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WWE SMACKDOWN TV REPORT
MARCH 26, 2021
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. AT TROPICANA FIELD (THE “THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON FOX BROADCAST NETWORK
REPORT BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Greg Hamilton
Tonight after the show, join Wade Keller and co-host Nick Barbati from PWTorch.com to break down the show with live callers and emails.
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(Hazelwood’s Take: I’m filling in for Nate Lindberg tonight! He’ll be back next week. Admittedly, I haven’t followed Smackdown as much as the show I cover for the Torch, Raw, but it has probably the top act in all of pro wrestling, so I’m excited!)
-They began with a recap video of the the Universal Championship match from Fastlane (including still shots at points) that highlighted Daniel Bryan accidentally hitting Edge with a chair, Roman Reigns’ slight tap, and Edge pummeling both men with a chair, leading to Reigns retaining. Michael Cole than welcomed us from the “Thunderdome.” Bryan’s music hit as he made his entrance with a chair in hand.
Cole said Bryan did what he said he would is making Reigns tap. He took a mic and said everyone saw the truth, the reality, something that Reigns said would never happen: everybody saw Reigns tap out. Piped-in cheers. He said Reigns has never tapped, in his entire career, and last week said he would rather die than tap out to someone like him. Bryan said good news, Reigns is alive and tapped out to Daniel Bryan.
He said in a perfect world, what that would mean is that he would be standing in the ring as the Universal Champion. He would be standing in the ring knowing he was headed to the main event of WrestleMania. He said neither of those things are true because as he was making Reigns tap, Edge hit him across the back with a steel chair just like the one he held up. He said Edge told him he’s not doing this the right way, he should stand by and let the “dream match” happen, but here’s the thing: he’s had enough and he’s tired of doing things the right way and letting people have dream matches they didn’t even earn.
He said he earned the title match, the title, and the main event of WrestleMania, and he said he’s willing to earn it all again. He said he’s not asking to be given anything, but he wants a rematch against Reigns for the title tonight. Piped-in cheers again as Bryan looked around before saying he isn’t leaving the ring until he gets what he wants. He sat in the chair in the middle of the ring. He sat there staring at the entrance ramp as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: As a fellow Washingtonian, you know I love me some Daniel Bryan. Another fine promo from him that not only laid out his grievances without sounding whiny, but also reasserted his “outwork everyone” (sound familiar?) character. Let’s see where this leads.)
-They returned with Bryan’s music playing as he sat in the ring. Cole reminded everyone of Bryan’s demand as they replayed his words from before the break. His music stopped as Graves implored Bryan to leave the ring, collect his losses and move on. Bryan looked rather nonplussed in the ring.
Adam Pearce entered and said he couldn’t give a rematch to Bryan tonight. Bryan said he can’t? He asked if Pearce didn’t see Reigns tap. Pearce said he saw, but the referee’s decision is final: Reigns is the champ and his next defense is against Edge at WrestleMania. Bryan said, oh, OK, how about you do that and he faces the winner immediately after.
Pearce said it’s unfair to make a wrestler to fight two matches in a row. Bryan said it’s OK for me to fight 40+ minutes in the Elimination Chamber and then immediately have a championship match, but they can’t do that? He said it’s a double standard, but then proposed a solution: Reigns vs. Edge on night one, winner vs. Bryan on night two. He said that’s reasonable. Pearce pondered, but Edge’s music hit before he could respond.
Edge appeared, knocked the mic from Pearce’s hand, and marched to the ring as Bryan stood and tossed the chair aside. Edge entered and grabbed a mic. He said for the last month he’s sat back and watched Bryan being altruistic. He said this could be your last WrestleMania? Every match could be his last match, said Edge, and said night two is exactly 10 years since he announced his retirement.
He said he entered the Rumble match at number one and outlasted everyone, including Bryan, and said Bryan lost twice to Reigns. He said Bryan doesn’t deserve the match “you son of a bitch.” Bryan immediately shot for a takedown, but upon hitting their feet again, he ate a spear from Edge. He slowly grabbed the chair, then struck Bryan across the back, stared at Bryan with wide eyes, and exited the ring. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: I like Bryan’s idea more than a triple threat. Edge just keeps acting like nothing more than an entitled asshole, really.)
