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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JULY 9, 2021
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA IN “THUNDERDOME”
AIRED ON FOX BROADCAST NETWORK
Commentators: Michael Cole, Pat McAfee
Ring Announcer: Greg Hamilton
-A video recap aired of last week’s show-closing angle with Jimmy Uso and Edge.
-Jimmy Uso tried to barge past Paul Heyman to get to Roman Reigns’s locker room. Heyman said Reigns is too busy right now, and he deserves his full attention and focus later tonight. He promised him he’d “get it tonight.” Heyman had a sinister look as Jimmy walked away.
-The “Are You Ready?” Smackdown opening theme played.
-They cut to Reigns standing backstage and piped in boos. He handed Heyman the Universal Title belt and asked if it’s done. Heyman assured him it’s done. Reigns’s music played and he headed to the ring as Cole welcomed viewers to the ThunderDome “for the final time.” (Let’s hope that’s true.) He said it’s appropriate they end this era with the star of this era, Reigns. They cut to Cole and McAfee at ringside. Cole hyped the Universal Title match between Reigns and Edge at Money in the Bank a week from Sunday. McAfee explained that Edge will finally get the one-on-one match he was supposed to get at WrestleMania from winning the Royal Rumble.
They piped in a “Roman sucks!” chant. McAfee said he doesn’t. Reigns waited for the chant to subside before speaking. He said he knows a lot of people watching didn’t like that he wasn’t present last week. He said there was a lot about last week he didn’t like. He said one thing in particular stood out – “a liar like Edge” claiming he’s in his head and he fears him. He said he’s an honest man who tells the truth. He said in their WrestleMania match, for maybe ten or twenty seconds, yes, he felt some fear. He said Brock Lesnar will tell you that occurs to even the best fighters during fights. He said that fear propelled him and he smashed ’em, stacked ’em, and pinned ’em. “We printed a shirt because of this,” he said. The only reason Edge was able to get to him a couple of weeks ago wasn’t because of fear, but rather he wasn’t focused. He said he had so much going on with Jimmy and Jey that Edge wasn’t even a worry in his mind.
He said since they’re talking about family, this is a good point to handle some business. The Usos theme played and out came Jimmy. He asked Reigns why he thinks he got in Edge’s face last week. He said he did it for the family, but he didn’t see Reigns last week. He told Reigns he must’ve been on vacation since he didn’t show up. Reigns asked Jimmy when he told him to make decisions for them. Reigns laughed and said, “Vacation? Vacation?” He said if anybody earned a vacation, he earned it. He said he was busy doing what Jimmy couldn’t do. “I was busy doing your job, too.” The Uso music played again and Jey came out. “Surprise, surprise, Jey Uso is back,” said McAfee.
Jey entered the ring and told Reigns, “Your right-hand man is back.” He turned to Jimmy and said he always has his back. “Even in these hard times, right now, keep your head up and let’s get back to work, doing what we do.” He told Jimmy they should become seven-time tag team champions. They hugged. Jimmy nodded at Jey. Reigns said he’s been saying it all along. “You choose what you want to hear,” he said. He said they succeed together, on the same page, everyone working together. He said nobody can touch them if they do it his way. Reigns offered a hug. The Usos moved in and hugged him. The music played. Reigns got an intense, sinister look. Cole said the family is back together and it doesn’t bode well for Edge.
(Keller’s Analysis: So there were hints of them writing Jimmy out of the family storyline due to his real-life DUI arrest earlier this week, but it didn’t happen yet. There was Heyman saying Jimmy’s “goona get it” tonight and the expression Reigns had during the hug. There was also Jey referencing they were going through tough times but he’ll stand behind Jimmy, which could have been a reference to his DUI.)
-They went backstage where Kayla Braxton interviewed Baron Corbin. She referred to Shinsuke Nakamura as “King.” Corbin said he’s missed payments on his car and house lately, so he needs to win. He said he’s won MITB before and this is his only opportunity he has to turn his life around.
-Corbin made his way to the ring without any music. [c]
-They showed a clip of Corbin losing to Big E and then his car being driven away on a flatbed.
