Reviews

The John Report: WWE Smackdown 08/20/21 Review

Welcome to this week’s WWE Smackdown review on TJRWrestling. As I write this on Friday night, SummerSlam is taking place on Saturday night in Las Vegas. It’s rare to have a main roster WWE PPV on a Saturday instead of a Sunday, but Las Vegas prefers their big events on Saturday, so that’s what we get. Our in-depth TJRWrestling SummerSlam preview was posted on Friday right here with five of our TJRWrestling writers joining me for that.

From the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, this is Smackdown for episode #1148. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Please visit TJRWrestling.net daily for our regular updates on the wrestling business featuring WWE news coverage, insightful columns from our team along with reviews about wrestling’s past (including my reviews of every WWE PPV ever listed in order) and present. Let’s get to it.

The show began with a shot of the crowd in Phoenix with Michael Cole reminding us that Smackdown is sponsored by Progressive as usual. Edge’s music hit as the Rated R Superstar that’s a Hall of Famer got a huge pop for entrance. Edge went into the ring for a promo.

There was a video package about Edge’s rivalry with Seth Rollins. They showed clips of their promos over the last month along with career highlights of both men. They showed the image of Rollins putting his foot on Edge’s neck back in 2014. Rollins said that this time he will not hold back and will stomp Edge’s head into the mat.

Let’s Hear from Edge

Edge sat in the ring with the lights off except for a spotlight on him. Edge said he really heard what Seth said last week. Edge said he remembers what happened in 2014 and he still feels like it was yesterday. Edge said he was worried about his way of life, he was worried about his wife and his kids. Edge noted that last week, Rollins threatened all of those same things again, so Edge paused and the crowd cheered him on. Edge said he knows what that Curb Stomp can do to him since he has a triple fusion in his neck while noting that it could end Edge’s career and affects his ability to be the father that he needs to be. Edge said that he gets that Rollins did it because he’s supposed to hit him in the heart. Edge said he knows it’s mind games, but he knows that Seth means everything he says. Edge said that Seth is an all-time talent, but he has pushed Edge into a dark place. Edge said Seth pushed him in a place that he doesn’t like to go because it’s so hard to come back and because Edge likes it. Edge told Rollins he found a place in his heart where the blood runs black (the fans cheered). Edge: “I do see clearly on this day” that at SummerSlam he doesn’t just have to beat Rollins, Edge has to break him. Edge said he has to humble him. Edge said that at SummerSlam: “I am going to burn you down!” The fans cheered again.

Analysis: That was a really good monologue promo from Edge giving props to Rollins for what Seth has done in his career, but also telling Rollins that he has put Edge in a darker place. That was done to tell the fans that Edge is in a very serious mode going into SummerSlam. I think the match at SummerSlam is going to be outstanding. Edge winning makes the most sense to me, but I like both guys a lot, so either way is fine with me.

Rey Mysterio was shown backstage behind the curtain with his son Dominik. While Dominik was happy about his win last week, Rey wanted Dominik to focus and for Dominik to watch his back.

The announce team of Michael Cole and Pat McAfee were shown at ringside to welcome us to the show. They showed highlights from WrestleMania Backlash three months when The Mysterios won the Smackdown Tag Team Titles.

Jey Uso was shown backstage with brother Jimmy with the Smackdown Tag Team Titles. Rey is in action up next against Jey.

(Commercial)

The Usos made their entrance as the Smackdown Tag Team Champions. They defend those titles against The Mysterios at SummerSlam.

Jey Uso (w/Jimmy Uso) vs. Rey Mysterio (w/Dominik Mysterio)

Jey bounced off the ropes with a shoulder tackle that sent Rey out of the ring. Rey was back in with a headscissors followed by shoulder tackles and punches. Rey went for a sunset flip, but Jey recovered with an uppercut punch. Jey stomped on Rey’s face and grabbed a chinlock. Rey got some punches, then a back elbow and he jumped on Rey’s shoulders with Rey punching Jey repeatedly. Rey with a headscissors that sent Jey to the floor. Rey with a springboard moonsault to send both Usos to the floor.

