The John Report: WWE Smackdown 06/18/21 Review (Hell in a Cell Match for the Universal Championship)


Welcome to this week’s WWE Smackdown review. It’s a history-making Smackdown episode in some ways because for the first time ever, WWE is airing a Hell in a Cell match on Smackdown with Roman Reigns defending the Universal Championship against Rey Mysterio. It was originally going to take place this Sunday at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, but then WWE announced the change on Thursday night. Part of the reason could be because Smackdown is against the NBA Playoffs with a huge Game 6 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals with the Philadelphia 76ers at the Atlanta Hawks. That game should draw a big number, so maybe WWE felt like they had to put on a bigger match. I don’t know for sure if that’s the reason, but it would make sense to me. Anyway, it boosts Smackdown while hurting the Hell in a Cell PPV on Sunday. Going into this Smackdown, Hell in a Cell only has four official matches and three of them are from Raw. Weak build to Hell in a Cell this year.
From the WWE ThunderDome at the Yuengling Center in Tampa Bay, Florida, this is Smackdown for episode #1139. 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 focused on the Roman Reigns rivalry with Rey and Dominik Mysterio. Roman beat up the Mysterios, Rey challenged him to a Hell in a Cell match and Roman beat them up again although the Mysterios did fight back a bit more last week. Dominik took a big bump when Roman gave him a Powerbomb over the top to the floor. That brings us to the Hell in a Cell match.
The show began with a shot of the Thunderdome structure with the dreaded red Hell in a Cell was above the ring. The announce team of Michael Cole and Pat McAfee were at ringside welcoming us to the show.

Let’s Hear from Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio did a promo in the ring with the cell above his head. Rey said that Dominik is able to walk, but who knows when he can get back in the ring? Rey yelled about how Roman Reigns tossed Dominik over the top rope all the way down to the floor. Rey said he’ll never forget the sound and the helpless look in his boy’s eyes as he suffered in pain. Rey said he’ll never forget the man who did this to him…Roman Reigns. Rey said that he can’t wait one more day, he wants this match tonight inside the most diabolical structure in WWE. Rey said he knows Roman accepted the match last night on Twitter, but he wants to hear it from the so-called “Head of the Table” himself. Rey: “Get out here you son of a bitch.”
The Hell in a Cell structure lowered to the floor. Cole said that the match will take place later tonight. McAfee wondered who lowered the cage and if it was Roman calling the shots to lock Rey inside the cell.
That led to the Universal Champion Roman Reigns making his entrance with Special Counsel Paul Heyman. Reigns said you don’t have to do this. Reigns said he didn’t want to hurt him. Reigns said that Rey isn’t ready for him and he doesn’t want to be locked in there with Reigns. Roman said what he did to Dominik was PG compared to what he’s going to do to Rey. Reigns asked him one last time: “Are you sure you want to do this, Rey?” That led to Rey saying he’s never been more ready in his life. Reigns said he tried to be diplomatic like Heyman wanted, but now we do it Roman’s way. Roman and Paul left. Rey was left alone inside Hell in a Cell.
Analysis: A strong promo from Rey Mysterio showing the kind of intensity and passion you would expect from a father that watched his son get beat up viciously in back-to-back weeks. Reigns didn’t say much, but showed the usual amount of confidence that we expect from him as the Universal Champion. I don’t know if the show needed a ten-minute promo to start, but it was fine with me.
The announce team talked about how big it is to have a Hell in a Cell match on Smackdown. A video aired setting up the tag team match with Apollo Crews & Commander Azeez vs. Kevin Owens & Big E. The Intercontinental Champion Apollo Crews and Commander Azeez made their entrance.
There was a commercial for SummerSlam. Big crowd. Two months away.
(Commercial)

Kevin Owens and Big E were interviewed in the backstage area with Kayla Braxton asking if they are worried about Commander Azeez. Owens said that Azeez is very dangerous, but his partner Big E is the strongest man in the locker room bar none. Owens said that this man is a nine-time former Tag Team Champion, so he could not have a better partner. Big E said that Kevin is very good and talented. That was funny. Big E did a fired up promo saying they would “feel our power” like a bit of a New Day promo.
That led to Big E’s entrance followed by Kevin Owens. Sami Zayn also made his entrance due to his ongoing rivalry with Kevin Owens with Zayn joining commentary for the match.
Apollo Crews & Commander Azeez vs. Big E & Kevin Owens
Big E with a belly to belly suplex on Crews followed by a splash and Owens made a tag leading to a senton splash. Big E was back in with a belly to back suplex while Zayn said that “western medicine” helped him recover from the injured trachea. Crews broke free as Azeez tagged in for his first match with a forearm to the back and a boot to the face. Big E left the ring, Azeez followed him out there and Azeez gave Big E a body slam on the floor leading to a break.
(Commercial)

