Welcome to this week’s WWE Smackdown review. The main match being advertised this week is Daniel Bryan facing Jey Uso in a Steel Cage match. If Bryan wins then he’ll challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Title at Fastlane. Also, Bianca Belair faces Shayna Baszler in singles action.
From the WWE ThunderDome at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, Florida, this is Smackdown for episode #1124. 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 opening video package was about Universal Champion Roman Reigns facing Royal Rumble winner Edge in the main event of WrestleMania.
Let’s Hear from Daniel Bryan
The show began with Michael Cole in the ring introducing the leader of the Yes Movement, the great Daniel Bryan. That led to Bryan entering with the “yes” chants supporting him.
Cole mentioned Bryan wrestling in the main event against Jey Uso in a Steel Cage Match. If Bryan wins then he will challenge Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Title at Fastlane. Cole noted that the other option at Fastlane was that Bryan was going to team with Edge against Reigns and Jey Uso (a match graphic was shown). Bryan said that not a single person came up to him about that tag team match. Bryan said that they know him because he just rolls with the punches and does whatever they ask of him. Bryan said that he understands why Edge didn’t ask him or why Roman Reigns didn’t bother to ask him. Bryan made it clear that Reigns doesn’t want to defend his championship at Fastlane. Bryan knows that “they” have Reigns vs. Edge at WrestleMania and he gets it because it’s Attitude Era vs. ThunderDome. Bryan said that the only person that doesn’t want to see it is him because he’ll do his damndest to make sure it doesn’t happen.
Bryan cued up a video package. It showed highlights of Daniel Bryan’s win at Elimination Chamber and then Roman Reigns beat Bryan in under two minutes.
Bryan noted that he won Elimination Chamber for the third time. Bryan said when he rolled to the floor and Edge went into the ring to spear Roman Reigns and he pointed at the WrestleMania sign, never in his life has Bryan felt like such a failure. Bryan said he doesn’t have a ton of ambition. Bryan told the story about how years ago they did a test and some lady told him he had the lowest ambition score. Bryan didn’t know how to explain it, but he told her that he loves this. (He told that story in his book too.) Bryan spoke about how he loved this so much that it felt like he hasn’t had to work a day for the last 21 years. Bryan knows he is more of a full-time dad and less of a full-time wrestler. Bryan said when he felt like an absolute failure at Elimination Chamber, it’s because he failed himself and he put himself on the backburner. Bryan said he had a lot more ambition than that personality test could ever show. Bryan said he knew that he should be in the main event of WrestleMania, not Roman or Edge. Bryan said in the last three weeks he’s wrestled more matches than Roman and Edge have wrestled in the last three months. Bryan said by putting himself on the backburner, he did a disservice to himself. Bryan said he knows he can be the absolute best. Bryan said tonight he steps into a Steel Cage with Jey Uso. Bryan said that if he wins that then he can beat Roman Reigns at Fastlane, then go on to WrestleMania and this could be his last chance.
Roman Reigns made his entrance with the Universal Championship in hand with cousin Jey Uso and Special Counsel Paul Heyman. As Reigns and his crew made their entrance, the show went to break.
Analysis: Good promo from Daniel Bryan as usual. When Bryan was doing his heel gimmick two years ago I liked his promos more than ever, but obviously, he had a lot of success as a babyface too. Bryan made great points about how he’s wrestled more in the last few weeks than Edge/Reigns in the last three months, which shows he’s a more active wrestler than either of them. They trust Bryan a lot to deliver in a promo like this and he did.
The show returned with pyro going off in the ring while Reigns, Heyman and Jey stared at Bryan.
Reigns said he was looking at the same guy, but he doesn’t sound like the same guy. Reigns said that the way Bryan is talking is confusing, so that must confuse the audience. Reigns said that Bryan is the underdog, the little guy, the lotto winner and the guy that waits on the opportunity and sometimes it works out. Reigns said Bryan is not ambitious. Reigns said that he is ambitious. Reigns spoke about since he was a little boy, if he wants it, he takes it. Reigns said that Bryan needs this because he has nothing else. Reigns said that he loves this business, he doesn’t need it, but he does it because everybody needs him. Reigns said that they all need him – the roster, the crew, the camera guys, Paul, Jey and Bryan need him. Reigns said that after Jey whoops Bryan then Bryan will know that he needs Reigns and Reigns wants Daniel to acknowledge him.
Jey Uso told Bryan he won’t get through Jey. Jey said that Bryan isn’t locking Roman out of the cage, he’s locking Jey in and now Jey has to get him. Jey charged, Bryan with a hiptoss and Bryan tossed Jey out of the ring. Bryan stared at Reigns in the ring, Daniel’s music played and that ended it as Reigns left the ring first.
