7/2 WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT: Hazelwood’s alt-perspective on advancement in Reigns-Usos story, Owens vs. Zayn in Last Man Standing qualifying match, more

BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

WWE SMACKDOWN TV REPORT
JULY 2, 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: Mike Rome

Backstage Correspondent: Kayla Braxton

Tonight after the show, join Wade Keller and guest co-host Mike Meyers from PWTorch.com to break down the show with live callers and emails.

STREAM LIVE HERE ABOUT 5 MINUTES AFTER THE SHOW CONCLUDES
•CALL: (347) 215-8558

•EMAIL COMMENTS/QUESTIONS: wadekellerpodcast@pwtorch.com
•IF YOU DON’T LISTEN LIVE, SEARCH “WADE KELLER” ON YOUR PODCAST APP TO SUBSCRIBE AND THEN DOWNLOAD OR STREAM THE FULL SHOW AN HOUR OR SO AFTER RAW


(Hazelwood’s Take: Next week, I’ll be off from covering both Raw and Smackdown. However, Nate Lindberg will fill in for me on Monday, the 5th, and Kelly Wells is tentatively scheduled to fill in for me next Friday, the 9th. If you haven’t, check out their Torch show, “PWT Talks NXT.”)

[HOUR ONE]

-They began with a recap video of last week’s final segment with Paul Heyman running down every one of Roman Reigns’ vanquished foes before Edge’s surprising return. They interspersed footage of Reigns brutalizing his opponents during Heyman’s words. They showed Edge spearing Jimmy Uso through a barricade, then demanding a match with Reigns to Adam Pearce & Sonya Deville.

-Michael Cole said it was the penultimate Smackdown in the Thunderdome, then Edge’s music hit. He entered as Cole said, “He’s back.” Cole then confirmed a “first time ever one-on-one” match between Edge and Reigns for the Universal Championship at Money in the Bank.

Edge said WrestleMania was supposed to be the culmination of a 10-year story, winning the Universal Championship 10 years to the day he had to retire. He said he envisioned it so much, he knew it would happen…and then it didn’t. He said he didn’t see it coming, it wasn’t in his plans or vision, and being fully transparent, it rocked him, so he took some time. He said during that time, he watched the match back and he never does that. He said Reigns likes to “embroider” the truth and missed some key points.

He said he could complain about how the match went down with Daniel Bryan’s involvement costing him the title, preventing Reigns from tapping, pulling the ref out when Edge had Reigns pinned. He said he could complain about these things, and he’s be justified in doing it. He said 2006 Edge would have (“would of”), but in 2021, he has to understand there’s always going to be excuses and obstacles. He said he spent his entire career overcoming obstacles or he wouldn’t be here right now. He said he doesn’t stop.

He said here’s the thing, now that he’s been in the ring with Reigns one-on-one, he knows he can beat Reigns. He said more importantly, Reigns knows Edge can beat him because they both felt it. He said he knows Reigns won’t admit it, but he has proof and threw to an image on the Tron where Edge had Reigns in the Crossface with a bar across the mouth. He had them zoom in on the eyes, then tilted up to his as he was yelling in rage for Reigns to tap, saying he knows he lives in the other man’s head. He said when you make another man look like that, you live in his head for life.

He said the look on Reigns’ face last week when he heard Edge’s music, Reigns knows: no matter what the odds say, Edge said he’s the guy that has Reigns’ number. He breathed heavily, said he’s going to beat Reigns and it’s just a matter of when, and it’s inevitable that he’s going to be Universal Championship. Cole said he’s an undaunted Edge and wants to make it a dozen title reigns. McAfee repeated some of Edge’s lines.

-They cut to the back where Jimmy Uso approached Heyman talking about how he knows Heyman heard all that. He said tell me he ain’t saying that, uce? He said he’s going to tell Edge he has Reigns’ back just like Reigns has his, and that they’re going to plant that family flag in his ass. Heyman just looked at him seriously.

