SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE SMACKDOWN TV REPORT
JULY 23, 2021
CLEVELAND, OH. IN THE ROCKET MORTAGE FIELDHOUSE
MIAMI, FLA. AT THE ROLLING LOUD FESTIVAL
AIRED ON FOX BROADCAST NETWORK
REPORT BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD (@B_Lee253), PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentators: Michael Cole, Pat McAfee
Ring Announcers: Mike Rome, Alicia Taylor
Backstage Correspondents: Kayla Braxton, Megan Morant
Tonight after the show, join Wade Keller and guest cohost 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: email@example.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: WWE is airing tonight’s show from two separate locations: Cleveland and Miami, the latter during the Rolling Loud Festival. The event made news yesterday as part of the stage collapsed during setup for the weekend. I believe Bianca Belair vs. Carmella in a Women’s Championship rematch will air from Rolling Loud. It will be interesting, as a viewer, to experience tonight’s event, particularly how the attendees at Rolling Loud receive the match.)
-They began with a loud crowd and Michael Cole welcoming viewers to Cleveland, brought to you by Progressive. John Cena’s music hit to a thunderous reaction, even more when he made his entrance. Cole said it’s the “Summer of Cena.” There were a LOT of Cena signs in the crowd. He looked around and soaked in the reaction a bit. A “Cena” chant started, then he ran around the ring getting the crowd fired up.
He said the crowd is amped up tonight, and they cheered. He said it’s been one hell of a week, big surprised at Money in the Bank, and he was so excited he had to crash Raw and answer all-important questions like how did he escape the Firefly Fun House? He said yes, he came back to challenge Roman Reigns at SummerSlam for the Universal Championship. The fans popped.
He said he knows why they’re excited: this is SmackDown and they know we’re just a few heartbeats away from Cena and Reigns, face-to-face, in the ring, and he couldn’t think of a better place than in Cleveland. He brought up the name change, the fans booed (really?), and then he said he officially changed his middle name to Guardians, which brought more boos, and he said because someone needs to protect the small amount of credibility WWE has left. He said Smackdown with Reigns as champ absolutely sucks.
He said it’s just his perspective and he knows there are hundreds of Reigns fans out there somewhere, but they deserve to stand up and be heard. He said the same to the crowd. He said no more Thunderdome, no more LED screens, we are live and in your face, and there is noise on every side of this arena. He said that’s what these people understand, that’s it’s not just a match, but a chance for all of us to stand up for what we believe in. He asked what do you believe in, pointing at the crowd, and asked whose team are you on?
He looked around as another “Cena” chant started. He said are you on team jorts? That drew a pop. Are you on team cargo pants? That drew boos, but some whistles. Team hustle, loyalty, and respect, or the team that fans always reject? He asked are you on team Cena, or team Roman Reigns. Cena got a huge pop, Reigns mostly boos. He said where the hell is Reigns? He said, he knows that “he can’t see me” with the hand motion, and that after SummerSlam, Reigns will realize that the champ is here. Another “Cena” chant started as he said get him out here. He entreated Reigns to enter the ring…and entreated him again, but to no avail. He said, “Uh…please come out Roman Reigns?”
Paul Heyman said ladies and gentlemen, which drew a pop, then said ladies, gentlemen, things that live in Cleveland, John Cena you have it all wrooooong. He said Reigns “can’t see you? No, Roman Reigns can’t hear you because you’re simply worth him listening to.” The fans booed as Cena paced. Heyman said not to get his panties in a bunch as he, Paul Heyman, gave Cena his word that tonight, Cena will get an answer to his challenge when, but only when Reigns decides to come out and show Cena and everyone live tonight that the ch- the Tribal Chief is here. He then rolled his tongue and started humming Cena’s music. It was fantastic. Cena left to his actual music.
