SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
FEBRUARY 26, 2021
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. AT TROPICANA FIELD (“THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON FOX BROADCAST NETWORK
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
Ring Announcers: Greg Hamilton
-Michael Cole introduced the show as the camera panned the ThunderDome. As Roman Reigns, Jey Uso, and Paul Heyman walked out, Cole threw to a lengthy video recap of the Elimination Chamber.
-Roman talked about how Smackdown needs him and Elimination Chamber needed him. He said he beat down Daniel Bryan like no one else ever has. He said it would have been a perfect night if not for Edge. He said now it’s going to be Reigns vs. Edge at the headline match at WM. “You don’t need that in your life, Edge,” he said. “So I’m going to give you another opportunity to back out, scram, and go home. You have a beautiful family. You’re a father, you’re a husband. I don’t want to hurt you.” He told Edge to understand and “get it through that thick head of yours, a man like you just doesn’t stand a chance against a man like me.” They really piped in heavy boos throughout.
Daniel Bryan’s music played. He walked out smiling, the led the ThunderDome fans in a Yes chant. Bryan said he agrees it was a perfect night for Reigns. He said he deserves to be celebrated for volunteering to put his Universal Title on the line against someone who just went through a grueling Elimination Chamber. He said others, though, are saying it was cowardly to defend his title under those circumstances. He said Reigns’s actions don’t represent a real champion at all. He said he’s not complaining, but just passing along rumors he’s heard from other people. He said he wasn’t expecting the Head of the Table to defend in the second match on the PPV. He said he’d think he’d be in the final match, “but would that have given me too much time?” He said he recognized how good Reigns was from the start. He said people do compare them to each other (a reference to the fans rejecting Reigns as the lead babyface when fans wanted Bryan instead). He challenged him to a more fair title defense at Fastlane.
Jey Uso got in Bryan’s face and asked what he was doing. He said Reigns beat him, so he said Bryan’s in the back of the line, so now Bryan should now deal with him. He said be careful or he’s going to get got. Reigns stepped up to Bryan and stared him down. “After what I did to you, you really want me to hurt you again?” he said. Jey then attacked Bryan from the side. He threw Bryan to ringside and then over the ringside barricade. Reigns laughed from inside the ring.
-Cole said Bianca Belair would announce whether she’ll choose to face Sasha Banks or Asuka at WrestleMania. Graves plugged Sami Zayn & King Corbin vs. The Street Profits.
-Backstage, Sonya Deville was chatting with Adam Pearce when Edge walked up to them. He told Pearce, “We need to talk.” He wasn’t pleased that Bryan was asking for a title match at Fastlane, before he gets his shot at WrestleMania, despite Bryan being in the same Rumble that he won. [c]
-Jey apologized to Reigns about jumping Bryan. Reigns said there’s nothing to apologize about as long as he gets the job done.
-They went back to Edge telling Pearce and Deville that the last he heard is they were talking about him and Bryan facing Reigns and Jey at Fastlane. Pearce said this just came up. He said if Bryan beats Jey tonight, then Bryan can get a one-on-one shot at Fastlane. He said no disrespect to Edge, but the Universal Title match being on the line is a bigger attraction. Edge wasn’t happy and said, “No disrespect?” Then he walked away.
(1) DOMINIK MYSTERIO & REY MYSTERIO vs. CHAD GABLE & OTIS
The Mysterios were entering the ring after the break. Otis and Chad Gable walked onto the stage. They went to a replay of Otis’s turn last week in the tag match. Gable asked for the Otis splash to be replayed again, this time in slo-mo. Graves said Otis didn’t have the mental acumen to be a top star in WWE, but under the tutelage of Gable, who knows what his upside is. Graves said this is a mutually beneficial relationship, as Gable has been more aggressive than they’ve seen him before. Rey fought back against Gable at 2:00, hit an enzuigiri, and tagged in Dominik. Graves said the enzuigiri might not have made much contact. Rey and Dom double-teamed Gable, and then hit stereo 619s. (It looked like their feet collided before connecting with Gable.) Rey landed a splash and got a near fall, with Otis breaking up the cover. Otis caught Rey mid-air a minute later and powerslammed him. Then he landed a second rope splash for another pin.
WINNERS: Otis & Gable in 4:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I know Rey is late in his career, but it’s a bit sad to see him used in this way. He doesn’t even get his own ring entrance theme. I’m not against clean finishes or Otis & Gable getting a push even at Rey’s expense. It’s just the matter-of-fact way they’re portraying Rey, like him losing is just par for the course instead of it being a big deal.)
-They announced Jey vs. Bryan was official, and if Bryan wins, he gets a match at Fastlane.
