on Cesaro as a guy with a billion-dollar body and a ten-cent brain. Heyman said that Cesaro is a joke. Heyman said we’ll give Cesaro what he wants tonight on Smackdown in the main event: Cesaro against “Main Event” Jey Uso.
Analysis: It’s what I expected them to do because we’ve seen Jey Uso facing (and usually losing) to future Reigns PPV opponents like Kevin Owens, Daniel Bryan and Edge in the last few months, so it’s that same formula again. It should be a good match that’s fresh.
They showed another replay of Cesaro’s UFO move on Seth Rollins. They really liked that spot. I did too, but they are showing it a lot.
Sami Zayn made his entrance saying that WrestleMania was supposed to be his moment. Zayn said that Logan Paul was supposed to help him and watch his grand victory, but that’s not how it went down. Zayn said that Logan’s mind was poisoned by Kevin Owens and the entire WWE Universe talking about Sami Zayn like he’s some crackpot. Zayn said that Owens squeaked a victory over him at WrestleMania. Zayn said that he will not be denied his revenge. Zayn said that there is nothing to distract him like toxic fans or Logan Paul with his warped mind. Zayn said that’s why KO is not going to come out and here comes Owens right on cue.
Analysis: Sami Zayn is one of my favorite promo guys in WWE. I enjoy the heel character a lot, so this was easy for him to do his usual routine of complaining about things.
Kevin Owens walked down to the ring with Zayn already in the ring. That’s next.
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
Zayn left the ring, Owens left the ring too and Owens sent Zayn face first into the announce table. Back in the ring, Owens with a clothesline and a running senton splash. Owens charged at Zayn, who moved to the apron and Zayn drove KO’s throat into the top rope as Sami took control. Zayn with punches followed by Zayn driving his knees to the back of Owens against the ropes. Zayn worked over Owens with punches, but Zayn came back with a jawbreaker. Zayn with a kick to the chest and then Owens hit a clothesline followed by a suplex that sent Zayn ribs first onto the top rope. Owens sent Zayn onto the turnbuckle, Owens with chops to the chest and then Zayn hit a Sunset Flip Powerbomb off the top for a two count. McAfee thought that was the coolest thing he’s ever seen as the show went to break.
The match continued with Zayn knocking Owens off the turnbuckle and then Zayn ran right into a superkick by Owens for two. Owens went up top and hit a Senton Bomb for a two count. Zayn was sent into the ropes, so Zayn went under the ropes to the floor. Owens went after Zayn, sent him into the barricade and then back into the ring. Zayn avoided a Popup Powerbomb, but then Owens hit a cradle suplex into the knee against the back of Zayn’s neck for a two count. Zayn tried to leave again. Back in the ring, Owens went for a Stunner, Zayn to the floor again and Zayn did an eye gouge at the referee didn’t see. Zayn left up the ramp for the countout loss after ten minutes.
Winner by countout: Kevin Owens
Analysis: *** It was the usual good match between two guys that have wrestled eachother many times in their lives, but that ending sucked. Zayn kept leaving the ring from the moment the bell rang, so that told me that a countout was possible just based on how WWE likes to book those kinds of finishes occasionally. I know it fits Sami’s character, but I don’t like finishes like that.
Post match, Owens went after Zayn on the ramp, brought Sami into the ring and Owens hit a Stunner. Owens celebrated while Zayn was out in the ring.
Analysis: That means Zayn lost at WrestleMania, lost this match and got beat up after the loss. It was not a good week for Sami.
Apollo Crews, the new Intercontinental Champion, was backstage with Commander Azeez by his side. Crews was bragging about his title win over Big E at WrestleMania. Crews talked about how Azeez was a member of the Nigerian Elite Guard and how Azeez would stop anybody that tried to go after his Intercontinental Title.
Analysis: There’s an explanation for Commander Azeez. We are supposed to forget that he was Dabba Kato on Raw Underground last year. Why? Because that’s WWE. They think we're idiots. When I was a kid and One Man Gang became Akeem, I asked my older cousin why they think we don't know who it used to be and then he said "that's just how it is." There's no reason to get upset about it. It's just how it is. I don’t write the shows.
The Street Profits made their entrance to be a part of Bianca Belair’s Victory since Montez Ford is married to Belair. That is next.
A commercial aired for A&E’s original new biography about “Stone Cold” Steve Austin that airs Sunday at 8pm ET. Even though I have watched WWE documentaries about Austin, read his book, listened to his podcasts and read so many interviews over the years, I will be checking that out for sure.
