LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 2/26: Alt perspective, detailed coverage of Bianca’s decision, Reigns & Edge’s road to Mania, Street Profits vs. Zayn & Corbin, more

By Brandon LeClair, PWTorch contributor


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
FEBRUARY 26, 2021
ST. PETERSBERG, FL IN WWE THUNDERDOME AT TROPICANA FIELD
AIRED LIVE ON FOX NETWORK

Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves

-The show opened on a wide shot of the Thunderdome as lightning cracked over the speakers. Michael Cole welcomed the audience to the “critically acclaimed and award winning” spectacle.

-Roman Reigns’ music played. Cole said they’re beginning the show with the man who is still Universal champion and head of the table. Roman walked onto the stage, flanked by Paul Heyman and Jey Uso, who paced the stage confidently. Cole said many have called Reigns “aloof”, but said there’s no question that he’s been a dominant champion. As Reigns descended the ramp, Cole tossed to a video package covering the Smackdown Elimination Chamber match, and subsequent Universal title match.

Reigns stood stoically in the center of the ring following the video package. Paul Heyman handed him a microphone. Reigns said it’s no secret that Smackdown needs him. He claimed Elimination Chamber needed him, and he answered the call. “That’s what the tribal chief does, he saves this place over and over again.” Reigns said that’s why he defended the Universal title against the winner of Smackdown’s Elimination Chamber match.

“I smashed Daniel Bryan,” Reigns surmised. He said it was the most exciting ass-whooping of the year, “maybe even the decade.” Roman said that if anyone else did that, they’d have a celebration. “I operate at a higher level,” Roman scowled. He said if it’s not perfect, it’s not him. Reigns said the night wasn’t perfect because of Edge.

Roman said Edge got one by spearing him in his ring on his night. He said Edge had to go and point at the sign and make the match official – “Roman Reigns vs. Edge in the main event of WrestleMania.” Reigns shook his head. He told Edge he doesn’t want it. He gave Edge an opportunity to back out and go home. “You’ve got a beautiful family,” Roman said, “you’re a father and a husband and I don’t want to hurt you.” Reigns said he likes what Edge stands for, from the legacy to the comeback. He told Edge that he doesn’t stand a chance against a man like him.

Daniel Bryan’s music hit. Reigns looked confused. Daniel Bryan stepped onto the stage, all smiles. He “yes’ed” his way down the ramp, microphone in hand. Bryan took umbrage with Reigns calling his title defense “nearly perfect.” Bryan said he had to come out and point out a differing perspective. Bryan said it was “so magnanimous” of Reigns to put up his Universal title at Elimination Chamber, the comment oozed with sarcasm. Bryan said he’s been hearing from others that Reigns’ actions were cowardly. He said perhaps Reigns isn’t a real champion at all.

“That’s not me,” Bryan said. He said he’s not the guy to come out and complain. Bryan said he was baffled by Reigns’ decision to defend his title in the second match on the card. “I would’ve thought the heat of the table would be in the main event spot,” Bryan said, “or would that have given me a little too much time?”

Bryan said he was in the ring with Reigns for his first match in WWE. He said he understands that Reigns wants to be the head of the table. He said if Reigns wants to end their ties, and all the comparisons between them, he can put the title on the line against him one more time at Fastlane.

Jey Uso stepped in front of Reigns and knocked Bryan’s mic. He told Bryan to step to the back of the line. “If you want a shot, you’ve got to go through the right hand man,” Uso said. Bryan shrugged him off and stepped up to Reigns. Roman looked down on him. “After all I did to you, you want me to hurt you again?” Reigns asked. Jey Uso blindsided Bryan.

Jey quickly tossed Bryan to the outside, then threw him into the barricade. Roman laughed, then left the ring, holding up the title. He exchanged a quick shoulder hug with Jey as the trio left.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Great stuff. Roman Reigns was masterful, as always. Paul Heyman was effectively silent, while Jey Uso continued to play his role as right hand hype man/lap dog perfectly. Daniel Bryan was clear, concise, and believable, and he made an excellent appeal to Roman’s ego as to why he should receive a rematch for the title. This is a great way to get to a rematch for Bryan, and a great final stop for Roman en route to WrestleMania.)

-Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville were shown talking about Bianca Belair’s upcoming decision backstage. Edge walked in the office, saying he heard that Daniel Bryan may be getting a title match before him after competing in the same Rumble match that Edge won. “We need to talk,” Edge said as the show went to break.

