7/9 WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT: Wells’s alt-perspective on Cesaro vs. Rollins & Nakamura vs. Corbin in qualifying matches, Reigns’ response to Edge, more

by Kelly Wells, PWTorch Contributor


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

WWE SMACKDOWN TV REPORT
JULY 9, 2021
TAMPA, FLA. AT YUENGLING CENTER (THE “THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON FOX BROADCAST NETWORK
REPORT BY KELLY WELLS (@spookymilk), PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Commentators: Michael Cole, Pat McAfee

Ring Announcer: Mike Rome

Backstage Correspondent: Kayla Braxton


(I’m filling in this week for Bruce Hazelwood. I do the recaps for NXT and host the PWT Talks NXT podcast as well as NXT: Eight Years Back. Let’s see how awkward a show we get with the Jimmy Uso situation)

[HOUR ONE]

-The show opened with a recap from last week’s show, heavily focusing on Jimmy Uso by necessity leading to Edge’s spear and beatdown.

-Jimmy Uso tried to get through a door to Roman Reigns, but Paul Heyman stopped him in his tracks and told him not to approach right now, but he’d get Roman Reigns’s full attention later tonight. Jimmy exited and Heyman eyed him warily.

(Wells’s Analysis: A fan who doesn’t use wrestling Twitter or websites would never know about Jimmy’s bad week. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s written off temporarily or if his issues continue to be dealt with in-house but not on television. That would be a step up from using it in a storyline)

-Roman Reigns entered to boos and Pat McAfee said that at Money in the Bank, Edge would get to go one on one with the G.O.A.T. Reigns and Heyman hit the ring and got a little pyro. A “Roman sucks” chant was piped in and Reigns milked it for a while. He took the mic. He said he knows a lot of people at home aren’t happy he wasn’t present last week. He said if there was one thing he wouldn’t stand for, it was a liar like Edge saying that Reigns fears him. He said he was an honest man, and in their WrestleMania match, maybe ten or twenty seconds when he was in the hold with the bar in his face, he may have had some fear. He said that situation propelled him and what happened? He smashed him. He stacked him. He pinned him. He said the only reason Edge got to him is because Roman had so much going on, he wasn’t focused. Since we’re talking about family, this might be a good time to handle some business. The Usos’ music played, bringing Jimmy to the ring with his own mic.

Jimmy told Roman he got in Edge’s face for them, not for him. He said Roman was on vacation and didn’t show up. Roman said he never asked him to do that for them. Roman said if anyone had earned a vacation, it was him, but he was busy. The Usos’ music played again, bringing Jey to the ring as well. Jey said he was back for all of them. He told Roman his right hand man is back. He told Jimmy he always had his back “even through these hard times, right now” in as close to what we’ll get to an admission of what’s going on with Jimmy. Roman said the way forward was together. On the same page, nobody can touch them – if they do it Roman’s way. Roman dropped his mic and entreated the other two to embrace him. The Usos dropped their mics and all three hugged. We got Roman’s face in that moment, looking victorious.

-Kayla Braxton talked to Baron Corbin. He said his world was a mess. He had lost everything, and he needs to win tonight. He said the opportunity that comes with the contract is the only opportunity he has to turn his life around.

-We got a shot of Titus O’Neil awarding the Tampa Bay Lightning with another championship belt.

-Before the upcoming match, Big E, who’s already qualified for MITB, was introduced for some commentary. We got a recap of Corbin losing to Big E when his car was destroyed. Big E invited Pat McAfee to the chatting couch at ringside and told Corbin not to worry about him. Earlier today, we saw Nakamura and Rick Bugez out and about, now having taken ownership of Corbin’s repossessed car. Nakamura was introduced with Bugez playing along on guitar.

(1) KING NAKAMURA vs. BARON CORBIN – Money in the Bank Qualifying match

Corbin charged out of the ring and attacked Nakamura outside the ring. Bugez attacked Corbin in response. Both sold the attacks outside the ring as the show went to commercial.

