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WWE SMACKDOWN TV REPORT
JUNE 18, 2021
TAMPA, FLA. AT YUENGLING CENTER (THE “THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON FOX BROADCAST NETWORK
REPORT BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD (@B_Lee253), PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentators: Michael Cole, Pat McAfee
Ring Announcer: Greg Hamilton
Backstage Correspondent: Kayla Braxton
Tonight after the show, join Wade Keller and guest co-host Nick Barbati from PWTorch.com and the PWTorch VIP podcast “Nick & Tom’s Intercontinental Adventure” to break down the show with live callers and emails.
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(Hazelwood’s Take: After filling in last week, I’m now writing the alt-perspective reports for both Raw and Smackdown, at least for the time being. If you’d like to join the PWTorch team as a contributor and want to try live reports, look over the various reports by different authors on the site and email Wade Keller about joining. I’m not sure if this means I’ll be writing both reports for another week, month, or year, but I guess we’ll see.)
-They began with a recap of last week’s events between Roman Reigns and Rey Mysterio, which led to the booking of their Hell in a Cell match that now takes place later tonight rather than Sunday. They showed the kendo stick that Mysterio used being slid in the ring and Reigns’ abrupt reaction to seeing it before Mysterio started pummeling him with it. We then saw Reigns powerbombing Dominik over and out of the ring to the floor before being attacked again by the elder Mysterio, only to lay them both out.
-Michael Cole called it a “historic night” as the show started with a shot of the Cell hanging above the ring, Cole saying it’s the first time a Hell in a Cell match is happening on network television. Mysterio’s music hit as he entered for a show-opening promo. Cole said it was late last night that Mysterio dropped breaking news and tweeted he couldn’t wait until Sunday and demanded the match tonight, which Reigns accepted with a great tweet. It will be Mysterio’s first HIAC match.
Mysterio took a mic with the Cell right above the ropes. He said any parent watching knows what he’s feeling, the feeling of pain, of hurt, of sadness. He said he told his son the risks that come with competing in the ring, but this is, or was, his dream. He said thankfully, Dominik’s able to walk, but who knows when he’ll be back in the ring. He said Reigns picked up the same son that Mysterio held is his arms as a baby to put to sleep and tossed him like a bag of bricks all the way to the floor. He said he’ll never forget the sound (there was a sound?). He said he’ll never forget as his boy suffered in pain, and he’ll never forget the man who did this to him: Roman Reigns.
He said he can’t wait one more day (well, two), and said he wanted his revenge tonight inside the “most diabolical structure in WWE.” He said he knows Reigns accepted his match last night on Twitter, but he wants to hear it from the mouth of the so-called “Head of the Table” himself. He unstrapped the bottom of his mask as he waited, then said, “Get out here you son of a bitch!”
Instead, the Cell started lowering as Cole said this is will be the scene for the main event, but Pat McAfee asked if we’re going to see this now. He asked who’s calling the shots around here. Reigns’ music hit, and Mysterio strapped his mask back up. Reigns took his damn time walking through the curtains, then stood at the top of the ring. He said he doesn’t want to hurt Mysterio and it’s not his fault. He said Mysterio’s not ready for this and he doesn’t want to be locked in the Cell with him. He said what he did to Mysterio’s son was PG compared to what he’ll do to the elder.
He asked if Mysterio’s sure he wants to do this. Mysterio said he’s never been more ready in his life, kind of answering the question? Reigns’ mouth twitched a bit, said he tried to be diplomatic, glared at Mysterio, then said now we do it my way. Paul Heyman had the, “No, not that option!” look on his face. Regins’ face went from accepting dejected for having to beat Mysterio to furious that Mysterio still wanted the match.
-Cole then hyped the in-ring debut of Commander Azeez in the forthcoming tag match. They showed a highlight package of him hitting the Nigerian Nail on Big E, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn. Apollo Crews’ music hit as he & Azeez made their entrance. They played a pre-recorded promo with Crews saying tonight, his secret weapon Azeez steps into the ring for the first time. Azeez said some stuff I just could not hear, but something about feeling the heel of his boot as Crews just kept cackling. Seriously, what is up with all these cackling heels these days? They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Look, Mysterio has never been known as a mic legend, but the last two weeks he has been fantastic. The reason: legitimate emotion through a relatable story. Most of WWE is marketed toward families and kids, so a lot of the viewers probably connect by virtue of being parents. Reigns and Heyman’s facial expressions were superb.)
