7/23 WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT: McDonald’s alt-perspective Cena challenging Reigns, Sami Zayn vs. Balor, Carmella challenging Belair

By Alex McDonald, PWTorch contributor


JULY 23, 2021

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

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-The show opened with Michael Cole welcoming us to Cleveland. John Cena’s music hit and he made his entrance to a solid pop. He said “I’m still here, I just never give up.” Cole said the “Summer of Cena” is underway. Cena ran around the ring holding up the microphone, he tried to get the fans to make noise. He made reference to escaping the Firefly Funhouse and stealing Peacemaker costumes. He said he is back to challenge Roman Reigns. He said everyone knows they are moments away from John Cena and Roman Reigns face to face. He said he couldn’t think of a better place to do it than Cleveland. John Cena said he went to the government office and changed his middle name to Guardians. He said Smackdown with Reigns as champion sucks. He said there must be hundreds of Reigns fans, somewhere. He said no more Thunderdome, no more screens, we are live. He again tried to get the crowd to cheer. He said Summerslam is a chance to show what we believe in and he asked “who’s team are you on? Team Jorts or Team Cargo Pants, Team HLR or a team the fans always reject, are you on team Cena or Team Reigns?” He asked where Roman was and said Roman can’t see him and after Summerslam, the champ is here. He asked the crowd to cheer to get Reigns to come out. Cena said “please come out, Roman Reigns?” Paul Heyman came out. Heyman said Cena has it all wrong. He said Reigns can’t hear Cena because Cena isn’t worth listening to. Heyman gave his word to Cena that he will get an answer to his challenge tonight. Heyman said they will show everyone tonight that the “Tribal Chief is here.” He then hummed Cena’s music. Pat McAfee said the head games are already beginning.

(McDonald’s Analysis: The end with Heyman was hilarious. Cena was intense and had a purpose. I liked that. It still seems like he’s pandering for a response though, which is really odd in a way. I wonder if he’s being asked to do that? Either way, this did it’s job as far as hyping up the match for Summerslam and making us want to see Reigns tonight. I even liked Cena bringing up the fans picking sides. Hopefully, people are fully behind Cena, though.)

-Cole cut to a video package of Finn Balor’s return last week. McAfee said Balor has weapons all over his body and is back. Balor made his entrance to a pretty good pop. Cole said Cleveland is celebrating the returning Prince. They showed a graphic for Balor vs Sami Zayn. Cole said Balor hasn’t competed on Smackdown in two years. He said Balor and Zayn will light up Fox, next. [c]

-Back from break Balor was in the ring as Sami Zayn made his entrance. Cole said Sami is annoying, but he is talented. They recapped his Intercontinental championship win at Night of Champions.


The match started with an elbow from Zayn. They locked up and Zayn locked Balor in an armbar. Balor nipped up and reversed before Zayn took him down again. Zayn attacked Balor on the outside against the crowd barrier. They came back into the ring and Balor took Sami down. He played to the crowd and tossed Zayn out of the ring. He then hit a running plancha over the ropes to take Zayn down for a commercial break. [c]

They came back from break with Zayn in control. They showed a recap of Zayn throwing Balor into the post during the break. Balor hit a big DDT. He set up for a Helluva kick but Balor countered with a slingblade. He then hit a 1916. He ran towards Zayn and Zayn countered with a Blue Thunder Bomb. Cole called it a Michinoku Driver. The fans chanted Balor. Balor blocked an exploder suplex and drove Zayn into the corner. Balor countered another exploder and took Zayn down. He hit a double stomp. Balor went on the attack with a running dropkick. He then hit a Coup de Gras for the win.

WINNER: Finn Balor in 9:00

(McDonald’s Analysis: Solid match. Nice to see Balor back. I hope this isn’t the first of 17 TV matches with these two for the next 4 weeks. With that said, good focus on Balor, I hope they keep him strong.)

-They cut to Kayla Braxton with Baron Corbin in the back. Corbin said he lost money on the new website. He said the guy he partnered with stole his identity. He said he rode the bus there. “It smells like curdled cheese and gym socks.” He asked Kayla “what’s happened to me?” and walked off.