Analysis: This did a nice job of setting up the main event. The whole thing, when you include the commercial, went about 20 minutes. That’s a lot of talking, but it did put over the importance of the main event.
The announce team of Michael Cole and Corey Graves talked about this week’s show including Shayna Baszler vs. Bayley later. They went over last week’s issues by the team of King Corbin/Sami Zayn against the Street Profits and there’s a rematch this week.
The Street Profits made their entrance with the red solo cups. Lots of energy by The Street Profits as usual.
Sami Zayn made his entrance with his documentary crew. Zayn said that The Street Profits had a fluke win last week. King Corbin interrupted Zayn saying they are not partners or friends. Corbin said that he’s a singles wrestler, so he wanted to know if either of them wanted to face one of them in a singles match. The Street Profits said that they were available since Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode are dodging them. The Street Profits talked about how they are up for this and they want the smoke, so now we are getting two singles matches.
Montez Ford (w/Angelo Dawkins) vs. King Corbin (w/Sami Zayn)
Ford hit two dropkicks, then he bounced off the ropes and Corbin caught him with a spinebuster for two. Corbin worked over Ford with punches to the ribs followed by a hard whip into the turnbuckle. Corbin picked up Ford leading to a slam. Ford with kicks to the body, corner splash and Ford hit a DDT, kip-up and standing moonsault for two. Zayn argued with Dawkins on the floor, so Corbin got a rollup, but Ford hit an enziguri kick. Corbin bounced off the ropes and hit the End of Days slam on Ford for the pinfall win after about three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: King Corbin
Analysis: *1/2 The singles guy beat the tag team wrestler as you would expect there. Zayn played a factor after distracting Ford, but Corbin didn’t win right after it. That was after another move. Ford could be a really good singles wrestler one day, but there’s no reason to split the Street Profits any time soon.
After the match, Zayn told Corbin he helped him, so he wanted Corbin to do something for him and Corbin claimed that Zayn didn’t help him at all. Zayn was on the apron and Dawkins ran the ropes to knock Zayn off the apron onto Corbin on the floor. Corbin told Zayn he was on his own and Corbin left.
Sami Zayn vs. Angelo Dawkins (w/Montez Ford)
Dawkins was aggressive as he sent Zayn into the turnbuckles. Zayn grabbed a headlock, Dawkins with a shoulder tackle and Dawkins with a dropkick for a two count. Great height on that dropkick by Angelo. Zayn left the ring, Dawkins followed and Zayn sent him into the barricade. Zayn was back in with a forearm to the back for two. Zayn choked Dawkins across the middle rope while trash-talking Ford outside the ring. Zayn with a running clothesline for two. Dawkins bounced off the ropes with a running clothesline followed by a corkscrew back elbow and a bulldog for two. Dawkins with a double underhook neckbreaker for a two count. Zayn choked Dawkins across the top rope to stun him a bit, Dawkins avoided a Blue Thunder Bomb, Dawkins missed a corner splash and Zayn did an Exploder Suplex into the turnbuckle. Ford went over to the documentary crew and was talking into the cameras, so Dawkins did the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Zayn for the pinfall after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Angelo Dawkins
Analysis: *1/4 Poor Sami Zayn again. Just when it looked like Sami might win, he was easily distracted by Ford and the ROLUP OF DEATH~! strikes again. It was fine for a short match.
Post match, The Street Profits celebrated the win while Zayn complained that it was a conspiracy to allow that to happen. Zayn asked his photographer who he worked for and he kneed the guy in the ribs two times. Zayn was frustrated.
Analysis: I hope there’s some long-term storyline for Sami here. They need to give him something interesting to do.
Reginald the sommelier walked up to Carmella with a champagne bottle and glass. Carmella didn’t like Reginald obsessing over Sasha Banks, he said no she didn’t understand and she knocked over the champagne. Carmella told Reginald he is fired.
Analysis: Poor Reginald. Good athlete, though. He’ll be around.
Dominik Mysterio entered with his father Rey Mysterio for a match up next.
There was a video that let us know that Intercontinental Champion Big E is back next week. Big E has been off for two weeks selling the attack from Apollo Crews, who recently turned heel.
Chad Gable entered with the big man Otis and they are heels now. They showed a highlight from last week with Otis beating Rey Mysterio in tag team action last week.