-They returned with a reminder of WrestleMania being on peacock and being two nights, April 10 and 11. Cole shifted to a replay of Bryan and Edge’s scuffle from before the break. They cut to the back where Reigns, Jey Uso, & Paul Heyman were watching. Reigns told the other two to go enact their plan on Pearce. When Uso asked if Reigns was sure, he said, “What they gonna do? Fire us?” Uso laughed and walked off.
-Seth Rollins made his entrance for his match. Even though he went back to his “Burn It Down” music, he’s still acting like the “Messiah” character a bit. They showed replays of his rivalry with Cesaro, including the Cesaro Swing where they counted each swing, amounting to a total of 22 swings. Rollins looked annoyed at seeing the replay as he entered the ring. Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance next as they showed more replays..
(1) SETH ROLLINS vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA
Nakamura took the early advantage with a knee to the gut and corner strikes, showing a lot of aggression early. Rollins got caught going to the top with a kick, then a knee to the chest of a prone Rollins on the apron and a leaping knee to the back of the neck of Rollins. They cut to break. [c]
They returned with Rollins in control, hitting a slingblade to immediately stop a Nakamura comeback. He attempted two pins, both for two-counts. He hit Nakamura with some crossface forearms, then whipped Nakamura into the corner, who exploded out with a one-legged dropkick. Nakamura ducked a punch and unleashed a flurry of punches, kicks, and knees, then a gourdbuster onto the top rope, axe kick, then a sliding knee. He caught Rollins legs as he tried to kick him from the corner and hit him with his sliding German suplex for a two-count.
Nakamura put Rollins along the top turnbuckle for his running knee, but Rollins slipped out and hit a springboard knee and falcon arrow for a two-count (NOBODY KICKS OUT OF THE FALCON ARROW!). Rollins talked smack, but got hit with a Nakamura kick to the mouth. Nakamura hit Landslide for a two-count, then set up for the Kinshasa. Rollins turned, sidestepped, then hit a rolling elbow. He went for another, but Nakamura caught him in a flying armbar, then triangle.
Rollins powered Nakamura into a powerbomb, then hit the stomp. He couldn’t make the immediate cover, but still got the victory. He attacked Nakamura after the match, then set for another stomp. Cesaro’s music hit as he sprinted to the ring and hit an immediate gutwrench suplex to Rollins. He hit an uppercut, then a popup uppercut. He looked for the Swing, but Rollins escaped and fled. Cesaro yelled that Rollins was a coward as he took off his shirt, asking for a fight.
WINNER: Seth Rollins at 9:10 (Stomp)
-They cut to the back where Heyman was speaking to Reigns only for Pearce to appear. Heyman introduced the principal parties before Reigns rose from his plush seat. He said Pearce should thank them, but at WrestleMania, he only gets Reigns for one night, one title defense. Pearce said he understands, but there are several other things for him to consider. He said he would have his decision by the end of the night as he excused himself.
-Big E made his entrance as Cole reminded us E successfully defended the Intercontinental Championship on Sunday. Street Profits entered next for a six-man tag team match. Red cups rained down during their entrance as Montez Ford slid down the ramp on his back. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: A pretty standard A-to-B TV match. I assume we will see a Rollins-Cesaro match at Mania.)
-They returned with an incensed Rollins in the back. Kayla Braxton approached, but before she could finish her question, Rollins yelled that Cesaro tried to embarrass him; he tried to swing him! He said he’s tired of being embarrassed by these rejects. He challenged Cesaro to a match at WrestleMania, and said he will never be disrespected, never be embarrassed, never be swung by Cesaro again. He said never about five times before Cesaro attacked and swung Rollins around a good 15 times, letting him go on the exposed floor. He accepted the challenge, so my take was right (for once)!
-They cut back to the ring where the faces where dancing in the ring. Alpha Academy made their entrance next, talking strategy at the top of the ramp. Apollo Crews made his entrance next, carrying the spear and walking between the two as the clear leader. Cole & Graves said it’s official: E vs. Crews on night two for the Intercontiental Championship.
(2) BIG & STREET PROFITS (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) vs. APOLLO CREWS & ALPHA ACADEMY (Otis & Chad Gable) – Six-man tag team match
Dawkins and Otis began, but E was yelling at Crews and finally exited the ring. They locked up, and Dawkins used his speed advantage to hit a dropkick. Ford tagged in and tried using his leaping ability only for Otis to catch him into a powerslam. Gable tagged in and hit a dragon screw.