-Cole and Pat McAfee then shifted to last Friday’s return of Finn Balor as he attacked Sami Zayn, who was holding a “protest” in the ring. Balor’s music hit to a HUGE pop. McAfee said Balor has weapons all over his body. He entered for the opening match of the night against Zayn. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Cena didn’t have to do as much cheap popping for the crowd tonight, but it was a typical Cena promo. He was fiery, he clearly laid out his mission statement, but then he had to ladle it with catchphrases. I love Reigns being too good to answer Cena, and sending Heyman out as the messenger to inform Cena that the show operates on REIGNS’ time, not Cena’s. We all expect Reigns to go over, but they’re doing a good job thus far of building a match with a seemingly inevitable outcome.)
-They returned with Balor doing the “Too Sweet” pose to the crowd. Zayn entered as they showed replays of him winning the Intercontinental Championship at Night of Champions 2020.
(1) FINN BALOR vs. SAMI ZAYN – Singles match
Balor took the center of the ring and hit a go-behind on Zayn, bringing him to his knees. Zayn hit a back elbow to break the hold, then hit an arm wringer and started working the left arm. Balor rolled out and tried a side Russian legsweep, but Zayn blocked and brought him back down to the mat. Balor kipped up, applied his own arm wringer, but then ate a big right hand from Zayn.
Zayn rubbed Balor’s face across the top rope and then pounded on him in full mount as a “Let’s go Balor!” briefly started. Zayn tossed Balor outside and hit a big forearm to the face, then hit a flurry of strikes to Balor against the barricade. Zayn taunted the fans, then threw Balor back into the ring at eight.
Balor hit a double leg on Zayn, then stomped on him against the ropes. He tossed Zayn outside by the entrance, then hit a tope con hilo to Zayn. He did the finger guns pose as they cut to break. [c]
They returned with Balor hitting a jawbreaker to gain the advantage, but he ate a big clothesline off of a rope run for a two-count. They showed a replay of Zayn shoving Balor face-first into the ring post during the break. Zayn locked in a rear chinlock. Balor fought to his feet, but Zayn grounded him with two knees to the body.
Balor hit a double kick out of the corner, but Zayn hit a big DDT right after. Zayn went for the Helluva Kick, but Balor hit the slingblade. He then hit his twisting elbow to Zayn, then set for the shotgun dropkick, but Zayn caught him into a Blue Thunder Bomb for a two-count (Cole said Michinoku Driver). Zayn went for the exloder in the corner, Balor blocked, but Zayn hit a series of elbows to the head. Balor blocked another and then hit his own series elbows.
Balor countered another exploder by rolling through and hitting a double stomp. He hit the shotgun dropkick into one corner, then another, then climbed for the Coup de Grace. He landed flush on the chest and won. The crowd popped big.
WINNER: Finn Balor at 8:52 (Coup de Grace)
-Kayla Braxton was in the back, inside their mini-ring, as she welcomed Baron Corbin, with even more growth on his face and head. She asked about his fundraising site from last week, asking how much money he made. He said he actually lost money on the venture as the man who built the website ghosted him and possibly stole his identity. He said his credit is gone. He said he had to ride the bus here today and asked if she’d ever rode a public bus. He said it smelled like curdled cheese and gym socks, asked what happened to him, then walked off.
-Big E’s music hit as Mr. Money in the Bank made his entrance to a big pop. They showed some clips of the Money in the Bank match that included still shots. They didn’t show E unclipping the briefcase, but showed him with it at the top of the ladder, so yeah. They cut to break hyping E’s first promo as Mr. Money in the Bank. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: The crowd is popping big for the faces and booing loud for the heels. This is exactly the crowd WWE was hoping to see and hear tonight. Balor looked good, and so did Zayn. It’s hard to have a bad match between these two. It’s clear Balor is being built toward a championship match of some sort as the announcers said as much. Let’s see him vs. Sheamus.)
-They returned with McAfee congratulating the Milwaukee Bucks on winning their first championship in 50 years, including the title belt that was donned by Bobby Portis, Jr.
BIG E IN-RING PROMO
E yelled out Cleveland, and they popped. He said Sunday, but then stopped as a “You deserve it” chant started, well, two separate, unsynchronized ones. He soaked it in and said he appreciates everyone. He said he will never forget Sunday night July 18, 2021 is a night he will never forget. He said he jumped off ladders and he shouldn’t be jumping off of ladders. Apollo Crews’ music hit.