-Out of the break, Jey apologized to Roman for “jumping the gun” with Daniel Bryan in the ring. Roman said it’s fine, but told Jey to “handle it” tonight.

-Edge continued his conversation with Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville. Pearce said that if Bryan beats Jey Uso tonight, he’ll earn a title match against Roman Reigns at Fastlane. Edge left the room, frustrated.

-Rey and Dominick Mysterio came to the ring for their tag team match. Otis and Chad Gable followed. Cole and Graves recapped what happened on last week’s show. Chad Gable asked to see Otis’ big splash on Mysterio again, this time in slow motion. Otis smiled as Gable massaged his shoulders.

(1) REY & DOMINICK MYSTERIO vs. OTIS & CHAD GABLE

Otis began the match with Rey Mysterio. Gable told Otis to “execute the plan.” Mysterio tripped up Otis with a quick drop toe hold, but Otis shook it off, dropped Mysterio and splashed him quickly. Otis scooped Mysterio off the mat and tossed him across the ring.

Rey retreated to the corner. Otis pounced, peppering Mysterio with rights and lefts. Chad Gable told Otis to settle down to avoid a disqualification. Otis obliged and tagged in Gable. Chad Gable gave Rey a gut buster, then slammed him into the corner, driving his shoulder into Rey’s ribs repeatedly. Gable caught Mysterio with a quick fireman’s carry, but Rey managed to role to his corner and tag in Dominick.

Dominick Mysterio caught Gable with a headscissor take over into the turnbuckle. He hit Gable with a middle rope tornado DDT and covered for a near fall. Dominick tagged Mysterio back in. Rey quickly knocked Otis off the apron, then hit a tandem 619 with Dominick. Rey followed up with a frog splash on Gable for a near fall, saved just in the knick of time by Otis.

Gable tagged in Otis. Mysterio flew off the top rope, but Otis caught him and gave him a huge power slam. Otis dragged Rey to the corner and hit a second rope splash for a three count.

WINNERS: Otis & Chad Gable in 4:00

(LeClair’s Analysis: I like the idea of giving Otis and Gable some big wins, especially over the likes of a legend like Rey Mysterio. I guess my concern here, though, is, what’s the plan? Otis was made to look like a crazed, out-of-control heel last week, but this week he was far more reigned in – aggressive from bell to bell, but only working within the confines of the match. Regardless of the goal here, I like the idea of putting some real focus on a team that I think could be really beneficial to this floundering tag division.)

-Apollo Crews was shown warming up in gorilla as the show went to break.

-Apollo Crews headed to the ring. Cole tossed to the Progressive Match Flo, covering Crews’ attack on Big E during last week’s show.

Crews asked for a microphone after dramatically placing his new scarf around his neck. He said a lot of people have been wondering what’s going on with him. He said people don’t really know anything about him. Crews claimed that he’s been too nice and too respectful, and for far too long, he hasn’t received that same respect. Apollo claimed he doesn’t come from the hood or from suburbia, but from Nigerian royalty. Crews said his grandfather controlled some of the richest lands in Nigeria, and his word was law. Apollo said he stands for wealth, dominance, and power.

“Big E found that out first hand last week,” Crews declared. He said if enemies defy them, you show them the steel. Crews said Big E told him to go back to catering, but instead, he went back to his roots. Crews claimed Big E will never disrespect him again. He turned his focus to Shinsuke Nakamura, but Shinsuke’s music cut him off.

Crews attacked Nakamura from behind during Shinsuke’s pose in the ring. He quickly tossed Nakamura to the outside and tried to attack him with the steel steps, but the referee stepped in front to block him. The show quickly went to commercial.

(2) APOLLO CREWS vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA

The match was already in progress when the show returned from break. Apollo Crews dropped Shinsuke Nakamura with a short arm clothesline, then whipped him viciously into the corner. Nakamura collapsed to the mat. Crews stayed on the attack, hitting a quick snap suplex and covering for a two count.

Crews grabbed a seated chin lock. Nakamura slowly worked his way to a vertical base and elbowed his way out of the hold. Crews grabbed Nakamura’s hair and went for a German suplex, but Nakamura landed awkwardly on the top of his neck and head, rolling through to his knees. Nakamura caught Crews with a quick kick. Crews stumbled toward the apron. Shinsuke caught a quick kick to the back of the head, then a running sliding knee for a two count.

