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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JULY 23, 2021
LIVE FROM CLEVELAND, OHIO
AND MIAMI, FLA. AT MIAMI GARDENS – “ROLLING LOUD”
AIRED LIVE ON FOX BROADCAST NETWORK
Commentators: Michael Cole, Pat McAfee
Ring Announcer: Greg Hamilton
-They opened with a wide shot of the arena from the upper deck.
-John Cena’s entrance music played and he came onto the stage to a big ovation. He talked to the camera and said, “We must be live on Fox.” The ring announcer introduced him as he ran the ropes in the ring and played to the crowd. Cena got the “augmented reality” graphics package added to his entrance. When his music stopped, there were sustained cheers. Cena soaked it up and let it ride for 30 seconds. “Man, you are amped up tonight!” he said. (He didn’t have to use all the bag-o-tricks he did in Dallas on Monday to get the crowd going.)
Cena said Money in the Bank was fun, and he was so excited, he crashed Raw to do a little fan Q&A. He said he had to answer important questions like how did he escape the alternate reality Firefly Funhouse. He said he also was asked if he’s the last person who can check “that lifeless egomaniac Roman Reigns.” He said he came back to challenge Reigns at Summerslam for the Universal Championship. He said he knows they’re excited and he knows why. He said this is Smackdown and everybody knows they’re “just a few heartbeats away from Cena and Reigns face-to-face in this very ring right here, right now.” He said he can’t think of a better place to do this than Cleveland.
He said there is big news in Cleveland sports. He said he changed his middle name to “Guardians.” (Mixed cheers and boos.) “Someone had to protect the small amount of respect WWE had left,” he said. “Because Roman Reigns as Universal Champion really sucks.” He said he thinks there are some Reigns fans out there somewhere. He said they deserves to stand up and be heard. “No more ThunderDome, no more LED screens, we are live in your face.” He said Summerslam won’t just be a match for the title, it’ll also be a match for all of them to stand up for what they believe in. “What do you believe in,” he said. “Who’s team are you on?” A “Cena! Cena!” chant broke out. He asked if they’re on Team Jorts. The camera panned down to his jeans shorts. “Or are you on team Cargo Pants?” He asked if they’re on Team Hustle, Loyalty Respect or a Team Fans Always Reject? He asked if they’re on Team Cena or Team Roman Reigns.
(Keller’s Analysis: It seems like he was anticipating some boos for him and cheers for Reigns, and this promo feels strange because basically nobody is cheering Reigns.)
He said Reigns can’t see him and “the champ is here.” Another “Cena!” chant broke out. He yelled for Reigns to come out. “Let’s make this happen, let’s make history,” he said. No Reigns. Cena said meekishly, “Please?” Paul Heyman walked out. “Ladies, gentlemen, things that live in Cleveland,” he said. “John Cena, you have it all wrong.” He over-enunciated every syllable. Heyman said Reigns can’t hear him because he’s not worth listening to. He gave Cena his word that he will get an answer to his challenge when Reigns decides to come out and show him and everyone that the Tribal Chief is here. He then sang Cena’s song and strutted off the stage. Cena came to terms with having to wait until later. His music played and he left the ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: Cena did a really nice job here. It’s very on-brand for him to weave current local events into his promo regarding the Cleveland Indians changing their name. Heyman was great here, too. He rises to the occasion when working opposite someone as talented as Cena on the mic and of his stature within WWE lore.)
-They went to Cole and McAfee at ringside for a reaction. They threw to a clip of Finn Balor’s return last week. Balor then made his ring entrance. Cole said he was about to compete on Smackdown for the first time in two years against Sami Zayn. [c]
(1) FINN BALOR vs. SAMI ZAYN
As Sami’s ring entrance took place, they showed him winning the IC Title ladder match at Clash of the Champions last year. Cole said Sami is annoying, but talented. Sami took early control. Balor got a big pop for his comeback at 2:00. He flip-dove onto Sami at ringside and played to the crowd as they cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Sami took over with a sudden DDT. When Cole said Sami landed a Michinoku Driver/Blue Thunder Bomb combination for a near fall, McAfee said “the Internet says you screwed up.” Balor made another comeback, driving his shoulder into Sami in the corner followed by a double-stomp and two missile dropkicks. Next he hit a Coup de Grace for the clean win. “Balor is back!” said Cole.
WINNER: Balor in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match with high-energy and a good pace throughout.)
-Kayla Braxton asked Baron Corbin backstage how much money he made last week with his crowd funding website. He said he lost money because the guy he paid to build the website ghosted him after it was built and stole his identity. He said he had to ride the public bus, which smelled like curdled cheese and gym socks. “What’s happened to me?” he said, pathetically.
-Big E made his ring entrance with a Money in the Bank briefcase. A video package aired of Big E winning Money in the Bank last Sunday. [c]
-They showed Milwaukee Bucks celebrating their NBA Title win with WWE Title belts on their celebration parade.