-Big E made his entrance and they showed a recap of the Money in the Bank ladder match from this past Sunday.]

-They cut to Kayla Braxton with Baron Corbin in the back. Corbin said he lost money on the new website. He said the guy he partnered with stole his identity. He said he rode the bus there. “It smells like curdled cheese and gym socks.” He asked Kayla “what’s happened to me?” and walked off.

(McDonald’s Analysis: Interesting turn. I still don’t see where this is going though. Are we supposed to feel bad for him? Or are we supposed to think he deserves this?)

-Big E made his entrance and they showed a recap of the Money in the Bank ladder match from this past Sunday. [c]

(Local Ad Note: John Cena was just advertised for the show here in Fort Myers on Aug. 7. I have third row seats, so that should be interesting.)

-They returned from break with footage of the Milwaukee Bucks with a replica championship celebrating their NBA Finals win.

-Big E was in the ring. The crowd chanted “you deserve it.” Big E said he appreciated it. He said Sunday was a night he will never forget. He said he shouldn’t be jumping off ladders. Apollo Crews’ music hit. He said Big E shocked the world and won a contract, which isn’t the same as winning a championship. Ziggler and Roode’s music hit and they made their entrance to a decent pop. They began talking about the Intercontinental championship, then Rick Boogs appeared to play Shinsuke Nakamura out. Cesaro then made his entrance. Cesaro said he wants the title and its swing time for Apollo in Cleveland. Azeez went after Big E. Cesaro and Nakamura attacked Azeez. They knocked Azeez over the top rope. Cesaro gave Apollo Crews the swing and Crews rolled out of the ring.

(McDonald’s Analysis: What was the point of all that? Is this really all they have for Big E? Can he please, please, please, wrestle someone besides Apollo and Azeez? Good thing they got rid of Aleister Black.)

-Cole and McAfee cut to Rolling Live in Miami. Wale addressed the crowd in Miami. There is a ring set up near the concert stage. He got the crowd to say “we want the smoke” and he introduced the Street Profits. The Street Profits made their entrance to what I would guess was a piped in pop. [c]

-They returned talking up Rolling Loud. Chad Gable and Otis finished their entrance.


Dawkins started on the attack. Gable fought back. He went for a monkey flip in the corner. Dawkins reversed. Gable attacked Dawkins’ arm in the corner. Gable then stayed in control focusing on the arm of Dawkins. Wale cheered at ringside. McAfee said Rick Ross is performing next. Gable went for a moonsault but missed, he landed on his feet. Dawkins hit a big right hand for a near fall. Dawkins put Gable on the top rope but Gable reversed. Gable got a backslide for a near fall. Dawkins hit the neckbreaker for the win.

WINNER: Dawkins in 4:00

(McDonald’s Analysis: I get why they’re doing the whole concert thing, but jeez, these people don’t care. Little to no reaction for anything. The match was what it was, Dawkins needs a win back, and they’re not going to beat Otis right now. It’s the right call. Glad it was a clean finish. That’s two for two tonight. Good job WWE.)

-Bianca Belair made her entrance to basically no response. They showed a graphic for Bianca vs Carmella after the break. [c]

-They returned with a Roman Reigns and John Cena graphic. Cole and McAfee told us we will get an answer tonight. Carmella made her ring entrance back in Miami Gardens.

(3) BIANCA BELAIR vs. CARMELLA – Smackdown Women’s Championship

They taunted each other for a second, then Carmella kicked Belair in the gut and took her down. They traded some athletic moves and Belair knocked Carmella to the apron. Carmella reversed and got a headscissors take down. Belair went for a KOD, but Carmella went over the ropes to the apron. They pushed on the apron, then Carmella pulled Belair down by the hair. Carmella went for a sleeper, Belair recovered and hit a backbreaker. Carmella went to the top for a crossbody. Belair caught her, rolled over, and hit a poweslam. Belair hit a handspring standing moonsault for a near fall. Carmella reversed a suplex and hit a facebuster for a near fall. Belair reversed an irish whip and the KOD for the win.

WINNER: Belair in 5:00

(McDonald’s Analysis: Did the crowd chant “we want puppies?” or did I imagine that? The match was fine. Was what it was, basically a shorter version of their match last week. I don’t know if this was a great idea in front of Rolling Loud. Belair didn’t look too pleased during this.)