Azeez was in control of Big E with a chinlock. I should point out that Azeez is wrestling in his jacket, which is weird for wrestling gear. Azeez hit a suplex, then some choking and another suplex. Big E moved out of the way of an elbow drop from Azeez, so Crews tagged in and knocked Owens off the apron. Crews with an enziguri on Big E. They battled on the apron with Big E countering a Big E move and hit a front suplex on the apron. Owens tagged in with a Swanton Bomb off the top on Crews for two. It can win matches for Jeff Hardy, but not Owens. Crews with a boot to Owens, but then Owens came back with a Popup Powerbomb on Crews for two. Azeez was slow for the save and elbowed Crews by accident. Oops. Azeez tagged back in with a clothesline on Big E on the floor. Owens ducked a charging Azeez and Azeez went over the top to the floor. Azeez sent Owens into the ring post. Zayn was trashing Owens, Zayn tried a cheap shot and then Owens went back into the ring. Azeez hit the Nigerian Nail thumb to the throat of Owens for the pinfall win after nine minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Apollo Crews & Commander Azeez
Analysis: **1/2 It was an average match to put over Commander Azeez as a dominant big man wrestler. It was similar to what they have done with Omos on Raw as well. The offense by Commander Azeez was basic big man stuff like body slams, clotheslines and suplexes. Owens losing again isn’t good for him, but Owens is a strong talker, so that helps him stay relevant. I just wish Owens was used better. Big E and Crews had minimal roles in this match.

Sami Zayn celebrated after the match with some comedic dancing. Azeez gave Owens the Nigerian Nail to the throat again. They showed Zayn backstage and he laughed at Owens on the TV screen that was back there. Zayn said it was beautiful.
The King Corbin match against Shinsuke Nakamura is next.
(Commercial)

There was a backstage scene with WWE Officials Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville in their office talking about Reigns/Mysterio as maybe the biggest Smackdown match ever. Kevin Owens showed up coughing to sell the Nigerian Nail moves that he took. Owens asked Pearce and Deville to give him Sami Zayn. Pearce said that Owens has his match on Sunday at Hell in a Cell.
Analysis: That’s cool with me. They needed to add a match. Owens and Zayn have wrestled many times. It’s always great.
Rick Boogs was on the stage introducing the King of Strong Style, Shinsuke Nakamura with Boogs playing the electric guitar. Pat McAfee was going crazy as usual calling Boogs a great musician. King Corbin made his entrance and stared at the crown that was on the stage. The King’s crown is up for grabs. Corbin won it two years ago.
Battle for the King's Crown: Shinsuke Nakamura (w/Rick Boogs) vs. King Corbin
They were 2-2 in previous matches in this feud. Nakamura was in control early on he kicked Corbin up against the ropes. Nakamura hit a sliding German Suplex leading to Nakamura rocking out with Boogs at ringside as the show went to break one minute into the match.
(Commercial)

Corbin with a chinlock, Nakamura broke free and ran the ropes right into Deep Six slam for two. Corbin usually gets a two count with that move. Nakamura with a backstabber (knees to the back), then a kick to the jaw and a sliding knee got a two count. Corbin blocked a kick by Nakamura followed by a German Suplex for a two count although it was more like to the side instead of a traditional German Suplex. McAfee said he saw somebody do something similar on the internet. There was a viral video. Nakamura with an STO trip to take down Corbin. Nakamura charged, but then Corbin hit a huge clothesline leading to flipping bump by Nakamura. There was a battle in the corner with Nakamura hitting elbows, kicks and jumping knee attacks off the middle rope. Nakamura off the rope again, Nakamura blocked a Chokeslam with a knee and Nakamura hit the Kinshasa knee to the face for the pinfall win after ten minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Shinsuke Nakamura
Analysis: *** A good match with Nakamura getting the clean win. It’s the end of this rivalry since Nakamura hit his finisher, won clean and won the crown. I think Corbin is a solid worker in some ways depending on who he is in the ring with, but I know a lot of fans find him boring as well. The King gimmick is done for Corbin now, so the creative team has to try to figure out something else for him.
Nakamura was announced as the “one true king in WWE” and he got to wear the crown. Corbin was sad about not being King Corbin anymore, so I guess we can go back to calling him Baron again. Nakamura posed on the stage with the crown.

