Oh, how I miss the fans already. It has only been a few short weeks since WrestleMania but I really do miss that atmosphere and passion, just the general vibe of being able to watch everyone react to everything that’s playing out in front of them. It’s an experience like no other and I’m so glad we got to experience that for the first time in so long. But hey, the WWE train keeps on running and we’re back in the WWE ThunderDome once again for another quality SmackDown this week, headlined by Daniel Bryan challenging Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship. Now we know those two can put on clinics but there’s an additional caveat this week – if Bryan loses, then his career on SmackDown is over. What a loss that would be to a brand he has given so much to, but can he really dethrone the seemingly unstoppable Reigns? It’s time to find out.
Bianca Belair & The Street Profits vs SmackDown Tag Team Champions Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode and Bayley
Bianca is just a complete star, isn’t she? She carries herself with confidence way beyond her years and just feels like she’s the right person at the right time to be holding that SmackDown Women’s Championship. As much as I’m a fan of Charlotte, Becky, Sasha and Bayley it’s a real pleasure to see someone else step up and be able to carry their brand. And let’s talk about Montez Ford too – what an insanely talented couple they are. He feels like he’s got all the potential in the world but he’s also having a lot of fun with the Street Profits alongside Angelo Dawkins so there’s no rush to break out as a singles star quite yet. But it better happen one day or else.
Now, I do feel like I’ve seen Street Profits and the Dirty Dawgs wrestle many times, and Belair and Bayley have certainly had their ongoing issues too, but thankfully all six are more than capable of putting on an entertaining match regardless. Ziggler and Roode have that old school tag psychology down which I love and Bayley’s just fantastic at being annoying. She’s the perfect person to make Bianca look good as she starts her title reign. The highlight of this match was Belair getting to whip Roode with her hair, followed by Dawkins setting him up for Ford’s insane frog splash for the win. That’s what you call teamwork. I know the Mysterios are still out there lurking in the shadows but I would love the Profits to win the titles back.
Natalya and Tamina vs Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler (with Reginald) – Non-Title
If I’m honest I’m still super confused about how we’re here in 2021 and the main focus is on Natalya and Tamina of all people. Natalya is fine and she’s great at making other people look good but I’ve spent a lot of time trying to work out who suddenly decided Tamina needed pushing. She must have some dirt on Adam Pearce or something because there’s no other logical reason for it. Imagine having all that talent on RAW, SmackDown and NXT and you get behind Tamina. If she ends up winning the tag titles with Natalya then I might actually cry.
This match unfortunately did nothing to restore any credibility to the tag division. It has been a mess for so long now which is incredibly frustrating considering how important they felt in the hands of Sasha Banks and Bayley. I long for the days of Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross or seeing Peyton Royce and Billie Kay in tears at WrestleMania rather than the tears they’ve had more recently. Even Reginald has outstayed his welcome and he’s just getting in the way now. Anyway, Tamina won this week just to get that one step closer to my ultimate nightmare. If I wasn’t writing a review, I’d just skip her every time.
Intercontinental Championship: Apollo Crews (with that big dude) vs Big E
Are we still pretending we’ve never seen the big dude before? Surely Shane McMahon is pissed at Apollo for stealing his man. No wonder RAW Underground isn’t happening anymore. I guess this is the same company that apparently has nothing for Omos to do at the moment so I won’t be surprised about anything these days. As much as I’m a fan of Apollo’s reinvention and him actually having a character now, it definitely feels like this is another one of those feuds that have been going on for too long. A part of me wants Big E to win the title back but then where do you go with Apollo? They’ve invested a lot of time in him lately. We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place really.
Another solid effort from both guys this week although it was ended far too early by interference from Commander Dabba-Kato Azeez. Not cool man. Kevin Owens then decided to come down and get involved because why not and let’s throw Sami Zayn in the mix too. No dancing this week though which is always disappointing. Could we be heading for a Four-Way IC title match? I think I’d be okay with that. Maybe we could even get Logan Paul back and have him fight the Commander. You know it’d be entertaining. No DQ. Paul vs Azeez. Book it, Adam Pearce.
