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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
MAY 14, 2021
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA IN “THUNDERDOME”
AIRED ON FOX BROADCAST NETWORK
Commentators: Michael Cole, Pat McAfee
Ring Announcer: Greg Hamilton
-After the WWE brand stamp video, Cole introduced the show as the camera panned ThunderDome.
-Jey Uso stood mid-ring alone as his music faded. He said they call him the right-hand man Main Event Jey Uso. He said last week his brother Jimmy disrespected the Head of the Table, their cousin, Roman Reigns. He said this week he left them no choice but to handle some family business. He then introduced Roman Reigns as the Tribal Chief who will defeat Cesaro this Sunday. Reigns and Paul Heyman walked onto the stage. Heyman handed Reigns the Universal Title belt. Reigns lifted it high, then handed it back to Heyman, who caressed it on his way back to the ring. They cut briefly to Cole and McAfee who threw to a video recap of what happened last week with Reigns, Jey, and Jimmy. Cole then plugged the Reigns-Cesaro main event on Sunday on Peacock.
The audience chanted “You suck!” as Reigns contemplated what to say next. He said he’d get to Jimmy in a minute, but he’d address Cesaro first. He said he likes him and, like “a lot of the boys in the back,” he respects him as a top tier talent. He said he’s one of the best wrestlers in the world. Heyman eagerly agreed. Reigns said he’s much more than a wrestler. He said he’s the Head of the Table, and Cesaro can’t fulfill all those roles. He wondered if WWE executives would really want Cesaro in his place. “Do we really think Fox wants that?” he said. He asked how many World Title runs Cesaro has had. Heyman said, “Zero, and rightfully so.” As Reigns continued, Jimmy Usos’s music interrupted him. Reigns looked irked.
Jimmy entered the ring and said all he can hear is the Tribal Chief running his mouth as his brother stands next to him acting like his bitch. Reigns sighed. Jimmy showed off his new shirt: “Nobody’s Bitch.” He said he has a t-shirt ready for him in the back when he’s ready. He said he’s not sure Reigns will be champion after Sunday. Jey said that’s the Head of the Table and their cousin he’s talking about. Reigns told Jimmy he’s done so much for their family. Jimmy said he’s part of the family, but he’s not all of it.
Reigns asked Jimmy if he feels he can’t beat Cesaro. Jimmy said he doesn’t think he can. Reigns asked if he thinks he can fill his shoes. Jimmy said no, but together he and Jey can. He said if Reigns loses his Universal Title and they win the Smackdown Tag Team Titles, that would make them the Head of the Table. Reigns got heated and said, “That’s not how it works! That’s not who you are, that’s not you’re position.” He said he is the five-time WrestleMania main eventer who puts the food on the table. “I am the face of this company with responsibility you could never handle,” he said. Reigns paused, then laughed and said, “You really think you can do what I do, that you can be the man around here. Do it. Do what I do. Represent like I represent.” He told him to show the whole world tonight. “Smackdown is yours now,” he said. “Show the world you can beat Cesaro tonight. Can you beat him?” Jimmy smiled and nodded, then called out Cesaro. “What’cha say, huh?”
Cesaro walked out in a nice navy blue suit. He accepted the challenge. He told Roman he’s going to beat Jimmy tonight and on Sunday he’s going to beat him for the Universal Championship.
(Keller’s Analysis: They’re keeping Cesaro’s promos shorter than I’d like and this story less about him than I’d like, but he looked good in this brief appearance and oozed confidence. Good overall follow-up with Jimmy trying to pry Jey away from Reigns and questioning Reigns’s status as the unquestioned Tribal Chief.)
-Cole said he hopes Adam Pearce makes that match official tonight. Cole shifted to a recap of last week’s Reginald vs. Tamina match as part of hyping the Smackdown Women’s Tag Team Title match later. They showed Natalya and Tamina backstage. Cole said Tamina has never held a major title in WWE. [c]
-McAfee thanked Sam Ryder for “Tiny Riot,” the official theme of Backlash.
(1) SHAYNA BASZLER & NIA JAX (w/Reginald) vs. NATALYA & TAMINA – Smackdown Tag Team Title match
Tamina landed an early Samoan Drop on Baszler. Natalya made the cover. Reginald distracted the ref. Tamina and Jax battled at ringside. Jax gave Tamina a Samoan Drop into the barricade. Baszler made a comeback and kneed Natalya in the chin for a two count. They cut to an early break. [c]
Jax landed a legdrop and a near fall on Natalya after the break. Baszler and Jax controlled the action against Natalya for a while. Tamina slammed Baszler onto Jax to break up her cover on Natalya. Tamina got the hot-tag and rallied against Baszler. Natalya back-suplexed Baszler at ringside, then blocked Jax superplexing Tamina. Jax gave Natalya a Samoan Drop, but then Tamina landed a top rope Superfly Splash on Jax for the win. Tamina cried and looked over at Natalya.
WINNERS: Natalya & Tamina to capture the Smackdown Tag Team Titles in 8:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Surprising title change, and especially surprising that Jax took the fall.)
