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LINDBERG’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
MAY 14, 2021
AT “THUNDERDOME”, UNIVERSITY OF S. FLORIDA
AIRED ON FOX BROADCAST NETWORK
Commentators: Michael Cole, Pat McAfee
Ring Announcers: Greg Hamilton
-The show kicked off with Jey Uso standing in the ring. He said last week his brother Jimmy disrespected their cousin Roman, leaving no choice but to handle family business this week. He introduced Reigns to the ring. Roman and Paul Heyman slowly made their way to the ring to join Jey as McAfee and Cole welcomed the audience. They then showed a recap of last week’s angle with Jimmy’s return and him disrespecting the Tribal Chief.
-They showed a graphic for Reigns vs. Cesaro for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania Backlash.
The crowd chanted “You Suck!” as Reigns stood mid ring. Reigns said they’d get to Jimmy in a minute, but he wanted to address Cesaro first. He likes and respects Cesaro for his talent. He said Cesaro is one of the best in the world. But Reigns said he’s so much more than just a wrestler. Who really wants Cesaro as Champion? Someone lesser than he.
Jimmy Uso made his way to the ring and he said that all he can hear is the jaw jacking of the Tribal Chief. He had a shirt that said “Nobody’s Bitch” and critisized his brother for being in Roman’s corner. Roman said that he’s done everything for the family. Jimmy said that Roman is part of the family but he ain’t all of it. Roman was none too pleased with that statement. Jimmy said that he didnt think Reigns would beat Cesaro. Reigns questioned that and Jimmy reiterated that he doesn’t think Reigns can beat Cesaro. Reigns laughed and said “Let me guess, you can? You can fill my shoes?” Jimmy said no, but he and Jimmy can. What if Reigns lost his title and he and his brother won the tag titles. Wouldn’t they be the head of the table? Reigns took exception to this and demanded that Jimmy recognize him as the head of the table.
Reigns said if Jimmy thinks he can be the man around here, do it. Do what he does. Represent the family. Defend the Universal Title against Cesaro on Reign’s behalf tonight. Jimmy called Cesaro out and challenged him to a match tonight. Oddly enough not for the Universal Title like Reigns insinuated.
Cesaro came to the ring in a suit and tie and accepted the challenge. He told Roman that he’s going to beat Jimmy tonight and beat him on Sunday
(Lindberg’s Analysis: This is good stuff and exactly what I was advocating for on Wrestling Night in America with Greg Parks a couple weeks ago.)
-They replayed last week’s angle between Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler and Natalya & Tamina before cutting to commercial. (c)
(1) WWE WOMEN’S TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP – NIA JAX & SHAYNA BASZLER vs. TAMINA & NATALYA
The bell rang and cousins Nia Jax and Tamina squared off for their respective teams. Reginald immediately distracted Tamina allowing Jax to beat down Tamina and throw her into the corner to make a tag to Shayna. Tamina fought Shayna back into her corner and tagged Natalya in. Natalya quickly made a cover for two and tagged Tamina back in. Tamina slammed Shayna and tagged Natalya back in. Shayna was nailed with a Samoan drop by Tamina and covered by Nattie, but Reginald distracted the ref.
Nia Jax & Tamina began fighting on the outside while Shayna and Natalya fought in the ring. Shayna covered Nattie for two before commercial. (c)
After the commerical break, Jax landed an elbow on Natalya for a two count. Tamina was out on the outside after a Samoan Drop into the barricade from Jax leaving Natalya in the ring getting slaughtered by the current champions. Tamina made it back to the apron for the hot tag. Tamina took Shayna out with a cross body and covered for two. Shayna made a tag to Jax who went for a superplex on Tamina. Tamina blocked sending Jax to the mat. Shayna tried getting involved but Natalya took her out and then went to help out Tamina. She got a Samoan drop for her troubles, but Tamina hit a superfly splash on Jax as she landed for the Samoan Drop, getting the pinfall over Shayna
WINNERS: Tamina & Nia Jax, New WWE Women’s Tag Champions
(Lindberg’s Analysis: Great to see Tamina finally win gold in the WWE after so long with the company. The women put on a great tag match with such a unique finish. This was a fantastic way to shine Tamina up before her win.)
