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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
FEBRUARY 12, 2021
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. AT TROPICANA FIELD (“THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON FOX BROADCAST NETWORK
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
Ring Announcers: Greg Hamilton
-The show opened with a wide shot of ThunderDome as pryo blasted and the theme song “Are You Ready?” played. Cole welcomed viewers to “the critically acclaimed and award-winning ThunderDome.”
-Roman Reigns (of course) made his way out first, accompanied by Paul Heyman and Jey Uso. Cole dryly said, “Here comes the Head of the Table… The man who claims he runs WWE.” They showed a clip of Edge saying on Monday that he’s waiting for Elimination Chamber before making his announcement. Cole said that has to make Reigns even madder. Adam Pearce stood mid-ring looking anxious about Reigns approaching the ring. Graves said you can be as arrogant and cocky as you want when you’ve been as good as Reigns has been “for the better part of a year.” (Let’s see: Late-August to mid-February = five complete months and two partial months; not “the better part of a year” if we’re counting his WWE in-ring performance. Maybe he’s adding in pre-pandemic happenings, but then why limit it to just the last year.)
Reigns noted that Pearce looks nervous. He said he doesn’t have any authority over him. “You are here to wait on me,” he said. “I am the sun, everything orbits me. You’re here because of me. Understand that. You wait on me. I don’t wait on you and I most certainly don’t wait on Edge.” He said he saw Edge last week “and he looked me in the eye and got scared.” He said he got scared because he knows what he’ll do to him. “I will beat him down so bad, we’ll have to put him on a legends contact. He’ll have to be just an ambassador for WWE when I’m done with him.” He said Edge waiting until after Elimination Chamber is a ploy because he hopes someone beats him in the mean time. He said he’s keeping the title on his shoulder as long as he wants it.
He asked Pearce if he wants to talk about the Elimination Chamber. Pearce said yes, and he has a contract that says he has to defend the Universal Title in the EC much like Drew McIntyre. Reigns laughed and said, “I’ll let you deal with Paul on this one.” Heyman introduced himself to Pearce. He said he’d be happy look at the document for them, but the document specifies the EC event has to be built around the Universal Champion, but it doesn’t specify the champion has to defend the title in the Chamber. (Pearce’s reactions, as usual, are so spot-on perfect in response to Heyman here.) Heyman said the winner of the EC will receive a Universal Hvt. Championship match on the spot against Reigns, but Reigns will not participate in the chamber itself.
Heyman observed Pearce wasn’t happy about it, but he asked what he could do about it. He asked if he’d fire him. He said to his knowledge, WrestleMania last year without Reigns was the lowest attended of all time. (Uh….) Reigns smiled, admiring Heyman’s work. Pearce said it appears he has some work to do. He said there will be qualifying matches tonight. He said there are two wrestlers who don’t need to qualify. Heyman said something about Bianca Belair. “Do you ever shut up,” Pearce fired back. Pearce revealed Jey Uso first. As he left the ring, he said the other wrestler he has in mind is Kevin Owens. Reigns leaped out of the ring and got in Pearce’s face and said he doesn’t care about what he just said. “All I care about is you,” he said. He snarled a bit in Pearce’s face. Pearce stared back, but looked intimidated. Heyman tried to talk some calm into Reigns. He said they shouldn’t show their cards yet. but called it “just a suggestion.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Another absolutely tremendously performed segment. Pearce is seriously one of the top performers of the year right now for the pitch-perfect understated tone he’s striking opposite of formidable experienced national TV stars Heyman and Reigns. Jey was also great here.)
-They went to Cole and Graves who reacted. Then they hyped the return of Seth Rollins tonight. [c]
-Sonya Deville told Pearce he just stood up to Reigns. “Wow, that was incredible,” she said. “It’s like you weren’t even scared of repercussions.” He said they need to fill out the show with qualifiers. Sonya said she had an outside the box scenario – a tag match where both members of the winning team qualified. Pearce approved it. She said the wrestlers involved are already on their way to the ring.
-Cole said it’s great Deville is around because Pearce has a lot on his mind.
(1) REY MYSTERIO & DOMINIK MYSTERIO vs. KING CORBIN & SAMI ZAYN – Winners Enter Elimination Chamber
Graves said he’s excited that it’s possible that Rey and Dominik win. He said if that happens, Rey might have to face his own son in the Chamber. Cole said Rey has been in three Chamber matches before. Corbin came onto the stage first. Sami, with his documentary crew, walked onto the stage. As they made their way to the ring, Sami complained about having to earn his way into the Chamber. He looked at Corbin and said they don’t usually see eye-to-eye, but they’re both suffering the same injustice. He said his documentary crew is watching the ref like a hawk to be sure he doesn’t “accidentally hand the match over to the Mysterios.” He said they’re the poster-boys to expand into the Latin-American market, so they want them to win. He said it won’t happen tonight. He said they’re going to win. The Mysterios charged and knocked Sami off the ring apron.