-Kayla Braxton interviewed Natalya and Tamina afterward. Natalya said tonight is for anybody who has a dream that they thought passed them by. She said she is so proud of Tamina. Tamina thanked Natalya for believing in her. Tamina thanked the WWE Universe.
(Keller’s Analysis: Their post-match promo made the tag team titles seem really important. That was a genuine “thrill of victory” moment.)
-Apollo Crews and Commander Aziz were backstage. McAfee said he can’t wait to see Aziz presented with the Nigerian Medal of Honor. [c]
-Cole confirmed Cesaro vs. Jimmy in the TV main event.
-Braxton interviewed Heyman backstage. He was startled by her approaching him. She asked if Jimmy & Jey win the tag titles and Reigns loses his title – at which point Heyman interrupted her and said he knows that Reigns can and will defeat Cesaro. He entered Reigns’s locker room.
-Crews and Aziz stood in the ring together. Aziz stood on a box platform just large enough for a man to hide inside. Crews said with Aziz’s help, he has brought honor to their home country of Nigeria. He said he may be the Intercontinental Champion for life. He looked up at Aziz who stood proudly. He presented him with “the most distinguished medal, the Nigerian Medal of Honor.” Big E appeared on the big screen and said it’s a sham of a ceremony. He said he still has to feel his power. Sami Zayn then interrupted and said Big E is always making a joke and a mockery of everything. Crews took offense at Sami for interrupting him. He told him to calm down. Sami said he has his IC Title. He said he should give him the opportunity to reclaim it. Kevin Owens walked out to his music. He got double-teamed by Aziz and Crews. Big E ran out and helped Owens. Big E avoided Aziz’s attempt at a Nigerian Nail. Sami attacked KO. Owens fired back with a stunner. Big E then gave KO a Big Ending. Aziz pulled Crews to safety.
(Keller’s Analysis: Is that setting up Crews vs. Big E vs. KO vs. Sami in a Fatal Four-way for later this show or the PPV? It felt like setting up a tag match until Big E gave KO a Big Ending out of nowhere.)
-Rey and Dominik Mysterio made their ring entrance. [c]
(2) DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/Robert Roode) vs. REY MYSTERIO (w/Dominik Mysterio)
Ziggler yelled that Rey doesn’t have it any more. Rey made a comeback and landed a slide from the ring into a splash on Ziggler on the floor. [c]
Late in the back and forth match, Rey went for a 619, but Ziggler avoided it and landed a Fameasser for a near fall. McAfee said the Fameasser has done in “sports entertainers” for decades. McAfee talked about what it’d do to Ziggler’s confidence going into Sunday if he won. Ziggler kicked Rey as he charged for another 619 attempt. Ziggler scored a two count. McAfee said if a crowd was present, they’d be chanting “Fight Forever.” (The ThunderDome crowd doesn’t count?) Rey surprised Ziggler with a surprise inside cradle for the win. Dominik celebrated with Rey.
WINNER: Ziggler in 7:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: These wins for Rey and Dominik don’t bode well for their chances to win the tag titles on Sunday, given WWE’s reverse-psychology approach.)
-Megan Morant interviewed Cesaro backstage. He was wearing his new t-shirt that says “Back in the Swing.” He said it means the world to him to compete for the Universal Championship. He said a lot of people thought he was crazy to have this dream to become a WWE Superstar. He said he always had a voice in his head saying, “I think I can.” He said he tries to earn what Reigns feels he is entitled to. He said he isn’t taking Jimmy lightly, but he has to decide if he’s content to be known as Reigns’s cousin. He said he will earn the right to have the WWE Universe acknowledge him as the new Universal Champion.
(Keller’s Analysis: Straight forward and good. For there to be any sense going into Sunday that Cesaro could win, he needed TV time to paint the picture of what it’d look like for him to be champion.)
-Bianca Belair made her ring entrance. [c]
-Kayla congratulated the Mysterios. Rey said he’s ready to make history alongside his son Dominik. Ziggler and Roode showed up. Ziggler said they don’t belong in this business. Roode told Dominik that “your daddy got lucky.” He said he won’t on Sunday. He called Dominik “Baby Dom.” Dominik said he can call him names, but come Sunday, they’re going to call him Baby Champ. Roode yelled, “No, we’re the champs!”
(Keller’s Analysis: Good little segment. Ziggler & Roode were good heels here. You want to see them lose after that.)
-Cole interviewed Belair. She danced and sang that she is the B-E-S-T “and when you shine like I shine, you get a whole lot of hate.” (Ugh. That is so off-putting and heelish.) She said people have been doubting her her whole life, but she doesn’t listen to the doubters. They replayed Bayley attacking Belair last week. Bayley showed up on the big screen and laughed. Belair said she wants to show Bayley her braids up close. “Where you at?” she asked. Bayley said thanks to technology, she’s far away via satellite. She said she doesn’t want to be anywhere near her until Sunday when she takes back her title. Belair said, “Giiiirrrl, you are funny.” She said when she gets her hands on her, it’ll be the roughest, toughest, and quickest victory yet. Bayley cackled. Belair said she’s going to have hurt her feelings. Belair said Bayley is bad because she was busy getting thrown down the ramp by the Bellas at WrestleMania while she was in the main event. She held up the Smackdown Title and said, “And I won this.” Bayley said Belair is craving attention, and it’s like watching her past. She said she can speak from experience that this fairy tale reign of hers doesn’t end well, and she’ll make sure it ends for good.