(Commercial)

Jey was back in control with a chinlock, Rey broke free and hit an enziguri kick. Rey ran the ropes, but Jey was ready for him with a Samoan Drop for two. Jey set up Rey on the top leading to a punch to knock Rey down. Rey recovered and hit a hurricanrana off the top for a two count. Jey and Rey exchanged strikes, Rey jumped off the ropes and connected with a springboard cross body block for two. Jey shoved Rey into the turnbuckle leading into a lifting neckbreaker for two. Rey came back with a punch, then he went up top and hit a senton attack on Jey. That led to Jey going for a move, but Rey countered it into a DDT for two. Rey went for a sunset flip with Dominik knocking Jey’s hands off the ropes. Dominik tried to help Rey with the pin like in the past, but referee Charles Robinson saw it and ejected Dominik. Rey talked to his son about it, Jimmy knocked down Dominik and Jey shoved Rey into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Jey went up top and hit the Uso Splash on Rey for the pinfall win. It went about 12 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Jey Uso

Analysis: ***1/4 This was a very good match as you would expect from guys that are this talented. Rey is still so great in that ring. The moves, the counters, the speed looks similar to when he was in his prime. Since Rey was getting a lot of offense and all those nearfalls I figured he would lose. I liked the finish because it played off what they did in the past when Dominik helped Rey win (like The Usos had done in the past too) and this time it didn’t work, so there was an issue between Rey and Dominik. That led to Jey capitalizing on the situation for the clean win. It was well booked.

They showed a clip from last week when Baron Corbin stole Big E’s Money in the Bank contract briefcase.

Baron Corbin made his entrance to no music with the Money in the Bank briefcase in his hands. Corbin was wearing the same white shirt, he had grown out his hair and had a disheveled beard. Corbin faces Kevin Owens just like last week.

(Commercial)

Kevin Owens made his entrance for a rematch from last week when Owens beat Corbin. We know WWE loves rematches.

Kevin Owens vs. Baron Corbin

Owens slammed Corbin down by the head and then hit a senton splash for a two count. Corbin with an uppercut punch, then a slide out of the ring and back into the ring with a clothesline for two. Corbin worked over Owens with punches against the turnbuckle. Owens sent a charging Corbin to the floor and kicked Corbin off the apron to the floor. Owens with a senton dive onto Corbin on the floor. Owens went up top, Corbin rolled to the apron and Corbin drove Owens neck first into the top rope. Owens with a kick to the ribs looking for a Stunner, but Corbin shoved Owens away. Big E’s music hit while Corbin was on the floor. Big E finally made his way down to the ring and he punched Corbin for the DQ finish after about four minutes.

Winner by disqualification: Baron Corbin

Analysis: *1/2 A quick match with a predictable finish because it made sense for Big E going after Corbin as payback for Corbin stealing the briefcase. Owens is a guy that needs to be featured more on Smackdown and it’s a shame he’s not going to be on SummerSlam.

Big E beat up Corbin with punches and kicks. Big E had the Money in the Bank briefcase in his hands, but Corbin shoved him into the ring post. Corbin grabbed the briefcase again and ran away through the crowd. Big E was mad at ringside.

Analysis: I don’t know where the story is going, but I assume Big E gets the briefcase back soon. Hopefully at SummerSlam.

Bianca Belair was interviewed by Kayla Braxton, who mentioned that Belair defends her Smackdown Women’s Title against Sasha Banks at SummerSlam. They showed a replay of Banks attacking Belair last week (with help from Carmella and Zelina Vega) during the contract signing. Belair said it made her sick hearing Sasha’s name. Belair wanted Sasha to watch what Belair does to Carmella and Zelina on Smackdown. Belair was asked if it was a risky move to compete the night before SummerSlam, so Belair said she is done playing nice. Belair said you’re about to see the nastiest and baddest (she says “EST” things) woman in WWE.

Analysis: Good promo from Belair showing intensity and that she’s not willing to back down.

Shotzi and Tegan Nox made their entrance on the TCB tank. They’re in tag team action next.

(Commercial)

It was announced that the guest on Raw’s Moist TV hosted by John Morrison will be Logan Paul.

Tamina and Natalya made their entrance with Natalya back in action after suffering an ankle injury less than a month ago. Natalya actually had surgery to repair the injury and she was able to recover quickly.

Natalya & Tamina vs. Shotzi & Tegan Nox

This is a non-title match that they call a Championship Contenders Match now.

Natalya and Tamina did a double-team move as they teamed up to send Shotzi back first into the turnbuckle. Natalya sent Shotzi into the turnbuckle. Natalya with a forearm to the back. Natalya grounded Shotzi with a headlock on the mat. Natalya with a hair whip followed by a suplex for two. Shotzi hit a neckbreaker, then Tamina was knocked off the apron and Nox hit a cross body block on Tamina on the floor. Natalya wanted a Sharpshooter on Shotzi, but Shotzi slipped out of it and got a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! for the pinfall win after three minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Shotzi & Tegan Nox

Analysis: *1/2 They had a solid match here while doing things that frustrate WWE fans like champions losing a non-title and then ending a match with the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! It’s just one of those things where WWE is set in their ways in terms of how they book this stuff. Anyway, Natalya had surgery on her ankle and then worked most of this match for her team, so that shows how tough she is. Tamina was barely in the ring for this match. It should lead to a title match soon. I saw a stat that Shotzi & Nox are now 3-0 against Natalya & Tamina, so this should have been a title match, but WWE felt like they needed another non-title match, I guess.