Crews & Commander Azeez started walking down the ramp. Crews sarcastically congratulated E, then laughed that E won a contract because it’s not the same thing as winning a championship, like he did when he beat E at WrestleMania. Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode then entered for some reason.
Ziggler yelled for everyone to stop, then said if you’re talking about the IC title, you better be talking about The Dirty Dawgs. Rick Boogz screamed, then started playing Shinsuke “Kingsuke” Nakamura’s entrance. The crowd sang along, loudly. Cesaro then entered, saying he wanted the title, and it was swing time in Cleveland. Everyone started brawling. Azeez had E in a corner, choking him. The faces came to help, but he grabbed both by the neck. Cesaro & Nakamura fought out, hit a few strikes, then E sent him over the top and to the floor with a clothesline. Crews ran into a swing, but Cesaro let go as the heels threatened. The heels went outside as the faces stood in the ring. Six-man tag later, probably.
-Cole & McAfee then shifted to Rolling Loud as McAfee donned sunglasses. Wale walked out at Rolling Loud, which had thousands and thousands of people there. It was packed. They were located below the stage that the ring was on. He started a “We want the smoke” call and response. Street Profits then made their entrance to a big pop. They cut to break hyping Angelo Dawkins against Chad Gable. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: That segment leading to what seems like a six-man tag team match was wholly unnecessary. It was a lot of screaming, and considering everyone besides E only said a line or two, the screaming accounted for the majority of the last few minutes. Are they teasing E cashing in for the IC title? I hope not.)
-They returned with a Miami Gardens video postcard for Rolling Loud.
(2) ANGELO DAWKINS (w/Montez Ford) vs. CHAD GABLE (w/Otis) – Singles match
Gable was already in the ring when they returned. Both men are former amateur wrestlers. Otis distracted Dawkins, allowing Gable to gain the adavantage. Dawkins hit a leapfrog, leaping back elbow, then some kind of modified brainbuster/vertical suplex. He tried suplexing Gable back into the ring from the apron, but Gable slipped out and hit a double throat chop.
He whipped Dawkins into the corner, but Dawkins caught him and sat him on the top rope. He went for a punch, but Gable turned it into an armbar from the top. He then hit a top rope clothesline for a two-count on Dawkins. Gable then started landing some knees to the left arm, which Cole reminded is the injured arm. Gable lifted his arm, but received no reaction.
Gable hit an arm-trap Northern Lights, bridging, for a two-count. He then sat on Dawkins’ back and worked the arm. Dawkins then fought to his feet, but ate a big German suplex from Gable for a two-count. This is a slower match, and the crowd seems ready to revolt. Gable climbed for a moonsault and landed on his feet as Dawkins rolled away. Dawkins sent Gable outside, but Gable landed on his feet.
Back in the ring, Gable ate a clothesline and spinning splash in the corner, but then Gable hit a rolling kick to the head. Dawkins responded with a big right for a two-count. Gable hit a rope run and turned it into a backslide for a two-count, then ran right into Dawkins’ sky-high spinebuster. Dawkins won.
WINNER: Angelo Dawkins at 4:00 (spinebuster)
-Bianca Belair’s music hit right away, and she actually received a good pop as she strutted down the stage. They hyped the Women’s Championship rematch as they cut to break. [c]
-They returned hyping Reigns answering Cena’s challenge before shifting back to Rolling Loud. Belair was in the ring. Carmella then made her entrance to no reaction from the crowd.
(3) BIANCA BELAIR vs. CARMELLA – Women’s Championship rematch
Carmella immediately hit a rollup for a one-count, then Belair did the same. They taunted each other before Carmella hit a gut kick and slammed Belair to the mat. She started slapping away at Belair in the corner, but Belair leaped out of the corner, then to the other corner, taunted, leaped over, then hit a dropkick and a kipup as she taunted Carmella again.