We joined the match in progress as the bell rang sometime during the break. Corbin was in control. Big E and McAfee were soaking their feet in the chatting couch. Corbin threw rights to Nakamura against the ropes. Rope run and Nakamura hit a jumping kick. Combo punches by Nakamura, followed by an enzuigiri. Nakamura set up Corbin on the corner and hit a running knee. Sliding knee got a two count. Nakamura went for another knee but Corbin caught him and trapped him in a single-leg crab, but Nakamura reached the rope to break. Belly to back suplex by Corbin got two. Nakamura elbowed out of a waistlock and dumped Corbin, who beat down Bugez until Nakamura headed outside. Corbin caught him and hit a brainbuster on the announce table to head into another commercial break.

Corbin controlled in a corner upon return. Irish whip, charge, miss. Big E laughed about it. Spinning heel kick by Nakamura, who then walked into Deep Six for two. Michael Cole asked Big E how excited he was to be in a real crowd next week, and E was excited about it. Another two count for Corbin. Corbin set up Nakamura on a turnbuckle and took Nakamura down, but Nakamura held on with a triangle. Corbin lifted Nakamura and slammed him, but Nakamura held on. Corbin’s leg broke the plane and Nakamura transitioned to a cover for two. Nakamura wanted Kinshasa but Corbin hit a lariat. Both guys sold for a moment. Nakamura got some knees in when he recovered and hit Kinshasa for the win. Cole said that Corbin had reached absolute rock bottom.

WINNER: King Nakamura in about 14:00 (opening bell off TV)

(Wells’s Analysis: Another in an endless series of just okay matches between these two. Nakamura heads to a Money in the Bank match I can’t see him winning, though he’ll get some good spots in. Corbin seems like the priority even in defeat as it seems like his despair is heading toward a character shift)

-The Usos talked backstage. Jimmy apologized for how he talked about him. Jey said it was fine, and Edge’s antics have brought them together.

-Up next, Tamina and Natalya are challenged “by a new team making their debut.”

The champions said no matter who it is, they want to get this over with already.

(2) TAMINA & NATALYA vs. SHOTZI & NOX

Apparently Shotzi Blackheart lost her last name while Tegan Nox lost her first. Ugh. They entered on Shotzi’s tank. Nox and Nattie opened. Quick tag to Shotzi, and she and Nox double-teamed for a dropkick and Shotzi rolled up Natalya for two. Nox tagged in and hit a back elbow. Another tag. Nox hoisted Shotzi for a cannonball. Shotzi covered and Tamina broke the cover. Nattie broke away from trouble and tagged Tamina, who kicked Shotzi in the face and made the tag. Corner lariat by Tamina. Tamina dropped an elbow for a two count. Tamina elbowed Nox from the corner and the champs teamed up for a dropkick on Shotzi, but Nox got involved. Bonzo gonzo for a minute and we got down to the legal women. Shotzi hit a senton from the top (“The Ball Pit”) for the win in the non-title match.

WINNERS: Shotzi & Nox at 3:14.

(Wells’s Analysis: Tegan Nox just returned on Tuesday, seemingly renewing a feud with Candice LeRae while making a distraction that caused Io Shirai & Zoey Stark to win the tag team championships in NXT. Apparently that was either a red herring or a quick goodbye spot in NXT for Tegan, who’s been out for months with an injury. The team is getting the full main roster treatment immediately as they lose half their names and are involved in a match where champions lose. Shotzi had been teaming with Ember Moon for some months now, so it’ll be interesting to see Moon’s kayfabe reaction next Tuesday on NXT to her teammate going to the main roster with someone else)

-Edge was interviewed by Megan backstage. He said he was interested to see if Roman had a big enough set of jewels to face him alone, or if Dumb & Dumber would be with him.

[HOUR TWO]

-Sonya Deville was in the ring for an announcement about Bayley’s injury, which will keep her out for nine months. She threw to the tron, where Bayley had some words earlier. Bayley said she knew everyone wanted to see the longest reigning Women’s Champ in SmackDown history beat Bianca Belair and take her title back. But now that she thinks about it, people don’t care. She did this for the people, and it’s all their fault. She said she didn’t care who got put in her place, because they’re not as good as she is. Deville wished Bayley a swift recovery and had appointed a new opponent. She said Belair wouldn’t defend her championship at Money in the Bank. Instead, she’d defend her title next week at the first live SmackDown after the pandemic against former Money in the Bank winner Carmella.