-They cut to the stage where Rick Boogz was strumming his guitar, then said he came to rock with the one true king of all WWE, Kingsuke Nakamuraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! He played Nakamura’s entrance as the new king entered in a white-and-black ensemble, though the crown is still the color. McAfee was dancing on top of Cole, literally. Cole cut to replays of how Nakamura won the crown against the then King Corbin, then last week’s crowning ceremony with Corbin watching dejected. Big E made his entrance. They cut to break. [c]

-They returned hyping the Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn Last Man Standing match later as Apollo Crews & Commander Azeez made their entrance. They showed an interview where Megan Morant asked Corbin how much money he lost in investments, and he said hundreds of thousands of dollars. He said he was a wealthy man, but now, and then just sighed and put his head in his hands. He still entered to his King Corbin music, looking dejected with grey facial hair. Greg Hamilton almost introduced him as King Corbin, said sorry, then Baron Corbin. Corbin looked really, really sad.

(1) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (w/Rick Boogz) & BIG E vs. APOLLO CREWS (w/Commander Azeez) & BARON CORBIN

Nakamura and Crews began as Nakamura was thrust off of the ropes and was met with Crews just standing there. Crews was sent off the ropes and he sent Nakamura down to the mat with a big shoulder tackle. He told Corbin he needed him to focus. Nakamura used the distraction to land a kick and whip Crews into their corner, then hit his running knee to Crews laying across the top. He tagged in E.

Boogz started playing as E & Nakamura did a double Good Vibrations. E locked in an abdominal stretch briefly, then hit a back elbow to Crews coming off of the ropes. Crews hit a few back elbows and tagged in Corbin. E didn’t see, hit Corbin to the floor, followed Crews to the outside, then ate a clothesline from Corbin before being sent into the timekeeper’s area as they cut to break. [c]

They returned with Corbin landing a bunch of downward elbows to the chest of E as E was seated. E fought to his feet and hit a few elbows to the gut before being hit a with a back elbow for a two-count. Corbin brought E to their corner, allowing Crews to tag in. He worked E for a big, hitting a beautiful dropkick to E, then posing with a big smile. Cole brought up how Corbin is one of the few to fail to cash-in as MITB winner.

Crews locked in a front facelock to a prone E, who fought to his feet and tried forcing Crews to his corner. He threw off Crews, but ate an enziguri. Crews was launched over the top, but Corbin tagged him on the way down and came in, took E into the corner, then took out Nakamura. He landed an impact move before Nakamura broke up the pin. Crews came in and both he and Nakamura went to the outside.

Corbin was holding E in a lock as Boogz asked for someone with a white SUV and the license plate KING CR-BN since it was being towed. They showed footage of his SUV being towed in the daylight. He turned around into a Big Ending.

WINNER: Shinsuke Nakamura & Big E at 8:58 (Big Ending)

-After the match, Corbin sat in the ring looking like he was going to cry again. He looked absolutely dejected as McAfee said his life is just falling apart all around him right now. That’s not very nice, even if it’s true.

-They cut to last week’s mixed tag match that Bayley & Seth Rollins won after Bayley pinned Bianca Belair. Bayley’s music hit as she made her entrance. Cole hyped their return to Madison Square Garden on September 10. They cut to break hyping Belair and Bayley, face-to-face. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: A lot to take in for the first 35 minutes or so. Edge has a mission statement, one that’s never really changed since his return, but I’m not sure if the whole “I could complain, and if I did, here’s what I could complain about, but I won’t complain” route is a good way to make him likeable, kind of like Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair on Mondays. Moving on, I don’t know what they have in store for Corbin, but this is far more palatable and interesting than his tired King gimmick. I do think E looked a bit too happy to get a distraction victory, but whatever.)

BIANCA BELAIR & BAYLEY FACE-TO-FACE

They returned with Bayley looking pleased in the ring as she said she’s not the type of person to brag and tell you so, but she told us so. She told us that Belair’s victory was just a fluke, and she proved that when she pinned Belair last week. She said the best part was the look in Belair’s eyes, the look of loss, despair, defeat, questioning everything she did wrong. Bayley said we all know how strong Belair is, but mentally, she’s weak. She said she knows she made it look easy being Women’s Champion for 380+ days, and that a loss this early in Belair’s reign is not a good sign.