Carmella dropped Belair across the top rope, then came in and hit her twirling head scissors. However, Belair rose and hit a running shoulder tackle to drop Carmella. She lifted for K.O.D., but Carmella blocked and went to the apron. Belair hit a big right, but Carmella dropped her straight back onto the apron, then rolled in Belair for a two-count. She immediately cinched in a rear chinlock as they panned the audience.
Belair rose to her feet, carrying Carmella on her back, but Belair turned it into a pendulum backbreaker. She charged the corner, but Carmella hit a drop toehold. Carmella was on the apron, then climbed the top and hit a crossbody. Belair rolled through and hit a fallaway slam before kipping up and just beating on Carmella. She then hit her handspring moonsault for a two-count.
Carmella landed a jawbreaker, then went for a vertical suplex. Belair countered and lifted Carmella for a few seconds, but Carmella countered into a facebuster. She hooked both legs, but only scored a two-count. Carmella hit a superkick to the gut, but the second one was blocked. Carmella dodged a kick, but ate a big right, then a K.O.D. for the clean loss.
Belair posed after the match on the stage as pyro exploded behind her.
WINNER: Bianca Belair at 4:45 (K.O.D.) to retain the Women’s Championship.
-They shifted to Shotzi & Nox in the back. Their tank wasn’t working. Kevin Owens was there, then walked away right into Corbin. He said he wanted to apologize for insulting him last week. He said it’s a bad habit. Owens said it is a bad habit that Corbin’s had for what, eight years. Owens said you can’t blame anyone that you brought it on yourself. Owens asked if he’s wearing the same shirt as last week as there was a spaghetti stain on this one. Owens, out of pity, gave Corbin a handful of 20s, and asked him not to be a jerk. Suddenly, the tank worked as they accidentally shot it into Corbin’s groin. The Dirty Dawgs laughed and took the money, but were chased of by Owens with a chair.
-Edge’s music hit to a big pop as he entered. I’m guessing the fans in Cleveland needed that after watching two consecutive matches on the (now) gargantuan screen. Cole then shifted to replays of Sunday’s match between Reigns and Edge, which saw interference from Seth Rollins that led to Edge’s defeat. They hyped Edge’s promo as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: It was hard to get a real good sense of fan reactions during the matches at Rolling Loud. I think it was a success in getting the WWE product on more eyes, but the matches totaled, what, nine minutes? They seemed to kind of know Belair, but not so much everyone else. It may have been better to have wrestlers with a little more name value, but that’s the issue with WWE, right?)
EDGE IN-RING PROMO
They returned with Edge standing on the second rope with a mic in his hand. He jumped down, then the FOX player crashed on me. When it came back, he said he’s not the Universal Champion, and there’s one reason why: Seth Rollins. He stared into the camera, grinned, then said he thought he had all his bases covered. He didn’t think Rollins was going to make his presence felt; he thought if anything, Rollins would attack Reigns because he sees Edge as the weaker one.
Edge said this actually goes back to 2014 when Rollins didn’t pull the trigger because he thought Edge wouldn’t be back, but he’s back here (the fans popped) and in Rollins’ way. He said Rollins has no idea the Pandora’s box of violence he just opened. He said he’s learned for the most evil minds in the business. He brought up being in The Brood, The Ministry of Darkness, and that Rollins has no idea the depths he will sink to to achieve his goals. Rollins’ music hit.
He came out in a lilac suit and said, “Did somebody say my name?” before cackling. He said there’s grandpa Edge in the ring, talking about the man he used to be. He kept cackling. Edge just said shut up and that Rollins is embarrasing himself. The suit is actually baby blue. Edge said he promised he wouldn’t put his hands on Rollins, so Rollins said he’s on his way to the ring and Edge isn’t as stupid as he looks.
Rollins said full disclosure, he was going to come out here and talk about how much he despises the city, about how much he despises people like Edge and Cena who come back whenever they want and jump the line and take opportunities away from people like him who earned those opportunities. The fans booed as he asked them to hear him out. Rollins said he was going to talk about all of those things, but the more he thought about, the more he agrees with Cleveland and is thrilled that Edge is standing in his ring right now.
