I feel like this time of year we don’t have any time to stop and breathe and appreciate anything because it’s all systems go. Fastlane was last weekend but WrestleMania is in two weeks so we’ve not got time to dwell on what happened there. The SmackDown roster had a busy night with Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks failing to win the tag titles again, Seth Rollins defeated Shinsuke Nakamura and Big E retained his Intercontinental Championship against Apollo Crews. And in the main event, Roman Reigns walked out with the title, even though Daniel Bryan made him tap out, so we’ve got a lot up in the air at the moment. There’s still plenty of space available on the WrestleMania card so let’s see who’s going to get one of the coveted spots at the Grandest Stage Of Them All.

I’m Not Leaving

The Yes Movement kicked off SmackDown this week with an understandably frustrated Daniel Bryan looking for another shot at the Universal Championship. He did exactly what he said he would do and that was making Roman Reigns tap out for the first time but it all got a bit screwy with ref bumps and whatnot, so Reigns is still the champion. Bryan knows it’s a couple of weeks until WrestleMania however so not everything is set in stone. Why not have a rematch on SmackDown? Or a title match on each night of the PPV? Or some other way that gets him into the title picture again. To be fair he does deserve it. So he refused to leave the ring until someone came out and addressed his issues.

Adam Pearce came out and basically shot down the SmackDown rematch idea, but seemed fairly contemplative about other ideas until Edge made an entrance and smacked his microphone away. The Rated R Superstar showed a darker and more fiery side at Fastlane and he’s not the clean-cut babyface in this scenario anymore. He doesn’t believe Daniel deserves a spot in the WrestleMania main event so, of course, both men came to blows. Ultimately Edge would leave Bryan laying on the floor with a chair shot and this feud is just heating up. I don’t envy Adam Pearce and his decision at all.

Seth Rollins vs Shinsuke Nakamura

Both men had a very competitive and enjoyable match at Fastlane so it’s a pleasure to see them go at it again here. Granted it just feels like a way of getting towards Cesaro coming back at some point but that’s okay. It’s nice to see a motivated Nakamura going out there and showing people what he’s really capable of, and Rollins always has his working boots on for matches. Sadly they’re not quite as fashionable as what he usually wears but that’s okay. Seth is still pretty pissed about the lack of respect he’s getting from certain people and Nakamura is up there at the top of the list just under his former tag partner Cesaro.

After a great back-and-forth match, it looked like Shinsuke might be able to take out Rollins with an armbar but, after a reversal, Seth managed to sneak out a stomp for the win. That wasn’t enough though as he carried on taking out his frustrations until Cesaro’s music hit and the Swiss Cyborg came out for some much-needed revenge. After a short beatdown, Seth managed to escape backstage where he challenged Cesaro to a match at WrestleMania. Rollins said he’ll never be swung ever again, which obviously meant a few seconds later Cesaro appeared and swung the hell out of the former Monday Night Messiah to put a smile on everyone’s face. I guess that WrestleMania match is on!

Big E and The Street Profits vs Apollo Crews and Alpha Academy

One match I really enjoyed at Fastlane was Big E and Apollo Crews, at least until the ending which felt a bit off. Clearly, the rivalry isn’t over but Big E has some back up this week. Damn all that charisma on one team is almost too much as Big E and Angelo Dawkins danced around Montez Ford and I think I want them to be together forever already. Sadly the happiness was not long-lived as a frustrated Apollo Crews and his new angry buddies Otis and Chad Gable came out looking to gain some much-needed momentum going into WrestleMania.

Crews got exactly what he needed on SmackDown this week. There was some great teamwork on both sides and the win could have been anyone’s, but as it got more hectic and all over the place Apollo was able to catch Big E with an Olympic Slam and pin the champ. A fairly predictable way of continuing the feud but it’s exactly what Crews needed to make him seem like a more legitimate threat to Big E’s reign. And maybe Chad and Otis can argue that this victory puts them in a better position for a tag title opportunity too. All things considered, this was a good match for showcasing the competitive nature of SmackDown and the great athletes they have on the roster.

The Conspiracy Show

I love how WWE are trying to sell the Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn friendship like they’ve been getting on or something. Come on now. We know they hate each other really and we’re okay with that. There’s not been any mass betrayal or anything. They stab each other in the back all the damn time. It’d be weird if they actually got on. But hey, I guess we need something for them both to be doing at WrestleMania so throwing them together certainly isn’t the worst thing anyone could do. Sami has been consistently great in the paranoid character role and Kevin really got the opportunity to show how good he is against Roman recently.