The bell rang, and Rey and Corbin battled. Sami tripped him from ringside. Dominik then dove onto Sami at ringside. Dominik took a face-first bump onto the edge of the announce desk. Rey and Dominik stood together in the ring as they cut to an early break. [c]
Dominik and Sami tagged in after the break. Graves continued to fantasize about Dominik punching Rey in the face in the Chamber. They replayed Dominik crashing into the announce table earlier in the match. Cole noted Triple H invented the Elimination Chamber match, announced by Eric Bischoff back in 2002. He described the size of the structure and the rules. Sami landed a Blue Thunder Bomb. Rey and Dominik hit Corbin with a stereo 619. Sami caught a charging Dominik and gave him an exploder suplex into the corner and a Helluva Kick for the win.
WINNERS: Zayn & Corbin in 9:00.
-Backstage, they showed Pearce and Deville watching Corbin and Zayn celebrating on a monitor. In walked Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode. They made their pitch to be put into the Chamber match. Roode said if they win, there will be parades up from Florida to Thunder Bay. Deville asked if they wanted to be stuffed in the same pod. They clarified they wanted separate pods. Sonya said they just had the idea of having them face Daniel Bryan & Cesaro.
-Graves said he likes how Sonya’s brain is working.
-Big E made his ring entrance. [c]
-Cole threw to a clip of Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks last week.
-Backstage, Sasha was chatting with Lince Dorado. Reginald walked up to her with a glass of wine. He told her he was out of line last week, but it’ll never happen again. She asked if he meant what he said when he said she can beat Bianca. She laughed and said she can send Carmella her regards. He gave her the wine.
-Cole and Graves threw to a sponsored video package on Big E vs. Apollo Crews vs. Sami Zayn last week.
-Big E stood mid-ring and said the odds were against him last week, but like Tom Brady on a boat parade, he was still standing. He said he vowed to be a fighting champion. He said as he put the Sami and Crews chapter behind him, he was interrupted by Crews’s music.
Crews walked out, smiling and talking. Crews said he deserves another chance. They began arguing back and forth. Big E told him to shut up and listen. Crews said he won’t. Big E said: “You and me are done, go to the back. Bring out my next challenger.” Shinsuke Nakamura began his ring entrance. [c]
(2) BIG E vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA – Intercontinental Title match
Crews was still hanging out at ringside. The announcers said Crews has had a number of opportunities at the title, so it makes sense for a new challenger to get an opportunity. Big E landed a running splash on the ring apron. Big E caught Nakamura charging at him with a Uranage for a near fall. Big E stood and clapped, waiting for Nakamura to rise. Big E set up a Big Ending, but Crews attacked him.
WINNER: No contest in 4:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: You could see that finish coming. Crews was good as a heel with a chip on his shoulder here.)
-A video feature aired on Seth Rollins.
-A parade of wrestlers made their way to the ring. Cole noted Seth has been gone from WWE since before Survivor Series. [c]
-The wrestlers were surrounding the ring when Seth’s music played. He came out with the same demeanor and gimmick he had before, minus the “Messiah” aspect. He walked out smiling and looking around and said this just feels right and it’s where he belongs. He said a lot has changed since he “sacrificed himself” at Survivor Series. He said what has changed the most while he’s been gone from WWE “is me.”
He said as most of them know, he has recently become a parent for the very first time. (As opposed to the not-very-first-time.) He said the baby girl has changed his life in ways he couldn’t have dreamed of, and that change has given him a new perception, which has led to a new vision. He said he looks around the ring and sees “some of the most talented performers in the history of this industry.”
He said he wondered where he fits in. He said after a lot of self-reflection, the answer became clear to him. He said he is the great leader that Smackdown needs to push it into the future and make it greater than it already is. He said success and leadership isn’t about what you can do for me, but what I can do for you. At that point, wrestlers began leaving ringside, bored with his message. He said he can be their leader, teacher, father, and mentor. Even the heels began leaving and heading to the back. “It’s easy,” he said. “All you have to do for a better tomorrow, a better Smackdown, all you have to do is embrace the vision.”
He looked around the ring and only Cesaro was left standing at ringside. Seth smiled down at him and said, “I knew you’d get it, I knew you’d understand my vision, of all the people.” Cesaro said a few words off-mic and shook his head and headed toward the back also. Seth snarled a little as he soaked up the public embarrassment of the rejections. He slid under the bottom rope and clipped Cesaro’s leg from behind. He attacked him aggressively. Cole said he was “irate.” Bryan made the save. Seth retreated to the other side of the ring, huffing and puffing red-faced.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good return for Seth in that he’s still a heel, and immediately has a feud with Cesaro set up that I like. Also, Seth addressed becoming a dad without mentioning Becky Lynch, which I suppose takes away the idea that WWE is hiding it, and it also says to the viewers who thought being a dad would change him that he’s not changed, but instead he has “a new vision.” No doubt he’s a heel, either, in case anyone still thought he might return and turn babyface. Matches against Cesaro should be great, and it does feel fresh with Cesaro’s new babyface push. The weakest part here is why were the wrestlers around the ring? Did someone order them to be there? Were they all that intrigued with what Seth had to say? I get where they wanted to go in the end, but I didn’t like how they got there.)