-They went to the back where Shotzi and Nox were with Kevin Owens. Corbin showed up and apologized to Owens. Owens said Corbin has been a jerk for eight years, and he can’t be surprised no one feels bad. Corbin asked Owens for help. Owens made fun of the stain on Corbin’s shirt. Owens gave Corbin $20. Corbin thanked him. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode hit Corbin with a ball to the balls, and took his money. Owens chased them off with a chair and checked on Corbin.

(McDonald’s Analysis: This actually answered some of the questions I asked earlier. Owens and Corbin as a team? Both of these guys need to go to Raw for some fresh matches.)

-Edge made his entrance to a much smaller pop than what he got in Texas. They showed a recap of his match with Reigns on Sunday. [c]

-They returned with Edge in the ring. He said everyone knows his history and how hard he’s fought to get all of “this” back. He said everyone knows he should be Universal Champion. He said he’s not, for one reason, Seth Rollins. He said he thought he had his bases covered with the Mysterios set up to take out the Usos. Edge said this all goes back to 2015. He said Seth Rollins didn’t pull the trigger because he didn’t think Edge would be back. Edge said Rollins doesn’t know the Pandora’s box he’s opened. Edge said he was in the Brood and the Ministry of Darkness. He said Seth doesn’t know the depths he’ll go to. Rollins’ music hit. McAfee called him the “drip god”. Rollins called Edge grandpa and said he was talking about the man he used to be. Rollins cackled. Edge called him to the ring. Rollins walked down the ramp and said Edge wouldn’t touch him because Edge knows what Rollins will do to him. Rollins said he was going to talk about how much he hates people like Edge and Cena who “jump the line” and take opportunities from people who earned them, like him. Rollins said, after thinking about it, he agrees with Cleveland, we should give it up for “grandpa Edge”. Rollins said Edge has been a scumbag to him and he wants to end his fairy tale comeback story. He said when they talk about the HOF career of Edge they will talk about Rollins for ending him. The crowd chanted “you suck” at Rollins. Rollins said he hesitated in 2015 and when he gets the opportunity again, he will not hesitate to pull the trigger. He said Edge’s neck will go up in smoke. Edge said he lied about not putting his hands on Rollins. He took him down with punches. Rollins recovered and got the upperhand. Edge hit the Edgecution DDT. He set up for a spear but Rollins rolled out of the ring. They stared each other down across the arena.

(McDonald’s Analysis: This was really good. Edge did his job telling everyone he wants to hurt Rollins for costing him. Rollins was on point calling back to previous history and explaining why things are different now. Rollins is a heel, but he kind of has a point about Edge and Cena, WWE might want to be careful with that. This feud could steal the show for the next month, and could be a really good match at Summerslam.)

-They hyped the debut of Toni Storm next. She takes on Zelina Vega. [c]

-Toni Storm made her entrance. Cole said “if you haven’t seen her, you’re in for a treat.” Zelina Vega was waiting in the ring.


Zelina Vega went after Storm but Storm reversed. She hit a big boot on Vega. The wrestled to the outside where Vega took over and they got back in the ring. Vega hit a knee to the face for a near fall. Storm came back and took Vega down with a big headbutt that rocked both women. Cole said Vega called Storm “stuck in the 80’s”. Cole said Storm’s gear is inspired by Motley Crue. Storm hit a german suplex for a near fall. Vega battled back and hit a sunset flip for near fall. Vega and Storm trade waistlocks. Vega ripped off Storm’s belt. Storm hit the Storm One for the win.

WINNER: Storm in 3:30

(McDonald’s Analysis: Full disclosure, this was the first time I’ve seen Toni Storm wrestle. That finish is for real. That might be my new favorite after the KOD. I think Vega got too much offense here. This is one of those times where I wish they had “locals” or jobbers for the stars to destroy. That would have worked much better here.)

-They showed a recap of the Usos and Mysterios from Sunday. The Usos made their ring entrance. [c]

-Dominik Mysterio made his entrance with his father Rey.