-After the match, Tamina and Natalya were interviewed by Kayla Braxton in the ring. Nattie said tonight is for anyone who has a dream and felt like that dream passed you by. Tamina began crying and thanked Nattie, the fans and the WWE for the opportunity. Pyro went off as they held their new belts in the air.
-Apollo and Commander Aziz were shown backstage walking to the ring for Apollo to present a Nigerian medal of honor to Aziz.
-Paul Heyman was interviewed backstage by Braxton asking about if Jimmy could beat Cesaro. Heyman frustratingly said that Reigns will defeat Cesaro on Sunday.
-Apollo and Aziz were in the ring with Aziz standing on a podium in the center of the ring for a special presentation. Apollo said since becoming IC champion, people have been coming for his title but Aziz has swatted them away. With the help of Aziz he restored honor to the IC championship and brought honor to Nigeria and he could be the IC champion for life at this rate. For Aziz’s bravery and loyalty he presented the Nigerian Medal of Honor.
Big E appeared on screen making fun of the ceremony calling it a sham. E said not to get too comfortable with the IC championship because he still hasn’t felt E’s power. Sami Zayn came out and criticized E for interrupting the ceremony. He said that Apollo has his IC title and he demanded a rematch. Kevin Owens then came out and attacked Zayn. Apollo and Aziz beat down KO as Zayn beat feet. Big E came out for the save as he and KO took on Aziz and Apollo in a brawl. Zayn came in to attack KO and was met with a stunner. Big E hit the Big Ending on KO, showing no alliance before jawing off at Apollo and Aziz as they retreated backstage.
-Cole and McAfee replayed last weeks match between Dominik and Dolph Ziggler.
(2) REY MYSTERIO (w/Dominik Mysterio) vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/Robert Roode)
Rey was looking to get retribution on Ziggler after last week.
The bell rang and Ziggler and Rey locked up. The two went back and forth jockeying for position for the first few minutes. Ziggler got the upper hand eventually with a shoulder tackle for a two count. Ziggler kept screaming things at Rey like he was washed up and he didnt have what it takes anymore. Rey knocked Ziggler outside and did a diving baseball slide splash to Ziggler before cutting to commercial.
Back from commerical, Ziggler was in control of the match in the ring. Rey reversed a series of punches and shot Ziggler off the ropes. He went for a springboard splash but Ziggler dodged sending Rey to the mat. Ziggler reverse scoop slammed Rey for a near fall and then locked in a headlock submission in the center of the ring. Rey wrestled out but was put right back into a modified bow and arrow submission. He got to the ropes to break the hold. Ziggler was in control for a bit longer until Rey reversed a scoop slam into a tornado DDT. Both men struggled to their feet. Mysterio went up top and Ziggler cut him off. Ziggler set him up for a superplex but Rey blocked. Rey knocked Ziggler down and went up for a sitting senton for a nearfall.
Rey went for a 619 but was met with a superkick and another pinfall attempt by Ziggler, Rey reaching the ropes before the 3 count. Ziggler scoop slammed Rey in the center of the ring, picked him back up and did it again, this time Rey rolling Ziggler up for the win.
After the match, Roode went to attack but was cut off by Dominik, looking out for his father.
WINNER: Rey Mysterio in 12:39
(Lindberg’s Analysis: Rey and Dominik will win the titles on Sunday to set the record as the first father/son tag champs. But they’ll be transitional champions, dropping the belts to Jimmy and Jey, almost guarantee it. Rey continues to impress me every week, still looking nearly as agile in 2021 as he did in 1996.)