-They showed Apollo Crews warming up backstage. [c]
-Apollo Crews walked out. They aired a sponsored recap of his attack on Big E last week. He stood mid-ring with a green and white scarf that’s part of his signature new ring gear. He said people are wondering what’s going on with him lately and why the sudden change. He said they’re saying he’s not the real Apollo Crews. He said people don’t really know him. He said he’s been humble for far too long and respectful, but he hasn’t gotten respect in return. He said based on his family, that’s not acceptable. He said he’s not from the hood or suburbia, he’s from Nigeria. “I’m a real African-American,” he said. He said his great-grandfather was royalty and controlled some of the richest land in Nigeria. He said he had five wives. “Imagine that!” he said with pride. He said his scarf represents dominance and power. He said when Big E told him to go back catering, he didn’t. He said instead he went back to his roots. He said Big E will never disrespect him again. He said Shinsuke Nakamura will suffer the same fate. Nakamura’s entrance theme interrupted. Crews attacked Nakamura as he entered the ring, before the bell rang. [c]
(2) APOLLO CREWS vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA
They joined the match in progress with Crews in control. Crews gave Nakamura an overhead suplex and Nakamura landed on his head. Graves said he thinks Nakamura absorbed most of the move on his knees. Nakamura kicked Crews. Both went down and were slow to get up. Nakamura kicked away at Crews and seemed fine. Nakamura gave Crews an axe kick and then a running sliding low clothesline for a two count. Graves said Nakamura has had a resurgence lately, too. Crews fired back with three unreleased German suplexes for a near fall. Crews escaped a sleeper from Nakamura and used his scarf to yank Nakamura into the turnbuckle. Then he kicked Nakamura and finished him with an Olympic Slam.
WINNER: Crews in 6:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: This was the best segment of Crews’s WWE career.)
-Heyman told Reigns that if Bryan wins, Bryan gets a match at Fastlane against him. “If he wins,” Heyman stressed before walking away. Reigns soaked up the situation, insinuating he was concocting a plan to be sure Bryan didn’t win. [c]
(3) TAMINA (w/Natalya) vs. LIV MORGAN (w/Ruby Riott)
Graves talked about how both Tamina and Natalya had fathers in the business. They don’t say “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka by name much anymore. As the match got rolling, Cole said it’s the most dominant he’s seen Tamina. Morgan came back and landed a missile dropkick for a two count. When she charged at Tamina, Tamina countered with a Samoan drop and a spin-out Rock Bottom for the win.
WINNER: Tamina in 4:00.
-They showed Belair heading toward the entrance tunnel backstage. [c]
-Pearce and Deville stood mid-ring and introduced Belair. Belair said the exact number of weeks, days, and hours since her Rumble win. A video played on Asuka and Banks. Belair said people have been waiting patiently for her decision. She said her mom told her life is about choices. She said choices you make define who you are. She said her choice is clear. She was interrupted by odd music. Reginald walked out onto the stage and said her mama was right, this choice will define her career in WWE. He said if she chooses Sasha, she will lose and be defined as a loser.
Sasha then danced onto the stage and tossed her sunglasses over her back and strutted to the ring. She yanked the mic away from Reginald and said she had previously told him to never speak for her. She shoved him aside dismissively. She said she is the standard, so if she wants to make history, she should choose her. She said she calls herself the “EST of the WWE,” but she’s the best and no. 1, “which makes you second-best.” She let out that hideous laugh and dropped the mic and held up her belt. Belair said, “Girl, eh-eh.” She said she’s going to make Sasha eat her words on the grandest stage of them all. She said she’ll take her title and show the whole world she’s the B-E-S-T of W-W-E. She pointed at the WrestleMania sign and said she’s picking her. “Sasha, it’s on,” she said. Pyro blasted. They had a mid-ring staredown. They then posed together and pointed at the WrestleMania sign. Reginald stood behind them and posed with them briefly.
(Keller’s Analysis: Belair was great here. And if Sasha is trying to be the heel in this dynamic, it worked. The match feels like a big deal. Good segment.)
-They went to Graves and Cole at ringside. Graves said this could be a Brady-Mahomes dynamic. Cole then hyped the Bryan vs. Uso match and the Sami & Corbin vs. Street Profits match.
-Backstage Corbin pushed the Sami camera crew away. Sami walked in and agreed they were too close. He asked Corbin what he thinks about the conspiracy of WWE management against him. Corbin asked why they’re tag partners. Sami said it was his idea. Sami said they don’t get along, but they have excellent in-ring chemistry. He said he could really use a big win after being robbed recently. He said if they work together, they could beat the Profits and become champions with his strategic ability and Corbin’s strength. He said they could even come up with a tag team name, like The New Can-Am Connection or The Kingdom of Liberty. Corbin told him to stop. He agreed that they could become tag champs. He told Sami not to ever tell him what to do. He told the crew to stop recording him. Corbin told Sami to be a professional. He shoved one of the camera guys and walked away.