He said he’s thrilled Edge can’t keep his name out of his mouth because Edge has been such a scumbag to him, and nothing would make him happier than to crush Edge’s dreams, to put an end to the fairytale comeback story. Rollins said when they talk about the Hall of Fame career of Edge, they’re going to talk about the man that ended him, Seth Freaking Rollins.
He said he had the chance to end it once before seven years ago when he was with The Authority, but he hesitated. The crowd started chanting “You suck!” Rollins said he hesitated, but when he gets the opportunity again and has his boot on the back of Edge’s surgically repaired neck, he will not hesitate to pull the trigger. He yelled BANG! in Edge’s face, but Edge didn’t even flinch. Edge said what he said about not putting his hands on him, he’s a liar. He attacked Rollins, but Rollins started getting the better. As Rollins removed his jacket, he turned into an Edgecution.
Wide-eyed Edge returned as he went to the corner. He set for the spear, but Rollins evaded and rolled outside, retreating up the ramp. Edge grabbed Rollins’ blazer, held it, and just grinned at Rollins from the ring.
-They hyped Toni Storm’s debut next against Zelina Vega as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: WWE is really selective in when they choose to acknowledge history. The Rollins-Edge angle from 2014 was one of the memorable spots of that year, so I’m glad they’re channeling that. It also keeps both men out of the Universal Championship picture, which serves both best right now. I think Rollins vs. Reigns should be saved. These two should have a good match at SummerSlam, at the very least. I could do without all of the cackling from Rollins, though.)
-They returned with Storm making her entrance, but the response was tepid at best. Vega was already in the ring. Storm clearly played to the crowd in her entrance.
(4) TONI STORM vs. ZELINA VEGA – Singles match
They locked up, but after some maneuvering, Storm hit a boot. Shen then hit a sliding forearm to Vega, leaning against the bottom rope. Storm chased Vega outside, but Vega slammed Storm’s face into the announce table. Back in the ring, Vega hit a big rising boot to Storm in the corner for a two-count.
Storm reversed a move and then landed a huge headbutt that dropped both women. Selling the headbutt, good! Storm then hit a running hip attack to a seated Vega in the corner, then a bridging German suplex for a two-count. She went for Storm Zero, but Vega countered and hit a sunset bomb for a two-count.
Vega slipped behind, then they hit some go-behinds. Vega tried grabbing Storm, but Storm’s belt came off. Storm then hit a wicked move, some sort of modified cutter where she did the Erik “flip your opponent over your leg” only before they landed, she turned it into a cutter. It was impressive, but there was no replay.
WINNER: Toni Storm at 2:35 (modified cutter)
-Cole then shifted to highlights of The Usos winning the Tag Team Championship last Sunday. The Usos then made their entrance as they cut to break. [c]
-They returned with The Mysterios making their entrance. Last Friday was the younger’s first time in front of a live audience.
(5) JIMMY USO (w/Jey Uso) vs. DOMINIK MYSTERIO (w/Rey Mysterio) – Singles match
Mysterio immediately rushed Uso in the corner, but then Uso hit a side headlock and a shoulder tackle off of a rope run. Mysterio hit a leapfrog and a dropkick, then grabbed Uso’s hand, slapped the chest, and went to climb the ropes, but Uso took out his legs, crotching him on the rope. Uso then hit a superkick and whipped Mysterio chest-first into the corner (Mysterio really pulled up on that one).
Back on their feet, Jimmy hit his spinning enziguri for a two-count, then maliciously grinned at the father. Uso then cinched in a rear chinlock, but Mysterio fought out and then hit a wheelbarrow that set Uso against the ropes. Mysterio went for the 619, but Jey pulled his brother away. Mysterio then hit a seated senton off of the apron to Jey as Dominick flew and took out Jimmy on the outside as they cut to break. [c]
They returned with Mysterio hitting a springboard hilo from the apron, then pointed to the sky and signaled for Three Amigos, but after one, Uso caught him with an enziguri. Uso then taunted with Eddie Guerrero’s shimmy, but Mysterio hit a basement dropkick to the knee, then the 619. Jimmy tried interfering when Mysterio was on the top, but papa pulled him down. Mysterio then leaped, but ate a superkick for a two-count.