Main Event – Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs Daniel Bryan
WE GOT NEW MUSIC. WE GOT NEW ROMAN REIGNS MUSIC. No more slowed down Shield rubbish. Finally, we can leave the memories alone and fully embrace the new Head of the Table. I’m liking the confidence of coming out to new music in such a high stakes match.
This didn’t come from Daniel Bryan – Roman was the one that laid the challenge down. He’s the man that wants Bryan to be gone and he’s so confident in his own abilities these days. Especially after pinning both Edge and Daniel at WrestleMania. Who saw that coming? What a guy. This is Roman on another level from nearly everyone else in the entire industry. He doesn’t even need Heyman to hype him up but I do enjoy that combination. However if anyone can defeat the big bad final boss it’s Daniel Bryan, the plucky babyface who has overcome the odds so many times that you always believe he’s got it in him to win.
Just going to take a second here and throw out some love for Pat McAfee who has been doing an awesome job on commentary so far. It’s clear that he’s knowledgeable, enthusiastic and loves what he’s watching and talking about. Far more so than Adnan Virk over on RAW who constantly sounds like he’s commentating on a completely different show to what he’s watching. McAfee is a natural fit and complements Michael Cole really well. Much like Reigns and Bryan gel together every single time they’re in the ring and this week was no different. An exceptional match that made me believe at points that Bryan would perform another miracle but also made me feel like Reigns is never losing that title until he retires.
After some incredible back and forth action involving some huge power moves from Roman and some smart targeting of body parts by Daniel, it really came down to how relentless the Tribal Chief can be and his pure strength wearing down the leader of the Yes Movement. A number of brutal powerbombs followed by an unstoppable guillotine allowed the champion to leave the challenger unresponsive and the official called it – Reigns retains and Bryan is barred from SmackDown. All credit to everyone involved, from the hype packages to the commentary to Heyman’s backstage interview and obviously both men in the ring. This was a true main event in every sense and one of the best things on WWE weekly television for quite some time.
Did you think Roman was done just winning though? Of course, not. He celebrated for a while and then grabbed some chairs to set up Bryan when Cesaro’s music hit and a few uppercuts came Reigns’ way. Main-Event Jey Uso then came out to even the score with a superkick and then tied up Cesaro in the ropes and made him watch Roman hit Daniel with the Conchairto to end the show. What a brutal, emotional and personal way to finish SmackDown this week and a great way of getting the crowd even more invested in Cesaro as a Universal Championship contender. Now we all want to see him get revenge on Reigns for his dastardly actions. Do I expect him to dethrone the champ? No, but it’ll be damn fun watching him try.
The best of SmackDown
- Roman Reigns’ new music – yes, it deserves its own bullet point
- Roman Reigns – a legend in his own time
- Daniel Bryan – sad to see him go but what a way to go
- Street Profits and Bianca Belair – another great performance from all three
- Aleister Black – so glad he’s back on TV
The worst of SmackDown
- Tamina – yes she won but I’m not putting her in the best section
- Commander whatshisface – ruined a perfectly good match
This week was mostly hyped as a one-match show but they did it so well. If only all title matches could feel that special and important. If only they could build all their feuds this well instead of having pointless rematches and just so many things that the fans don’t care about. That’s why a lot of the current product is so frustrating. It’s because we all know they’re capable of presenting some of the best wrestling in the world so why doesn’t it happen more? I’m excited for Roman Reigns vs Cesaro and I’m really curious to see what Daniel Bryan’s next step is. I have very little interest in seeing him on RAW because that show is pretty rubbish but it’d be fun to see him mix it up on NXT for a while. Or could the unthinkable happen and he finally leaves WWE and gets out there to AEW, ROH, NJPW etc for all those dream matches he wants before he retires? Only time will tell but what a way to leave SmackDown. Now on to the Go Back edition of SmackDown next week…
All images and videos courtesy of WWE