-They returned with E & Crews in Gorilla as Kayla Braxton approached asking about facing Azeez in a match. Owens said Azeez is certainly initimidating and huge, but he said his partner E is the strongest man in the locker room bar none. He said it’s a tag team match, and his partner is a nine-time (“That’s almost 10!”) Tag Team Champion and said he couldn’t have a better partner. E said thanks, Owens said that’s all he has after being showered with praise, then E said the wound is still fresh before doing his usual preacher-voice gimmick about them, “FEELING OUR POWER!” He entered first, then Owens. As the match was about to begin, Sami Zayn’s music hit as he entered comically.
(1) APOLLO CREWS & COMMANDER AZEEZ vs. BIG E & KEVIN OWENS – Tag team match
Zayn joined commentary as Crews and E began. E avoided a few clotheslines and hit an overhead belly-to-belly before tagging in Owens. E hit his running splash, followed by Owens’ senton for a two-count. Owens hit a few strikes in the corner before tagging in E, but Crews rolled out of his belly-to-back suplex attempt. E grabbed Crews before he could tag in Azeez and hit the suplex for a two-count.
E went for a vertical suplex. but Crews kneed out of it and tagged in Azeez. He came in and hit a body knee and shot across the back, then a boot running off of the ropes. E rolled outside and Azeez followed, glaring at Zayn. Azeez lifted and bodyslammed E to the floor as they cut to break. He did a great job of guiding E down as safely as possible there. [c]
They returned with Azeez in control of E as Cole it’s been utter dominance by Azeez. E tried fighting out, but Azeez hit a vertical suplex. I should mention he’s still wearing his commander’s jacket and everything. He put E in a neutral corner and mushed him a bit, then hit another vertical suplex (he looked a little lost on what to do before that suplex). He cupped his hand over E’s mouth, then laid in some forearms to the head of a downed E. He went for an elbow, but E moved.
Crews tagged in and took out Owens from the apron. Azzez went to the outside as Crews hit an enziguri to E. On the apron, Crews lifted E, but E fought out and hit a gourdbuster on the apron (I LOVE a good gourdbuster). E rolled back in and tagged in Owens, who hit the Swanton for only a two-count! Zayn said the count was too quick.
Owens came off of the ropes, ate a boot, but then hit a popup powerbomb. Crews kicked out because Azeez was late, and Azeez actually hit an elbow on Crews as Owens moved. Azeez headbutted Owens, then dragged Crews over to their corner to tag himself in. He went to the outside and clotheslined E. Owens was taken outside by Azeez and rammed face-first into the ring post. Azeez climbed back in as the ref started counting and Zayn started talking smack. Owens turned, chased off Zayn, but ate the Nigerian Nail upon reentering. After the match, Azeez hit another Nigerian Nail on Owens.
WINNER: Apollo Crews & Commander Azeez at 9:10 (Nigerian Nail)
-Zayn went to Gorilla and told Braxton that was a beautiful sight as he watched Owens gasping and moaning for breath. Zayn was laughing and said he could do this forever. Zayn was almost hugging the television monitor.
-They cut to hyping “the most majestic match in the history of Smackdown,” the “Battle for the Crown” between King Corbin and Shinsuke Nakamura, next. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: I mean, Azeez looks as good as Omos. Take that how you will.)
-They returned with another hyping of the HIAC match. Sonya Deville & Adam Pearce were talking as Owens walked in coughing away, saying he wanted Zayn. They asked if he was sure, and he repeated himself. Pearce said he’ll sign the match. They actually had a graphic that had both Deville & Pearce as “WWE Officials.”
-They shifted to Rick Boogz playing the electric guitar to introduce Nakamura. He did his usual excited intro before playing the intro as McAfee was ECSTATIC. Nakamura entered, and I do have to say, he’s just looked like he’s been having so much fun since being paired with Boogz. McAfee was dancing on the announce desk. Corbin then entered, staring at the crown on its pedestal on the entrance area.