Shinsuke dragged Crews to his feet. Crews hit a trio of German suplexes, then covered for a two count. Nakamura countered an Irish whip attempt and turned it into a spin kick. He tossed Crews to the corner and hit the snap-slide German suplex. Crews rolled to the outside to recover. Nakamura followed.

Crews lured Nakamura in, catching him with a kick to the shin before tossing him into the steel steps. Crews tossed Nakamura back inside and went for the military press, but Nakamura countered into a sleeper hold. Crews managed to grab his scarf which had been wrapped around the turnbuckle. He used it to pull Nakamura into the turnbuckle. Crews followed up with a quick kick and and Olympic slam for a three count.

WINNER: Apollo Crews in 5:00 (partial)

(LeClair’s Analysis: I really liked this, from start to finish. Apollo Crews sounded confident, natural, and rejuvenated. This is instantly the most interesting and engaging he’s been on the main roster. Shinsuke Nakamura was a good foil, but this was a necessary win for Crews to continue building this character and build toward Big E’s eventual return. I love the idea of giving some talent a fresh look, and WWE has been doing a good job with the likes of Crews in recent weeks.)

-Paul Heyman leaned over Roman Reigns’ oversized chair in his locker room. He informed Reigns that Bryan will face Jey Uso for the right to face Reigns for the title at Fastlane. Reigns scowled. “If Daniel Bryan wins the match…” Heyman reminded him.

-The Riott Squad’s music was playing as the show returned from break. Liv Morgan and Tamina were already in the ring.

(3) TAMINA (w/ Natalya) vs. LIV MORGAN (w/ Ruby Riott)

Liv Morgan ducked a clothesline attempt from Tamina as soon as the bell rang. She tried to roll her up, but Tamina stood firm. Liv wound up shooting off the ropes and hitting a quick headscissor. Tamina shook it off and kicked Liv in the face. She drove Liv into the corner and slammed her head into the middle turnbuckle repeatedly.

Liv dragged herself to the opposing turnbuckle. Tamina charged, crushing her in the corner and covering her for a two count. Liv struggled to return to her feet. Tamina dropped her with a back elbow. Tamina drove her boot into Morgan’s cheek, pulled her to her feet and hit a quick suplex for a two count.

Morgan battled back to her feet with quick right hands. Tamina shrugged her off and slammed her in the mat. Cole said this is the most dominant he’s seen Tamina be in a long time. Morgan went for a backslide, but Tamina blocked it. Morgan broke her grasp and caught a quick enziguri. She followed up with a missile dropkick into the corner, then a quick boot. Liv leaped to the top rope and caught Tamina with a missile dropkick for a two count of her own.

Morgan charged at Tamina, but Tamina countered it and hit a Samoan drop. She let out a big scream, scooped Liv up, and hit a spin out rock bottom slam for a three count.

WINNER: Tamina in 4:00

(LeClair’s Analysis: I guess this is an improvement over the last several weeks, where the Riott Squad loses primarily not of their own accord, but at the hands of Billie Kay’s ineptitude. I can’t help but feel they’re pushing the wrong duo here. Tamina has had countless chances and has never impressed, nor connected. Ruby Riott, and Liv Morgan, on the other hand, have never really been given a chance to succeed.)

-Bianca Belair was shown walking down a hallway backstage. Cole teased her WrestleMania decision coming up after the break.

-Greg Hamilton welcomed Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville to the ring. Pearce and Deville said Bianca Belair is about to make her decision regarding her WrestleMania opponent. The introduced her and she headed to the ring, wearing her new “WrESTlemania” shirt.

Adam Pearce said it’s been about a month since Bianca won the Royal Rumble. Bianca corrected him, rattling off the exact length of time, down to the minute. Sonya asked Belair who she’s chosen to face at WrestleMania. She introduced both champions with a quick video package for each.

Belair said everyone has been patiently waiting for her to make her decision. She said her mother always told her life is all about decisions. She said the choices you make define who you are, “and my choice is clear,” she declared. She was interrupted by Reginald. He said that Bianca’s choice will define her legacy. He continued to talk up Sasha Banks’ ability. He said Bianca worked hard to get where she is. He called her special, and said everyone is in awe of her living her dream. “But…” Reginald added, “if you decide to face Sasha Banks, that dream will dissolve into a nightmare…” Reginald claimed Belair would wind up a loser.