They showed a clip of Edge’s promo. Seth Rollins was shown backstage in a white suit. He’s up next at the top of hour two.

(Commercial)

Coming up later on Smackdown is a Roman Reigns-John Cena “Face to Face” segment likely in the main event.

Let’s Hear from Seth Rollins

Seth Rollins made his entrance in a white suit looking confident. Seth started the promo with fans chanting “We Want Edge” and Seth said you already got Edge, but now you’ve got him. Seth said that Edge covered all his bases and spouted off every excuse in the book on how he’s going to lose tomorrow. Seth mocked some of the things that Edge said in the promo. Seth looked into the hard camera with the fans booing him. Seth told Edge there was no shame in his shortcomings leading to “Edge” chants from the crowd, so Rollins told them to shut their mouths and listen to him. Seth said that there is no shame in being beaten and broken by this business, there’s no shame in being a loving father/family and there is no shame…the fans chanted “you suck” before Rollins could finish. Rollins said that there’s no shame in not being able to find the darkness that once guided you. Rollins told Edge that without that darkness he cannot get on Seth’s level while adding that part of Edge is dead and gone.

The Brood’s music hit! Edge was shown on screen saying that Seth should beware because the freaks come out at night and Edge said you’ll never see it coming. That led to the bloodbath on Rollins in the ring, so Seth’s white suit was covered in a dark color. It was more black than red, but maybe it was a darker red. McAfee told viewers if you were just tuning in then that suit used to be white. Rollins was freaked out by what happened. The announcers didn’t call it a bloodbath, which was the term that WWE used when The Brood did that in 1998-99 in the Attitude Era. They called this a “Broodbath” instead.

Analysis: It was cool to hear The Brood’s music again. The Brood was Gangrel, Edge and Christian if you don’t know. I liked Seth’s promo although last week was longer and better. It was cool to hear how much the crowd supported Edge against Rollins. I expect the Vegas crowd to be vocal like that too. Edge talked about a place in his heart where “blood runs black” in his promo earlier, so that’s why it was black blood.

The Street Profits made their entrance for a match.

(Commercial)

There was a replay of Rollins receiving a “Brood-bath” because they don’t want to say bloodbath apparently.

There was a rundown of the SummerSlam card in this order.

Seth Rollins vs. Edge

WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. John Cena

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (c) vs. Sasha Banks

Raw Women’s Championship: Nikki A.S.H. (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley

Raw Tag Team Championships: AJ Styles & Omos (c) vs. RK-Bro (Randy Orton & Riddle)

WWE Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Bill Goldberg

There were four more matches that they didn’t mention. The full card is at the bottom of this post.

The big man Otis made his entrance with Chad Gable representing the Alpha Academy.

Montez Ford (w/Angelo Dawkins) vs. Otis (w/Chad Gable)

Ford was wrestling in boxing shorts and had tape on his wrists. Otis got some momentum with punches to the ribs, Ford with a charging attack and Otis decked him with a spinning back elbow. That was an impressive Judas Effect. Otis with a forearm that sent Otis over the top to the floor. Ford tried coming back with punches, but Otis punched him in the ribs. Ford countered a slam attempt with a kick and an enziguri kick. Gable tried to interfere, but Dawkins shoved Gable into the ropes leading to Gable going into the ring. Ford up top and he hit a cross body block on Otis for two. Otis sent Ford into the ropes leading to a double axehandle sledge to the face. Otis went to the middle rope with a Vader Bomb for the pinfall win after three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Otis

Analysis: *1/2 A dominant win for Otis, who continues his positive momentum. They have booked Otis very strongly since he turned heel with Gable. Ford got in some offense here, but it wasn’t a lot and Otis proved to be too much with his power. They need a name for the finisher because they don’t call it a Vader Bomb, so they should call it something that fits Otis.

They showed highlights of King Nakamura winning the Intercontinental Championship last week.

Rick Boogs was on the stage and he introduced us to the one true king in all of WWE, King Nakamura. That led to Nakamura making his entrance with the Intercontinental Championship around his waist. McAfee was dancing on his chair at ringside. Nakamura and Boogs are in tag team action.