-Megan Morant introduced Cesaro backstage and asked what his plan was for tonight and Sunday. Cesaro said that the Universal Title match meant the world to him. People thought he was crazy growing up but he always believed in himself. “I think I can”. He’s not bred for this business or asking for peoples acknowledgement. He earns his respect. He doesn’t just think he can beat Reigns, he knows he can.
-Bianca Belair made her ring entrance in street clothes to acknowledge the audience. (c)
-Kayla Braxton interviewed Rey and Dominik, congratulating them. Rey said he was ready to make history to win the titles. Ziggler and Roode showed up and said that Dominik doesnt belong in this business, he’s just a baby and needs to beat it. Dominik said that they can call him all the names he wants. But they’ll be calling him “Baby champ” after Sunday and walked off.
-Michael Cole interviewed Bianca in the ring asking about her title defense at WM Backlash, Bayley. Bianca said that people have always doubted her and then asked where Bayley was, speaking of doubters. They showed the replay from last week of Bayley beating down Belair last week using her earrings as leverage. Bayley showed up on screen laughing. She said she was far away coming via satellite. She said said she wouldn’t get in a ring with Belair until Sunday after the attack last week. Belair said she didnt want to stoop to Bayley’s level, but Bayley is mad because she was busy getting beat down by the Bella’s at WrestleMania while she won the Smackdown Title in the Main Event. Bayley was clearly hurt by this and got serious. She said that on Sunday, she’ll make sure Belair’s fairytale ends for good.
(Lindberg’s Analysis: Bayley and Belair are two of my favorites on the entire Smackdown roster at this time. Their in-ring work together both on and off the mic is excellent and they seem to have a decent chemistry. Better in-ring chemistry, but decent promo chemistry nonetheless. This should be a great match come Sunday with what I expect to be a dominate win for Belair)
(3) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs. KING CORBIN
-The bell rang and the two locked up in the ring with Corbin taking Nakamura out with a knee to the stomach. Nak fought back and hit a spinning heel kick to knock Corbin into the corner. He looked for the Kinshasa but Corbin sidestepped and nailed Corbin with a stiff right. Corbin used the middle rope to choke Nak and then kicked him again in the midsection. He locked in an armbar and simultaneously barraged Nakamura with elbows to the skull.
Nakamura, near lifeless, was shot off the ropes and rallied with a dropkick to take the big man off his feet. They both got back up and Nakamura hit a series of kicks to take Corbin off his feet once again. Corbin looked for the End of Days but Nakamura reversed it into an arm bar. Corbin was able to leverage his size and roll Nakamura to his shoulders while in the triangle armbar for the pinfall.
After the match, Nakamura hit the Kinshasa on Corbin while he was celebrating his victory. He then picked up Corbin’s crown, pretending it was super heavy and then placed it upon his own head, declaring himself the king.
WINNER: Shinsuke Nakamura in 3:05
(Lindberg’s Analysis: While the match itself was just a quick affair, the visual of Nakamura picking up the crown and pretending that it had some sort of power to make it really heavy was one of the most compelling things I’ve seen Shinsuke do in quite some time. I don’t know exactly where this is going, but so far I’m totally on board with this if for nothing else to see Shinsuke with that awesome crown on his head once more.)
-Adam Pierce and Sonya Deville were approached by Apollo and Aziz asking what kind of leaders they were after those idiots interrupted his ceremony. Pierce said he wanted to figure out which one of them Apollo would face next week. Sonya said to be careful or Pierce might make him face all of them next week like he did to Reigns at WrestleMania, clearly still bitter about that. Pierce said that was a great idea and made the match official, a fatal fourway for the IC title between he, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Big E. Pierce then said to Sonya, “Don’t ever undermine me in front of the Superstars”.
-Jimmy Uso was shown walking to the ring for his match against Cesaro before cutting to commercial. (c)
-Shinsuke was backstage looking into the mirror with his new crown. McAfee said it was the equivalent of someone stealing all seven of Tom Brady’s super bowl rings.