-Big E stood mid-ring and said, “Cleveland!” They chanted “You deserve it!” The crowd was out of sync at first, but it’s been a year and a half and we’re all out practice on such things. He said Sunday is a night he will never forget. He said he had grown men dive on him and he jumped off a ladder “and I ain’t got no business jumping off of ladders.” As he talked about grabbing the briefcase, Apollo Crews interrupted with Commander Azeez.
Crews cackled with laughter about him celebrating winning a briefcase by climbing a ladder, whereas he is an actual champion with a belt to prove it. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode interrupted with new entrance music. Ziggler said if you’re talking about the Intercontinental Title, you better be talking about the Dirty Dawgs. He was promptly interrupted by Boogs and King Nakamura. Cesaro’s music played next and he walked out. He said he wants the IC Title “and it’s swing time in Cleveland.” A brawl broke out with everyone in the ring. Cole said bodies are flying everywhere. Azeez grabbed both Nakamura and Cesaro mid-ring by their throats, but they broke free and knocked him over the top rope. Cesaro gave Crews a giant swing. Cesaro, Nakamura, and Big E yelled down at the heels at ringside.
-They went to Cole and McAfee at ringside. Cole said for the first time in Smackdown history, they’re coming from two locations. They cut to Wale at the music festival. He started a “We Want the Smoke” chant. Out came the Street Profits.
(Keller’s Analysis: That presentation outdoors with a huge crowd and that big stage looked so cool for the ring entrance. It’s just so refreshing to see another setting and vision for how to present and shoot pro wrestling ring entrances than WWE’s way, which is great but it’s so familiar.) [c]
(2) CHAD GABLE (w/Otis) vs. ANGELO DAWKINS (w/Montez Ford)
The ring was on a concert stage really high (pun intended) so the huge crowd at ground level was able to see some of the action at a weird angle, but it was awkward. The ropes looked really loose. Dawkins slipped out of a backslide and landed a sidewalk slam for the win.
WINNER: Dawkins in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: That won’t be on either wrestler’s “Bsst Of” compilation. Clunky and awkward at times. The setting was really cool, but it felt more like a novelty than a match with any stakes.)
-Bianca Belair made her ring entrance.
(Keller’s Analysis: I doubt fans who paid top ticket dollar in Cleveland are thrilled watching matches on a big screen and not seeing Belair, in particular, in person.) [c]
(3) BIANCA BELAIR vs. CARMELLA – Smackdown Women’s Title match
Carmella settled into a chinlock a few minutes in. They cut to a wide shot of the crowd, or “a sea of humans on cloud nine,” as McAfee put it. Carmella dove at Belair off the top rope, but Belair caught her and delivered a fallaway slam. Cole said JBL would be proud. Belair landed a handspring moonsault for a two count. Carmella countered a vertical suplex with a faceplant for a two count. Belair came back with a KOD for the win.
WINNER: Belair in 5:00 to retain the Women’s Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Nothing special at all. For a variety of reasons, they’re keeping the Miami-based matches short – a crowd in Miami that isn’t there to see wrestling and a crowd in Cleveland growing more restless by the minute, depending on what’s going on in the arena during this time.)
-Kevin Owens chatted with Shotzi Blackheart & Tegan Nox about their tank. Corbin approached Owens and apologized to him. He said he has a bad habit of insulting KO’s way of dressing. KO said Corbin has had a bad habit for eight years of being a jerk to everyone. “You can’t be surprised if nobody feels sorry for you,” he said. Corbin said he feels KO is one of the guys who can help him. He asked him to forgive him. Corbin said the stain on his shirt is from spaghetti out of a can. Owens gave him some cash and told him, “Try not to be a jerk to people, maybe.” Corbin said that would really help him out. Shotzi blasted Corbin with a Nerf dart from their tank. Corbin went down like he was hit with a cannonball, grabbing his crotch. Ziggler and Roode ran up and grabbed the wad of cash that Owens gave him. Owens showed up with a chair and scared them away. Ziggler dropped the cash and they fled.
-Edge made his ring entrance. They aired highlights of the Reigns vs. Edge match. [c]
-Edge stood mid-ring and said the fans have no idea what that kind of crowd reaction means to him. “You know how hard I fought to get this back,” he said, emphasizing “this.” He said he fought so hard to get them back. He said if they watched Money in the Bank, they realize he should be standing there as the Universal Champion. He said the one reasons he’s not is Seth Rollins. Boos. He said he thought he had his bases covered by having the Mysterios watching for the Usos. He said he didn’t think Seth would make his presence felt. He said he thought Seth would figure if he beat Reigns, he’d be easier for Seth to beat than Reigns. He said he’d be wrong, but he thought that was his position.
He talked about their history. He said Seth has no idea what a Pandora’s Box of pain he has opened. He said he learned from some of the most evil minds in the history of this industry. He said he was in the Brood and the Ministry of Darkness. “You have no idea the depths I will sink to to get the job done,” he said. “But you’re going to find out.” Seth’s new music then played. “Burn it down!” blared over the speakers. Seth asked if anyone said his name. He called Edge “Grandpa Edge” and said he was talking about the man he used to be. He cackled with laughter.