(2) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (w/Rick Boogz) vs. KING CORBIN – “Battle for the Crown”
They began with Corbin going for a quick rollup for a two-count, then hitting some elbows to Nakamura. He rushed Nakamura in the corner, but the latter dodged, kicked Corbin across the back, then hit his sliding German suplex. As soon as he hit the outside, he started air guitaring with Boogz playing as they cut to break. [c]
They returned with Corbin pounding on Nakamura as they showed the crown. He had Nakamura in a modified rear chinlock, but Nakamura fought to his feet, hit some body shots, then ran into Deep Six by Corbin for a two-count. Corbin mounted Nakamura, glared and pointed at Boogz, hit Nakamura a few times, then told referee Jessika Carr to shut up.
Nakamura slid out of a bodyslam and hit a backstabber, then applied a rear chinlock of his own, kind of a sleeper that Corbin fought out of by slinging Nakamura off of his back. Nakamura responded with an enziguri then a sliding knee/Shining Wizard for a two-count. Corbin blocked a kick on the feet and hit a bad German suplex, but one nonetheless for a two-count.
Corbin went for short-arm shoulder thrusts, but Nakamura countered for a two-count, then hit some Pride FC style grounded knees to the head of Corbin. Nakamura set for the Kinshasa, but Corbin hit a HUGE clothesline that flipped Nakamura around. Corbin then dragged Nakamura to the corner, shoved his face into the camera and pointed at the crown, yelling that it was his, then ate strikes from Nakamura.
Nakamura hit an enziguri, climbed to the second rope, and hit a flying knee, then another as Corbin was still standing. He went for a third, but Corbin grabbed him. Nakamura countered with a knee, then hit Kinshasa. Greg Hamilton announced him as the “King of WWE.” Corbin looked dejected afterward as Nakamura sat on the throne and Boogz crowned him. Corbin started crying.
WINNER: Shinsuke Nakamura at 9:04 (Kinshasa) to become “King of WWE”
-They showed Bianca Belair walking backstage, twirling her ponytail, as they hyped a face-to-face between her and her opponent on Sunday, Bayley. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: A decent enough match that didn’t have a distraction finish; it was a clean finish! Wow! Also, I hope this means no more “King” gimmick for Corbin. Aside from King Booker, the modern King of the Ring winners have had the gimmick become an albatross rather than a boost.)
-They returned with a fatherhood video from Kofi Kingston in light of Father’s Day this Sunday.
-Belair’s music hit as she made her way for the face-to-face. They showed replays of last week’s “Ding Dong, Hello!” segment that saw Cesaro crash the set and Belair rubbing it in Bayley’s face with a mocking cackle. Belair looked pleased in the ring as she danced a bit to her music.
BIANCA BELAIR-BAYLEY FACE-TO-FACE
She took a mic and said girl, let me tell you how good it felt to turn Bayley’s show into “Ding Dong, Goodbye!” She said Bayley can also kiss her championship dreams goodbye, and its just like a bully to be able to dish it, but not take it. She said speaking of bullies, come on out Bayley; she didn’t, so Belair continued.
She said the mind games almost worked because when someone laughs in your face, it triggers something. She said it made her remember when the bullies used to tease her as a kid, but she realized she’s more than anything those bullies could dream of. She said she’s not that little kid no more, and no one, including Bayley, defines her. She said she’s loud, proud, and unapologetically me.
She said she knows Bayley’s going to give her all she’s got. She said she wanted to say this to her face, but since she isn’t out there, she said she wants Bayley in Hell in a Cell. She said Bayley probably thinks she’s going to get the last laugh, but she won’t be laughing when Belair grabs her by the hair and drags her face across the entire Cell. She said some more things about beating her around the Cell, but that she would retain. She said first, they laugh at you, then taunt you, then fight you, and then you win.
Bayley’s music hit and she marched to ring. She tried to sucker punch Belair, but Belair ducked and beat away on Bayley. Bayley got in some strikes, but was sent outside and her head slammed on the announce desk. Belair then tried sending Bayley over the barricade, but Bayley grabbed the ponytail and pulled Belair into the barricade. Bayley took the advantage, sent Belair back in the ring, then hit a running knee to the side of the head of Belair. Bayley hit Rose Plant. She grabbed the title, stood and shoved her boot into Belair’s ponytail, then raised the title as the screens around the arena replicated her holding up the title.
-Cole shifted to hyping the HIAC match again, and McAfee said for decades, HIAC has created moments and for the first-time ever, we get to see it on network television. He asked what the hell is going to happen. Cole then shifted to a video recapping the issues between Reigns, Jimmy Uso, and Jey Uso. Jey Uso told both of them he’s out last week after Reigns and Jimmy Uso kept bickering. Reigns turned the blame on Jimmy Uso (brilliantly), and he told Jimmy to make it right.
