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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
APRIL 30, 2021
ATTHE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA IN “THUNDERDOME”
AIRED ON FOX BROADCAST NETWORK
Commentators: Michael Cole, Pat McAfee
Ring Announcer: Greg Hamilton
Backstage Correspondent: Megan Morant
-A brief recap aired of the set-up for tonight’s WWE Universal Title match between Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan.
-The Smackdown opening theme aired.
-As the camera panned the ThunderDome, Cole introduced the show alongside McAfee. He hyped that for the first time since Christmas, the Universal Title will be defended on Smackdown – Reigns vs. Bryan.
-Bianca Belair twirled her hair as she made her way to the ring. A vignette aired on Belair reminiscent of the Bobby Lashley vignette that airs during his ring entrance. Back live, she danced and clapped along to a chant of “EST!” There was a kid in the upper right corner of the screen who was really into the “EST!” chant. She began to talk when Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode interrupted. They are calling themselves “The Dirty Dogs” now. They were interrupted by The Street Profits. Montez Ford asked if they really just interrupted the woman who won the Smackdown Title in the main event of WrestleMania. Bayley then interrupted. She yanked the mic away from Belair and then giggled and cackled. Belair slapped her and talked trash. Bayley tackled her. The men began brawling as they cut to a break.
(Keller’s Analysis: This set up a little heat going into the scheduled match, but everyone interrupted everyone before they could say much of anything. The new Belair video short is well done and helps portray her as a big time star. It’s good idea for WWE to do these for their top acts.) [c]
(1) THE STREET PROFITS & BIANCA BELAIR vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER & ROBERT ROODE & BAYLEY
The women were battling when they came back from the break. Then the men battled the majority of the rest of the way. When Roode had Angelo Dawkins rolled up, Belair whipped him from behind with her hair to break up the cover. Ford landed a frog splash on Roode to win.
WINNERS: Street Profits & Belair in 8:00.
-Kayla Braxton interviewed Bryan backstage and asked how his preparation is different because of the high stakes regarding his Smackdown career. He said he’s at peace and not nervous. He said she should ask Reigns if he’s nervous because he’s tapped him out before. He said Reigns thinks he makes people earn title shots, but when he becomes champion, he knows who’s earned the first shot – Cesaro.
-Backstage, Seth Rollins predicted that Bryan will win “in one of the biggest upsets of all time.” He said Cesaro won’t get a crack at the Universal Title because he won’t make it past next week.
-Cole and McAfee plugged Reigns vs. Bryan. Cole framed it as one of the biggest matches in Smackdown history. [c]
-A clip aired of Tamina pinning Nia Jax last week on Smackdown.
-When Morant asked Jax and Shayna Baszler about Tamina beating Jax last week, Baszler said it was a singles match and they’re tag team champions. Natalya and Tamina attacked them and then fled. Reginald checked on them.
(2) NIA JAX & SHAYNA BASZLER (w/Reginald) vs. NATALYA & TAMINA
Cole said Natalya & Tamina might earn a tag team title shot with a win tonight. Jax raised her knees on an early top rope splash attempt by Tamina. A few minutes later Tamina slammed Baszler to escape an armbar. She hot-tagged Natalya. Jax was nowhere to be tagged. Natalya gave Baszler a discus clothesline for a near fall. They showed Reginald tending to Jax at ringside. Natalya gave Baszler a German suplex for a two count. Jax tagged Baszler as she ran the ropes to enter the match. She dropped an elbow and scored a two count on Natalya. Baszler charged the corner, but Natalya moved. She tagged in Tamina who gave Jax a running boost. Reginald distracted Tamina. Natalya went after Reginald. Baszler threw Natalya into the announce table. Jax headbutted Tamina off balance on the top rope, then tagged in Baszler. Baszler went for a superplex, but Tamina blocked her and headbutted her to the mat. She followed up with a top rope Superfly splash for the win.
WINNERS: Tamina & Natalya in 6:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: WWE’s booking is quite predictable. Another win for the non-champions in a non-title match.)
-Booker T predicted Reigns would beat Bryan. [c]
-A video hyped that next week with be a “throwback edition” of Smackdown. They showed the old Smackdown logo
-Shinsuke Nakamura said there is too much on the line for him to lose. He said if Reigns can beat Bryan, he will be ready to step up for his turn.
