COMMENTATORS: Michael Cole & Corey Graves
Edge continues his rounds this week on SmackDown, stopping by to potentially pick a very eager Roman Reigns as his WrestleMania opponent. Bianca Belair also teases who she’ll end up facing, Big E defends the IC Title against Apollo Crews and Sami Zayn, and Daniel Bryan tries to avenge his loss to Cesaro.
- WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPION: Roman Reigns
- SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPION: “The Boss” Sasha Banks
- WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION: Big E
- SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
- WWE WOMEN’S TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax
- Dominik Mysterio vs. King Corbin
- Daniel Bryan vs. Cesaro
- Ruby Riott vs. Bayley
- Otis & Chad Gable vs. Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
- Big E [c] vs. Apollo Crews vs. Sami Zayn for the WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP
-Show opens with a graphic in memory of “The Natural” Butch Reed, who passed away earlier in the day. If you don’t know who Butch Reed was, use that damn WWE Network and get educated. Doom is a top-five all-time WCW tag team. The other four? High Voltage, Men at Work, Disorderly Conduct, & Magnum Force.
-Video recap of the two Royal Rumble winners from Sunday: Edge & Bianca Belair. Check out my recap of the PPV to read their roads to victories. Both will be on the show tonight in some form, possibly to pick their opponents for WrestleMania.
Roman Reigns comes out to open the show proper, flanked by Paul Heyman and the returning Jey Uso. Glad Uso has been medically cleared, I was starting to miss him. Reigns says he beat Kevin Owens at the Royal Rumble like he said he would but wants to talk about the future…which is apparently Edge. Reigns has two issues: Edge even bothering to go to RAW and NXT when everyone knows he’s the real top champ in WWE, and being the first one out instead of his potential challenger who has been disrespecting him all week. Reigns gets real serious and calls Edge to the ring; no music, no pyro, no Edge because he’s apparently not here (even though he was hyped as being here like five seconds ago). Reigns takes REAL offense to this, asking why he’s playing games with him; the last man who played games with him was Kevin Owens and after Sunday no one will ever see him again. Reigns calmly demands Edge to give him his decision by the end of the night, and drops the mic in frustration.
- Honestly I didn’t even have Reigns/Edge on my roadmap for anything in 2021 but now that they laid down this hook I hope it happens. No disrespect to Drew McIntyre but this would be a much more interesting match. Reigns getting rattled at Edge not cotowing to his demands was a nice touch. Props to Edge too for being on all the big shows this week to tease possible matchups, even if we all know he wouldn’t waste a damn Rumble win on the NXT Championship. That’s not going to main event WrestleMania.
Dominik Mysterio [w/ Rey Mysterio] vs. King Corbin
Corbin attacks father & son during their entrance, tossing Rey off the stage and punting Dominik right in the ribs before heading to the ring for the match. Not SUPER necessary since he’s been beating Dominik with relative ease over the past few weeks, but Dominik did eliminate him from the Royal Rumble.
Match starts after a commercial break, Dominik connecting with a roll through dropkick. Corbin powers his way onto the offensive, clotheslining Dom in the corner as trainers check on Rey over by the stage. Dom escapes a chinlock, runs into a back elbow and Corbin sarcastically gives him a hand. Camera cuts back to Rey, who’s showing signs of a potential knee injury. Dom sends Corbin to the floor and follows up with a springboard crossbody, Rey limps his way to ringside as the show goes to commercial.
Back live, Dom escapes a vertical suplex with a series of knee strikes and follows up with a neckbreaker and standing moonsault for a two-count. Dom sends Corbin into the middle rope and charges for a 619, Corbin catches him with a Deep Six for the 1…2…Dom kicks out and Corbin is getting frustrated. Corbin lunges in with a right, Dom sends him to the floor with his legs and follows up with a tope suicida into the announce table. Corbin tries to re-enter the ring, Rey grabs his legs from under the ring and Dom hits a 619 followed by a Frog Splash for the 1…2…3!
Dominik Mysterio defeated King Corbin via pinfall (6:35 shown)
- Dominik finally gets a win over Corbin, and all he had to do was have his father help him cheat! Either these matches have gotten better over the past three weeks or I finally got used to the matchup, but I didn’t totally hate this. Big win on paper for Dom but his Dad had to secretly (?) help him so it’s not a REAL win.