Bianca Belair’s Championship Celebration
The Street Profits were in the ring with a blue carpet in the ring along with blue, white and silver balloons. Angelo Dawkins talked about how they are going to win back the Smackdown Tag Team Titles. Montez Ford said that they were inspired this past weekend at WrestleMania. Ford said that there was one match that he’s going to tell his great-grandkids about and that’s the history-making Smackdown Women’s Championship match.
They showed highlights of Bianca Belair beating Sasha Banks in the main event of Night 1 at WrestleMania. They showed some press clippings about the match along with female fans reacting to the match in the crowd. In the end, Belair left with the Smackdown Women’s Title.
Dawkins said that he got the feels. Ford said that he wanted to share that same joy with the WWE Universe and he called her the greatest part of his life, the Smackdown Women’s Champion that is the EST of the WWE…Bianca Belair.
Bianca Belair made her entrance with the Smackdown Women’s Championship around her waist. Cole talked about the history-making moment at WrestleMania between Banks and Belair as the first two black women to main event a WrestleMania. McAfee talked about how great of a match it was.
Belair said that she has been floating since Saturday night and she feels so blessed. Belair said that despite the setbacks and struggles, she never stopped believing that this moment was possible. Belair said that her family has been making history for generations, they showed her that if you demand greatness then you can change the game. Belair said if you asked her a year ago that she’d main event WrestleMania and win the Smackdown Women’s Championship, she probably would have said yes. Belair said that’s not cockiness, it’s just being unapologetically herself. Belair said that when you find that confidence, you should never apologize for being the B-E-S-T because if you can dream it, you can do it. Belair said it’s not just about her. Belair mentioned Sasha Banks, she said thank you and said there was nobody that she would have rather shared the spotlight with because Sasha pushed her. Belair said that they both made history. Belair held onto her hair saying that she left Sasha with something to remember because Belair hit Banks in the ribs with the hair before hitting her KOD finisher. Belair said that this is for the kids at home that saw themselves in Belair. Bianca said that at WrestleMania, it was magic, but just know that they are just getting started in terms of creating history. Ford hugged Belair and best friend Dawkins. Belair told The Street Profits to win back the titles because they are about collecting gold in this house. They ended it with the “we want the smoke” catchphrase.
Analysis: Good promo from Belair. I have no doubt that younger women watching that Bianca/Sasha WrestleMania match were likely inspired by it. Bianca doesn’t come across as cocky to me. I think she’s a confident woman that believes in herself a lot and she proved it in the Royal Rumble as well as at WrestleMania. It makes Bianca is easy to like, which is how WWE wants us to feel about her since she’s a top babyface woman right now.
Sasha Banks was about to be interviewed by Kayla Braxton with Banks looking a lot taller because she must be wearing heels. Banks is not that tall. Anyway, Banks showed us the scar on the right side of her ribs. Banks was about to speak, but then she chose to walk away and didn’t say anything.
They showed Cesaro doing the UFO spot on Seth Rollins again.
Bayley was interviewed by Kayla Braxton. Bayley mocked Sasha Banks for the way she acted. Bayley said she was busy at WrestleMania trying to save the show. Bayley said that Bianca Belair cried before her match because she didn’t really think she could actually win at WrestleMania. Bayley said that there is only one way to fix this and that’s to challenge Bianca Belair for her Smackdown Women’s Title. Bayley left.
Analysis: It makes sense to do Belair vs. Bayley as a title feud perhaps at the next PPV. Bayley can put over Belair to make Bianca look like an even bigger star that will beat another former champion.
Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode entered for their title match.
This Monday on Raw, Drew McIntyre has questions about getting attacked by T-Bar and Mace, so he wants answers by MVP and Bobby Lashley. They also announced Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka as the main event. WWE has also advertised Braun Strowman vs. Randy Orton in a first-time-ever match.
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode vs. The Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins)
Ford hit an incredible dropkick on Ziggler early in the match. Dawkins jumped off the middle ropes with a double axehandle to the arm. Ford came back with his leap off the middle rope leading to an elbow to the arm. Roode tagged in, Ford ducked and Roode ran into Ziggler for a collision. The Street Profits hit double team flapjacks on both opponents. Dawkins with a spinning splash on Roode, a bulldog and then Dawkins hit a running shoulder tackle. That led to a break two minutes into the match.