-Another Alistair Black vignette played with him cryptically talking about the lesson he learned from The Dark Father. Again, the cryptic story animated in an awesome hieroglyphic-esque style.
-Jimmy Uso was interviewed by Braxton about his first match back. He said he wasn’t expecting it to be a singles match, he assumed it would be tagging with his brother. He said he nor his brother need Reigns but he doesn’t think Jey realizes that. He fist bumped Braxton and said that he’s gonna go “get it”. (c)
(4) JIMMY USO vs. CESARO
The bell rang and the two explosively ran at one another, and they spent the first minute or two going back and forth with offense, reversals and near falls. Jimmy feigned a tweaked knee, playing on Cesaro’s nice guy persona. Cesaro hesitated, allowing Uso to superkick him in the chin and get the upper hand. He locked in a chin lock on Cesaro and then clubbed him in the back. He went for a suplex, but Cesaro reversed into a suplex of his own for a two count. Uso went for a superkick and it was met with an uppercut by Cesaro. He went for a spear, but Jimmy ducked sending Cesaro into the ring post. He dumped Cesaro outside and then dove over the top rope to take Cesaro out before cutting to commercial. (c)
Cesaro was in control after the commercial break, clotheslining Uso for a near fall. He went for a springboard uppercut but was met with a kick to the stomach for another two count. Uso rolled onto the apron and up to the top rope. Cesaro punched him loopy and then delivered a superplex from the top rope for another near fall. Uso rolled out to the floor. When he stood up, Cesaro hit a cannon ball off of the apron, followed up by an uppercut into the barricade. He rolled Uso into the ring, when Reigns attacked Cesaro from behind.
WINNER: Cesaro by DQ in 9:27
Reigns continued his assault on Cesaro, throwing him into the announce desk. Jimmy started yelling at Reigns, saying that he had to make it about him. Jey showed up behind Reigns. Jimmy said he was “out” and started to go backstage. Reigns said that nobody cares about these “stupid little matches” its all about the big money matches. That’s how he keeps the family on top. While he and Reigns continued to bicker by the entrance ramp, Jey, still standing in the ring was attacked by Cesaro. Roman went to save his cousin, taking Cesaro out.
Reigns demanded Jimmy get his ass in the ring and help. Cesaro got the upper hand on the Universal Champ when Jey attacked Cesaro. Jey told Jimmy to get in the ring and then Cesaro took out Jey. When Jimmy went to help his brother, he was easily superkicked off the apron. Reigns retreated with Heyman backstage as Cesaro continued his beatdown on Jey. He gave Jey the Neutralizer while screaming at Reigns that this will be him come Sunday. He then delivered yet another one to Jey, forcing Reigns to look on. Reigns never came to make the save, just watched both his cousins get taken out at the hands of his opponent on Sunday.
(Lindberg’s Analysis: The end of this show left me with some interesting takes. Historically, whoever gets the upper hand on the go-home show loses the PPV match. So historically, we should see Cesaro lose. But something about Cesaro’s rise to the top feels different to me. It feels more organic, more akin to Daniel Bryan’s rise albeit nowhere near as meteoric. I think if the WWE was to push Cesaro as the top face on SmackDown and give him a short Universal Title run, forcing Reigns to chase the title for a month or two could be some compelling TV. Reigns is probably better as the champ than on the chase for the title. But the short run with the strap would elevate Cesaro. If WWE put everything they had behind Cesaro and booked him as an unstoppable force for just those two months, this angle, in my opinion anyway, has the potential to be huge. A star-maker for Cesaro and a true long-term heat builder for Reigns. Now, do I have the faith in WWE to actually try something like this? No. No I don’t. Cesaro has very little chance to win come Sunday if WWE continues their storied legacy of never building stars, only the brand.)