They showed Reigns in his section in the back as Jimmy Uso approached. He said what up uce. He said he thought about what Reigns said last week, and said Reigns was right. He said he might not agree with everything Reigns says and does, but they’re blood, family. Reigns asked about his brother, but Jimmy Uso said he hasn’t heard all week and even checked his house, but hasn’t seen him. Jimmy Uso said if Reigns needs his help, he got it, but Reigns said no. Reigns said he needs his brother. He paused, then said we need your brother, and the family is best when complete. He said don’t worry about tonight, and do him a favor: find out where his brother is.
-Alpha Academy made their entrance, with the shaved Otis that took social media by storm last week. They cut to break hyping Otis’ match with Angelo Dawkins next. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Just another wonderful, nicely acted scene involving Reigns and Jimmy Uso. As for Belair-Bayley, I can see how she said what she said can rub people the wrong way, but I think Belair is telling the story of someone who was a meek and unconfident youth that grew into a self-confident woman.)
-They returned with Otis standing in the ring looking salty, then shifted to a Progressive Match Flo showing last week’s events between these two teams, which culminated in Otis laying waste to Dawkins in the back and Montez Ford in the ring with a big splash off of the second rope. Dawkins made his entrance sans Ford. Dawkins was favoring the shoulder to sell last week’s attack (storytelling!).
Gable slapped Dawkins, then roped Dawkins to chase him right into Otis, waiting for him around the corner. They double-teamed him and threw him shoulder-first into the steps. Otis held out the arm as Gable leaped from the apron and drove his knee into the left arm. Back in the ring, they hit their discus lariat-German suplex combo to Dawkins, who rolled slowly out of the ring and to the ground, holding his shoulder. Four refs checked on Dawkins as they showed replays.
-They showed Mysterio in the back, saying a prayer as they hyped the main event match. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Otis looks like your stereotypical high school bully with no beard.)
-They returned with a shot of Reigns lacing up his gloves with Heyman looking over his shoulder. McAfee said this is the first time he’s been able to see the Cell up close, and that he’s mesmerized.
-Cole shifted to the Pizza Hut Highlight of the Night as they recapped the Seth Rollins-Cesaro altercation from last week, which resulted in Cesaro basically tearing off Rollins’ suit to the point he was in his blazers, briefs, and socks, a good look for the “Drip God” (I can’t believe I just typed that).
They shifted to the back where Cesaro was seated in a ring with Braxton, who asked if it’s gone too far. Cesaro said it hasn’t gone far enough since Rollins stomped his head and put him on a stretcher. He said WWE is his life and he loves what he does. He said he worked a very long time to get where he is, and Rollins tried taking all that away. He stood up as Rollins appeared, telling both Cesaro and Braxton to calm down. He said he’s a professional and gentleman, and he just came to have a convo. He asked Braxton if she doesn’t mind, and she handed him her mic and walked off, throwing her hands up (nice).
They sat, Rollins in a navy blue leather suit, and he said Cesaro absolutely disgusts him, and that everything Cesaro does and stands for is a disgrace. He said after what Cesaro did last week, he doesn’t deserve a single ounce of respect. Rollins said on Sunday, he’s going to show Cesaro and everyone like him what they do deserve when he punts him in the face.
Cesaro said he didn’t think Rollins had it in him, being a professional and all. He said he respects that and everything Rollins has done. He stood, said he’ll see Rollins on Sunday, and shoved him from his seat. Rollins stood looking furious.
-They cut to the ring as the Cell lowered. This will be the third match of the night, obviously the longest, and I’m a bit mad there will be commercials. Mysterio made his entrance first. They cut to break hyping this historic match. [c]
-They returned with Mysterio waiting at the far end of the ring, looking a bit anxious (rightfully so). Reigns’ music hit as he entered next. The Cell does seem to be a taller structure, but I could be wrong. Reigns had a serious stare on his face as Heyman almost reverently handed him the Universal Championship (Heyman’s facials are always the best). Cole confirmed two new matches for Sunday: Cesaro-Rollins and Belair-Bayley in HIAC. They also confirmed Owens vs. Zayn. Charles Robinson was the ref inside the Cell.