The match returned with Dawkins grounding Roode with a side headlock, then Dawkins with a leapfrog followed by a jumping elbow. Dawkins with an elbow on Roode, Ziggler distracted Dawkins, so Dawkins punched Ziggler off the apron and Roode hit a spinebuster on Dawkins to take control. Ziggler hit a neckbreaker for a two count. Roode hit a suplex. Ziggler had this long ponytail attached to his hair and it looked very fake, but it was there. Ziggler went for a dropkick, Dawkins caught him and launched Ziggler into the turnbuckle. Ford got the tag against Roode with Ford hitting two clotheslines on Roode followed by dropkicks on both opponents. Ford with a flipping neckbreaker on Roode followed by a clothesline on Ziggler. Ford with a belly to back suplex on Roode followed by a standing moonsault for two. Roode went to the floor, Ford hit a somersault dive over the top onto both champs on the floor. Dawkins made the tag and hit a spinebuster on Roode. Ford tagged back in and hit an impressive Frog Splash on Roode, but Ziggler was there to save at two. Great nearfall. Ziggler sent Dawkins to the floor and Ford was battling Roode in the ring. Ford turned his head for a bit, Ziggler tagged himself in (so Ford never saw the tag because his head was turned) and Ziggler snuck back in behind Ford for the Zig Zag for the pinfall win. That move is no longer Ziggler’s finisher, but it worked in that instance. It went about 11 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
Analysis: ***1/2 This was a very good title match that wasn’t that long, but it was full of action from the minute the bell rang. I liked that nearfall spot after Ford’s Frog Splash because it looked like it might be it before Ziggler made the save at the last moment. The finish was booked well in terms of making Roode/Ziggler look like intelligent heels with Dolph getting the blind tag and hitting the Zig Zag for the win. That’s the right kind of finish to book because it puts over the craftiness of the champions. I thought there might be a title change, but that’s okay. I don’t mind Roode & Ziggler as champions either.
They showed another replay of Cesaro delivering the UFO move to Rollins at WrestleMania and the fans loved it.
Cesaro was interviewed by Kayla Braxton. Cesaro responded to Paul Heyman’s derogatory things saying that Heyman might be right that Cesaro looks like a neanderthal, but Cesaro said that he does deserve to be in the ring with Roman Reigns and he’ll prove it by beating Jey Uso.
They showed Roman Reigns in his office talking to Paul Heyman and Jey Uso, but we couldn’t hear them.
There was no introduction for the next match. Natalya and Shayna Baszler were in the ring for a match.
Natalya (w/Tamina) vs. Shayna Baszler (w/Nia Jax)
Baszler with punches and kicks, but Natalya tried to come back with a Sharpshooter. Baszler went to the floor and Jax helped her get out of the ring. Natalya with a trip, Baszler switched into an armbar and Natalya blocked it by holding her hands together. Baszler tried to stomp on the left arm, but Tamina pulled Natalya out of the ring. Natalya sent Baszler throat first into the top rope. Baszler came back with a knee to the face. Natalya with a discus clothesline. Jax on the apron, Baszler with a kick, Natalya sent Baszler towards Jax and then Natalya won with the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Baszler for the pinfall win. It went about three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Natalya
Analysis: * The ROLLUP OF DEATH~! is so deadly. We all know that by now. They worked hard, but it’s tough to get people to care too much when it’s under three minutes like that. It felt rushed.
After the match, Nia Jax tried to attack Natalya, but Tamina made the save with a superkick. The champs Baszler & Jax left.
Analysis: The Natalya/Tamina team were heels in the past, but they might be faces now after the fans cheered for them at WrestleMania this past Sunday.
They showed Cesaro delivering the UFO spot to Seth Rollins again. I like Cesaro as much as anybody, but they kept showing it throughout the show.
Roman Reigns, Paul Heyman and Jey Uso were in the office. Jey Uso did a promo staring into the camera asking Cesaro if he can do that move with no teeth. Jey said that tonight he’ll show Cesaro why they call him “Main Event” Jey Uso. Reigns stared into the camera saying that Jey was going to show you.
The commercial aired for WrestleMania 38 in Dallas in April 2022. The commercial features Steve Austin, who would make a good host for that show.
The guests on Talking Smack this week are all champions: Bianca Belair, Apollo Crews and Dolph Ziggler/Robert Roode. The hosts are Kayla Braxton and the great Paul Heyman.
It’s time for the main event with “Main Event” Jey Uso wearing the “Right Hand Man” shirt. Jey won the Andre the Giant battle royal last week on Smackdown. There was a replay shown of Jey’s win from Smackdown last week.
Cesaro made his entrance as the opponent. Cesaro beat Seth Rollins at WrestleMania for what was Cesaro’s first singles win at a WrestleMania.