Chad Gable (w/Otis) vs. Dominik Mysterio (w/Rey Mysterio)
Gable with a waistlock, Dominik used the leverage to send Gable out of the ring and then Dominik hit an armdrag. Gable used his legs to trip up Dominik and then drove his knee into the mat. Gable with knee drops on the left knee. Rey was grabbing his ribs to sell the attacks from Otis in recent weeks. Dominik came back with a jumping kick, then Dominik off the ropes with headscissors and Dominik sent Gable into the turnbuckle. Gable hooked the arms leading to a Tiger Suplex for two. Gable went up top, he jumped off with a moonsault, Dominik moved and Gable rolled out of the way. Gable and Dominik exchanged moves for nearfalls with Dominik doing La Magistral cradle on Gable for the pinfall win after about three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Dominik Mysterio
Analysis: ** Good for the time given, but also hurt by the lack of time. It seems like they are doing the story where Gable is a loser for his team while Otis is more of a killer as a heel, so Otis is going to win matches, but Gable loses singles matches like that.
After the match, Rey dropkicked Otis into the announce table. Rey jumped off the apron onto Otis with a senton that sent Otis onto the announce table. Rey ran away, so Rey celebrated with Dominik. It should set up another tag match.
There was a replay of last week’s confrontation between Seth Rollins and Cesaro that ended with a Cesaro swing.
Seth Rollins was interviewed backstage by Kayla Braxton. Rollins wondered why Cesaro did that to him. Rollins said that Cesaro is afraid to embrace the vision and wanted to embarrass, humiliate Cesaro. Rollins said he’ll never forget that. Murphy walked up to Rollins. Murphy said that he was thinking that perhaps he could assist Rollins with the Cesaro situation. Rollins told Murphy to get out of his sight…now. Murphy left.
Analysis: It’s been a while since we have seen Murphy, who used to be an ally of Rollins. That Rollins/Murphy association ended when Murphy turned face, so Rollins is reluctant to trust him.
Shayna Baszler entered with Nia Jax. They are the Women’s Tag Team Champions.
This week on Raw: The new WWE Champion Bobby Lashley will have an Almighty Championship Celebration.
Bianca Belair made her entrance. She will team with Banks against Baszler and Jax for the Women’s Tag Team Titles. They already lost at Elimination Chamber, but they are getting another title shot. Sasha Banks, the Smackdown Women’s Champion, made her entrance to watch the match. Reginald the fired sommelier also made his way out to the ring.
Bianca Belair (w/Sasha Banks) vs. Shayna Baszler (w/Nia Jax)
Belair with a body slam. Baszler caught the foot, but Belair broke free and got a rollup. Baszler fought back with a kick to the left arm of Belair when Belair was tried to use the ropes for leverage. Baszler came back with a running knee for two. Baszler pulled back on the left arm of Belair. Baszler charged, Belair moved and Belair hit a body slam. Belair with shoulder tackles along with kicks to the ribs and a suplex. Belair with a back body drop. Baszler sent Belair out of the ring and landed near Reginald. Bianca got back up and shoved Reginald on his ass near Jax. Jax ran at Reginald, who moved and Jax ran over Banks. Belair avoided a Kirifuda Clutch submission and Belair hit the Kiss of Death slam for the pinfall win after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bianca Belair
Analysis: ** A nice win for Belair continuing her positive momentum as a singles wrestler going towards WrestleMania. Belair should not lose another match before WrestleMania. Baszler doesn’t lose short matches like that very often, but if she’s going to do it then Belair is the right person to beat her in quick fashion.
Belair told Banks that this guy Reginald being around is her fault and she needs to take care of him. Belair left. Reginald tried to be nice to Banks, so Sasha slapped Reginald in the face. Banks left. Graves: “I think it’s time to give Tinder a shot, Reggie.” Good advice. She’s also married. Anyway, Banks was happy about her slap.
Analysis: I hope that’s the end of this Reginald story. It really isn’t helping anybody at this point.
Jey Uso was in the office talking to Roman Reigns with Roman telling Jey that if he wins then the Universal Title is safe until WrestleMania. Reigns said that if Jey loses then he embarrasses himself and the family. Reigns told him not to embarrass the family. Jey said he’s got this.
Murphy was already in the ring for a match. Cesaro entered as the opponent. Seth Rollins also made his entrance with his “Burn it Down” entrance with Rollins entering in pink pants and a jacket with no shirt, but he had the glove on the right hand. Rollins joined commentary for the match.