She said Belair is crumbling under the weight of the expectations and the she better get her head straight because they’re returning to touring in two weeks as she doesn’t want to see Belair fall apart in front of all the little boys and girls who worship her. All of this was facetious, of course, as she was grinning the whole time. They piped-in “You suck” chants. Bayley said Belair is nothing to her, but Belair’s music hit.

Belair did her usual twirling hair entrance, which maybe she could have done away with after losing last week and being ran down. She said what Bayley needs is a good crack in her mouth. She said Bayley might want the title, but it’s she who has it. Belair said she keeps beating Bayley over and over, but she just can’t quit; it’s like she’s obsessed with Belair. Belair asked if she thinks that means Bayley is really in her head.

Bayley said yeah, ran her down some more, before Belair said yeah, you’re in my head, but there’s only one way to end this: embarrass you beyond the point of return because she is so over Bayley. She said if the officials will allow it, at Money in the Bank she’ll put the title on the line – Bayley began laughing – then Belair said in an I Quit match. Bayley laughed, thinking it was a joke, then said oh, she’s serious, how badly did she get in Belair’s head? She said Belair knows she won’t quit, and said she’s done more and is better than her, so she said if Belair made her quit, she would quit the show, quit WWE, quit competing altogether.

She said she wouldn’t be surprised to hear Belair quit since they both know she isn’t the champion she portrays herself to be, so she accepted. Belair immediately began laughing as if Bayley fell into her trap. Bayley looked confused and asked what the hell is so funny. Belair said she thought she was so sick of hearing Bayley run her mouth that she didn’t want to hear another word, but she’s just so excited to hear Bayley say, “I quit.” Belair’s music hit as she left the ring.

-They cut to the back where Heyman was in their nice suite. Jimmy Uso reappeared asking if Reigns arrived, then said let him know that Edge is waiting to jump him all over. He asked what Reigns is waiting for…then he said Reigns is waiting on him! He said he’s going to Pearce & Deville so that “Main Event” Jimmy Uso can beat him all over the place. Heyman gave that maniacal grin to him, but as he walked away, Heyman looked concerned.

-Owens made his entrance for his Last Man Standing qualifying match. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: That was a fine segment between Belair and Bayley, but how many gimmick matches can one PPV handle?)

-They returned with Owens waiting in the ring. Zayn’s music then hit, then they went over the rules.

(2) KEVIN OWENS vs. SAMI ZAYN – Last Man Standing match to qualify for the men’s Money in the Bank Ladder match

Zayn rushed Owens, but Owens sidestepped him and took him down, hitting some mounted punches in the corner. He then hit the cannonball in the corner as Zayn rolled outside and the ref began counting; he made it to five. Owens followed on the outside and threw Zayn into the barricade. He chased Zayn down and threw him into the barricade again. Zayn countered an Irish whip and sent Owens into the barricade, then landed a clothesline.

He landed some strikes to Owens, still on the outside, before Owens sent Zayn over the barricade and into the screen area. He rammed Zayn’s head into the screens a few times, and surprisingly the didn’t malfunction. Zayn made it over the barricade, but Owens grabbed him, landed a punch that grounded Zayn, then landed a Swanton off of the barricade, signaling to the ref to count.

Zayn made his way up as the ref hit six, then was slammed head-first onto the announce table. Owens laid him on it and punched him a few more times before climbing the barricade behind the desk. Zayn recovered and used Owens’ height on the barricade to slam him onto the table. Owens used the steps to make it to his feet at seven as Zayn sat in Cole’s chair. They cut to break. [c]

They returned with Owens delivering shoulder thrusts in the corner about 15 times to Zayn. Charles Robinson began his count, making it to five before Zayn regained his feet. Owens put him across the second rope, then kicked it into Zayn’s throat, who rolled on the floor to signal the count. He slapped Owens from his knees, but suffered one from Owens. Owens then beat on Zayn some more, ending with a thunderous chop.

