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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JULY 16, 2021
LIVE FROM HOUSTON, TEX. AT TOYOTA CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON FOX BROADCAST NETWORK
Commentators: Michael Cole, Pat McAfee
Ring Announcer: Greg Hamilton
DARK MATCH RESULTS (courtesy of our on-site correspondent James Caldwell)
- Odyssey Jones & someone beat Austin Theory & Harry Smith. Smith received some “Welcome back” chants. Theory was pinned.
- Xia Li beat Aliyah
-A video package aired of “the good ol’ days” of 10 and 15 years ago and closed with an image of Drew McIntyre letting out an enthusiastic yell.
-They went live to the arena where Cole said they missed the fans and touted the 14,000+ sellout.
-The big screen said, “Mr. McMahon.” He strutted onto the stage and asked, “Where the hell have you been?” He then turned and left.
-They went to Cole and McAfee at ringside. Cole only Mr. McMahon could get away with an entrance and exit like that. McAfee said it was six words of absolute electricity from the bossman.
-Roman Reigns’s music started and there was a huge pop that then shifted into boos. Reigns walked out with Paul Heyman. The Usos then walked out behind him. Lots and lots of crowd noise for Reigns who took his time entering the ring as Heyman held up the Universal Title belt. A brief “Roman sucks!” chant started when Rey Mysterio’s music played.
-Rey and Dominik came out. The set is now ground level (no stage) with a gigantic curved screen backdrop probably 40 feet or so tall that looks 8K in terms of the resolution and is very vibrant and immersive. The stage is shiny and reflective. Then Edge’s music played and he got a monster pop, also. Edge showed great fire as he played to the crowd. The last row of floor seats are now able to interact with wrestlers as they walk out. Cole commented on three images of Edge pulling back on metal bars in the mouths of both Usos and Reigns. They cut to a break before the bell. [c]
(1) ROMAN REIGNS & THE USOS (w/Paul Heyman) vs. REY MYSTERIO & DOMINIK MYSTERIO & EDGE
We’re now 15 minutes into the show coming out of the break. Jey jumped Edge as Edge stared at Reigns. The ref called for the bell, giving Jey an unfair advantage. Edge made a fast comeback with a face plant. Edge tagged in Dominik. Cole said this is Dominik’s first time in a WWE ring in front of fans. Rey quickly tagged in just as Jimmy tagged in. Rey quickly tagged Edge back in. With Dominik down on the mat, Reigns offered his hand for the tag. Fans booed. Reigns yanked Dominik to the floor by his feet. More boos. Reigns suplexed Dominik and scored a one count. Reigns shoved Dominik to the floor again. He relished the moment, rubbing his hands together, before slamming Dominik head-first into the ringside table. Then he powerbombed him onto the table. They cut to a mid-match break. [c]
Back from the break, Jimmy had Dominik down. Dominik broke free and tagged in Edge. Cole said Edge is looking better than ever. Jey superkicked Edge in the chin, but Rey had tagged in and surprised Jey with a flurry of offense for a two count. Jimmy broke up the cover. Dominik dove onto Jimmy at ringside. Reigns threw him into the ringpost. Rey, meanwhile, set up Jey for a 619, but Roman blocked it and drove Rey back-first into the ring apron hard before throwing him back into the ring. Edge caught Reigns by surprise with a spear as Reigns was gloating to McAfee. Rey rolled up Jimmy, but Jimmy pushed Rey off of him. Jey then hit Rey from ringside, so Jimmy rolled him up with a yank of the tights for the three count.
WINNERS: Reigns & Usos in 10:00.
-Edge saved Rey and Dominik from a post-match attack with chairshots. Reigns then hit Edge with a Superman Punch. As he gloated toward the fans, they pelted him with boos. McAfee said, “Acknowledge him, Houston!” Fans chanted “You suck!” Reigns, seeming to be having more fun as a performer than ever, egged it on. Edge popped up and surprised Reigns with a spear. Heyman looked shocked at ringside. Reigns gasped for breath. Edge then held up a broken part of a chair bar and put it in Reigns’s mouth and pulled back for about 10 seconds. He let go and his music played as Heyman looked on in horror. Edge picked up the Universal Title belt and held it up as Cole wondered if he’d win it on Sunday at Money in the Bank. Edge placed the belt over Reigns. Cole said Edge sent the message to Reigns that his reign could be coming to a close when he finally gets his one-on-one match this Sunday.