(Keller’s Analysis: The version of Belair is just not someone I think most people are going to enthusiastically root for. Bayley came across more likable here. The whole song she sung about people who shine like her getting a lot of hate was just awful. Get over yourself is all that came to mind when she sang that. She’s comes across like a 14 year old self-centered teenager who has been told how special she is over and over by her parents and coaches, but can’t keep any real friends because she’s unbearably conceited.)
-A soundbite aired with Shinsuke Nakamura during his ring entrance. Nakamura said this is a battle of kings, and only one can survive. They hyped “King of Strong Style Nakamura vs. King Corbin. [c]
(3) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs. KING CORBIN
Corbin’s full entrance aired after the break. Nakamura put Corbin an arm triangle. Corbin lifted Nakamura, but then leveraged his shoulders down for a three count.
WINNER: Corbin 3:00.
-Corbin threw Nakamura out of the ring, then put his crown back on. Nakamura re-entered the ring and kicked Corbin in the head and then gave him a Kinshasa. Cole said Nakamura was obviously frustrated by his loss. They played Nakamura’s music. He reached down and put on Corbin’s crown, but pretended it was really heavy as he did so.
(Keller’s Analysis: Cole said Nakamura was frustrated with his loss. Wasn’t the more logical response to Nakamura’s post-match attack that Nakamura felt disrespected by being thrown out of the ring by Corbin after the match?)
-Crews complained to Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville about being interrupted during his segment. Sonya suggested he take it out on all of them. Pearce said he like the idea, and he’ll defend against Sami, Owens, and Big E next week. Pearce turned to Sonya and looked upset as he told her, “Don’t undermine me in front of Superstars.” She essentially rolled her eyes at him and turned and left.
-They showed Jey heading toward the entrance stage as Cole plugged the main event. [c]
-They showed Nakamura admiring himself wearing Corbin’s crown in the mirror. McAfee said that’s like someone walking into Tom Brady’s house and stealing his seven Super Bowl rings.
-A new Aleister Black vignette aired. “A man is born worthless and discovers his value,” he said. He said it can only be trial by fire. He said it can either cleanse or consume you. He said the lesson is you have to stand up and fight through it. He said he could teach that lesson, but he won’t “because you’re not participants.”
-Braxton interviewed Jimmy about having his first match in over a year. Jimmy said he thought it’d be him and Jey together in his first match back. He said he watched Reigns take Jey for granted. He said Reigns claims he doesn’t need Jey, but Jey doesn’t need Roman.
-As Jey made his entrance, Cole and McAfee ran through the Backlash line-up. Cesaro began his entrance as they cut to a break. [c]
(4) JIMMY USO vs. CESARO
The announcers talked about Uso’s torn knee ligament and coming back to the ring tonight after over a year of rehab. Jimmy teased having a knee injury, then superkicked Cesaro. Cole said that’s the cunning Uso they know and love. (Cole is celebrating a wrestler feigning an injury to prey on his opponent’s mercy to gain an advantage? This is so strange.) Cesaro came back with a suplex. Uso avoided a charging Cesaro, who went shoulder and head first into the ringpost. Uso clotheslined him to the floor, then flew through the ropes and tackled Cesaro on the floor. Cole said it was his first dive in a year, but he wondered if he just hurt himself as they cut to a break. [c]
Cesaro controlled after the break, including a flurry of offense at ringside. Reigns then attacked him at ringside, prompting the ref to call for the bell.
WINNER: Cesaro via DQ.
-Jimmy yelled down at Reigns and said, “You just had to make it about you.” Reigns chased down Jimmy and said nobody cares about his exhibition match. He said it’s all about the big money matches. “That’s how we keep our family on top, that’s how I keep our family on top!” You need to understand this.” Jimmy said this time it’s not all about him. Cesaro and Jey began fighting in the ring. Reigns returned to the ring and hit Cesaro with a clothesline. He then looked down at Jimmy and said, “Get you ass in here and help.” Cesaro gave Reigns an uppercut and set up a Neutralizer. Jey jumped Cesaro, then called for Jimmy to get in the ring. Cesaro gave him an uppercut. Jimmy stood on the ring apron; Cesaro superkicked him to the floor. Cesaro gave Jey a Neutralizer as he shouted, “This is going to be you on Sunday!” Reigns and Heyman looked on from the stage. Cesaro then delivered another Neutralizer as he yelled, “This is your cousin!” He smiled at Reigns. Reigns nodded back at him. Cesaro’s music played. Cole said Cesaro has sent a message tonight about his first Universal Title match this Sunday at Backlash.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good closing-angle. Just enough about Cesaro to keep him from being a mere placeholder for the Reigns family drama.)