Analysis: I would be fine with a King of the Ring tournament coming soon. I don’t mind tournaments like that. It has been two years since Corbin won the crown, so maybe there will be a tournament and King Nakamura won’t last long.
Bianca Belair made her entrance looking confident for a Face to Face segment with Bayley.
(Commercial)

Bianca Belair and Bayley Face to Face
Bianca Belair made her entrance as the Smackdown Women’s Champion. They showed a clip of Belair laughing at Bayley last week as payback for Bayley laughing at Belair two weeks ago. Belair defends the Smackdown Women’s Champion against Bayley at Hell in a Cell on Sunday.
Belair said it felt so good to put Bayley in her place. Belair said that come this Sunday, Bayley can also kiss her championship dreams goodbye. Belair said bullies can dish it out, but can’t take it and she said speaking of bullies, that is Bayley’s cue to come out. No sign of Bayley. Belair said that Bayley’s games almost worked because when somebody laughs in your face, that’s rough. Belair said that she was so much more than what bullies could ever dream of being. Belair said that she is not that little kid anymore and she doesn’t let what anybody thinks define her. Belair said that she is loud, proud and unapologetically herself. Belair said that at Hell in a Cell, Bayley will give her everything she’s got physically and mentally. Belair said that she doesn’t just want Bayley in the ring, Belair wants Bayley inside Hell in a Cell. Belair said she wants to drag Bayley’s hair all over the cell. Belair said that Bayley won’t be laughing when the bell rings, the match is over and Belair remains the Smackdown Women’s Champion. Belair said that they try to ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you and then you win. Belair held up her title.
Bayley walked down to the ring in street clothes and got into the ring with Belair. Bayley tried to attack, but Belair was ready. Bayley with a kick to the ribs and then Belair tossed her out of the ring. Belair sent Bayley into the hood of the announce table. They fought on the floor with Bayley grabbing Belair’s hair and pulled her into the barricade. Back in the ring, Bayley hit a running kick to the face. Bayley hit her Rose Plant finishing move to drive Belair into the mat. Nobody tried to help Belair as Bayley stood on Bianca’s hair and held up the Smackdown Women’s Title. The image of Bayley holding the Smackdown Women’s Title was shown all throughout the Thunderdome. Bayley left while Bianca was down on the mat.
Analysis: Good segment with Bayley getting the upper hand. It makes sense to make it a Hell in a Cell match since the Reigns/Mysterio got moved off of Sunday’s PPV, so WWE probably felt they needed another Hell in a Cell match. I thought Bianca’s promo was good as a true babyface that says the right things and acts the right way. Bayley getting the advantage is fine because I expect Belair to retain on Sunday.

The announcers talked about the Hell in a Cell match with Cole saying Reigns was undefeated in Hell in a Cell matches while Rey Mysterio had never been in a Hell in a Cell match.
There was a video package showing all of the family drama involving Roman Reigns, Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso, who was the man in the middle dealing with all of the drama.
Roman Reigns was shown in his private dressing room with cousin Jimmy Uso talking to him (Paul Heyman was in the background). Jimmy said that he thought about what Roman said last week and said he was right. Jimmy said that he might not agree with everything that Roman says or does, but they are blood and they are family. Roman asked where Jey was. Jimmy said he texted, called, went by Jey's house and he didn’t hear from Jey all week. Jimmy told Roman if he needs his help, Jimmy says he’s got it. Reigns said “no” and Reigns told Jimmy to find his brother because Roman needs Jey. Reigns said that the family is at their best when they are complete and all together. Reigns said don’t worry about tonight. Reigns told Jimmy to figure out where his brother is. Jimmy left.
Analysis: It sounds like Jimmy Uso is slowly seeing things the way Roman does, so we could be seeing a united Reigns and Usos trio in the coming weeks. I think the bickering between them has produced quality television, but I think a lot of us want to see them all on the same page too. There’s a special chemistry between Roman and The Usos and I’m a big fan of them together. As for Jey missing the show due to being frustrated by both Roman/Jimmy arguing, that makes sense in the story because you can understand it from Jimmy’s perspective.
The Alpha Academy made their entrance with Otis (no longer with a beard) joined by Chad Gable. Otis faces Angelo Dawkins after a break.
(Commercial)