Seth walked to the ring and said he in the interest of full disclosure, he was going to come out there and talk about how much he despises that city and people like them. He said Edge is like Cena, jumping ahead in line whenever he feels like it. He said he is there every week earning what Edge and Cena try to take from people like him. He said the more he thought about it, though, he is actually thrilled Edge is standing in the ring. “You have been such a scumbag to me, that nothing would make me happier than to crush your dreams,” he said before cackling again. He said he wanted to end his fairy tale comeback story. He said if he keeps pushing him, when they talk about the Hall of Fame career of Edge, they’ll be talking about the man who ended his career, Seth “Freakin'” Rollins. He said seven years ago he had a chance to end Edge, but he hesitated. Fans chanted, “You suck!” Seth smiled and soaked up the chant. He said when he has the chance again to put his boot on the back of his surgically repaired neck, he will not hesitate to pull the trigger. “Bang! Ha ha ha ha ha. Bang bang. Poof, there goes your neck up in smoke,” he said.
Edge popped Seth with a right. Seth drove Edge into the corner. Edge fought out of the corner. Seth stomped away at Edge and then yanked off his jacket. Edge gave Seth an Edge-o-cution DDT. He went for a spear, but Seth rolled to the floor. Edge’s music played as Seth backed up the aisle.
-Cole plugged Toni Storm vs. Zelina Vega was up next. [c]
(4) TONI STORM vs. ZELINA VEGA
Cole touted Vega’s performance at the MITB. Cole said Storm says she’s “lost in the ’80s” and is inspired by Motley Crue. Storm gave Vega a German suplex into a bridge for a near fall at 2:00. Storm came back with a near fall of her own. Vega yanked off Storm’s belt, but Storm instantly delivered her Storm One finisher for the win.
WINNER: Storm in 5:00.
-A sponsored video package aired of the Usos beating the Mysterios at Money in the Bank.
(5) DOMINIK MYSTERIO (w/Rey Mysterio) vs. JIMMY USO (w/Jey Uso)
Jimmy’s hair is now half red and half black. Of course, Jey had to color half his hair red, too, but it is a different area of his hair. Dominik went on an early flurry, but Uso came back with a superkick. McAfee said Jimmy caused some problems in the family, but now everybody is back on track. Jey saved Jimmy from a 619. Rey leaped onto Jey at ringside and then Dominik leaped onto Jimmy at ringside. They cut to a break. [c]
Dominik delivered a 619. When he climbed to the top rope, Jey DISTRACTED him. Rey yanked Jey off the ring apron, but Jimmy then superkicked Dominik out of mid-air. (It showed a ton of light.) He got a two count. Dominik rolled up Jimmy for a near fall, then wrecking ball kicked Rey. They went into an overly complex move that got botched. They recovered awkwardly which led to Dominik sunset flipping Jimmy near the ropes, but Jimmy sat down on it and then Jey pushed his boots against Jimmy’s back for extra leverage for the three count.
WINNER: Dominik in 7:00.
-As the Usos made their way up the aisle, Reigns’s music played. Reigns made his way to the ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: Reigns’s ring entrance has a real vibe of being a big deal. There’s anticipation in the crowd when that music stars.) [c]
-Pyro blasted as Reigns held up the Universal Title. He handed the belt to Heyman; Heyman handed the mic to Reigns. Boos, then silence. Maybe a few cheers, but not many. A loud “You suck!” chant then broke out. McAfee said, “This is not how you acknowledge Roman Reigns, Cleveland.” Reigns asked Cleveland to acknowledge him. Reigns looked at the camera. “You, there, sitting at home, acknowledge me.” He said everyone is acknowledging him, including Cena. Fans began “What?” chants. Reigns paused to break the cadence. He said Hollywood fooled him. He said he thought they were going to get something new and special from Cena, but he put on a nostalgia act instead. “It’s the same thing,” he said with a tone of disdain. He said it’s the same outfit, the same promo, the music, the same shirt, the same insults. “If I wanted that, all I had to do was search online for 2005 John Cena.” He said, “It’s like missionary position every single night,” he said. That got a rise from the fans. “The Tribal Chief, the Head of the Table, we’re not interested in that, we don’t get motivated by that, we get don’t inspired by that.” He said he doesn’t see Cena and doesn’t want to see him. He said they’re not going to see him in the main event of Summerslam either, he said while laughing. “Because my answer to your challenge is no.”
Balor came out. Reigns said he must be there to acknowledge him. Balor said if he’s not interested in Cena’s challenge, would he be interested in his challenge. Reigns and Heyman had some words off-mic. Fans chanted, “Roman’s scared!” Reigns said, “Challenge accepted.” The crowd popped. They closed with a staredown.
(Keller’s Analysis: They didn’t clarify, but I assume that’s on Smackdown one of the next few weeks.)