He started working the left leg of Ford, and as Ford tried to springboard in with a sunset flip, Gable seamlessly hit a Northern Lights for a two-count! Crews tagged in, beat away, and scored a two-count. Crews looked for a dealyed vertical, but Ford slipped out and hit an enziguri. Both men made tags as Gable ran right into an E belly-to-belly, then another after E knocked Otis off of the apron, then finally his patented third. He hit his big splash before setting for the Big Ending.
Gable reversed and looked for some kind of armlock, then hit a throat thrust. He rushed E in the corner, but E hit an uranage. Crews broke up the pin, but was sent out by Dawkins. Dawkins was hit with a huge double team German suplex/uppercut combo. After some more action where most of the men were on the outside, Ford hit a big tope, but this allowed Crews to hit the Olympic slam on E for the win.
WINNER: Apollow Crews & Alpha Academy at 3:54 (Olympic Slam)
-They shifted to Sami Zayn’s loss last week to King Corbin and his blowup at Kevin Owens about not seeing any conspiracy, then the Helluva kick to Owens. They showed Owens walking from the back, then Zayn with his documentary crew. They hype the “K.O. Show” next as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: If Crews already has his Mania match, did he have to pin E here in the match? I don’t like that for E, but it’s their way of saying, “Look, Crews is a strong, credible wrestler!” Again, they can do that without sacrificing their Intercontinental Champion.)
-They returned with a graphic touting having over 75 million YouTube subscribers. They showed Pearce in the back as Edge approached him. Edge said Pearce can’t reward Bryan for what he’s trying to pull. Edge said he’s the one who earned his spot. Pearce said his job is to get all the facts, consider all of the options, and then make a decision, which he said he’ll do at the end of the night. Edge menacingly said, “Let’s hope you make the right decision…or else.”
-Owens was already in the ring for his “talk show” as he said he tried to make it clear to Zayn the past few weeks that even though he doesn’t believe in the conspiracy theories, he still had his back, but what does he get except a kick to the head. He said he has a question and the only person who can answer that question is Zayn, so he called him out and said he’s not in a mood to wait. Zayn’s music finally hit.
He entered with his crew and said he knows Owens like the back of his hand and knows he wants to ask if Zayn is sorry about what happened last week and he said truly, unequivocally, yes. He said he had no business kicking Owens at all, but the conspiracy stuff has really affected his mental state. He said he’s sorry again.
Owens said that’s not what he wanted the answer to, but Zayn interrupted and said he knows the question is if he can still be part of the documentary and Zayn said yes to Owens’ amused chagrin. Zayn dropped a bomb and said next week will be a red carpet premiere of his trailer to reveal the conspiracy against him. Owens was about to talk, but Zayn said wait!
He said Owens probably knows Zayn’s been going back and forth with Logan Paul, and Paul’s into the documentary! Zayn said Paul’s going to help get eyeballs on it and will actually be here next week as the guest of honor. They put the graphic up, took it down, then put it back up. Zayn said everyone will see and yes, Owens can be a part of it.
Owens said he doesn’t care about the documentary or Logan Paul or if he’s sorry, he only cares about the answer before Zayn interrupted again mocking Owens for saying he doesn’t care. He said Owens should apologize to Zayn. Owens yelled at Zayn, which shut him up, then said he hasn’t beat him senseless yet because he needs an answer.
The question was for a singles match at WrestleMania. Zayne tried talking Owens out, but Owens kept asking yes or no before finally yelling YES OR NO!? at Zayn. Zayn finally relented and said yes, yelled yes, in anger. Owens said he hadn’t beat Zayn senseless yet because he needed an answer, but now that he has his answer, he’s going to beat him senseless, which he did, culminating with a Stunner. Cole just had to say, “And a stunning announcement!”
-They cut to Pearce in the back as Bryan approached this time. Bryan said he gets it as a former GM. He said he gets that Reigns and Edge are pressuring him to maintain the status quo, but also knows that deep down, Pearce knows the right decision and all he has to do is make it. He walked off as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: We were all expecting an Owens-Zayn match at Mania, and while we know it will be a great match, it’s also the eleventybillionth time they’ve wrestled…and that’s just in WWE! Let’s just hope there’s something more for both of them after Mania. Logan Paul is fine. Now you have Bad Bunny on one show and Logan Paul on the other.)