Cesaro vs. Murphy
Cesaro with a waist lock takedown along with a gutwrench suplex. Cesaro with a backbreaker for two. Murphy sent Cesaro out of the ring, Murphy kicked Cesaro to knock him down and then Murphy hit a somersault dive onto Cesaro on the floor. Back in the ring, Murphy with a double knee attack for a two count. Murphy jumped off the middle ropes, but Cesaro was there to stop him with an uppercut. Cesaro with four running uppercuts and then a boot to the face. Cesaro did the Cesaro Swing on Murphy with more than ten revolutions. I didn’t count. Cesaro slapped the Sharpshooter on Murphy, who tapped out and Cesaro got the win by submission after three minutes.
Winner by submission: Cesaro
Analysis: ** It was another good short match in a show full of short matches. Cesaro has been winning matches regularly for a couple of months now, so the winning ways continue.
Post match, Rollins stood up and applauded Cesaro for the win. Rollins gave Cesaro a thumbs up as Cesaro looked at him.
Analysis: It’s a slow build to a Rollins vs. Cesaro match. I feel like it’s going to be a Rollins win at Fastlane and then Cesaro will beat him at WrestleMania. That’s my guess anyway.
Reginald was shown backstage with his luggage and he knocked on Sasha Banks’ locker room. Sasha slammed the door and told Reginald: “No!” Reginald walked, Shayna and Nia were there, so Shayna said it smelled like failure. Jax thought that Reginald was kinda cute. Jax and Baszler left while Reginald was confused a bit.
Analysis: It looks like we might have something new for Reginald where he helps out Nia Jax. I hope it doesn’t suck.
There was a video showing the Apollo Crews attack on Big E several weeks ago. Big E is back next week.
They plugged WWE Network documentaries this Sunday. One is about Goldberg at 54 years old and Heaven about a female amateur wrestler competing against males.
Let’s Hear from Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews made his entrance with two wrestlers wearing army fatigues and hats. Crews had a silver spear in his hands. Crews said that this is the real Apollo, this is who he is and this is how he talks. Crews said that he is a descendant of Nigerian royalty and these are Nigerian elite guard that protects his family. Crews had an accent as he spoke saying that you never accepted him for who he was. Crews said his friends would ask him questions like if he lived in a jungle or if he rode lions to school. Crews said that his family were some of the most feared warriors in all of Nigeria. Crews said that the more he goes back to his roots, it shows that history is repeating itself. Crews called out Big E trying to humble him, but then Crews heard his forefathers talking to him. Crews said that he saw Big E is coming back next week, which makes Crews happy. Crews said he no longer wants to fit in, he demands and he demands a rematch for Big E’s Intercontinental Championship. Crews said he’ll leave Big E a broken man for the rest of his life and Big E will be haunted by the complete and total victory of Crews.
Analysis: It’s a continuation of what Crews said last week although this week he spoke with more of an accent. I like that Apollo is getting the chance to speak more and getting more of a spotlight. He’s doing well. Big E vs. Crews should feel like a big deal when they have their next match most likely at Fastlane in a few weeks.
There was a backstage scene with Natalya and Tamina talking to Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville. Natalya said that they should be in the Women’s Tag Team Title match at Fastlane. Pearce simply said that was the match that was made. Pearce left. Deville told the women that she would have made a different decision.
Analysis: They are teasing the idea that Pearce is doing unfair things like what happened on NXT this past Wednesday in the Women’s Tag Team Title match. I’m not sure where it’s going, but they are slowly building it up.
Jey Uso was standing backstage, Kayla Braxton tried to interview and Bryan showed up with a forearm to Jey’s face to knock him on his ass. That was payback for Jey hitting Bryan with a cheap shot earlier. That match is next.
It was time for the Ding Dong Hello talk show with Bayley although it was in a backstage segment. Bayley said she was going to read some sweet tweets. She read some fake tweets including one of them saying that her talk show should main event WrestleMania. Bayley read something she didn’t like, so Bayley walked through the door and left.
Analysis: I hope Bayley gets something meaningful to do. She was the focus of the women’s division for the last year and now she’s out of the spotlight. Bayley’s an awesome performer, though. I hope there’s something meaningful for Bayley at WrestleMania.
A replay was shown of the end of Smackdown last week with Roman Reigns beating up Daniel Bryan.
The Steel Cage was set up with Corey Graves standing inside of the cage. Graves said you can win by pinfall, submission or escape. Graves spoke about how you can win by escaping through the door or climbing out of the cage. Graves said that they have a brave cameraman on top of the cage to film what it looks like from the top. Graves said that one thing is for sure and that’s that both superstars will leave a piece of themselves in the cage tonight.
Daniel Bryan made his entrance as the ThunderDome crowd greeted him with “YES” chants. That fake crowd noise sounds great. Jey Uso entered as the opponent. Just as it looked like the match was about to begin, the Universal Champion Roman Reigns entered with Special Counsel Paul Heyman by his side. Heyman got a leather chair for Reigns to sit in. Reigns sat in the aisle to watch the match after a break.