-PROGRESSIVE MATCH FLO: Sami Zayn handcuffs himself to the barricade two weeks ago, then interferes in the Big E/Apollo Crews Intercontinental Championship match to ruin it for everyone.
–Kayla Braxton interviews Big E in the…backstage ring? I really like that setup. Big E said he’s had to fight all his life and that’s what he signed up for when he became the Intercontinental Champion. Tonight they’re gonna fight and THEY AIN’T READY, KAYLA.
Daniel Bryan vs. Cesaro
Cesaro defeated Bryan two weeks ago on the show, giving him some great momentum heading into the Royal Rumble…that ultimately didn’t matter because he didn’t win. Their match was pretty great though, and now we’re getting a sequel so I can’t hate on that.
Bryan and Cesaro trade European uppercuts, Bryan sends Cesaro to the floor and follows up with a top rope crossbody. Bryan catches a Swiss Death and counters into a backslide for a two-count. Shinsuke Nakamura is shown watching backstage. Cesaro escapes a Yes Lock, Bryan counters a corkscrew uppercut with a kick followed by a superkick for the 1…2…a bloodied Cesaro kicks out. Bryan grabs the wrists and aggressively tries to a stomp a hole through Cesaro’s skull, Cesaro counters a Busaiku Knee with a Torture Rack into a backbreaker into a Cesaro Swing and Sharpshooter…AND BRYAN TAPS HOLY SH*T.
Cesaro defeated Daniel Bryan via submission (4:11)
- Helluva sprint, Cesaro picks up another big win over Daniel Bryan. Is this the first time he’s ever won a match with the Sharpshooter? It’s at least the first time I’ve seen it.
Cesaro teases attacking Bryan but instead offers a fist bump before leaving to both celebrate his victory and probably get some stitches.
-After a clip of her victory on Sunday the show cuts to Kayla Braxton with the victorious Bianca Belair. They show a clip of her parents getting so excited that her Dad falls over the couch. That’s great. Braxton asks who Bianca is going to face at WrestleMania; Bianca says it’s the biggest decision of her life and will be ready to make it…soon.
- The Women’s Rumble was easily the better of the two on Sunday and Bianca Belair was the PERFECT choice to win it. I know they want to build intrigue but she has to choose Sasha Banks, right? The RAW Women’s Title has no juice. Also don’t think I didn’t notice that Braxton didn’t even consider the NXT Women’s Championship as an option, she knows the real score and isn’t flirting for funsies like Edge.
–Seth Rollins returns to SmackDown next week after making his WWE return at the Royal Rumble. Still doing the Messiah thing and has that goofy music. Oh well.
Ruby Riott [w/ Liv Morgan] vs. Bayley
Billie Kay sits in on commentary, saying she has only been “allegedly” kicked out of the Riott Squad and adding just SO MUCH JOY to my life in particular. Riott goes for a headscissors out of the corner, Bayley shifts her to the shoulder and sends her into the buckles like a lawn dart for a two-count. Hell yeah. Riott favors her surgically-repaired left shoulder, Bayley is a PROFESSIONAL so she immediately zones in on it. Riott sends Bayley skull-first into the middle buckle and counters a Bayley-to-Belly with a roll-up for the 1…2…Bayley kicks out and sends Riott to the apron. Riott blocks a sunset bomb and connects with a kick, Bayley immediately climbs the apron and drops her throat-first on the middle rope. Bayley locks in an armbar, Kay leaves the announce table to try and “help”. Morgan and Kay argue, Riott almost gets a pin but Bayley drives her face-first to the mat for the 1…2…3.
Bayley defeated Ruby Riott via pinfall (3:59)
- Billie Kay is easily one of my favorite parts of SmackDown and her presence in this one elevated my enjoyment of it. Match itself was pretty good too, I don’t think I’ve seen Riott/Bayley a lot so it felt fresh and they worked well off each other.
Morgan argues with Kay FOR SOME REASON like it was her fault Riott lost or something. Don’t be dumb. Kay grabs her resumes and tries to give her one but we quickly cut to Bianca Belair who is out next.
–Edge arrives backstage, fist bumping Sonya Deville on his way in. MANAGEMENT SHOULDN’T BE FRIENDS WITH EMPLOYEES SONYA, GAWD.