-They returned with a “Progressive Match Flo” on the Women’s Tag Team Championship match from Sunday night, which saw Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler retain over Women’s Champion Sasha Banks and her WrestleMania opponent, Bianca Belair. There were a lot of still-shot images in the video replay because they can’t give away what actually happened, after all. They also showed the slap from Banks to Belair after the match.
They showed Belair in Gorilla as Braxton approached asking about her lack of reaction to the slap. Belair she’s bigger and stronger than Banks and could have slapped her into next month, but she wouldn’t have made it to the big show. She said her momma told her you have to be the bigger person sometimes, so she was the bigger person Sunday to be the better person come WrestleMania. She said Banks might call herself The Boss, The Blueprint, The Standard, but let’s see what she says when “this rookie” ends her reign. She made her entrance for her match against Natalya. Natalya & Tamina entered next.
(3) BIANCA BELAIR vs. NATALYA (w/Tamina)
Belair immediately hit a dropkick, then rushed Natalya in the corner with shoulders to the gut. She hit a shoulder tackle to sent Natalya to the outside, who regrouped with her partner. She reentered the ring, but Belair still maintained control with strikes. Some more back-and-forth led to Belair maintaining the advantage. She went to the top for a 450, but Banks’ music hit as she entered to distract Belair (she distracted me, that’s for sure!). Tamina superkicked Belair behind the ref’s back as they cut to break. [c]
They returned with Natalya having Belair in a surfboard stretch as Banks joined commentary. She asked Cole what time it was (DAMNIT). Belair fought back, but Natalya reversed a powerbomb into a huricanrana for a two-count. Belair finally created space with a suplex, then hit a shoulder tackle, another, and a dropkick followed by a kip up. She rushed Natalya in the corner, leaped away, then hit a big spinebuster for a two-count on a matchbox cover.
Banks said she’s just scouting as Belair went for her handspring moonsault, which partially hit for a two-count. She countered a Sharpshooter for a two-count, but Natalya hit the Nattie by Nature (discus Lariat) for a two-count. Belair fought off and hit a go-behind, then cradled Natalya for a two-count. Natalya went for another Sharpshooter, got kicked off, then both women slammed each other to the mat. Belair rolled outside, right in front of Banks, who talked smack to Belair. Belair hit a huge slap to Banks, who fell like she got knocked out. Natalya then was hit by the K.O.D. for Belair’s victory. Bank hit a backstabber immediately after the match and stood tall.
WINNER: Bianca Belair at 9:57 (K.O.D.)
-They cut to the back where Edge entered Reigns’ room with a furious Uso asking what he’s doing. Edge said they wouldn’t have seen it coming if he was out for them. Reigns said it took a lot of balls that he almost respects Edge. He said if he doesn’t get to his point quick, he’ll unleash the pitbull. Edge said he just wants to talk and that Bryan is trying to steal their spotlight. He said think about that I can defeat him for the title, not you, and walked off as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: I’m just glad the distraction didn’t lead to Belair losing as these sorts of things so often do. It’s good to rebuild her quickly by not only giving her a definitive victory even with outside interference, but getting Banks back for the slap.)
-They returned with a rundown of the matches for both nights of WrestleMania (announced thus far) as Cole reminded us it’s only available on peacock. Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode were in the ring already as Rey & Dominik Mysterio made their entrance next. They aired a pre-recorded promo where the Myserios stake their claim to be Tag Team Champion.
(4) DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/Robert Roode) vs. REY MYSTERIO (w/Dominik Mysterio)
They locked up with Ziggler forcing Mysterio into the corner. He faked a clean break before kicking Mysterio. He hit a big splash in the corner, hopping around cockily. He went for another, but Mysterio moved and hit a head scissors. He slipped under Ziggler, but Ziggler caught a leg. Mysterio hit an enziguri and went for the 619 only to for Ziggler to hit him with a clothesline. Ziggler went for a powerbomb, but Mysterio reversed it and sent Ziggler outside. Mysterio went for a leaping senton, but Ziggler caught him and powerbombed him over and into the Thunderdome crowd (maybe five rows back if rows were there). As Dominik checked on his father, Ziggler hit him with a superkick. They cut to break. [c]
They returned with Ziggler in control of Mysterio, slamming the latter as Mysterio tried to fight back. He hit some body shots in the corner, then mushed his forearm into Mysterio’s face. He choked Mysterio across the bottom rope, then lifted him to the top turnbuckle. Ziggler looked for a superplex, but Mysterio blocked and fought it off. He headbutted Ziggler off the top, shook his head a bit to sell it, then hit a seated senton to Ziggler. Ziggler ate a kick for a two-count.
