Welcome back fellow grapple fans. It’s been an eventful week with the Elimination Chamber PPV taking place, giving us a better idea of where we’re heading with WrestleMania this year. It was a packed show with Daniel Bryan sneaking out a win in the Chamber only for Roman Reigns to come out immediately for his title defence, leaving Bryan with very little time to prepare or recover. The Tribal Chief demolished him quickly, only for Edge to come out after the match to spear Reigns, point at the WrestleMania sign and the rest speaks for itself. In other SmackDown related news, Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks lost their tag title match when Reginald inadvertently distracted The Boss, leaving Nia Jax to pick up the win. I think he might be in trouble. Let’s get to the ThunderDome to see what’s next for our WrestleMania card.

The Champ Is Here

No, not John Cena obviously, but The Big Dog himself. It’ll be weird once he loses the title and SmackDown doesn’t start with that familiar ‘dun dun.. dun dun.. dun dun..’ or if he ever changes his music. I won’t know who it is. I remember it was like that when CM Punk came back with his new music and that confused the hell out of me. Anyway back on topic – yes, Roman is still champ despite his gruelling match against Daniel Bryan on Sunday. I say gruelling but, obviously, that’s peak sarcasm because he hardly broke a sweat. His plan worked to perfection, at least I thought, but Roman says it was only near perfection because one man ruined it – Edge.

Reigns respects Edge and his legacy and doesn’t want to hurt him, and obviously, none of this is his fault, but he will do whatever he has to. But that’s not the end of the story as Bryan came out defiantly to the ring, surrounded by lots of digital Yes fans, and tried to antagonize Roman into putting his title on the line again at Fastlane in a proper match, rather than a cowardly one. Main Event Jey Uso stepped in front of Roman, defending the Head of the Table, and suggested that he’d have to go through him first. Then he attacked him and the family left with smiles on their faces. But for how long?

Rey and Dominik Mysterio vs Otis and Chad Gable

This might be the first time ever that Otis’ music has hit and I haven’t wanted to shove my foot through the television. As you all know, I’ve not exactly been his biggest fan but last week’s destruction of Rey Mysterio is up there with the best things that Otis has ever done. Finally, he has an edge and one he needs to succeed and it’s all thanks to Chad Gable. Whatever he’s done to motivate Otis is well worth whatever money he’s being paid. Tucker must be looking on in absolute jealousy wondering why his heel turn wasn’t quite so successful, wherever he is. Poor guy. He is still employed I assume.

With revenge on their minds, the Mysterios used all their speed and agility and all that stuff to try and take Otis down. They were more successful when Gable was in the ring but inevitably it came down to the bigger man overpowering Rey and flying off the ropes again to squash him like a little fly. A huge win for Alpha Academy and yet another loss for the Mysterios. 2021 really isn’t being kind to those guys so far, is it? The Otis/Gable dynamic is interesting and I do wonder if Otis will drop Gable eventually but time will tell on that. For now, they’re on a roll and at this rate, they’ll get a tag title shot before Rey and Dominik and who would’ve thought that.

Apollo Crews vs Shinsuke Nakamura

Well at least it’s not Apollo getting another IC title shot but that’s only because he took out Big E last week. I’m sure it’s coming again at some point in the near future. Before the match, Crews took the time to remind us about his Nigerian heritage and then spoke in a Nigerian accent which just made me think of how long Kofi Kingston tried to be Jamaican. This is like that in reverse really. In all seriousness this was probably the best promo Apollo Crews has done since he joined the company so all credit to whoever’s been working with him on this character. It’s good to finally break out from that non-character he had for so long and more people should finally be able to invest in him.

Naturally, new Crews is all about the heelish shortcuts so tried to whack Nakamura with the steps before the match but thankfully the ref stepped in to stop it and we got an enjoyable competitive match between the two instead. I feel like Nakamura needs a little more character but he’s at least being used solidly lately. After some back and forth Crews had clearly had enough so used his scarf to cheat and defeat Shinsuke and the newly confident Apollo now awaits Big E coming back so he can get his hands on that IC title.

Tamina vs Liv Morgan

As much as I understand the fact that they want to try and give Tamina and Natalya some character and drive, I’m not buying into anything that suggests Tamina is underrated and deserves anything more than she’s had over the years. She’s just been there and she’s fine but she’s never been someone that anyone has watched and thought she should be ahead of anyone else in that division. As for Natalya, it’s not like she hasn’t won championships over the years anyway, but she’s always felt like she’s someone that’s really great at making others look good rather than needing to be the focal point herself.

This was quite the strange match this week as Billie Kay wasn’t anywhere to be seen, so what was the point? I’m fairly sure the whole story about all of this Riott Squad stuff is Billie and her resume so am I meant to buy that she just didn’t turn up for any team this week? Very strange. Maybe she got lost on the way to the ThunderDome or something. Anyway, Tamina beat Liv this week which is a tragedy in itself and let’s just move on before I get too upset.

The EST Makes Her Choice

One day I’ll have to put a video here of me dancing to Bianca Belair’s entrance theme because it’s very good. Well, it is in my head anyway and that’s what matters. Unlike Edge’s obvious sign pointing escapades at Elimination Chamber, Bianca didn’t have such a great night with her loss and so we’ve not been given any indication of her choice but apparently, it’s time now. Let’s just say that her appearing on SmackDown to choose makes me feel like maybe she’s going with Sasha or else that’d be a bit weird.

Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville appeared in-ring with Belair to hype up Bianca’s options – either RAW superstar Asuka or SmackDown champion Sasha Banks or maybe it’s Reginald. Oh wait, he’s not an option. He just decided to come out again to suggest she shouldn’t be choosing Sasha because she’ll lose. He really has a thing for her, doesn’t she? Thankfully it was Boss Time as Banks came out, ignored Reginald and told Belair that she needed to choose her to truly be the best. A sign point and some pyro later and we’ve officially got Sasha Banks defending against Bianca Belair at WrestleMania. Damn, that’s going to be good.

Street Profits vs Sami Zayn and King Corbin

Despite Sami not being able to come up with a decent tag team name, Corbin seems to be okay with teaming with him for whatever reason. I guess both guys have nothing better to do at the moment, apart from Zayn’s desire to make the best WWE documentary ever. It’s going to be better than WrestleMania I’m sure of it. Both guys had a bad time at Elimination Chamber so really need to be picking up those wins again, much like the Street Profits who need to prove themselves worthy of a tag title rematch against the Dirty Dogs or whatever they’re called these days.

I always love the energy of the Profits’ matches. They feel like a true tag team, work together exceptionally and just hype the (non-existent) crowd so well. Corbin and Zayn on the other hand didn’t have a good week with the King being distracted by Sami’s production crew and it snowballing from there. With Montez Ford flying through the air for another victory, it shouldn’t be too long until the Profits get that elusive rematch and I really hope they can recapture the titles they deserve. On the flip side, I think the tag efforts of Zayn and Corbin might have come to an end.

Embrace The Swing

Oh look, it’s Seth Rollins. He’s a changed man, you know. Well, he changed his music back and then expected everyone to fall for his crap again but we know better than that, don’t we? All of us apart from Becky Lynch. She had a baby with him. I do very much miss Becky and I hope she’ll be back with us soon, but we’ll just have to put up with her worse half instead. If Seth’s job on SmackDown at the moment is to get Cesaro over then, I’m all for it. He makes for a great heel against a plucky underdog babyface who needs to get some momentum going, plus Seth is far more comfortable on the mic I feel.

This was a short but sweet segment and both guys are gelling well for a short feud. Seth comes across like he believes every word he says, but you also know he’s trying to manipulate Cesaro because he wants to keep everyone around him down. The Swiss Cyborg gave a passionate speech on Talking Smack recently and he’s getting another opportunity to have a hot babyface singles run, so I’m hoping it works out for the guy. He works so hard and his talents are undeniable. Plus he gave Seth a ridiculous swing this week which was one of the highlights of the show. I can’t wait for the match between these two.

Main Event: Daniel Bryan vs Jey Uso

He really IS Main Event Jey Uso, isn’t he? While it seems like Jimmy is working his way back into the fold sooner rather than later, it’s nice that Jey’s hard work since Roman’s turn is still paying off for him. He really has stepped it up each and every week and I’m an even bigger fan now than I was before. Bryan’s place on the SmackDown roster is an interesting one lately as he’s been able to work with a lot of talent across the board and have good/great matches with them all, and while he hasn’t won too many he still remains incredibly over, motivated and loved by everyone. He’s very much someone they can do anything with and it’s a credit to him that he makes it all work.

SmackDown delivered another very enjoyable main event match this week which is no shock to anyone that has seen these two work together before. With the stakes high they both went the extra mile and Jey especially seemed laser-focused on stopping Bryan from getting that Fastlane title match. He used great psychology to target a bad knee and try to keep Daniel down, but we all know that’s a tough thing to do. Bryan kept fighting, much like Kevin Owens before him, but unfortunately, Jey outsmarted him and threw him into the steps outside to cause a double count-out. An angry Daniel Bryan put Jey in the Yes Lock post-match but SmackDown didn’t end that way. Instead, we left with Reigns, the dominant champion, delivering a spear and then a guillotine to leave Bryan on the floor once again. Helpless, alone and no Edge in sight. Next week should be very interesting…

The Best of SmackDown

  • Roman Reigns – once again proving he’s the Tribal Chief for good reason
  • Alpha Academy – a big win and another step forward for Otis
  • Cesaro – no one does the swing quite like him
  • Bianca Belair – finally making her WrestleMania decision by going after Sasha Banks
  • Street Profits – back on track and dreaming of tag gold again
  • Apollo Crews – that Nigerian aggression is making waves every week now

The Worst of SmackDown

  • Liv Morgan – sorry Liv but things aren’t going well right now
  • Seth Rollins – he’s probably still dizzy today
  • The Mysterios – they’re not nearly as good a team as they should be
  • King Corbin – how dare he interfere in Sami’s documentary making

In Summary…

Things are really heating up on the Road to WrestleMania. I’m not a huge fan of having so many PPVs between Royal Rumble and WrestleMania but as long as they keep them interesting I won’t complain about getting more content for my subscription money. The Roman Reigns, Edge and Daniel Bryan saga is keeping me interested and I’m really not sure where it’s going. Edge seemed quite heelish in a few backstage segments this week, not liking Bryan getting opportunities and then not helping him out at the end either. Surely they can’t be turning him? Maybe we’ll end up with Edge vs Daniel Bryan at Fastlane which I’m certainly interested in as a match, but it seems like a fairly inevitable outcome. I can’t see them deviating from Edge and Roman Reigns at WrestleMania. It’ll be an intriguing few weeks to see how we get there though. At least, we’ve got Bianca and Sasha locked in and that’s going to be a spectacle for sure.

All images and videos courtesy of WWE