Bianca Belair says her phone has been blowing up since winning the Royal Rumble on Sunday, including from numbers she doesn’t even recognize. She says choosing her WrestleMania opponent is the biggest decision of her career, and goes over the pros of both the RAW and SmackDown Women’s Champions. Belair gets interrupted by Reginald the Sommelier, who says she knows damn well she can’t beat Sasha Banks, or even Carmella who joins the party. Carmella says she has beat Banks twice already and can do the same thing to Belair. Sasha Banks interrupts, telling Carmella she’s done looking in her rearview and is looking at the road ahead. Banks tells Belair she is the strongEST and the fastEST but is not the bEST. Bianca has it all but not the Women’s Championship and Banks holds it high in the air as she stares her down. Reginald tells Belair she got lucky at the Rumble and if she chooses Banks she will lose. Belair drops her mic and WHIPS REGINALD OUT OF THE RING WITH HER HAIR. Her music hits and she twirls her hair in celebration.
- Well this made Braxton’s earlier interview with Belair feel absolutely unnecessary, huh? This segment accomplished a lot (starting the hype train for Banks/Belair, throwing Carmella into the mix as a baddie to conquer before ‘Mania, Reginald apparently now becoming one of Banks’ admirers) and for the most part was good. Only thing that I found weird was, uh, whatever Sasha Banks was trying to do character-wise. Felt like an abrupt shift in attitude and presentation to me, but maybe I haven’t been paying enough attention. Reginald getting beaten up with Belair’s hair was pretty great though.
–Paul Heyman confirms to Roman Reigns that Edge has finally arrived. I think we could’ve understood that he was told this without showing up and essentially repeating something WE JUST SAW LIKE FIVE MINUTES AGO but alright. Whatever gives the Tribal Chief more TV time, I guess.
-Kayla Braxton is standing by with Sami Zayn, who calls her a corporate shill for trying to make him out to be the bad guy when he’s the one who has been continually screwed (Lumberjack Matches, fast counts, slow counts, etc). Zayn says his documentary will finally get some happy footage tonight when he reclaims HIS Intercontinental Championship.
Otis & Chad Gable vs. Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
Eyyy they’re actually letting Gable wrestle still, I thought he was stuck in “Trainer Mode” for the foreseeable future. Ziggler & Roode are still doing the Dirty Dawgs thing but WWE has yet to officially let it be a thing in graphics or introductions. Street Profits break in via inset video to “React” to the match as it happens.
Gable outwrestles Ziggler to the shock of no one, forcing DZ to bail to the ropes to get some separation. Gable fights of Roode, walks into a dropkick from Ziggler and a two-count. Roode tags in and connects with a beautiful vertical suplex, Street Profits whining about not getting a rematch despite their 312-day reign. Roode escapes an Ankle Lock attempt, Gable rolls under a clothesline and makes the hot tag to Otis who throws everyone around. Otis hits the Caterpillar on Roode and tags back to Gable, Gable connects with a roll-through German on Ziggler but gets planted with a Glorious DDT by Roode for the 1…2…3.
Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode defeated Otis & Chad Gable via pinfall (3:30)
- Always happy to see Chad Gable wrestle and Otis has gotten a lot better since they started doing this whole Alpha Academy thing, but I’ll be honest with you this Street Profits instant react thing made it IMPOSSIBLE to really concentrate on the match itself. That was GRATING to say the least, and felt like a “how do you do fellow teens” attempt by WWE to tap into the current-day media landscape. Maybe it worked for people and I’m just too old now. Aw f*ck.
-THIS WEEK IN WWE HISTORY: Andre The Giant defeats Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship on the 2/5/88 episode of The Main Event thanks to Dave Hebner’s twin Earl.
- The WWF Championship would later be held up after Ted DiBiase attempted to buy it off of Andre and put up for grabs in a one-night tournament at WrestleMania IV. It was not a good show but it did get Randy Savage his first World Title and Demolition’s first reign as Tag Team Champions so there’s some merit to it.
-After that clip Hulk Hogan (and Jimmy Hart) briefly talk about the Andre match then focus completely on former tag team partner Edge…and says nothing about that either.
- Why hype something like this if you’re not going to actually do anything with it? ABSOLUTE waste of time.