(Keller’s Analysis: I don’t think WWE could have asked for a much better crowd response. Reigns got a mega-star heel reaction. Edge’s reception was super-enthusiastic at the start, but didn’t seem out of this world as the match progressed, but still very good. Same for the Mysterios.) [c]
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NOTE: A local commercial for Smackdown in two weeks in Minneapolis, Minn. advertised Reigns & The Usos vs. Rey & Dominik & a mystery partner plus Edge appearing.
-Backstage, Rey was explaining to Edge what happened at the end of the match. Kayla Braxton approached and said that despite his loss, he’s “still one step closer to defeating Roman Reigns this Sunday.” (Huh?) Edge said what he just did to Reigns doesn’t mean beating Reigns will be easy. He said he’ll have to be the most selfish, manipulative son of a bitch this Sunday to win. Seth Rollins cackled behind him in a red shirt and tie and a black suit jacket with white stars on it. Seth said Reigns might be the most self-absorbed megalomaniac he’s ever known, but he’s got Edge’s number. He said this Sunday he’ll still be his biggest fan, holding up a sign that says, “Go Edge, Go!” He said he’ll do his job by winning the Money in the Bank contract and finish what he started seven years ago “when I had my boot on your neck and I didn’t pull the trigger.” He said he sincerely hopes he’s the Universal Champion because he’d love to cash in on the man who made the match famous. He cackled and wished him luck.
(Keller’s Analysis: They’re setting up Edge’s next feud, but in a way that doesn’t give away the results of Sunday’s match.)
-Sami Zayn came out to his music and said nobody has the courage to admit that he’s purposefully being excluded. He said WWE wants you focus on all the happy things like the fans and the new entranceway. He said it’s all to distract them from the fact that for over a year, there’s been a conspiracy targeting him. He said tonight, for the first time in forever, he has something in his corner that he hasn’t had – “you people.” He said they’ve seen him be victimized and seen him be persecuted. He said he wants everyone to stand up and let their voices be heard. He tried to get a “Justice for Sami!” chant going. McAfee said it wasn’t gaining much traction. Sami said “the hee-haws of Texas” aren’t on his side, and he shouldn’t be surprised. Finn Balor’s music played. Cole said, “Are you kidding me?” Balor entered the ring. Sami started talking to him, but then tried to cheapshot Balor. Balor attacked Sami including a Coup de Gras. He then absorbed some cheers as his music played. Cole said, “No conspiracy here. Finn Balor is back.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Nice return of Balor. Not exactly a main event program to be dropped back into, but he can have great matches with Sami, win the feud, and move on from there. Let’s see if Balor has some agency to be cool instead of a smiling dork this time around on the main roster.)
-They cut to Cole and McAfee at ringside. McAfee was standing as Balor’s music faded. They threw to a sponsored replay of the debut of Shotzi & Nox on Smackdown last week. Then Shotzi & Nox made their entrance. Cole said Shotzi & Nox want to prove that last week wasn’t a fluke, as some have said. [c]
-Cole threw to a brief vignette on Apollo Crews and Commander Azeez.
(2) NATALYA & TAMINA vs. SHOTZI & NOX
At Natalya and Tamina made their entrance, Liv Morgan and Zelina Vega flanked Cole and McAfee at the announce table. They bickered and talked over each other. McAfee tried to restore some order and said, “We can get to both stories.” (Funny.) Liv said Zelena took the longest vacation in Smackdown history and then came back with a sense of entitlement. A brief “Let’s Go Shotzi” chant broke out. Nox tagged in and knocked Tamina off the ring apron, then went after Natalya. Nox hit the Shiniest Wizard, but Tamina broke up the cover. Liv and Zelina bickered and then began fighting at ringside. Natalya was putting Nox in a Sharpshooter, but she was DISTRACTED by Liv and Zelina. Nox then rolled up Natalya for the win.