[HOUR TWO]

Zayn rolled outside, but Owens followed and thrust him back-first into the ring post, then wishboned him into the post. Zayn made it to his feet at seven, holding his groin. Zayn rolled in the ring, but ate strikes from Owens from the outside. Owens then grabbed a table from under the ring as Zayn made it to his feet in the ring to break the count. Zayn fell to the mat again as Owens stacked a table on top of the other one. Owens made it to the to turnbuckle and tried superplexing Zayn to the outside.

Zayn fought it off, took off the long padding from the par connecting the turnbuckle to the ropes, then knocked Owens off the top to the apron. Owens walked around and Zayn hit a top con hilo to the outside. Owens made it to his feet at four, then rolled in the ring as Zayn followed. He delivered a few crossfaces, then mounted Owens for some strikes. Owens grabbed Zayn’s nose to regain his footing, but Zayn hit an exploder into the corner. Both men were on the mat after that as Robinson counted.

They both made it to their feet by six, then Zayn lifted Owens to the top turnbuckle, looking for a superplex of his own. Owens instead hit an avalanche fisherman’s buster from the second rope, making it to his feet at five while holding his left arm. Zayn used the ropes to regain his footing at eight. Owens hit a superkick to Zayn in the corner, then another, but Zayn had his right arm hooked on the top rope to prevent him from falling.

Owens lifted Zayn to the top, hit a chop, set for a rana, but Zayn slipped out and pushed Owens off and through the tables! McAfee yelled in exclamation as the referee counted. Owens was crawling around and made his feet using the apron at nine! They cut to break. [c]

They returned with Zayn setting up a table by the announce table, then using the piece of the table that DQd Ripley on Owens. Zayn set Owens on the steps, looking for a suplex through the table behind, but Owens yanked Zayn into the post. He then threw Zayn into the barricade with his one good arm, but Zayn kicked that arm a few times. They climbed onto the apron. Owens looked for a Stunner, but Zayn countered into a half-and-half on the apron.

Robinson began counting Owens on the outside, but Owens climbed into the ring at seven. Owens set in the corner, but then was hit with the Helluva Kick, crumpling him. Robinson counted, with Owens stirring at five (so he would have been pinned). He regained his footing at seven. Zayn hit another, then held up Owens, setting him up again and saying this was karma for everything Owens has ever done. He landed a third Helluva Kick. Owens slowly started rolling, rolling out of the ring to his feet just before 10, making Zayn irate.

Zayn went for his DDT from the outside and through the corner, but Owens punched him. Back in the ring, Owens hit a popup powerbomb, but Zayn regained his feet at eight only to eat a Stunner, forcing Zayn outside. Owens said this is just karma as he powerbombed Zayn through the announce table, then lifted him for another through the table Zayn set. He grabbed Zayn by the beard and powerbombed him on the apron. Zayn yelled in agony as Robinson counted to 10.

WINNER: Owens at 23:32 to qualify for the men’s MITB match.

-They showed Edge in the back as Megan Morant asked about Jimmy Uso calling him out. Edge said you have to know he’s walking into a trap, but said listen, they both know he knows what’s coming and trying to get one over on him is a losing proposition. He said he knows what they’re trying to do, but he doesn’t care because he’s sick of the entire family and that he’s an angry, vindictive son of a bitch.

-Deville made her way to the ring to announce the next person in the women’s MITB match. They showed a replay of last week when she announced Carmella as the first participant from Friday night. They still haven’t explained why on Smackdown, Deville is announcing women instead of having qualifying matches like on Raw. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: For a Last Man Standing match, it wasn’t too boring and monotonous. Commercial breaks help! Still, they did enough to tell a believable story for what transpired in the match, and the ending sequence was just brutal, but the brutality that was called for considering the build of the match.)

-They returned with Cole confirming the I Quit match between Belair and Bayley.

-They cut to Corbin in the back looking sad, but Boogz approached and said some of the guys were talking and said Corbin should join them for chicken…a la king. He then said Corbin would sleep better tonight…in his queen bed. He then said Nakamura said the funniest thing playing cards last night…king me. Corbin asked if he thought this was funny, kicking a guy while he was down, then said to him and everyone else, screw you.