Big E [c] vs. Apollo Crews vs. Sami Zayn for the WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Big E drops Crews with a back elbow, Zayn runs in and tries to attack but gets a backdrop for his troubles. Crews headbutts Big E and connects with a trifecta of German suplexes for a two-count, Zayn comes in and attacks Crews anyway. Crews drops Zayn with a short-arm clothesline and splashes both guys in opposite corners. Big E dodges a second splash attempt and lays into his challengers with corner clotheslines. Crews gets sent to the apron, Zayn picks the ankle to prevent a spear (saving Big E’s life potentially, tbh), Big E repeatedly rams him into the apron and Crews takes Big E out with a tope con hilo followed by a moonsault that makes a sickening splat. Zayn drops Crews and this match continues after the break!
Zayn continues to work Big E over as the show returns, clearing Crews off the apron to make sure he has an open runway to the IC Champ. Big E blocks a Blue Thunder Bomb and escapes Zayn’s grasp as Crews comes in with a missile dropkick. Big E throws Crews around with a trifecta of belly-to-belly suplexes. Zayn jumps on Big E’s back with a sleeper, Big E throws him and connects with the Warrior Splash on BOTH guys. Crews counters a Big Ending with a step-up enzuigiri, Big E backdrops him to the floor and plants Zayn with a urinage out of the corner for the 1…2…Zayn kicks out! Big E gets taken out, Crews connects with a Frog Splash on Zayn for the 1…2…Zayn kicks out once again! Crews blocks a kick and goes for an Exploder, Big E comes from behind and throws BOTH MEN overhead, Crews rolls to the floor to prevent getting pinned. Zayn dazes Big E with a knee and follows up with a HELLUVA KICK for the 1…2…CREWS PULLS HIM OUT. Zayn argues with the ref, Crews presses him up and TOSSES HIM INTO THE TIMEKEEPER’S AREA. Great height there. Crews returns to the ring to finish things but Big E catches him with a Big Ending FROM OUTTA NOWHERE for the 1…2…3.
Big E [c] defeated Apollo Crews & Sami Zayn via pinfall to retain the WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP (8:38 or so shown)
- Easily the best match of the night. A very WWE triple threat match but a good one of those, everybody got their moments to shine. Crews had the move of the match with that nasty splat of a moonsault to the floor, Zayn got more fuel for his “bad luck = conspiracy” rampage, and Big E will continue his reign as a dominant champion. Cool all around. I kinda hope Nakamura is next in line for a shot, I want to see that match. Maybe it’s already happened but it’d be NEW TO ME.
-Another video plays hyping the return of Seth Rollins for next week’s show.
Show closes with 2021 Royal Rumble Men’s winner Edge addressing the WWE Universe. He talks about how he spent the last months on the shelf dreaming of winning the Rumble, main-eventing WrestleMania, and taking back something he never lost. Edge has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to champions to choose, but before he can launch into whatever story he was going to tell he’s interrupted by Roman Reigns, Paul Heyman, and Jey Uso. Edge mocks Reigns for having to bring backup while he’s out here alone, Reigns says without his blessing Heyman will not make a move on him. Edge tells Reigns he’s renting space in his head already which is why Jey is out here, Reigns’ smile immediately vanishing. Reigns gets rid of Jey and tells Edge to acknowledge him as the main event of WrestleMania and the champion of choice. Before he can answer Kevin Owens shows up and delivers a Stunner to Reigns, Edge smirking as Owens quickly walks off to the back.
- Reigns vs. Edge is the only interesting way to go with it but they’ve got so many weeks of programming to plow through before WrestleMania so WWE is gonna drag it out. That’s fair I guess. This was a good tease though, even if Reigns is a little TOO desperate for Edge to pick him to prove his claim as being at the top of the mountain. I was honestly hoping they were gonna cool this Owens/Reigns thing so I didn’t expect Owens to show up and attack at the end there, but it gave WWE an out so no one had to give an answer so that’s…fine. I don’t know what else they can f*cking do with that grouping though unless we’re hitting a Edge/Owens vs. Reigns/Uso tag team match or something.
FINAL THOUGHTS: SmackDown had some previews of what could end up being big WrestleMania matches and a fun triple threat main event-ish but overall the show didn’t work for me. Hulk Hogan’s cameo and Street Profits’ YouTubing their way through an entire match were the definite lowlights, everything else was just sorta…fine. I want to get excited about Cesaro getting a push-ish but we’re closing in on like 10 years of him being on the main roster so fool me once and all that.
- MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Big E vs. Apollo Crews vs. Sami Zayn
- MOMENT OF THE NIGHT: Apollo Crews’ moonsault to Big E on the floor. Just a real big SPLAT sound.