WINNERS: Nox & Shotzi in 5:00.
-Tamina yelled at Liv after the match. Natalya shoved Zelina into a superkick delivered by Tamina. Liv avoided a charging Tamina, then threw Natalya into the ring. Liv then face-planted Natalya and celebrated mid-ring. McAfee said she’s earned it and worked for it, and Sunday she can show what she’s worked for is meant to be hers.
-They showed Bianca Belair walking backstage past Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode. Ziggler told her to say to Carmella for them. Roode asked if she has a sister. She walked right past them. [c]
-They showed tweets from John Cena, Steve Austin, Dwayne Johnson, William Shatner, Ric Flair, Maria Menounos, and others celebrating Smackdown’s return to playing in front of fans.
-Cole and McAfee plugged the Fatal Four-way coming up later.
-Carmella’s ring entrance took place.
If you plan to attend any upcoming Raw, Smackdown, and AEW Dynamite live TV events and are willing to be our on-site correspondent on our live podcast after the show, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are still looking to line-up correspondents for these dates:
- 7/23 Smackdown in Cleveland, Ohio
- 7/26 Raw in Kansas City, Mo.
- 7/28 AEW Dynamite in Pittsburgh, Pa.
- 8/2 Raw in Chicago, Ill.
- 8/6 Smackdown in Tampa, Fla.
- 8/9 Raw in Orlando, Fla.
- 8/13 Raw in Tulsa, Okla.
- 8/16 Raw in San Antonio, Tex.
- 8/20 Smackdown in Phoenix, Ariz.
- 8/23 Raw in San Diego, Calif.
-Belair’s entrance then took place. It sounded like a big pop on TV. She twirled her pony tail and danced and hopped her way to the ring. They showed a clip of the ESPYs ceremony which Belair and Sasha Banks won an “award” at. McAfee said, “The ESPY’s mean absolutely nothing.”
(3) BIANCA BELAIR vs. CARMELLA – WWE Smackdown Title match
Formal ring introductions took place. Carmella slapped Belair, then ran out of the ring. Belair chased Carmella around ringside and back into the ring. Belair then spanked herself in celebration. They fought on the ring apron a minute in where Carmella yanked Belair shoulder-first into the ringpost. Carmella threw Belair into the barricade. Cole said Carmella is getting her back into the ring because she can’t win the title at ringside. She scored a two count in the ring, then took it to Belair at ringside again. As Carmella gloated, they cut to a break. [c]
McAfee referenced Conor McGregor when Carmella applied a submission mid-ring. Carmella suplexed out of it, prompting a “Are you kidding me?” from Cole. (Cole’s “Are you kidding me?” utterances are much less annoying than Jimmy Smith’s.) Carmella grabbed Belair’s hair. Belair yanked it back and then whipped Carmella with it. She then gave Carmella the K.O.D. for the win.
WINNER: Belair in 11:00 to retain the Smackdown Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good enough match. Both got to do their thing. So far, no crowd reactions that would be discouraging to Vince McMahon.)
-Chad Gable and Otis stood backstage. Gable said wherever they go, people whisper “Otis” in awe. He asked Otis what that smell is in the locker room. Otis said, “We smell fear.” Cesaro walked in and said he smells “bull.” Gable congratulated him for earning Otis’s full attention. Otis punched Cesaro and shoved him into some crates. [c]
-A vignette aired on Toni Storm portraying her as a big star around the world. The graphic said she’d wrestle on Smackdown next week.
(4) OTIS (w/Chad Gable) vs. CESARO
Otis came out with that sneering serious expression. Cesaro then made his entrance. Cole said in recent weeks, Otis has been a wrecking machine. Otis drove his shoulder into Cesaro in the corner early in the match. When he charged in the corner, Cesaro side-stepped him and threw him into the ringpost. Gable gave Cesaro a German suplex from behind. The ref called for the DQ.
WINNER: Cesaro in 1:00 via DQ.