-Big E was at ringside and asked McAfee to join him on the couch at ringside. (Big E was wearing a “Ding Dong, Hello” t-shirt as a show of support to Bayley after a training injury will sideline her for nine months.) Then they showed a clip of Nakamura and Rick Boogs showing up in Corbin’s car. Boogs said they can’t believe how cheap they got it at auction. McAfee said Corbin has a nightmare of an existence right now.
-Boogs came onto the stage and played his electric guitar for Nakamura’s entrance. McAfee stood in the foot-soaking tubs that Big E had set up for them and began dancing excitedly during Nakamura’s entrance. Corbin couldn’t stand it and went after Nakamura at ringside before the match began. Boogs threw Corbin into the ringside barricade. They cut to a break. [c]
-A commercial advertised Bobby Lashley vs. Xavier Woods for the WWE Title this Monday on Raw.
(1) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs. BARON CORBIN – Money in the Bank Qualifier
Big E said he enjoys frivolity and nonsense as much as anyone, but this match has serious high stakes. Big E said he’s been on the main roster for nine years and has never had a World Title match. Big E and McAfee made fun of Corbin’s receding hairline. A few minutes in, Nakamura kicked Corbin to the floor. Corbin punched Boogs at ringside, then caught Nakamura diving at him at ringside and gave him a brainbuster on the announce table. [c]
Back from the break, Corbin landed a Deep Six for a two count. Cole asked Big E about being back in front of fans next Friday. Big E said he is excited to hear the roar of the crowd. Cole thanked everyone who joined them virtually on ThunderDome. “We couldn’t have done it without you,” Cole said. Cole said globally millions have attended Raw and Smackdown virtually over the last year. (Uhh, millions?) Nakamura finished Corbin a few minutes later with a Kinshasa. They focused on Corbin at ringside afterward, gasping for breath and trying to compose himself. Cole said he’s hit rock bottom.
WINNER: Nakamura in 10:00 to advance to the King of the Ring match.
-Jimmy told Jey he is so happy he’s back. Jimmy said he’s sorry for everything he said. Jey said they’ve been fighting and making up since they were kids. Jey suggested he and Jimmy try to handle some business before Roman has to, for the family. “Think about it,” he said. They zoomed in on Jimmy who had to think it through.
-Tamina and Natalya made their entrance. [c]
-Natalya and Tamina stood mid-ring after the break. Natalya said they were told earlier that they had a tag team match, not for the titles, against a team that’s never wrestled on Smackdown before. Tamina said whoever they are, hurry up and get to the ring “so we can get over this already.” Out came Shotzi (Blackheart) and (Tegan) Nox, billed as “Shotzi & Nox.” McAfee and Cole talked about them being a successful team in NXT.
(2) TAMINA & NATALYA vs. SHOTZI & NOX
Shotzi leaped off the top rope with a senton splash that grazed Natalya for the win. Cole acted shocked and asked, “Are you kidding me?” McAfee called it the biggest night of their lives.
WINNERS: Shotzi & Nox in 5:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: A good pace, but not the smoothest match. Having a team debut and beat the champs in a non-title match is the epitome of shortcut booking. I know they’re reeling a bit from the Bayley injury, but can’t they tell a nice story of wrestlers on a journey working their way through the lower card to the top? I suppose that’s tough with such a lack of depth in the Smackdown Women’s Division.)
-Megan Morant congratulated Shotzi & Nox, then interviewed Edge. He said he planned to call Roman out later. He said he’s curious if he had a big enough set of jewels to come out alone. He said either way, it won’t be a happy family reunion. “And that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler,” he said.
-Sonya Deville walked out. Cole said Bayley suffered an injury and will be out of action for at least nine months as a result, so someone will have to replace her against Belair at MITB in nine days. [c]
-Deville said she had to make an announcement she wished she never had to make. Her voice almost cracked as she talked about how long Bayley will be out of action. She threw to comments from Bayley. She had her knee in a brace while sitting on a couch. She said she knows everyone is thinking this sucks because everyone wanted to see her beat Bianca once and for all and take back the title. She said fans don’t actually care, though. She said the injury happened because she was training for the fans. She said she doesn’t care who they put in her place because they won’t be as good as her.