-Braxton said it seems everyone has an opinion on who’s going to win tonight’s main event. She then interviewed Dominik & Rey Mysterio. She said they might become Smackdown Tag Team Champions. Dominik said as a kid he thought Rey was magical when he watched him wrestle. Rey said if they can become the first father-son tag team champions, “That’s legendary,” he said. Dominik was all smiles.
-Cole threw a new Aleister Black vignette. He read from a book called “Tales of the Dark Father.” He said in high school, people wandered the halls, lost in the concept of success and admiration – a date to the prom, the right college, a three bedroom house with a white picket fence. He said it’s all lies. “Imagine falling for that trap,” he said. He said his father never fed him those dreams. He said, “The truth is, there is something horribly wrong with all of that and all of you. I could give you the keys to escape, but I won’t.”
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s rude of him.)
-Morant interviewed Big E backstage. She asked if he’s changed his strategy since losing the Intercontinental Title. Big E said everywhere he goes, people ask how he will deal with Apollo Crews and Commander Aziz. He said tonight he’s getting his baby back. He said he will become a three-time IC Champion tonight. “You’ve got to feel that!” he said. “Let’s go.”
-Backstage Aziz and Crews were having a spirited discussion to get psyched up. [c]
-Xavier Woods said people like Roman who are handed the keys to the kingdom as soon as they walk in the door have no idea what it’s like to scratch and claw to the top, but Bryan does, so Bryan will win. Kofi Kingston said ordinarily he’d pick Bryan because he has a history of overcoming odds, but since Reigns has Jey Uso with him, he’s got to pick Roman.
(Keller’s Analysis: Having wrestlers comments and make predictions makes the Universal Title match seem even bigger. It’s a nice touch.)
(3) APOLLO CREWS (w/Commander Azizi) vs. BIG E – Intercontinental Title match
Big E controlled the opening minutes. Crews made a comeback and suplexed Big E off the ring apron onto the ringside mat. They cut to an early break. [c]
Back from the break, Big E made a comeback until Crews landed an enzuigiri to send Big E to the floor. Crews then landed a moonsault onto Big E off the ring apron to the floor. McAfee said Crews will do whatever it takes to retain his IC Title. Big E came back with a belly-to-belly and a splash for a two count. A couple minutes later Crews landed a top rope splash for a two count. Crews fired up and set up his next move, but Big E slipped behind him with a roll-up for a two count. He then caught Crews wiht Big Ending. Aziz pulled Big E by his leg out of the ring and threw him into the ringpost. The ref DQ’d Crews. McAfee said without Aziz, Big E would have regained the title.
WINNER: Big E via DQ, in 11:00 so Crews retained the IC Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Decent enough action. They seemed to set up a KO & Big E vs. Crews & Aziz match for a future Smackdown while justifying another one-on-one rematch at Backlash. The Sami stuff was just a way to get him on TV and give fans a laugh that he got taken down for being himself, as usual.)
-Kevin Owens ran out and attacked Aziz in nthe ring. Aziz fought back and headbutted Big E. Owens caught him with boot to the head, but then Sami Zayn showed up with a Helluva kick to KO. Aziz then stomped away at Big E. Sami picked up the IC Title and admired it. Crews and Aziz noticed and made a move toward him. Sami told them to calm down because he wanted to hand it to them. He handed it to them and said they’re call cool. He raised Crews’s arm. Aziz struck Sami with his Nigerian Nail to the neck. Sami went down, gasping for air.
-Miz sent in a selfie video predicting that Reigns would win. He said no one on Smackdown can take Reigns down, especially Bryan.
-Cole and McAfee hyped the main event again. Cole said it was up next.
-Braxton stood by to interview Paul Heyman. She called for him. Heyman stepped out and looked dismayed with her presence. They cut to a break. [c]
-Cesaro predicted Bryan would win, and he accepted his offer for a title match. He said he’d become Smackdown Champion at Backlash.
-They cut to Reigns sitting and looking intense as he flexed his hands.
-They went to Cole and McAfee at ringside who threw to a video package on last week’s happenings to set up this match.