Once again Sami was all about the documentary. Apparently, he’s convinced YouTube star Logan Paul to attend his red carpet premiere for the documentary’s trailer. I do wonder if Logan knows what he’s getting himself into. Kevin isn’t interested in any of that, or an apology for Sami’s behaviour, or whatever else comes out of Zayn’s mouth. He wanted one thing on the KO Show this week and one thing only – for Sami to agree to a match at WrestleMania. And once he got him to agree, he just beat the hell out of him because why not? I do hope he’ll be in a fit state to attend his premiere. Poor guy.

Bianca Belair vs Natalya

It may not have been a successful night at Fastlane for Belair but the major concern is the disrespect she got from the SmackDown Women’s Champion that night when Sasha slapped her right across the face while calling her a rookie. Bianca isn’t looking to get into petty fights and instead has her sights set on being the EST of WrestleMania and walking out as the champion. But first, she has to get past Natalya, which shouldn’t really be hard apart from the fact she’s been hanging around with Tamina lately so things might be a little trickier.

Personally, I’m okay with Tamina being used as an outside enforcer type as long as I don’t actually have to watch her wrestle. That’s fine with me. Sasha came out for commentary and obviously to distract Bianca a little bit so the mind games are fully on now. Belair got a little revenge on Sasha by delivering a slap of her own and then smoothly rolled back in the ring and defeated Natalya. This is the Bianca we need going into a hugely important title match and with Sasha attacking her after her win this week, we’re finally getting that edge the feud deserves.

Dolph Ziggler (with Robert Roode) vs Rey Mysterio (with Dominik)

As much as this doesn’t really feel like a match we should be getting in 2021, both men are solid hands who are still delivering this far into their careers. Ziggler and Roode do need to defend those titles soon though as they’re very good at talking a strong game and then letting everyone else wrestle instead. The Mysterios’ father-and-son duo has had a rocky 2021 for sure with many ups and downs but they’re hoping to prove themselves enough to earn a tag title shot sooner rather than later.

Unsurprisingly the match was a good effort from both men with Rey edging out a win after a 619 and splash. Will that be enough to convince the higher-ups that the Mysterios deserve an opportunity at the belts? Perhaps at WrestleMania? Who knows, but they’re not the only ones on the radar as Alpha Academy have been doing good work lately plus we all know the Street Profits don’t just want the smoke but the titles as well. I’d be more than happy with a multi-team match on one of the nights at WrestleMania because I think they all deserve it.

It’s YEStleMania Once Again

I do feel sorry for Adam Pearce. You know when Teddy Long was in charge, he just got to come out and do a little dance and shout holla a lot and he didn’t really have too stressful a time doing it. But Adam Pearce? That poor guy has been through it all recently and I’m surprised he hasn’t quit. The way Roman Reigns looks at him he must feel threatened 24-7. I hope they’re paying him enough for the anxiety and stress that the role must give him. He should put himself in the WrestleMania main event at this rate just to reward all his efforts.

But no, in all seriousness this isn’t about anything but Daniel Bryan, a man who deserves to be a part of WrestleMania and Adam Pearce’s decision was that the Universal Championship match should be a triple threat. With YES chants filling the ThunderDome, and all three participants in the ring, a brawl broke out involving chairs again and Jey Uso and just everything got pretty chaotic pretty damn quickly. Edge tried to set up both men on the mat to smash them over the head with chairs but luckily officials got involved and no concussions happened this week. With only a few weeks left I fear for Edge’s mental state as his anger takes over. But I’m super excited for the triple threat at WrestleMania and it’ll be an awesome match with those guys involved.

The Best of SmackDown

  • Daniel Bryan – his perseverance paid off with another WrestleMania main event
  • Bianca Belair – backing up her words as the EST defeating Natalya
  • Cesaro – looking to swing Seth Rollins all over Raymond James Stadium in a few weeks
  • Apollo Crews – a huge win getting him another shot at the IC title

The Worst of SmackDown

  • Seth Rollins – even though he won, he needs to learn to keep his mouth shut
  • Dolph Ziggler – the worst time possible to be losing
  • Sami Zayn – more moaning and now going to get his ass handed to him at WrestleMania

In Summary…

Well for anyone moaning about WrestleMania not having enough matches, I think we’ve solved a lot of that this week on SmackDown. Nothing too unexpected but it’s really shaping up to be two solid nights of wrestling and I can’t wait to see what these guys and girls manage to deliver in front of fans. I can only imagine how good that is going to feel for everyone being back out there performing in front of a live audience where no one has to pipe in any chants or anything like that. This WrestleMania feels more than just an opportunity for some great wrestling. It’s about that first step back to normality and reclaiming life how it should be. I hope it’s the first safe step towards that and one day we all get to witness these shows live and in person again. It’s the best experience.

All images and videos courtesy of WWE