-They cut to the ring as Deville announced the second participant, Zelina Vega!!!!!!! She’s back!!!! Vega made her entrance and entered the ring. She said hi to Deville then said she knows, it’s nice to see her. She said it’s Deville’s honor to announce Vega’s return, just like it will be her pleasure to win the MITB briefcase, and then cashing in when whomever the champion is is downtrodden and beaten. She plugged all three brands, then Liv Morgan’s music hit.

Morgan asked what was going on here, saying it was bad enough that Carmella was entered without qualifying for the match. She said she feels like she deserves to be in the match, but Deville just rewarded Vega a spot. She said Vega doesn’t deserve to be in the match and hasn’t competed on the match all year. She asked how that was fair.

Vega jumped in saying she’s competed in rings like this for years and is one of the most popular women competitors in the WWE ever. She told Morgan to look at her, then said she could run circles around her and make her look like the amateur she is. Morgan slapped her and demanded a match. Deville said OK. They cut to break hyping Jimmy Uso and Edge’s main event segment. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: SHE’S BACK!!!! YES!!!)

(3) ZELINA VEGA vs. LIV MORGAN

-They returned with the match in progress, Vega holding Morgan in an octopus, so the match time will be from when they came back from break. Vega hit her version of a 619 into a sub using the ropes, then slammed Morgan face-first into the mat for a two-count. Morgan tried evading Vega, but then Vega hit a leaping clothesline for a two-count.

Vega took Morgan into a corner and hit her step up straight kick to the face, then a running knee to the chest of a seated Morgan for a two-count. She yelled in frustration as Morgan hit a crucifix pin for a two-count. Morgan tried a rollthrough, but Vega rolled through. The ref stopped the count as Vega was grabbing the tights. Morgan rolled through for the victory.

WINNER: Liv Morgan in 1:52 televised action (rollthrough pin)

-They showed Pearce & Deville in the back speaking as Rollins approached, listing his accolades, then saying it was a pleasure to make their acquaintance. They said they know who he is, then Rollins said oh, they do remember him as they (he yelled this) forgot about him and put Edge against Reigns. Rollins said they told him they were inclined to agree. Pearce said Edge deserves the match, but Rollins said he does too because he is Seth Freaking Rollins. Pearce said Edge has the accolade too, and he never received his one-on-one match. Rollins said that’s not his problem, but Deville headed him off by saying he’ll be entered into the MITB match if he beats Cesaro next week. He took some deep breaths, laughed, then walked off.

-Alpha Academy made their entrance, beardless Otis and all. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Morgan makes great points. She’s won three matches in a row now, according to what McAfee said, so she should be deserving of a spot. However, as Omar Little once said, deserve ain’t got nothing to do with it. Also, what makes someone “deserving” in WWE seems to be a very malleable criteria.)

-They returned with a Talking Smack promo featuring Bayley, Vega, and Owens with McAfee joining Kayla Braxton.

-They cut back to the ring, then showed a Progressive Match Flo on “Otis’ dominance.” Cole said Ford was out indefinitely with a fractured rib, so he’ll show up next week, probably. Dawkins made his entrance, very jovially, even without his partner. He became serious once he walked down the ramp and started talking smack at Otis, who just glared at Dawkins the entire time.

(4) OTIS (w/Chad Gable) vs. ANGELO DAWKINS

Dawkins immediately hit some punches, then hit a running spinning flying elbow, but Otis didn’t budge. Dawkins knocked Gable off of the apron, but this allowed Otis to clothesline Dawkins. He then sent Dawkins shoulder-first into the top turnbuckle, took his time, then hit an overhead throw. He whipped Dawkins hard into the corner and used the momentum to clothesline him to the mat.

Otis climbed to the second rope and hit a big splash on Dawkins. He dragged him to the corner and set for a Vader Bomb, I guess Otis Bomb. He hit a big time Bomb for the win. Cole said Otis is becoming a force. They showed a slowmo replay of Otis’ big splash.