-Back to the ring, Deville wished Bayley the best, then said after careful consideration, she has appointed a new opponent. She said Belair won’t be defending her title at MITB. She said instead she’ll be defending it next Friday in Houston, Tex. in front of a live audience. She said her opponent will be Carmella. Carmella made her ring entrance.
McAfee gleefully said Carmella could become champion next Friday without having to win MITB. They piped in boos. She said, “I know you’re mad; I’m hot, you’re not.” Carmella thanked Deville “for this long overdue but much deserved honor.” She talked about being the most beautiful woman in WWE. Liv Morgan interrupted and asked, “Are you kidding me?” She complained about favoritism. She got in Deville’s face and said this was inexcusable. Deville got angry and said she was about to appoint her to be Carmella’s replacement for the MITB ladder match. She told Morgan to get out of the ring before she changes her mind and she decides to never give her the opportunity again. Morgan grinned and turned to Carmella. She said she hopes Carmella wins the Women’s Title on Friday because then she’ll cash in her MITB briefcase and win it from her.
As Morgan left, Belair walked onto the stage to her music. She stared at Morgan, then proceeded down the ramp. Belair said she’ll gladly accept Carmella as her challenger. She expressed skepticism that Bayley’s injury was real, but she looked forward to finishing their issue when she comes back. She told Carmella she’d see her next week.
(Keller’s Analysis: That is all a solid solution to the disruption caused by Bayley’s injury.)
-Heyman told Reigns they might have a problem because Edge plans to call him to the ring tonight. Reigns asked what else Edge said. Heyman said, “Edge questioned your manhood.” Reigns snarled.
-Seth Rollins’ music played. [c]
-A vignette advertised the pending arrival of Toni Storm. It showed her hitting big spots with upbeat music.
(3) CESARO vs. SETH ROLLINS – Money in the Bank qualifier
Kevin Owens joined the announcers at ringside. Cesaro landed a backbreaker for a two count a couple minutes in. He leaped off the top rope with a crossbody for another near fall. Seth scurried out of the ring and threw a fit. As he cleared part of the announce desk in a tantrum, KO said dryly, “Hey, my phone is here. What an attitude problem. Stomp the thing, that’ll help.” [c]
Back from the break, Cesaro clotheslined Seth over the top rope to ringside. Seth threw Cesaro face-first into the announce desk seconds later, then into the ringside steps. KO said Seth has had many opportunities, whereas Cesaro reminds him of himself, clawing for every opportunity he has gotten. KO talked about having unfinished business with Reigns and Bobby Lashley, along with several people in the qualifying match. Eventually Cesaro went for a suplex, but both men tumbled over the top rope to the floor. [c]
Cesaro landed a lift-and-drop European uppercut after the break. Cesaro went for a Neutralizer, but Seth backdropped out of it. Cesaro springboarded at Seth, but Seth caught him mid-air with a spinning elbow to the side of the head. They replayed it in slo-mo. Seth headscissored Cesaro into an exposed turnbuckle for a two count. He rolled up Cesaro and yanked on his tights for another two count. Cesaro bled from his forehead. Seth scored another two count. KO said there’s no way Cesaro will stay down given what’s at stake.
Seth hit Cesaro on the back of his head, sending him through the ropes to the floor. Seth then DDT’d Cesaro on the ramp. Cesaro’s hand twitched. The ref got to 9.5 before Cesaro rolled back into the ring. He was bleeding very heavily at this point. He blocked a Stomp attempt with a roll-up for a two count. When Cesaro set up a sharpshooter, Seth upkicked. He then delivered a stomp for the win.
WINNER: Rollins in 14:00 to advance to the King of the Ring match.
(Keller’s Analysis: One heck of a match. That’s a lot of blood for Fox in prime time.)
-They showed Jimmy and Jey about to pound on Edge’s locker room door. Jey told Jimmy not to knock, but rather wait for him to come out so they can surprise him.
-A commercial aired for Asuka vs. Nikki Ash vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi on Raw this Monday. [c]
-Jimmy said he was tired of waiting. They barged into Edge’s locker room. No sign of him. Jimmy said Edge is lucky he wasn’t there.