Carmella’s music played and she walked to the ring. Pat fawned over her. She responded to the boos by saying she knows people are mad, but she’s hot, and they’re not. Liv Morgan’s music played and she said Deville simply appointing Carmella as the opponent was ridiculous. She asked Deville how many times she had to beat Carmella for a chance at this. Deville said if she would shut up for a second, she’d announce the replacement for Carmella in the Money in the Bank match – Liv herself. Liv looked like she genuinely wasn’t ready for that news, as she broke into a huge smile she couldn’t control. She said she hoped Carmella won so she could cash in on her.

Bianca Belair’s music played. She said she’d gladly accept Carmella as a challenger. She said she respected Carmella’s competitive skills, though she didn’t like her. She said she’d finish with Bayley when she comes back. She told Carmella she’d see her next week.

(Wells’s Analysis: WWE did pretty well with this on short notice. Here’s hoping Bayley’s recovery goes well, as she’s been such an integral part of this division for many years but especially the last one. I don’t particularly buy Carmella as a challenger to Belair, but it should make for a good return to live audiences)

-Heyman crashed into a scene of a brooding Reigns and said they may have a problem: Edge. He said Edge intends to call him to the ring tonight. Roman asked what Edge said. Heyman stoked the fire by saying Edge questioned Reigns’s manhood.

-Toni Storm hype segment. She’s coming soon.

(3) CESARO vs. SETH ROLLINS – Money in the Bank Qualifying match

Kevin Owens sat in on commentary.

Waistlock takedown by Cesaro. Quick cover and kickout. Rollup by Seth for one. Another for one. Rope run and a shoulder block by Cesaro. He didn’t even get a one count, but Owens said he thought it was three. Rope run and Cesaro caught Rollins in a corkscrew backbreaker. Two count. Cesaro went up and hit a cross-body for two. Rollins bailed to the outside and flipped out a little bit. He ripped the hood off the announce table and Owens said “Hey. My phone is there.” Rollins stomped on the hood and Owens said “Yeah, stomp the thing. That’ll help.” The match went to commercial.

Rollins kicked Cesaro but Cesaro dumped him from the ring again. Cesaro followed out but Rollins snapped him back on the table, then threw him to the steps. Back inside, Rollins dropped a knee and covered for two. Rollins tried the stomp but Cesaro ducked it and Rollins hit a back kick. Rollins stalked Cesaro and leaned on him with a boot in the corner. Referee Charles Robinson backed him up and Rollins jawed at Robinson for way too long. Uppercut/forearm exchanged. Whip by Cesaro. Running Euro Uppercut. Repeat in the opposite corner. Slam by Cesaro got two. Cesaro went up and Rollins popped up and hit a superplex. Cesaro powered up and lifted Rollins near the ropes, where both spilled to the floor and the match went to another commercial.

We came back to McAfee yelling “TEN…ELEVEN…” along with Cesaro’s big swing. Cesaro stopped shortly after and covered for two. Rollins reversed the Neutralizer but Rollins yanked the turnbuckle pad off in a foreshadowing move. Neutralizer was blocked again. Cesaro went for the Corkscrew Uppercut but Rollins hit a lariat instead. Rollains charged and Cesaro caught him but got run into the exposed turnbuckle. Rollins rolled him up for two. Rollins tried a couple more rollups. Cesaro was bleeding hardway from the exposed buckle spot. He bailed and Rollins put him in the barricade, then the announce table. Cesaro fought back to the ring and Rollins powered him to the outside again and begged for the count to go faster. Rollins ran out and hit a DDT on the ramp and entered the ring again. Robinson got to nearly ten and Cesaro got back in the ring. Stomp was blocked and Cesaro hit a rollup for two. Euro uppercut. Rollins hit a Stomp to finish. Cesaro was a bloody mess.

WINNER: Seth Rollins at 18:16.

(Wells’s Analysis: Pretty good stuff here, of course. The field is complete for the MITB match with an interesting mix of big stars and those hopefully on the way up. Cesaro, a month removed from his biggest push, now has no match for Money in the Bank and no obvious direction)

-The Usos got to Roman Reigns’s door and Jey told Jimmy to wait rather than just knock.