Dominik went right after Jimmy Uso. Dominik hit a few dropkicks. Dominik went to the top rope but Jey knocked him off. Jimmy tossed Dominik into the corner and got a near fall. Dominik fought back but Jimmy hit a side kick. Dominik knocked Jimmy into position and went for the 619. Jey intervened. Rey jumped onto Jey and took him out on the outside as they cut to break. [c]

Dominik took Jimmy down with a neckbreaker. Dominik went for the Three Amigos but Jimmy countered and hit a side kick to the back of the head. Dominik recovered and gave Jimmy the 619. Dominik went to the top rope and jumped off but Jimmy met him with a superkick for a near fall. They trade counters, then Jimmy rolls up Dominik, Jey slides in the ring and uses his feet to help Jimmy gain leverage on the pin, just like Sunday.

WINNER: Uso in 5:00

(McDonald’s Analysis: Well, we had all clean finishes until that one. It works for the story though, so I guess it’s ok. Dominik has improved so much in the last year. I’m really curious where he’ll be in another six months after actually getting to work house shows. He could end up being really good.)

-Roman Reigns made his entrance as the Usos celebrated. The Usos stand at the top of the stage behind Reigns. Cole recapped Cena’s promo from earlier. He said Reigns promised to answer the challenge next. [c]

-Reigns stood in the ring, flanked by Heyman. He held up the championship for the pyro. McAfee said every man there wants to be Reigns. Cole asked if Reigns will accept Cena’s challenge. Reigns stood in mid-ring and waited to talk. The crowd booed and chanted “you suck”. Reigns said, “Cleveland, acknowledge me.” He said everyone is acknowledging him. He said Cena acknowledged him on Raw and tonight. Reigns said he wanted to acknowledge Cena. He said Hollywood put a whole new paint job on Cena. Reigns said he expected something new from Cena, but it was all the same. Reigns said he could have put on a tape of 2005 if he wanted to see the same old Cena. Reigns said it’s like the missionary position every single night. Reigns said we’re not going to see Cena. We’re not going to see Cena in the main event of Summerslam because the answer to his challenge is no. Finn Balor made his entrance. Reigns said Heyman told him Balor is there to acknowledge him. Balor said he’s not. He challenged Reigns. Reigns smiled. Heyman whispered to Reigns. The crowd chanted “Roman’s scared”. Reigns accepted Finn Balor’s challenge. Reigns’ music played as the show went off the air.

(McDonald’s Analysis: Well, I guess I miscalculated the Finn Balor timeline. This can’t be for Summerslam, can it? This has to be a swerve. It’s a shame in a way, because if Reigns beats Balor on Smackdown then they wasted a future PPV main event for little to no gain. With that said, I’m interested to see where this goes. I like Balor, I really hope they do the right thing here and keep him strong. He’s not the guy to beat Roman, but he is talented. Reigns was great here as always. The comments about Cena were perfect, as it was what a lot of people have been thinking. The missionary position comment was funny. I really like Heyman talking to Reigns quietly during these segments, it makes him come off as an actual “special counsel”. Cena-Reigns is clearly going to happen soon, but Balor looks to be an unexpected detour on the way there.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: This was a really solid show from top to bottom. Balor is emerging as a player. That looks promising. Toni Storm looked good in her debut. I hope they have big plans for her. Something tells me a Bianca heel turn could be on the horizon once Sasha returns. That, or a heel Sasha could end up taking on Storm. Either way, I hope they do something with Storm, because from the little I saw, it looks like she can work. Vega is exactly what we thought, They brought her back to be fodder. Also, no Liv Morgan tonight. Something tells me Storm pushed her down the card. The Rolling Loud tie-in was a good way to get some eyes on the product, but I don’t think the demographics mixed as well as WWE hoped. Their response was non-existent and they couldn’t have cared less. If I was right about the chant I thought I heard, that could be really bad, and doesn’t help with the women’s movement WWE has been focusing on. WWE did a good job with clean finishes tonight. Four out of five is 80%. If they can get closer to this long-term, it will be better for everyone. I’m optimistic about where things are going heading into Summerslam. Hopefully, they have a plan, and they don’t deviate from it, unless absolutely necessary.

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