Steel Cage Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Jey Uso
If Bryan wins then he will challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Title at Fastlane.
Jey was aggressive early on as he sent Bryan into the steel cage repeatedly. Jey wanted Bryan to acknowledge Reigns as Roman stared at him. Reigns said “more” to Jey so Jey picked up Bryan and drove him into the steel. Jey tried to leave by going out the door, but Bryan stopped him. Jey decked Bryan with a punch. Jey tried to climb out of the cage, Bryan met Jey on the top rope, Jey sent Bryan into the cage and crotched Bryan across the top rope. Jey hit Bryan with an uppercut punch. Bryan got some momentum going as he sent Jey into the turnbuckle and also into the cage. Bryan jumped off the top with a missile dropkick. Bryan with a running kick to the left arm. Bryan sent Jey left shoulder/arm into the cage two times in a row. Bryan avoided a charge from Jey, then Jey ended up setting Bryan upside down against the turnbuckle. Jey stomped on the left leg of Bryan. Jey was near the top of the cage, so Bryan climbed up with him. Jey managed to get Bryan on his shoulders, Jey was standing on the top rope and Jey fell back with a Samoan Drop off the top. Both guys were down selling as the show went to break.
The match continued with Bryan battling Jey on the cage again. Bryan worked over Jey with the Yes Kicks, but there was Jey with a kick to the got that knocked Bryan down. Jey hit an Uso Splash off the top onto Bryan for a two count. Reigns and Heyman continued to look on from ringside. Jey tried to get out the door, Bryan grabbed the foot, Jey with a spin kick and Bryan came back with a roundhouse kick. Jey hit a superkick for two. Bryan with a crucifix pin attempt for two. Bryan with repeated elbows to the head of Jey and then Bryan went for an arm submission, but Jey fought back with punches. Jey with a catapult that sent Bryan face first into the cage. Jey climbed to the top of the cage, Bryan was back up and tried to stop Jey with Bryan hitting two headbutts. Bryan was on the outside of the cage, Jey brought Bryan back into the cage and they were on the top rope. Bryan rammed the left arm of Jey into the cage. Bryan with a Butterfly Suplex off the top rope. Bryan with the Yes Lock submission on the injured left arm, Jey got his hand on the bottom rope, there was no rope break and then Jey tapped out. Bryan got the submission win after 13 minutes.
Winner by submission: Daniel Bryan
Analysis: ***1/2 It was a very good cage match. I liked the aggressiveness shown by both guys with Jey targeting the knee for some of the match, Bryan went after the left arm repeatedly and that played into the finish. The finish was clever because the rope break would work in a regular match, but in a cage match there’s no break in that situation, so Bryan was able to hang on, which is what led to Jey tapping out. The point of the cage match was to prevent Roman Reigns from interfering and it worked. This is the kind of booking that the crowd would love since the face was able to find the way to get the big win. What hurt the match a bit is that it was too predictable with Bryan getting the win. I don’t think anybody thought Jey had a shot here.
Bryan celebrated the win by sitting on top of the cage and doing the “YES” chant repeatedly. Reigns looked on from the aisle with a serious look on his face. Bryan kept celebrating while Reigns did nothing. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: I expect Reigns to beat Bryan at Fastlane. I also think it will be an outstanding match. I’m looking forward to it.
Three Stars of the Show
- Daniel Bryan
- Jey Uso
6.5 out of 10
Last week: 7
2021 Average: 6.98
It was a solid episode, but a bit of a step back from the better Smackdown shows. The highlight was the Daniel Bryan match with Jey Uso inside the Steel Cage. That match stood out because the other matches were short, so when you can have a meaningful main event match it’s going to stand out more. Bryan winning was the obvious outcome because now it sets him up against Roman Reigns at Fastlane. The Bryan/Reigns/Jey story took up nearly half the show.
Everything else was okay as stories continued. I liked the Apollo Crews promo with the accent. Cesaro continued his winning ways. I’m not sure where things are going with Sami Zayn, but the conspiracy theory gimmick continues for him. The women’s match with Bianca Belair beating Shayna Baszler was effective for a short match with Bianca winning again.
Smackdown is a show where everything seems to have a purpose, so that’s why I can enjoy it most of the time. With that said, it didn’t feel like a big show at all although I did like the cage match. It was well worked by Bryan and Jey as expected.
The next WWE pay-per-view is Fastlane on Sunday, March 21. Here’s what we know so far.
WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Daniel Bryan
Women’s Tag Team Championships: Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair
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