Sasha Banks’ music interrupted Belair as she prepared to respond. Banks walked to the ring and took Reginald’s mic. She told Reginald to never speak for her and shoved him away. Banks said she’s more than just the champion, she’s the standard. Sasha said if Belair wants to be the topic of conversation, she’ll choose to face her. Banks said she’s the best, she’s number one, and that makes Belair second best. She laughed uproariously.

Banks held up her title. Belair said Banks has a lot to say. “I’m gonna make you eat your words on the grandest stage of them all.” Belair said she’s going to take Banks’ title and show everyone that she’s the “b-e-s-t” of WWE. Belair pointed to the WrestleMania sign. “Sasha, it’s on…” Pyro blasted from around the sign. Banks smiled and held up the title. Belair continued to point.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Belair came off great here. Confident, effective, and likable. The decision was all but a foregone conclusion, but it’s nice to see it officially announced. I thought it was curious to avoid talking about their loss to the tag team champions over the weekend, given that it could’ve served as some fuel to the fire for this match, but it looks like they’re going with “respectful challengers” for the time being. I don’t know what the purpose of keeping Reginald involved is, but I certainly hope this doesn’t wind up being a triple threat. Carmella has overstayed her welcome in the title picture, and Banks and Belair need time to shine on their own at WrestleMania.)

-King Corbin grew annoyed with Sami Zayn’s camera crew backstage. Sami backed them off and began interviewing Corbin for his documentary. He asked Corbin what he thinks of the conspiracy against him. Corbin said the real mystery is why they’re tag partners tonight. Zayn said it was actually his idea, because even though they dislike each other, they have pretty good chemistry. Zayn said they could both really use a win, and can easily beat the Street Profits if they work together.

Zayn suggested they challenge for the tag team titles. He began discussing possible tag team names. Corbin cut him off. He said he agrees that they could dominate the tag division and win the titles, but said he refuses to take orders from anyone. He told Zayn to get the camera crew out of his face. “Be a professional,” Corbin said.

-The Street Profits headed to the ring and Solo cups shot toward the sky from cannons at ringside. Cole said they’d face Zayn and Corbin after the break.

Sami Zayn and King Corbin headed to the ring following the break. The Street Profits mocked their entrances from the ring.

(4) THE STREET PROFITS (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) vs. SAMI ZAYN & KING CORBIN

Sami Zayn began the match with Montez Ford. Ford quickly backed Zayn into the corner and the referee forced a break. Zayn came out of the corner with a kick to the stomach, then a sharp chop. Ford quickly rebounded, leapfrogging a quick and catching Sami with an arm drag takeover. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode were shown watching the match on a monitor backstage.

Sami Zayn tagged in King Corbin and Montez Ford tagged in Angelo Dawkins. Dawkins grabbed a headlock on Corbin, but Corbin broke free and dropped Dawkins with a shoulder tackle. Angelo managed to leapfrog two quick offense attempts from Corbin, then work over the arm. Corbin went for his round-the-post clothesline, but Sami’s camera men were in his way. Dawkins caught him with a quick dropkick then tagged in Montez Ford. Corbin growled with frustration as the show went to break.

Corbin drove his elbow into Ford’s neck and shoulder repeatedly when the show returned from break. Corbin tagged in Sami Zayn, who continued to beat down Ford. The two heels traded quick tags, continuing to isolate Ford. Ford eventually caught Corbin with a boot and an enziguri out of the corner, but he failed to reach his corner in time for a tag. Sami Zayn tagged in and continued the beat down. Ford eventually fought to the corner and tagged in Dawkins.

Angelo Dawkins came off the hot tag with a flurry of take downs on Zayn. He tossed King Corbin from the ring, then got caught with a big DDT from Zayn. Sami covered for a near fall, then argued with the referee about a slow count. On the outside, Corbin grew frustrated with Zayn’s camera crew and shoved them to the ground. Montez Ford flew over the top rope, dropping Corbin.

Sami Zayn tried to attack Dawkins from behind, but Angelo countered and hit a neckbreaker before tagging in Ford for a big splash and a three count.