-A video package aired on the Elimination Chamber match last year.
-Bayley began her ring entrance. [c]
(3) BAYLEY vs. LIV MORGAN (w/Ruby Riott)
Bayley regrouped at ringside early, then took control of the match. Cole talked about how Morgan understands what a victory over Bailey would mean to her career. Morgan scored a comeback two count, but Bayley took over again right away. Billie Kaye showed up with a stack of photo resumes and hounded Ruby, who blew her off. When the Ruby grabbed the resumes and threw them into the air, some landed in the ring. The ref turned to get rid of them when Bayley raked Morgan’s eyes. She then gave Morgan her Rose Plant finisher for the win. Cole said Billie screwed up again. Graves said Ruby is the one who threw the resumes into the ring. Cole asked why Billie chose that moment to come out because Morgan had Bayley beat. Graves said that is debatable.
WINNER: Bayley in 4:00.
-Kayla Braxton asked Cesaro backstage if he’d be able to participate in the EC Qualifier tonight. He said he is. Cesaro thanked Bryan for being there for him. Bryan said he’s tough.
-Cole hyped NASCAR on Sunday on Fox. [c]
(4) THE STREET PROFITS vs. OTIS & CHAD GABLE
Before the match, on split-screen they showed Otis’s pre-match workout with Gable. Gable told Otis as he was doing squats to show him how much he wants the smoke. He then sprayed him with a smoke machine. Cole and Graves cracked up legit over something. (Real moments are rare on commentary, and that felt real. It’s nice to know what a genuine laugh from Cole actually sounds like.) When Gable and Montez Ford tagged in, Graves said they are two of the premier athletes in “sports entertainment.” Later Otis tagged in and somersaulted to avoid an Angelo Dawkins clothesline, then clotheslined him. Gable sat on a sunset flip attempt by Dawkins. Ford secretly tagged in and then frog splashed Gable for the win.
WINNERS: Street Profits in 8:00.
-As the Profits celebrated on the stage, Sasha began her ring entrance. She came out and danced with them. Cole said she was “having fun.” (I couldn’t tell, so good thing Cole told us that.) [c]
-Sasha was in the ring and her music faded. She said everyone is talking about Bianca Belair and her decision. She said she likes Belair a lot because she’s like a “big little sister.” She said the EST has a big decision, “and that’s M-E me.” Belair came out onto the stage and danced and twirled her hair. She strutted toward the ring and said she sees Sasha. She said she’s not the boss of her. She said this is her time and she’s enjoying every second of it. She was interrupted by Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler.
Jax said they’re insufferable and it’s amazing their egos can fit in the ring together. She said nobody cares who Bianca is going to choose. Baszler said they beat Asuka & Charlotte Flair at the Rumble to become two-time tag team champions. She asked why no one was talking about them. They replayed what happened last week with Lana beating Jax. Back live, a brawl had broke out among the woman. Belair dropped Jax tailbone first onto the ring apron. Back in the ring, Sasha kicked Baszler as Belair held her in place. Cole said he bets Jax and Baszler wish they never walked out. He also said they still don’t know who Belair is choosing to face at WrestleMania.
(Keller’s Analysis: Seems they’re heading toward something more than a one-on-one match.)
-They showed Cesaro and Bryan discussing strategy.
-Roode and Ziggler came out to new entrance music.
(Keller’s Analysis: Boy is that entrance theme thoroughly awful and generic, but also perfect for Ziggler & Roode.)
(5) DANIEL BRYAN & CESARO vs. ROBERT ROODE & DOLPH ZIGGLER
Zayn and Corbin came out to watch. They cut to a break a few minutes in. [c]
Cole said KO would have beat Reigns “if it weren’t for that handcuff situation.” Late in the match, Ziggler landed a Fameasser on Cesaro for a near fall. Graves said it has to be disheartening for Ziggler. Cesaro came back with a Cesaro Swing on Ziggler for the tapout win. Cole said Cesaro isn’t just hot, he’s red hot right now. Graves agreed.
WINNERS: Cesaro & Bryan to earn their way into the Elimination Chamber.
-Jey Uso attacked Cesaro from behind with a chair as Corbin and Sami attacked Bryan at ringside. Sami and Corbin entered the ring and began stomping away at Cesaro and Bryan. Sami threw Corbin into the ringpost, turning on his own partner during the fight. Bryan then took Sami down with a running knee. Kevin Owens ran out. Corbin awaited. KO gave him a quick stunner. He gave one to Bryan, Cesaro, and Uso, too, with Cole saying with emphasis, “Stunner!” each time. They showed Reigns and Heyman watching backstage, appearing to be apprehensive about KO’s showing. KO yelled at the camera that he’s not done and he’s not going away. “I’ll see you real soon,” he directed at Reigns.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Good episode