There was a Progressive Match Flo replay shown from last week when Otis beat up Montez Ford, who was facing Chad Gable in a singles match. Ford did an injury angle to put over the power of Otis.
Angelo Dawkins made his entrance selling a left shoulder injury since Otis attacked him in the backstage area.
Dawkins had tape on his left shoulder to sell the injury. Dawkins chased after Gable and then Otis hit Dawkins with a clothesline on the floor. There was no match. Otis and Gable tossed Dawkins into the steel steps. Gable jumped off the apron and hit a knee drop into the left arm of Dawkins. Dawkins was sent back into the ring as the heels hit a double team move with Owens hit a clothesline on Dawkins into a German Suplex by Gable. That was nasty! Dawkins bumped to the floor to sell that. Referees showed up to check on Dawkins at ringside.
Analysis: It was advertised as a match, but it was just an angle to further this rivalry. I like Otis/Gable as a heel duo and I think the Street Profits have sold their beatings well. It should lead to a big tag team match within a few weeks while making fans care about a tag team rivalry that doesn’t involve the titles.
Rey Mysterio was shown praying backstage. That Hell in a Cell match is coming up.
There was another commercial for SummerSlam in Las Vegas on Saturday, August 21. Tickets are on sale now.
(Commercial)

Roman Reigns was shown getting ready in his private dressing room with Paul Heyman looking on. Pat McAfee talked about how excited he was for the Hell in a Cell match.
The Pizza Hut “Highlight of the Night” showed what happened last week on Smackdown when Cesaro returned after several weeks away to beat up Seth Rollins.
Cesaro was interviewed by Kayla Braxton in the backstage area. Braxton asked Cesaro if he was concerned if the rivalry with Rollins has gone too far. Cesaro said that Rollins stomped on his head and put him on a stretcher. Cesaro said that WWE is his life, worked very hard and Seth tried to take it all away. Seth Rollins showed up in a leather jacket/pants to interrupt. Rollins told Cesaro that they’ve got their match on Sunday (so now that’s at Hell in a Cell). Rollins said he came to have a conversation with Cesaro and Rollins sat down with Cesaro. Rollins said he came there to tell Cesaro that he disgusts him. Rollins said that everything that Cesaro does and stands for is a disgrace and after what Cesaro pulled last week, he doesn’t deserve a single ounce of respect. Rollins told Cesaro that this Sunday at Hell in a Cell, he’ll show Cesaro and everyone like him what he does deserve when Seth puts him in his place. Cesaro said that he respects everything that Rollins has said and he respects him as a competitor. Cesaro said he’ll see him on Sunday and then Cesaro shoved him over in the chair. Rollins got back up looking angry.

Analysis: I’m glad that Cesaro vs. Rollins was added to the Hell in a Cell PPV because the card really needs it. I figured it was going to be there and they should have just announced it last week, but here we are. Anyway, the promo was fine with Rollins talking trash as usual and Cesaro getting the last laugh by shoving Rollins over while he was seated in a chair. It’s a WrestleMania rematch that will probably get more time than their WrestleMania match got. I think Cesaro should win, but it’s possible Rollins gets the win too.
The Hell in a Cell structure was lowered around the ring. Rey Mysterio made his entrance as the challenger. Michael Cole was screaming about how big of a match it was and was putting it over as a huge match.
(Commercial)

Roman Reigns made his entrance as the Universal Champion with his Special Counsel Paul Heyman by his side. Reigns did his usual slow-walking routine on his way down to the ring.
The announcers went over the Hell in a Cell lineup:

* Hell in a Cell for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (c) vs. Bayley – It’s officially a HIAC match.
* Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro
* Raw Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
* Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
* Alexa Bliss vs. Shayna Baszler
* Hell in a Cell Match for the WWE Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Drew McIntyre

Analysis: Those are the six official matches. I don’t know if anything else will be added, but I’m glad we have six matches to write about in our preview on TJRWrestling on Saturday because four matches was not enough.

Hell in a Cell Match for the WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Rey Mysterio
Rey grabbed a steel chair from under the ring and hit Reigns in the body with it, but Reigns was able to get the chair from him. Rey with a fire extinguisher that he used to spray into Roman’s face and he hit Reigns with the fire extinguisher as well. Rey grabbed a toolbox from under the ring and hit Reigns in the head with it. They went to break two minutes into it.
(Commercial)
The match continued with Rey hitting a dropkick into a chair into Roman’s back. Rey choked Reigns with a steel chair. Rey put a steel chair around the head/neck of Reigns and sent him into the steel cage two times. Rey sent Reigns into the ring post as well while the steel chair was still on Roman’s head/neck. Reigns fought back with a headbutt. Reigns charged at Rey on the floor, but Rey moved and Roman went crashing through a table that was up against the cell. Reigns came back with elbows to the back to the head. Reigns held on to block a sunset flip into the cage, then Rey blocked a headscissors and Roman swung Rey around so that Rey hit the cell repeatedly. Reigns tossed Rey into the cell as the show went to break again.