WINNERS: The Street Profits in 8:00

Corbin and Zayn argued at ringside as the Profits celebrated their win.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Decent, but forgettable match. With several minutes of this one during the commercial, it was hard to feel invested in the action. I’m not big on the idea of Zayn and Corbin being a regular tag team, so I’m glad that this was indicative of that being short lived. This felt like a quick and easy way to heat up the Profits for their promised rematch with Ziggler and Roode. To that end, I suppose it served its purpose.)

-Kayla Braxton welcomed Daniel Bryan to the backstage interview set. She asked if there’s a chance of him playing spoiler for WrestleMania. Bryan said it’s a long way away, because he’ll have to beat both Jey Uso and Reigns. Bryan said he thinks he has a better chance at Mania than Edge. He talked about Edge’s impressive comeback, but wondered if he may be a little rusty. Edge stepped into frame. He said Bryan wins the title, they’ll face each other at WrestleMania. He asked Bryan who wins that match. Bryan smirked. “I think I’ll keep that answer to myself,” he said.

-Seth Rollins headed to the ring in a fresh white suit. Cole said we’d find out what’s on Seth’s mind after the break.

-Rollins was standing in the ring when the show returned from break. He said his letter received “monumental response” on social media. He claimed his people told him it was trending everywhere. Cesaro’s music cut Rollins off. Rollins said they need to discuss some things and put water under the bridge.

Cesaro stepped in the ring, appearing ready to fight. Rollins asked Cesaro to give him a chance. He said he didn’t call Cesaro a loser, but rather, a loser because of the situation he was in. Rollins asked for a chance to explain himself and make it up to Cesaro. Seth called Cesaro a star who can grab the brass ring and break the glass ceiling. He called Cesaro one of the strongest wrestlers, pound for pound, the company has ever seen.

Seth asked Cesaro why he always seems to come up short. “What is it that you’re missing?” Rollins pondered. He said he has it, and it’s killer instinct. He said he can give it to Cesaro. “I came back to Smackdown to lead it into the future, and I’ll start by leading you.” Rollins said he’s done everything Cesaro wants to do, and he wants to help Cesaro do it. He claimed that, together, they’d be unstoppable.

Rollins claimed that had Cesaro listened to him two weeks ago, he’d have won the Elimination Chamber match, beaten Roman Reigns, and would be Universal champion right now. He offered Cesaro a “second chance” to embrace the vision. Cesaro sighed heavily. Rollins told Cesaro to take a week or two to think it over. Cesaro dropped Rollins and initiated the swing. Rollins held onto the microphone, screaming. Cesaro kept it going, gaining speed and momentum. He eventually tossed Rollins. Seth flopped around on the mat, then wandered into a stiff uppercut. Cole said it was an emphatic “no thank you.”

(LeClair’s Analysis: I still can’t really get into this Rollins character, but I love the continued focus and push on Cesaro. Seth is such an incredibly talented asset, and it feels like this character is just beneath him. He’s clearly all in, and I commend the weekly performance, I just don’t think it feels like a main event act and I think WWE needs Seth Rollins to be a main event player.)

-Daniel Bryan’s music hit and he crossed paths with Cesaro on the way to the ring. Cesaro gave him a quick “yes” and a fist bump. Cole said the main event is after the break.

After the break, Cole and Graves teased tomorrow’s Talking Smack, featuring Seth Rollins, Bianca Belair, and Daniel Bryan.

Daniel Bryan circled the inside of the ring as Jey Uso headed to the ring.

(5) DANIEL BRYAN vs. JEY USO – If Bryan wins, he gets a Universal title match at Fastlane

Daniel Bryan tried to lock up with Jey Uso as the bell rang, but Jey Uso caught him with a quick hit to the face. He followed up with a shoulder take down. Jey shot Bryan off the ropes, but Bryan leapfrogged him and caught him with an arm drag. Bryan went to work on the arm, snapping it over his shoulder then peppering it with kicks.

Bryan gave Jey a quick headbutt toe the ribs. He flipped off the top turnbuckle, then caught Jey with a big running clothesline. Bryan grabbed at his injured left leg as Jey retreated to the corner. Bryan hit a quick running body check, then fired off a series of kicks. Bryan hoisted Jey onto the top turnbuckle and hit the top rope ‘rana, covering for a near fall.