WINNER: Otis at 1:59 (Otis Bomb)

-Heyman was in Gorilla as Jimmy Uso appeared. He said Edge is still talking a mess and he needs to know about this. Heyman said The Tribal Chief operates on his own time and that everything he does, he does for family. He does for those who do for him. Heyman said all Reigns needs Jimmy to do is go out there and be “Main Event Jimmy Uso.” He said he will, gave Heyman a hard hand slap, then made his entrance. Jimmy is doing fine character work as the overconfident lackey who’s doing whatever he can to get the attention of the boss. They cut to break. [c]

-They returned with graphics for next week’s qualifying matches: Rollins vs. Cesaro and Nakamura vs. Corbin.

“MAIN EVENT” JIMMY USO CALLS OUT EDGE

Jimmy was in the ring, looking hard, then said where you at Edge, cuz I’m right here uce, a callback to Edge’s words last week. He said it’s just them two tonight, and he said he doesn’t need his cousin because he can handle Edge all by himself. He asked where you at, then said Edge isn’t man enough to step in the ring, face-to-face with Jimmy Uso. He said this ain’t no trap, he promises, it’s just an uce calling Edge out. He said to bring yo ass out here right now and paced the ring.

Edge’s music hit. He hit the stage and said you think you’re smart because you have your cousin waiting in the wings? He said don’t you see it, he’s using you like he uses the entire family. He said Reigns beat Jey around until Jey acknowledged him. Edge said when he used up Jey, he turned to Jimmy. He asked whatever happened to “nobody’s bitch,” and now Jimmy’s just another one of Reign’s bitches. He said Reigns laid a perfect trap, but it wasn’t a trap for him, it was a trap for Jimmy.

Edge made it to the ring as Jimmy looked around for Reigns. Edge sent Jimmy shoulder-first into the ring post, then from the apron, ran him head-first into the opposite post. Edge cleared the top steel step, but then at a superkick. McAfee said Jimmy brought this on himself. Jimmy threw Edge onto the flat, large portion of the steel step, then rolled him into the ring.

He mounted Edge and threw a bunch of right hands. He looked around, then went back to Edge only to eat a kick to the face. Edge mounted and delivered some receipts, then locked in his modified crossface, causing Jimmy to tap. Edge set in the corner for the spear as Jimmy was trying to catch his breath. Edge hit the spear as Cole said there’s still no sign of Reigns.

Edge exited the ring and looked for a chair. He broke off one of the connecting rods, preparing to lock the crossface as he did to Reigns at WrestleMania. He did just that, yelled out, “Look Roman! Look at his eyes!” The show ended with Edge releasing the hold, crawling to a camera, and saying, “I don’t stop!”

(Hazelwood’s Take: I said Jimmy’s been doing great character work, and it shone through here. Him looking around for help, even with all of that bravado, was perfectly coherent to how his character has been presented since coming aboard. Edge showed a lot of intensity, and his turning of the trap was fine. He’s not going to win at MITB, and it seems likely that he’s actually going to be facing Rollins at SummerSlam if tonight’s Rollins promo is any indication. They also have the history of Rollins, with J&J Security, threatening to injure Edge’s neck years ago to work with.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: Reigns’ force is so powerful that even though he wasn’t on the show (apart from video replays), he played an integral role from the first moments to the the last. Him leaving Jimmy out there like that really helped cemented his role as a malevolent leader: “tough love” is a better lesson than guiding love. I’m still confused as to Deville just announcing women participants, so hopefully there’s something more definitive on this next week. Then again, with the men’s qualifying matches next week being matches we’ve seen too many times already, maybe not having qualifying matches for the women on Friday night ended up a push?

Again, I’ll be off next week, but don’t forget about Nate and Kelly (tentatively) covering instead. I’ll see you all in two weeks, and have a safe and happy weekend!

3 Comments on 7/2 WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT: Hazelwood’s alt-perspective on advancement in Reigns-Usos story, Owens vs. Zayn in Last Man Standing qualifying match, more

  1. Hopefully, Mia Yim is given a spot as well. I have to admit I am surprised to see Vega back with Black having been let go; but perhaps this means he will be back too.

  2. Just like Mickey James previously, Vega and Eva Marie were brought back to be jobbers for the other women wrestlers. Won’t be nothing more than that.

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