-Kayla Braxton congratulated Seth backstage on his win. He said Cesaro put up a hell of a fight, but he’s just not on his level. He said he’s the future MITB winner. He said the last time he won, he cashed in against Reigns. He mocked Reigns calling himself “Head of the Table.” He said he biding his time and waited for the perfect moment to cash in. He said maybe this time, he doesn’t want to wait, so maybe he’ll cash in at MITB. He said it’s all a formality because he should be competing against Reigns already at MITB. Edge was standing behind him. Edge said he wanted to know where the nasally, droning, whining sound was coming from. Edge said he’s going to go do something Seth wouldn’t do – call Roman out.
-They went to Cole and McAfee at ringside. They threw to a sponsored video package on Otis. A soundbite aired backstage with Chad Gable talking up Otis, calling him “The Human Wrecking Ball.” He called him his prized pupil. He said it doesn’t matter if you’re Montez Ford, Angelo Dawkins, Big E, Edge, or even Roman Reigns, if you step up to the Alpha Academy, the result is the same. He said he will destroy anyone. The camera zoomed in on him staring into the lens. Cole called him a dangerous man.
-Edge made his ring entrance. [c]
-A commercial hyped that next Friday night, “Fans Are Back.” (They called them “fans”! How hard did people have to work to get Vince McMahon to agree to that?)
-Cole and McAfee hyped Big E vs. KO vs. Seth vs. Nakamura and Carmella challenging Belair for the Smackdown Title next week. Cole called it a “loaded show.”
-Edge stood mid-ring and said congratulations are probably in order for Reigns reuniting his family. He said he has exposed the cracks in the table, and at MITB, anyone who gets in his way will look like this. He pointed at the big screen showing Edge putting a metal bar in the mouths of Reigns and Jimmy. He said he’s taking the title on Sunday, and then Roman’s island won’t be relevant anymore. He said it’s simple. He called him to the ring intensely. They went backstage to Reigns sitting in a chair with Jimmy, Jey, and Heyman standing behind him. Reigns told them to stay there because he was going to handle it on his own.
Reigns made his way to the ring. Edge yelled, “Come on tribal chief, where you at?!” McAfee said he’s showing impatience. Edge laughed as he waited. They cut to Reigns taking his time. He told Heyman to hold onto the Universal Title for him. Reigns then came out to his music. Jey said it doesn’t feel right. Jimmy asked if it feels like a trap. They headed to the ring, defying Reigns’s orders. Reigns stared at Edge in the ring. The Usos music played. Reigns looked perplexed, then perturbed. He slowly turned and shot them a look. Then he asked, “What did I say? He’s calling me to the ring. I’m going to handle this.” Reigns unzipped his jacket and revealed a white Head of the Table t-shirt. He slowly entered the ring.
Edge threw the first punch to break their staredown. Reigns fired back. Rey Mysterio’s music played. Rey and Dominik ran out and attacked the Usos with chairs. Edge, meanwhile, got the better of Reigns. The Usos made a comeback. Edge set up a spear, but Jey held Edge’s leg. Jimmy then went after Edge. Rey and Dominik went after the Usos in the ring. Dominik hit a 619 on Jey and then Edge speared Jimmy. Reigns had retreated to the stage. Edge grabbed a chair at ringside. He stomped the support beam of the chair off the chair, then entered the ring. He then applied the crossface with the metal bar to Jey. Reigns stood on the stage, looking uneasy, but stopping short of doing anything about it. Edge released the grip and looked intensely at Reigns.
The announcers commented on highlights of what just happened. Then back live, Edge put the bar across Jimmy’s mouth. He pounded the mat frantically as Reigns watched. Rey rolled Jey back to Edge who reapplied the crossface with the bar. Reigns turned and left.
(Keller’s Analysis: How will Jey react to being left alone again by Reigns? Where does Jimmy fit into this? It appears WWE is not taking immediate public disciplinary action against Jimmy Uso for his DUI arrest earlier in the week. The show-closing angle seemed to set up Edge & Rey & Dominik vs. Reigns & The Usos, perhaps next Friday to further strengthen the return to being in front of fans. Reigns seemed like a real jerk for not helping the Usos, but he did warn them not to come to ringside, and had they not, then the Mysterios wouldn’t have beat them up and set them up for Edge.)