Bryan manipulated Jey’s hand and arm. Jey broke free in a panic and rolled to the outside. Bryan went to dive through the ropes, but Jey caught him with a super kick. Bryan fell out of the ring in a heap. Jey scooped him up and dropped him knee first on the announcers desk. Jey slid in the ring to break the count, then headed back outside to slam Bryan’s knee into the ring post. Cole sent the show to break, wondering how Bryan could continue the match.

Jey Uso continued to work over the injured knee and leg of Daniel Bryan when the show returned from break. Bryan briefly tripped Jey to the mat, attempting to lock in the Yes Lock, but Jey thwarted the attempt by kicking at Bryan’s leg. Jey hit a Samoan drop and covered Bryan for a two count. Jey went for a splash, but Bryan rolled out of the way.

Bryan pulled his kneepad down to release some pressure. He caught Jey with a trio of kicks, then dumped Uso over the top rope to the outside. Bryan hit a running dropkick through the middle rope, then caught him with a running knee off the apron. Bryan punched his own knee, writhing in pain. He tossed Uso into the ring and climbed to the top rope. Bryan dove, but Jey sidestepped him. Bryan landed on his feet and collapsed. Jey tossed him into the turnbuckle, then applied a half crab. Bryan dragged himself to the ropes, but Jey dragged him back to center.

Jey sat back into the crab. Bryan briefly rolled over, but Jey maintained control. Bryan contorted his body enough to kick Jey off of him. Bryan caught Jey with a roundhouse kick to the face, covering for a near fall. Bryan set up for the running knee. Jey saw it coming, throwing his body into Bryan’s knee, creating a chip block and turning him inside out. Jey hit a quick super kick for a near fall.

Uso climbed to the top rope. Bryan knocked him down in desperation. DB climbed up to meet Jey and connected with a butterfly superplex. Bryan rolled Jey into the Yes Lock, but Uso reached the ropes before Bryan hooked it. Jey rolled to the outside. Bryan followed. Jey tossed Bryan into the steel steps. The referee reached a count of ten, neither man getting back to the ring in time.

WINNER: No context in 13:00

Jey tossed Bryan back in the ring, but Bryan quickly caught him in the Yes Lock. Roman Reigns hit the ring, attacking Bryan. Bryan managed to knock Reigns down. He tried to apply the Yes Lock, but Uso kicked him in the head. Reigns followed up with a spear, then he locked in the guillotine, knocking Bryan out. Paul Heyman handed Reigns his title. Roman stood over a fallen Bryan as the show faded to black.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Really good match, but a disappointing non-finish. There was a lot of talk tonight about a tag team match at Fastlane, and I’m not quite sure if I missed something along the way, or if tonight was the first mention made of it. It seems like that’s the route we’re headed – Bryan & Edge vs. Reigns & Uso. I like the match, and I understand the idea, but I wonder if it’s a match that really feels big enough for even a B-level Pay-Per-View. I guess ultimately, it comes down to Raw’s main event counterpart, but I genuinely thought that Bryan vs. Reigns was a good stop-gap on the way to ‘Mania, especially coming up on the anniversary of their big encounter at the first ever Fastlane.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: This was an eventful show with plenty of development, both in terms of WrestleMania, and for the coming weeks of television. While I’m a little disappointed with the non-finish in the main event, I’m intrigued by the direction they’re taking with Reigns, Edge, and Bryan. I’m excited and fully on board with the recent revitalization campaigns of Apollo Crews and Cesaro, and felt like both had standout nights. While I have hesitations about Carmella and Reginald’s continued involvement, I’m overall hopeful for the story that can be told with Banks and Belair. Even on the undercard, a solid with for Gable and Otis tonight (despite some conflicting character developments) puts them in a solid position to come a legitimate contender in a messy tag division. Smackdown has a lot of talent and a lot of options and they’re putting themselves in a pretty decent place as we continue to ramp up into Mania season.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This will be my final week covering Smackdown for PWTorch.com. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed providing detailed analysis of the show for the last two plus years, and am thrilled that I got to cover the move to Fox on Friday nights and subsequent growing pains of being back on network TV, the summer of Sasha and Bayley, and the long-awaited heel run of Roman Reigns. This won’t be the end of my involvement with the Torch, though, by any means! I’ll be taking my alt-perspective coverage to WWE’s monthly Pay-Per-Views, and putting together some neat one-off features down the road. I certainly hope you’ll given them a look!

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