-Heyman interrupted Braxton’s first question. He said he’s sick of hearing about Bryan. He said “yes yes yes” over and over to his own questions about what Bryan has accomplished in his pro wrestling career. He said he made the ultimately comeback of all time and some people think he’s going to unseat Reigns. He then asked, “Will he do it?” He yelled, “No!” He said Bryan will not survive the onslaught of the Tribal Chief and he will not be on Smackdown ever again. He looked at the camera and said, “No, no, no.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Heyman remains at the top of his game and the top of the industry for promos. I’m a fan of these backstage interviews that last a minute or two, and would like pro wrestling to get back to the art of that format. It’d be fresh all over again, plus wrestlers could use the reps getting their characters across in that format.)
-As Bryan made his ring entrance, Cole commented on a clip of making Batista tap with the Yes Lock to become WWE Champion at WrestleMania 30. “Can he do it again?” asked Cole. “Is there one more miracle left?” Bryan stood on the ropes and did a “Yes!” chant as they cut to a break. [c]
-Cole hyped Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins next Friday on Smackdown.
-Baron Corbin predicted Bryan would lose and this is the end of the line for him on Smackdown.
-Reigns made his ring entrance with Paul Heyman to his new theme music, a total take-off on the theme to “Succession” on HBO.
(Keller’s Analysis: I love that Roman has a new theme. It’s the end of an era, but it’s also long overdue. It’s a perfect fit for the story they tell with him, and if you watch “Succession,” it sets the tone so well.)
(4) ROMAN REIGNS (w/Paul Heyman) vs. DANIEL BRYAN – WWE Universal Title match
Bryan jump-started the match and went for an early Yes Lock. Reigns escaped and rolled to the floor to regroup. Bryan landed a running knee off the ring apron. They cut to a very early break. [c]
Reigns took control after the break. A loud “Let’s Go Bryan!” rang out in the ThunderDome. Reigns looked disgusted by Bryan continuing to kick out of his covers. Cole brought up Bryan’s “moxie.” Bryan fought back with some uppercuts and then drove Reigns face-first into the middle turnbuckle. Reigns came back with a powerbomb off the middle rope for a two count. They cut to a break as Reigns looked dismayed with Bryan’s kickout. [c]
Reigns controlled until Bryan landed a back suplex off the top rope. He was slow to make the cover, still selling the sustained beating Reigns had given him for several minutes. A “This is awesome!” chant filled ThunderDome. He eventually scored a two count. Bryan dove through the ropes. Reigns caught him at ringside. He overhead tossed Bryan across ringside, then went for a spear. Bryan side-stepped him and sent Reigns into the barricade. [c]
Back from the break, Bryan landed a top rope diving headbutt to Reigns’s chest for a near fall at 18:00. When Bryan charged, Reigns knocked him out of mid-air with a Superman Punch. Bryan kicked out before three. Bryan grabbed Reigns’s arms and began stomping on his chest before shifting into position for a Yes Lock. He applied it and Reigns went wide-eyed. Reigns rolled Bryan’s shoulders back, so Bryan had to release before getting pinned. Reigns gave Bryan a sudden spear for a two count. Both men were down and slow to get up as a “This is awesome!” rang out in ThunderDome. Reigns applied a guillotine. Bryan pushed out of it and shifted into a cross armbreaker. Reigns rolled over, but Bryan torqued his arm and then applied a crossface. Reigns yelled out and crawled over to the bottom rope.
A minute later Reigns caught Bryan in a guillotine using his left arm, which wasn’t hurt from Bryan. Bryan resisted and tried to fight out, but his arm dropped and he was out.
WINNER: Reigns in 27:00 to retain the Universal Title, so Bryan has to leave Smackdown.
(Keller’s Analysis: Excellent match. It felt epic and after 90 minutes of build-up, it lived up to the hype. What will Bryan’s next move be? A WWE email today said it was “Championship vs. Career.” But the stip just said he had to leave Smackdown, and Cole repeated that Bryan’s “Smackdown career is over.)
-Reigns put Bryan’s head on a chair. Cesaro ran out for the save. He beat up Reigns at ringside at 2x speed. Jey Uso jumped Cesaro at ringside and superkicked him, then threw him into the ring. Reigns, meanwhile, put Bryan’s head back on the chair. Uso tied up Cesaro’s arms in the ropes, and then Reigns smashed Bryan across his back with the chair as his head rested on another chair. Cole said Reigns delivered a message not to mess with his title or his family. “Can anyone stop this reign of terror?!” he asked. McAfee said, “Short answer: No.”