Jey Uso vs. Cesaro
Cesaro used his power early with a lifting slam along with a backbreaker. Cesaro sent Jey into the turnbuckle, but then Jey sent the right hand into the top of the steel post. Cesaro kicked Jey off the apron to the floor. Cesaro went for a diving attack off the apron, but Jey stopped him with a superkick.
The match returned with Jey hitting a Samoan Drop for a two count. Jey focused on the right arm of Cesaro by pulling on it against the top rope. Cesaro blocked a suplex of Jey and then he hit a deadlift suplex that looked impressive as Cesaro favored his right arm that was injured. Cesaro jumped off the top with a cross body block for two. Jey came back with a superkick to the jaw for two. Jey with a running hip attack against the turnbuckle. Jey went up top with Cesaro meeting him with a dropkick. Cesaro tried for a superplex, Jey punched him down and Cesaro hit an uppercut. Cesaro hit a gutwrench suplex off the top for two. Cesaro did a cartwheel to avoid a move and then a springboard uppercut for a two count. Cesaro with an uppercut, but then Jey came back with a toss into the air leading to a neckbreaker for two. Jey with slaps to the face, Cesaro came back with slaps of his, then forearms and a running discus clothesline tribute to Brodie for a two count. Cesaro delivered the Cesaro Swing as Cole counted up to five and then Seth Rollins attacked Cesaro for the DQ finish. It went about 12 minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Cesaro
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a finish that was done to continue Cesaro’s rivalry with Rollins. I figured if that was going to happen then it would be after Cesaro pinned Jey, but there was no pinfall loss for Jey here. That’s probably going to happen before Backlash if they go with Reigns/Cesaro at that PPV. Anyway, they worked well together by having a match where both guys got plenty of offense, lots of reversals and overall a good showing before the cheap finish. I think Cesaro should have beat Jey by pinfall there, but I assume this was done because they might do the match again and that’s when we’ll see Cesaro get the win.
After the bell rang, Rollins hit Cesaro with a forearm to the back of the head that rocked Cesaro. Jey left the ring by this point.
Rollins went up the ramp and Cesaro was up against the ropes. Rollins yelled that this isn’t over and it will only be over when he says it is over. They showed a replay of Rollins attacking Cesaro. Rollins said that he is the be-all, end-all and the sooner you figure it out, the better it will be. The show ended there.
Analysis: I assume that will set up Rollins vs. Cesaro as a Smackdown main event and then they can do Reigns vs. Cesaro at Backlash next month. If they go with Rollins vs. Cesaro at Backlash then that’s fine too, but then somebody else would have to face Reigns. Maybe Edge or Daniel Bryan I guess, but I doubt Edge wants to work every PPV. Since there are over four weeks until Backlash, there’s plenty of time to announce things. My feeling is they’ll do Reigns/Cesaro at Backlash, so the next Rollins/Cesaro match can be on Smackdown at some point over the next month.
Three Stars of the Show
- Dolph Ziggler/Robert Roode
- The Street Profits/Jey Uso
6.75 out of 10
Last week: 7
2021 Average: 6.95
It was a solid show with Cesaro getting the big babyface push as the next challenger to Roman Reigns. I wouldn’t call it a great show or anything like that, but overall it was good enough. Since the WrestleMania Backlash PPV, they didn’t have to officially announce anything, but that seems to be the direction. Cesaro beat Jey Uso by DQ in the main event when Seth Rollins attacked Cesaro, so there will probably be another Cesaro/Rollins match likely on Smackdown before Backlash. There were no appearances from Edge or Daniel Bryan, so those guys are likely out of the picture for now.
I thought the Ziggler/Roode vs. Street Profits match had the best finish as Ziggler/Roode found a way to keep their titles. I didn’t really like the finishes to the Zayn/Owens match with Sami losing by DQ or the main event with Cesaro/Jey. I get that WWE doesn’t want to book clean finishes all the time and that’s okay, but I just thought both finishes were flat. The lone women’s match ending with the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! was a lame finish too. I did like Bianca Belair’s championship promo, so that was fun to see. I’m happy for her.
I thought Pat McAfee did a very good job on commentary considering it was his first time on the job. Pat was definitely heelish for some parts of it, which is fine because he was a heel on NXT as well. I think he’s probably more comfortable in that role, so if it works for him then keep doing it.
The next WWE PPV is called WrestleMania Backlash on May 16th. Here’s what we know so far.
WWE Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Drew McIntyre
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