(3) ROMAN REIGNS (c) (w/Paul Heyman) vs. REY MYSTERIO – Hell in a Cell match for the Universal Championship
Mysterio immediately went outside and grabbed a chair, hitting Reigns a few times before Reigns just powered it out of Mysterio’s hands. Reigns followed Mysterio, but the latter sprayed him with a fire extinguisher and rammed it into Reigns’ head twice. He slowly lifted Reigns to the apron, then tried to pull him in the ring, but Reigns held onto the bottom rope; he was really selling the shots from the extinguisher. Suddenly, Mysterio ran at him and hit him with a toolbox. They cut to break (damn). [c]
They returned with Mysterio ramming a chair to Reigns’ midsection several times. Reigns sat on the apron, then Mysterio set the chair behind Reigns and hit a basement dropkick to the chair. He then stood on the apron above Reigns and used the chair to shove it into Reigns’ throat for a good 10 seconds. He wrapped the chair around the head of Reigns and rammed him into the cell head/chair-first twice, then into the ring post. Cole asked if that’s fear on Reigns’ face.
Reigns still had the chair wrapped around him, but he fought off Mysterio and removed the chair as he gasped for air. He tried to spear Mysterio, but he crushed a table in the corner as Mysterio sidestepped Reigns. McAfee said Reigns has been getting his ass beat by Mysterio, something he never thought he’d see. However, Reigns fought off Mysterio with a body knee. As he tried reentering, Mysterio attempted a sunset flip bomb to the Cell, but Reigns countered.
Mysterio tried turning the powerbomb position into a rana, but Reigns held on and swung him into the Cell three times before launching Mysterio belly-to-back style forward into the Cell. They cut to break. [c]
They returned with Reigns angrily yelling at Mysterio, then beating on Mysterio in the corner with knees and punches. He tossed Mysterio to the other side of the ring. He set for the Superman Punch and hit as Heyman said, “He’s going to acknowledge you!” and McAfee said Reigns is the baddest man on Earth. Reigns went for the Spear, but Mysterio hit a dropkick.
Reigns tried hitting a powerbomb, but Mysterio hit a rana that set Reigns for the 619. However, Mysterio ran right into a right hand from Reigns, flooring him. Reigns set again for the Spear, but hit the post shoulder-first as Mysterio once again dodged. He hit the 619 as Reigns as still hunched in the corner. Mysterio grabbed the chair and hit Reigns across the back and chest about four times, then set the chair on Reigns. He climbed to the top and hit a frog splash, but was unable to make a pin from the damage he sustained on the splash.
Mysterio climbed again, this time slower, and hit another, but Reigns kicked out just before three! Mysterio looked dejected, then climbed again. Reigns caught him in a powerbomb position, then like he did to Dominik, he tossed Mysterio over and into the Cell! Heyman just kept yelling, “OH MY GOD!” over and over. Reigns angrily stepped out and rolled Mysterio back in, then locked in his standing guillotine/anaconda choke variant for the quick tap.
WINNER: Roman Reigns at 16:00 (inverted guillotine) to retain the Universal Championship
-They showed replays after of the finish, then shifted to Reigns in the ring being presented with his title by Heyman. Reigns lifted it as Jimmy Uso made his way to the ring and raised Reigns’ arm. They both looked down and glared at Mysterio as Heyman had that look of, “Oh no, enough!”
Mysterio used the ropes to regain his footing, but Reigns looked on with a snarl. He locked Mysterio in his inverted guillotine, then tossed him to the mat as Mysterio tapped again. He raised his title and yelled some more at Mysterio. The show ended about 90 seconds early.
(Hazelwood’s Take: A good match hampered by commercials, but they told the story well enough of how Mysterio could possibly gain believable offense and near-falls on Reigns. I was hoping to see Jimmy Uso superkick Reigns to end the show, but now we know that Jimmy Uso is aligned with Reigns. Will Jimmy Uso be able to find his brother by next week?)
FINAL THOUGHTS: A weird show in that there were only three matches that totaled around 35 minutes. However, the show didn’t feel like a drag. Every segment seemed to have a purpose and, importantly, continued to build toward Sunday’s show. Reigns continues to be the anchor for the show and the best act in all of professional wrestling. It’s unfortunate he won’t have a match Sunday, but I’m assuming we’ll at least see some kind of backstage segment with him.