Mysterio went for a wheelbarrow, but Ziggler slammed him and hit the Fame-Asser for a two-count. He went for a superkick, but Mysterio took out his leg. He went for a 619, but Roode stood in the ring. Dominik came in, but Roode took him out. Mysterio then took out Roode and as he looked to springboard, Ziggler brought him down with a Zig Zag, but only for two!
An incensed Ziggler looked for a gutwrench, but it was countered into a 619! Mysterio hit the springboard splash for the victory as Dominik held off Roode from breaking up the pin.
WINNER: Rey Mysterio at 9:17 (Springboard Splash)
-The show’s theme song played as Pearce entered the ring. Reigns’ music hit next as he, Uso, & Heyman made their way, Reigns flanked by Heyman on the left and Uso on the right, carrying the Universal Championship over his left shoulder. Cole then congratulated The Great Khali on being inducted into the 2021 class of the Hall of Fame, along with congratulations for Kane as another inductee. They cut to break hyping “Adam Pearce’s WrestleMania Decision” and piped-in “You tapped out” chants directed at Reigns. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Yet another match where the/a champion took a pinfall to “advance” a story. Sigh.)
-They returned with a reminder about Zayn’s red carpet premiere with Logan Paul. Reigns’ music was still playing as he was speaking to Pearce off-mic with Heyman & Uso on the outside. Reigns looked around perturbed at the piped-in chants. Edge’s music hit as he entered next. By the way, Reigns and Pearce directly faced the hard instead of each other that whole time. Reigns reacted angrily to Pearce with Edge’s appearance.
Pearce stood between both men as Edge paced and Reigns just followed him with his eyes. Bryan’s music hit next, but he didn’t enter. He finally made his way to the ring, making the other men wait (nicely done, Bryan). Pearce thanked them for joining him and said he understands everyone’s concern. He said it makes sense not to have a championship match this close to Mania; how they don’t want to wrestle twice in a night; and wrestling over two nights. He also said Bryan is right about everything, including the double standard.
He said Reigns is right and will only defend one time at WrestleMania. He said his decision is a triple threat match, as expected after Sunday night’s match. Reigns and Edge looked mad, Bryan looked happy, and Bryan attacked Edge as Reigns was angrily speaking to Pearce. Bryan hit the Busaiku Knee on Edge, but was hit by a Superman punch from Reigns, who then mounted and hit more shots.
Uso threw in a chair, but before he could use it, Edge hit a spear on Reigns. Uso entered and ate a spear as well. Edge grabbed the chair and struck Uso and Bryan twice each as Cole said Edge has snapped. He laid Reigns and Bryan’s heads on separate chairs, then grabbed one from the outside. Uso tried fighting off Edge, but gave enough time for Reigns to leave. Bryan tried to crawl out, but Edge grabbed him.
Suddenly, Edge turned and struck Pat Buck and another official with the chair, allowing Bryan to roll out of the ring. Edge sat in the chair in the middle of the ring. His music played as the show ended.
(Hazelwood’s Take: So…shouldn’t Edge be suspended and removed from the Mania match for striking not one, but TWO officials, with a chair no less? I don’t think we needed all that buildup for an announcement I thought WWE had already made, but now it’s official official, at least.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: There was a LOT of talking on this show. The two matches an hour pacing is PPV-like, only there’s usually more match time and sparse talking time. Three of the four matches were between 9:00 and 9:59 in match time, with the other just under four minutes. At most, that’s 35 minutes or so of wrestling over two hours. That’s not a good ratio.
Thanks for having me on for this one-time appearance! Hope to catch you on Mondays for my alt-perspective reports on that three-hour slog.
Follow Bruce on Twitter @B_Lee253