Well, Friday nights just got a lot more exciting didn’t they? Not only do we get the pleasure of a couple of hours in the company of Pat McAfee but if you don’t want the fun to stop, then you can watch AEW Rampage straight after too. What a time to be a wrestling fan. Seriously, 2021 has been a crazy ride for so many reasons but there’s so many companies out there firing on all cylinders and putting out some great shows. You can watch whatever you like and not get involved in some weird fan war. Just enjoy wrestling. And that’s what we’ll be doing the next few weeks with WWE as they come up to one of their biggest shows of the year with SummerSlam. They promised a face to face confrontation between the Tribal Chief and the leader of the Cenation so let’s see what they’ve got for us.
School’s Back In Session
The Doctor of Thuganomics kicked off SmackDown this week with an assessment of his SummerSlam opponent, grading him a ‘D’ – and I don’t think he just meant the letter. John Cena loves to cut things as close to the line as possible and he certainly did that this week, calling Roman Reigns an over-protected failure and referencing just how much he’s been pushed through his career and yet the fans still hate him. It’s nice to see a crowd solidly behind Cena and I think he’s the perfect guy to go against Reigns at this point. Thankfully Roman is a solid heel now so these comments don’t make him look too bad, but he still wanted to come out with Paul Heyman by his side and give a little back to Cena.
Roman is a lot more comfortable on the mic these days so these promos really hit hard. Bringing up typical comments about Hollywood and the same old from Cena but dropping in a Nikki Bella reference cut pretty deep, but John did accuse Reigns of ruining Seth Rollins and running Dean Ambrose out of WWE, so neither man was holding back. John even said he might leave through the crowd after winning and blow him a kiss goodbye and I’ll take all the subtle CM Punk hints I can get. These guys work so well together and even though the match sells itself on names alone, they put in a lot of edgy work this week and really built up that anticipation. With Cena going for his 17th title and Reigns desperate to stay at the head of the table anything’s possible and their SummerSlam match is a must-watch.
Intercontinental Championship – Apollo Crews (c) with Commander Azeez vs King Nakamura with Boogs
At this point, I’d consider BOOGS, Nakamura and McAfee a faction really. They all work so damn well together and get the crowd hyped any time Shinsuke comes out. It proves that superstars can lose their way and booking can be very up and down but real talent comes back to the surface eventually, and thankfully they’ve got fully behind Nakamura again as a singles star. The same can be said for Crews really, who floated around for so long with no one really caring, but this heel turn and character change has helped him so much. And hey let’s just be thankful that it’s not him against Big E again right?
After some naughty behaviour both Boogs and Azeez were sent to the back, allowing Crews and Nakamura to focus on their match. I’m a big IC title fan so it’s always good when they treat it with some respect and importance. Apollo showcased his impressive strength and athleticism this week and really took it to Shinsuke and there were a number of occasions where it looked like he might just keep the title but his frustration set in as he couldn’t put his opponent away. That lack of focus allowed Nakamura to take advantage with a number of moves which set up for the Kinshasa and three seconds later a new Intercontinental Champion was crowned. The crowd went wild. Pat McAfee went wilder. Such joyous scenes on SmackDown and I am here for it.
Street Profits vs Alpha Academy
I’m still shocked by Otis’ transformation if I’m honest. I know it’s been a while but I look at the guy and struggle to believe it’s the same one that was doing the worm and getting it on with Mandy Rose. Things went pretty downhill from there, didn’t they? At least he’s still employed, unlike Tucker, though. I don’t know if Chad Gable gets Otis to sit there Clockwork Orange style and watch his old Olympics tapes or what but he’s really turned Otis into an emotionless wrecking machine. The Street Profits, on the other hand, bring the smoke apparently – I don’t know what that is but I can say they have energy beyond anyone else and I’m hyped to see them teaming together again and I hope they’ll end up near the tag titles soon. I feel like this rivalry with Otis has been going on forever now so let’s wrap it up sooner rather than later.
I do love it when Gable actually gets down and dirty and shows his wrestling talent because he is an exceptional performer that doesn’t just need to hide behind Otis. We saw glimpses this week and I do hope he’ll get more chances going forward. Montez Ford being back from injury is fantastic news too and I’m excited to see where he ends up. This was a short match with both teams looking good but memorable for Ford’s crazy dive to the outside on Otis that looked super scary. With the big man taken out, Angelo Dawkins capitalised by defeating Chad in the ring, leaving Otis with that grumpy look on his face that says someone’s probably getting squashed next week. I hope the Profits know what they’ve done.
Drip It Like It’s Hot
I like to use words like Drip and pretend to know what I’m talking about. I’m sure it’ll bring all the cool kids here to read my reviews. I’m going to go on record here and say that Seth Rollins is currently one of the most underrated superstars they’ve got on SmackDown. I know he’s achieved a lot in his career, and I’m sure he’ll be more than happy to tell you about it, but in terms of his character work and confidence in this current role there’s very few that come close. Roman Reigns probably and I’d say even Baron Corbin lately but Seth is fantastic. His dancing to his theme in his wacky suits is one of my weekly wrestling highlights.