(Commercial)
Reigns was in control with less than ten minutes left in the show. Reigns beat up Reigns with repeated knee lifts to the ribs followed by punches to the face. Reigns with a Superman Punch while Heyman yelled about Rey has to “acknowledge” Reigns. Rey charged, Reigns got a boot up and then Rey came back with a headscissors into the ropes. Reigns came back with an uppercut punch to block a 619 attempt by Rey. Reigns charged, Rey moved and Reigns hit his left shoulder into the ring post. Rey hit a 619 kick by the turnbuckle. Rey hit Reigns with the steel chair four times to the body. Rey put the chair on Roman’s chest, Rey went up top and Rey hit a Frog Splash on Reigns with the chair that was on Reigns. Ouch. Rey was hurting too much to go for a cover. Rey went up top again and Rey hit another Frog Splash (no chair this time) and Rey covered for a two count. Rey was shocked by that nearfall. I don’t think viewers at home were shocked, but it was still a solid nearfall in a big match. Rey jumped off the top again, but Reigns caught him and Reigns launched Rey over the top rope back first into the cell! Heyman: “OH MY GOD!” It was similar to Reigns launching Dominik over the top to the floor on Smackdown. That was a brutal bump for Rey. Back in the ring, Reigns applied a Guillotine Choke type move and Rey quickly tapped out. It got about 16 minutes.
Winner by submission: Roman Reigns
Analysis: ***3/4 This was a very good match. I wouldn’t call it some all-time great HIAC match up there with the best of them, but it was a well-wrestled match with a story that worked. Rey got plenty of offense early on, he made it personal using the chair around the throat and other stuff, so I thought they started off on the right foot. Reigns coming back to overpower Rey and hit that massive Powerbomb into the cage was an emphatic way to show how dominant Reigns. The submission win by Reigns is fitting for him since he’s done version of that move for a while now. Rey was there to take a beating and to put over Reigns in a big way. That’s exactly what happened. I doubt anybody watching this thought that Rey was going to win, but the story worked at least.

After the match, the cage was raised. Roman Reigns held up the Universal Title with Paul Heyman by his side. Jimmy Uso went down to the ring and lifted up Roman’s arm to acknowledge his cousin as the champion.
Rey pulled himself up by the ropes, Reigns had an angry look on his face and Reigns choked Rey with the Guillotine Choke again. Rey tapped out quickly. Roman only held onto it for about five seconds. Reigns posed with the Universal Title: “Happy Father’s Day.” Reigns continued to celebrate. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: It was another cheap attack by Reigns although it didn’t last that long. I liked the “Happy Father’s Day” line a lot although the announcers didn’t seem to pick up on it.

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Roman Reigns
  2. Rey Mysterio
  3. Shinsuke Nakamura

The Scoreboard
7.5 out of 10
Last week: 7
2021 Average: 7.03

Final Thoughts
It was a very good show that was carried by the Roman Reigns/Rey Mysterio Hell in a Cell match. They opened with a promo, then they got a lot of time to have a memorable match and I like the story they told. Rey was so aggressive early on, but then the heel champion Reigns wore him out and won the match as expected. It worked as a story. I don’t know if they needed to do this on Smackdown when they could have done it at Hell in a Cell as planned, but at least we got an awesome main event on this show.
Shinsuke Nakamura beating King Corbin to become “King Nakamura” as the King of the Strong Styles puts an end to that rivalry. Maybe there will be another King of the Ring tournament soon. The tag team match with Commander Azeez/Apollo Crews beating Kevin Owens/Big E was pretty good. They put over Azeez in a big way. I have been disappointed that Big E hasn’t been featured enough in the last few months, so hopefully things turn around for him soon. I thought the Otis/Gable segment where they beat up Angelo Dawkins was very effective.
The Bianca Belair/Bayley segment was effective in terms of making me care a bit more about their match at Hell in a Cell. That’s also a HIAC match, so it’s a big test for Belair, who will likely retain her title. They also made Cesaro vs. Rollins and Zayn vs. Owens official for Hell in a Cell, so we get a couple of WrestleMania rematches on Sunday. Now Hell in a Cell has six matches, which is fine.
The next WWE pay-per-view on Peacock/WWE Network is Hell in a Cell on Sunday, June 20. Here’s the lineup.


Hell in a Cell Match for the WWE Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Drew McIntyre
Hell in a Cell for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (c) vs. Bayley
Raw Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
Alexa Bliss vs. Shayna Baszler
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John Canton
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