-The Street Profits made their ring entrance. [c]
(4) THE STREET PROFITS (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) vs. SAMI ZAYN & KING CORBIN
Early in the match they showed Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler watching on a monitor backstage. Corbin yelled at the documentary crew to stay out of his way, which led to Ford knocking Corbin off the ring apron into the barricade on the floor. They cut to an early break as the Profits celebrated a bit. [c]
Back from the break, Cole said it had been all Corbin and Sami so far in the match. Corbin had Ford down on the mat. Ford leaped over Sami and hit Corbun with a flip dive on the floor. Back in the ring, Dawkns gave Sami a neckbreaker and then tagged in Ford. Ford landed a top rope frog splash for the win. Corbin angrily yelled at Sami about his documentary crew afterward. Cole said it’ll be a great part of the documentary.
WINNERS: The Street Profits in 8:00.
-Kayla Braxton interviewed Daniel Bryan about his match against Uso. She said he might actually be facing Edge at WrestleMania as a defending champion. Bryan said that’s a long ways away because he has to beat Uso tonight and beat Reigns at Fastlane. He said he has more confidence in himself beating Reigns than Edge beating Reigns. He said Edge is a Hall of Famer, but he was gone for a long time and might be rusty. Edge walked in and said if Bryan were to beat Uso and Reigns, then they’d wrestle each other at WrestleMania. Edge asked who would win that match. Bryan said he’ll keep that answer to himself, as fun as it is to talk about the possibilities. He said his focus now has to be on Uso tonight.
-Seth Rollins made his entrance with the “Embrace the Vision” slogan on the screens. Cole said they’d find out what’s on his mind after the break. [c]
-Seth said he was there to share some incredible news with everyone. He said the letter of complaint he sent to WWE got a “huge, monumental response on social media.” He was quickly interrupted by Cesaro. Seth said that’s just the man he wanted to talk to because they need to put some water under the bridge and work out some disagreements. Cesaro marched into the ring. Seth told him to trust him and give him a chance to make things right. He said what happened two weeks ago was an accident, and he didn’t call him a loser last week and it was misconstrued on Twitter. Seth asked Cesaro to stand center-ring and let him explain it. He said Cesaro is a star and he’ll make it up to him. “Look at you!” he said. “Who says you can’t grab the brass ring and crack the ceiling! You are a star – strong, powerful.” He said he’s easily one of the most gifted performers in WWE history.
Seth asked him, “friend to friend,” why does he always seem to come up short. “What is it you are missing?” he asked. Seth then said the answer is killer instinct, and he has it but Cesaro doesn’t. He said he can give it to Cesaro. He said he came back to Smackdown to lead him into the future, and he will start if he lets him by leading him. He said he has grabbed the brass ring and shattered the glass ceiling and accomplished everything in WWE that Cesaro has only dreamed of. He said he wanted to give it to him. “Imagine you and me working side-by-side on Smackdown,” he said. “We would be unstoppable.” He said he could already be standing there as the Universal Champion, but he turned him down and walked out on him. He said it’s not too later to embrace the vision. “Let me lead you!” he said. “Embrace the vision! What do you say, my friend?” He said he doesn’t have to answer right now. He said he can take his time. Cesaro dropped him and gave him a Cesaro Swing. Cesaro paused. Seth held onto the mic the whole time and muttered, “Put me down!” Cesaro swung him around more before letting go. Cole called it the greatest swing ever. Then he delivered an European Uppercut. Cole said that was Cesaro’s emphatic “no thank you.” As Cesaro made his way to the back, Bryan’s music played and he walked out. The passed each other. Cole said they both started the Rumble. [c]
(5) DANIEL BRYAN vs. JEY USO – If Bryan wins, he gets a Universal Title match at Fastlane
Cole said Bryan was in no condition after the Chamber match to face Reigns in a title match. Bryan hit a huracanrana off the top rope. When Jey rolled to the floor, Bryan dove through the ropes at Jey, but Jey superkicked him mid-air and then slammed him knee-first onto the announce table. Then he drove his knee into the ringpost. Cole asked how Bryan can even continue. [c]
Jey worked over Bryan’s leg in the ring. Bryan eventually made a comeback and hit some Yes Kicks on Jey. Bryan landed a running knee to Uso’s chin at ringside. A “Yes! Yes!” chant was piped in. Bryan leaped off the top rope. Jey shoved Bryan into the turnbuckle and went back to working over his knee with a half crab. Bryan went for a running knee, but Jey countered with a chop block for a near fall. Bryan met Jey on the top rope and then landed a butterfly suplex. He then went for a Yes Lock. Jey grabbed the bottom rope to force a break. Jey reverse-whipped Bryan into the ringside steps. He dropped Bryan over the ringside steps knee-first. They were both counted out. Cole said it’s a damn shame that he didn’t win the match and get a title opportunity. Graves said Bryan didn’t technically lose the opportunity either because it was a double countout.
WINNER: Double countout.
-Bryan applied a Yes Lock in the ring. Reigns attacked Bryan. Bryan fought back and put the Yes Lock on Reigns. Jey superkicked Bryan. Reigns waited for Bryan to stand and hit the Spear followed by a guillotine. A “You suck!” chant was piped in again aimed at Reigns. He released it and stood over Bryan holding up his belt as the show ended.