As Seth said – and didn’t actually lie about – Edge wasn’t around this week, which allowed him to run his mouth without reply. What a rare thing in WWE. He even apparently spent some time this week editing a lovely video about how Rollins has done everything Edge ever did but better. And hey as much as none of us may want to admit it, that video was pretty convincing. There’s no arguing that Seth’s career has been exceptional up to this point but will he ever reach the legend status that Edge has? SummerSlam has to be one of those pivotal moments for him. I do love the callback to 2014 – obviously it was never the plan for them to have a match 7 years later but it works. I think these two will try and steal the show at the PPV and they’ve got every chance of doing so.
The Mysterios vs Dirty Dawgs
Oh, great. I’m sure everyone wanted to see this match. I know they’re still doing the Rey teaching Dominik thing but having watched WWE for so long it keeps making me feel like Dominik’s going to get sick of his dad’s ‘friendly advice’ and smash him one at some point. Surely not. Although if that means we don’t get endless tag rematches then it might be an interesting way to go. I feel like maybe it’s time to split the Dawgs because they’re doing absolutely nothing these days and I do miss Robert Roode’s Glorious theme. Remember when Gargano and Ciampa used to do their GloriousBomb videos? Oh, how I miss those simple times. I do think the tag division needs a shakeup desperately though, whether it’s through the brand split or some NXT callups or something.
This match was pretty irrelevant apart from playing into the Mysterios’ feud with The Usos. There’ll be another rematch at SummerSlam and The Usos tried to distract the champs on the big screen this week but Rey thankfully rescued Dominik and instead they overcame the odds and won again. I’m sure it’ll be another good match at the PPV but I’m really struggling to care about anybody holding the titles because the division itself is so shallow that we end up with six months of endless rematches so they don’t really mean anything. At this point it might even make sense to combine the tag titles from both brands and go in that direction but I guess that’s not very likely. I’m pretty sure there are only 5 teams at the moment and we saw them all this week.
A Plea And A KO Match
Oh, Baron Corbin. I know you’re poor and down on your luck but you’re actually probably doing the best work of your career at the moment. If you’ve seen him on WWE social media then you’ll agree. It’s just been a great turn for his character and he’s putting everything into it. This week was meant to be his last chance at asking people for money but Kevin Owens wasn’t having it. Apparently, Corbin went to RAW and asked Drew McIntyre for $100,000, which sounds incredible. I have been so entertained by Corbin lately that I actually want to donate but I don’t have that kind of money. Owens wants to stop the former King from begging and so he was willing to wrestle him for $1000 this week. A bit of a step down really but hey I guess we are watching a wrestling show.
Kevin hit Baron with a stunner before the match even started and that was a bit unfair. If you’re really looking to help the guy out then at least give him a legitimate chance. Justice for Corbin. Justice for Corbin. Okay, maybe that chant won’t catch on. Despite being all kinds of messed up, Baron gave it a damn good effort with a lot of very close counts on Owens, but fell victim to a roll-up and another stunner post-match. It’s just not fair and I hope Corbin didn’t hear any of the mean things Pat was saying on commentary. A glimmer of hope came later though as he was walking past Big E backstage and took the opportunity to grab the Money in the Bank briefcase and run with it. Literally. I don’t know where he ran but he now has it. And as we know with WWE contracts, anyone can do whatever the hell they want with them because no one has any legal morals. I hope he sells it on eBay or holds it for ransom and makes Big E pay for it.
Boss And The Bitch
Oh, Sonya. Sonya Sonya Sonya. Don’t you realise that as soon as you put a contract signing in the ring you’re just asking for trouble? They must sign so many other contracts backstage or somewhere without any issues so they’re crazy for thinking it’s a good idea. But hey this is WWE we’re talking about. Sasha Banks looked on fire this week in some new black attire and some big boss energy making sure you all know she’s a heel now while Bianca Belair isn’t scared to fight back with her words and her fists. I’m loving the energy between these two and I’m pretty sure they’re going to destroy each other at SummerSlam. This is what we needed at WrestleMania. Drop all the respect. Drop all the nicey-nicey. Two bad bitches throwing it down over the title and no Reginald in sight.
Banks decided she needed some witnesses before signing the contract so brought out Carmella and Zelina Vega because why not. I’m sure they all hang out right. I’m not against them working together in the future actually. It’s been a while since we had a decent female faction. Belair was wise to their manipulation though and managed to get one up on Vega and Carmella and looked like she’d take down Sasha but Banks was too much for her and we ended the show with a Bank Statement on the table with Bianca’s own hair around her face. It really feels like these two are ready to deliver something at an even higher level at SummerSlam and this is one rematch I’m super excited to see.
The best of SmackDown
- Shinsuke Nakamura – a huge title win
- Roman vs Cena – big money feud and a big money promo
- Sasha Banks – sending a much-needed message to the champ
- Baron Corbin – the new MITB holder… sort of?
The worst of SmackDown
- Rematches – yes I’ll keep putting it here
- Tag Division – if you can even call it a division these days
- Kevin Owens – bullied a man while he’s down
- No Edge – hopefully he’ll come back next week to respond to Seth’s video
Things are definitely heating up all over the place for SummerSlam. The only real worry is the pandemic and the state of everything over in America but I guess that’s something that’s out of our control. Let’s enjoy all the live shows while we can because I don’t know how long they’ll last at this rate. The SmackDown side of the PPV is looking epic compared to the RAW side and I think the best matches will undoubtedly come from the Blue brand – no offence Drew and Jinder – and I’m excited to see what final words everyone has next week.
All images and videos courtesy of WWE