Mysterio then dodged and hit a sliding kick to Jey on the outside. He leaped in and after a few counters of pin attempts by both men, Uso hit a sunset flip, then Jey pushed against his back with his boots for the victory.
WINNER: Jimmy Uso at 7:47 (sunset flip)
-After the match, Reigns’ music hit as he entered. He actually received a big pop; I think people just wanted to see him, and they waited 105 minutes. They posed with all three titles at the top of the ramp as Reigns just soaked it all in and took his damn time, as he should. They hyped Reigns’ answer as they cut to break. [c]
ROMAN REIGNS ANSWERS JOHN CENA’S CHALLENGE FOR SUMMERSLAM
They returned with Reigns just entering the ring (hahahaha!). Heyman handed him the title and he raised it to pyro from the entrance. Heyman then received the title and handed off a mic for the Head of the Table, but only when Reigns asked, and not a second before.
Reigns just grinned as “You suck!” chants rained down. He said, “Cleveland, acknowledge me.” There were mostly boos. He looked into the camera and said you sitting at home, acknowledge me. He said everybody is acknowledging him, including Cena. He said Cena acknowledged him Sunday, Monday, and tonight, then he paused. He said he wanted to acknowledge Cena, but Hollywood fooled him. He said they put a whole new paint job on Cena. He thought they would get something new, but Cena put on a nostalgia act.
The crowd started the “What?” chant as Reigns said Cena did the same entrance, promo, catchphrases, insults, and if he wanted that, all he had to do was look up 2005 John Cena. He said it’s like missionary position every single night. He said The Tribal Chief, Head of the Table, we’re not interested in that, not motivated by that, not inspired by that. He said Cena’s right: he can’t see Cena because he has no need, want, or desire to see Cena. He said guess where were not going to see you: the main event of SummerSlam because his answer is no.
Balor’s music hit. The announcers reacted in shock as Heyman said something to Reigns, who looked angrily amused. Reigns said his special counsel told him that Balor is here to follow suit and acknowledge him. Balor shook his head and said he’s not here for that, but if he’s not interested in Cena’s challenge, maybe Reigns is interested in his. Reigns just squinted his eyes like, “Really?” then started chuckling. He looked around when the fans chanted “Yes!”
Reigns contemplated, Heyman said something, Reigns’ face became serious as Heyman kept speaking, then reacted as the crowd chanted “Roman’s scared!” He put the mic up, the crowd quieted, then said challenge accepted. They never said when. They ended the show with both men staring at each other.
(Hazelwood’s Take: This was another banner night for Reigns. The show ran on HIS time, Cena answered to HIM, and Balor challenged HIM, and in doing so, acknowledged Reigns. The thing with Reigns’ promo on Cena is that it hits all the perfect notes for a cocky heel to disregard arguably a legitimate threat to his title only to, by convincing from Heyman, switch to who he sees as a non-threat to his title. Again, they never said when Balor would challenge Reigns, but it seems like they want us to think it’s for SummerSlam.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: It was a weird show because of Rolling Loud. Even though there were so many fans, the combination of being outdoors and having only four minutes to become invested in matches didn’t bode well for the reaction, and made the matches feel flat. Everything that happened in Cleveland had a decidedly different feel as the crowd enhanced every segment, aside from the “What?” chants. I really hope they don’t go with E cashing in for the Intercontinental Championship. I’d rather see E win that and cash-in as IC Champ. There also wasn’t really any development in the women’s division story-wise as one match was a feud ender and the other a debut. I doubt Storm will challenge Belair so soon. Reigns is still the anchor and highlight of every show. His facial reactions tonight were perfect, and the condescending arrogance he exudes in his promos and gestures are just so damn good.
This is my final report for Smackdown as I return to only writing reports for Raw. Next week, Alex McDonald will officially takeover the position, though he has been doing reports the past few weeks. Catch Alex next Friday, and catch me on Mondays!