-After the match, Cesaro gave Gable a Cesaro Swing. The crowd went bonkers for it. Otis broke it up and attacked Cesaro, then gave him a corner swing splash. Cole said Gable has turned Otis into a human destruction machine. Otis and Gable posed afterward. Otis was bleeding from his nose.
-They replayed Edge’s backstage interview from earlier.
-Backstage Kayla knocked on Reigns’s locker room door. Heyman opened the door and said, “You’re a little aggressive with the knock, aren’t you?” He interrupted her asking about Edge. Heyman said Edge sinned tonight against the Tribal Chief. He said he will confess and atone for those sins at the hands of Reigns. Big E interrupted and yelled, “Oh, Paul Heyman!” He was all smiles and yelled his catch phrase and said he’ll be winning on Sunday. He then got serious and said he wanted to talk about him about something. He said it appears Edge has a hold of his man, Reigns. He then broke into laughter and walked away.
-Cole plugged the Fatal Four-way match later.
-Baron Corbin walked out looking downtrodden. Cole said they understand he has a special request.
NOTE: During the commercial, they announced a return date in Houston of Oct. 25 for Monday Night Raw. [c]
-A “despondent and disheveled” Corbin stood mid-ring as Cole threw to a video recap of Corbin’s downward spiral. Back in the ring, Corbin talked about how the last few weeks have been the most difficult time of his life. He said he lost his crown, his car, his investments, and his savings. He said now the bank is threatening to foreclose on his house (singular). He said his two year old daughter is sick because she has to eat spaghetti out of a can. “Oh, that’s a shame,” said McAfee. Corbin said his house is a mess because they had to fire the maids. He said if this continues, they’ll have to move in with his wife’s parents. “Can you imagine that?” he said. They cut to a fan giving a buddy a hard time and laughing, apparently because that’s his life. Corbin then announced a crowd funding site called “Baron Corbin Fund.” It has a goal of $100,000. He said he’s not asking for much, just enough to pay some bills and get back on his feet. He asked the fans to please go and donate. He said every little that they gives helps him. “Please don’t tell me that everyone here in Texas is as cheap as everyone else around the world,” he said. “Please, I’m asking you for help. Please.” He kneeled. He was interrupted by Kevin Owen’s music. Big pop.
Owens played to the crowd as he walked out. Corbin told Owens that he wants to believe he’s out there for the right reasons, because he wants to help him. He said he has influence in the locker room, and if KO starts with a donation, everyone else will fall in line. He said he knows KO is just like him and has a heart and sympathizes with people in need. He asked him not to take this the wrong way, but everyone knows he doesn’t spend money on his wardrobe. Owens gave him a Stunner and then kicked the ropes and played to a cheering crowd. Big E then began his entrance for the main event. [c]
-Rick Boogs introduced Shinsuke Nakamura with a lot of fanfare. Then Seth made his entrance.
(3) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs. KEVIN OWENS vs. BIG E vs. SETH ROLLINS – Fatal Four-way
Seth said good bye to everyone as soon as the bell rang. Big E speared him off the ring apron to the floor. KO then flip-dove onto Big E. Nakamura then gave Big E a running knee off the ring apron. They cut to another break. [c]
NOTES: A commercial advertised Smackdown would take place at two cities next week live in Cleveland in front of a capacity crowd plus live from a hip-hop festival in Miami, “Rolling Loud.”
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s a great decision by WWE to get Smackdown in a different setting to shaking up the format. I’m not sure how the fans in Cleveland feel, though.)
After a few more minutes of action, Owens climbed a tall ladder at ringside and leaped off with a flying elbowdrop onto Nakamura on the table. Seth then gave Big E a Stomp on the ladder for the win. Seth climbed the ladder as Cole talked about him once cashing in the MITB briefcase before the “heist of the century.” Cole thanked fans at home and fans in Houston. “We are back and we are home!” he said.
WINNER: Rollins in 8:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: They didn’t give much time to that, but it showed off the way ladders can be used in a match.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: No blockbuster surprise, so Balor will have to do. Without question, it was a blast watching WWE TV with an enthusiastic crowd elevating everything.