-When we came back, Rollins was bragging to Kayla Braxton about his victory. He said he told everyone he’d do this. He also called out the fact that last time he was Mr. Money in the Bank, he cashed in on the Tribal Chief, Roman Reigns. But maybe this time, he’ll cash in at that very show. He went on about how he should just be facing Reigns at Money in the Bank. Edge showed up behind Rollins and said he was going to do something Rollins just wouldn’t do – call Roman out.

-The Progressive Match Flo focused on the change in Otis. We went to Otis & Chad Gable in the back. Gable talked up his prized pupil and #1 guy, Otis. He said it didn’t matter who you are – if you step to the Alpha Academy, the result is the same. Otis said “I will destroy anyone.”

-Edge hit the ring for his callout of Reigns before the commercial.

-Edge said he didn’t care how many minions Roman Reigns has – anyone in his way is going to look like this. He threw to the tron, which showed side-by-side shots of Edge with the stick spot on Roman and Jimmy. He said it’s real simple – he’s calling Roman out.

As Edge yelled for Roman, we saw Roman, the Usos and Heyman in their suite. Roman said he’d handle it on his own. Edge paced in the ring, waiting. Edge shook his head after a long wait. and we saw Roman very slowly walking backstage with Heyman. Roman gave Heyman the championship belt. Heyman clutched it and Roman’s music played him to the ramp.

Back in the suite, the Usos said they thought it was a trap and they decided to head out, against Roman’s earlier instruction. Roman glared in at Edge, and his music went off and the Usos’ music played. Roman subtly grimaced and looked back at them. He asked them what he said. He said Edge called him out one on one and he’d handle it. Jimmy and Jey stayed intense about fifteen feet from the ring and Roman took off his jacket and went up to the apron and slowly stepped through. He and Edge threw fists and Edge eventually got the upper hand. The Usos tried to jump them, but Rey Mysterio’s music played, and Rey and Dominik attacked the Usos with chairs and got the better of them on the outside. In the ring, Edge hit a leaping DDT on Roman and set up a spear. Jey was able to hold his leg and Jimmy hit a superkick. The Mysterios charged back in and Dominik hit a 619 on both Usos. Spear from Edge to Jey. Roman had escaped up the ramp to the top.

Edge had grabbed a chair and got a crazed look on his face. He broke a bar from the chair to do his spot on Jey with it. Jey screamed in pain as Edge held on, trying to draw Roman back to the ring. Roman’s selfish side took over and he wouldn’t approach. Edge and Roman stared out at one another. We got replays of the main spots in the segment, as they seemed to finish a bit early. Edge went back to the spot on Jey, then Jimmy. Rey fed Jey to Edge so he could get another turn. Reigns turned his back on them all and went up the ramp as the show ended.

(Wells’s Analysis: Roman’s title reign is so strong that it’s hard to create realistic opponents for him once a month, but I dare say they’ve done a pretty good job here. Given the Reigns-Heyman-Usos system, it might be tough to plug someone in and not have it work to at least some degree, but Edge is really killing it here in the buildup to a match that I’d still be shocked to see him win. While Edge isn’t likely to be and probably shouldn’t be the one to get the rub from taking the title off this version of Roman Reigns, I think they’ve succeeded in a bit of reasonable doubt, and barring that, they’ve continued to use these characters to create more compelling future TV, as the selfish Reigns wasn’t willing to go to the ring to try to bail out the cousins he says he loves)


FINAL THOUGHTS: I’ll get the obligatory out of the way by saying that the Reigns saga continues to carry the show; even in a week that was less noteworthy, it would seem to be easily the segment that would draw a new viewer to watch again the following week. SmackDown is clearly attempting to beef up its women’s division, as they’re adding Toni Storm and it certainly appears that Shotzi & Nox aren’t just here for a one-off. I’ve got voluminous thoughts on the various strengths and weaknesses of all three, but they’ll inject some new life into the division and create a lot of fresh matchups. Of course, if this show can get away with having just three matches on a two-hour show because the other segments are good enough to carry the show, it’s not like they’re in need of all that many matchups. Another fine, digestible episode of SmackDown as we near Money in the Bank.

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