(Commercial)

PLUG TIME: In addition to all the show reviews I do on a weekly basis, I’ve been writing a lot of other content too. Here’s a feature column from earlier in the week when I wrote five reasons why I think John Cena could beat Roman Reigns at SummerSlam. It got a good reaction from people. Please check it out before SummerSlam if you haven’t read it…It was back to the mid-1990s for my two retro PPV reviews of the week. Here’s the WWE In Your House PPV from December 1996 called “It’s Time” featuring a main event of Sycho Sid defending the WWE Title against Bret Hart. It was really just an average show that didn’t stand out that much…I also reviewed one of the worst WWE PPVs ever when I wrote about King of the Ring 1995. It was a bad mix of some terrible matches, brutal finishes in some cases and terrible booking decisions over the course of three hours.

Apollo Crews and Commander Azeez were shown in the ring after making their entrance during the break.

King Nakamura & Rick Boogs vs. Apollo Crews & Commander Azeez

Boogs grabbed Crews’ leg and played it like a guitar followed by a gutwrench suplex. Crews came back with a shove into the turnbuckle followed by a dropkick. Boogs broke free with an overhead suplex. Nakamura tagged in against Azeez with Nakamura hitting a jumping kick to the face. Azeez with a punch. Azeez charged, Nakamura moved and kicked him in the head. Nakamura with a jumping knee smash off the middle rope for two. Nakamura charged, Azeez caught him and hit a sidewalk slam. Nakamura with a spin kick on Crews, who was legal. Boogs with an abdominal stretch playing the air guitar on Crews and Boogs hit a pumphandle powerslam on Crews for the pinfall win after four minutes.

Winners by pinfall: King Nakamura & Rick Boogs

Analysis: ** A fun tag team match with Boogs getting in plenty of offense and doing some entertaining things like air guitar during the match. The fans were behind him. Nakamura’s rivalry with Crews should be done now, but we know WWE loves rematches, so they’ll probably do the match again soon.

There was a post match celebration with Boogs playing the guitar, Nakamura with the title and McAfee celebrating with some dancing on the table. That was fun.

Another replay was shown of Sasha Banks attacking Bianca Belair last week on Smackdown.

Bianca Belair made her entrance to have back-to-back matches.

(Commercial)

There was another reminder of the Face to Face segment with Roman Reigns and John Cena. There were less than 30 minutes left in the show.

Zelina Vega made her entrance for a match followed by Carmella. They are both against Belair this week. Carmella tossed Vega into the ring to make her go first.

Bianca Belair vs. Zelina Vega

Belair tossed Vega across the ring followed by a shoulder tackle. Belair stomped on Vega while she was up against the turnbuckle. Vega shoved Belair into the turnbuckle, then missed a corner attack when Belair moved. Carmella distracted Belair, so Vega kicked Belair and hit a Sunset Bomb for two. Vega was shocked that she didn’t win. Vega jumped off the middle rope, Belair caught her and hit a Powerbomb. Belair lifted Vega and sent her into the top turnbuckle. Belair hit the KOD (Kiss of Death) slam for the pinfall win after less than two minutes. Vega remains winless this year.

Winner by pinfall: Bianca Belair

Analysis: *1/4 Easy win for Belair. Vega got that one nearfall, but the crowd barely reacted to it. Unlike some champions in WWE, Belair is booked in a strong way, and she wins non-title matches like this. I wish all champions were like that, but it’s not how WWE books these things.

Carmella went into the ring and hit two superkicks on Belair. The fans booed. That match is next.

(Commercial)

Bianca Belair vs. Carmella

Carmella attacked Belair against the turnbuckle and then Carmella countered a slam into a pin attempt. Carmella with elbow smashes followed by a bronco buster for a two count. Carmella with a chinlock, Belair got back up and drove Carmella into the turnbuckle. Belair did an impressive counter where she cradled Carmella and hit a delayed vertical suplex. That was cool. Some fans chanted “EST” for Belair, who punched Carmella and then Belair hit an impressive forearm to the face. Belair with a handstand into a moonsault for a two count. Carmella wrapped her legs around Bianca’s throat by the ropes. Carmella trapped Belair against the ring apron leading to a superkick and back in for a two count. Belair with a spinebuster leading to the KOD (Kiss of Death) slam for the pinfall win after four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Bianca Belair

Analysis: ** It was another easy win for Belair. Carmella got a decent amount of offense, but there was never a doubt about who was going to win. Belair is approximately 127-0 against Carmella this year. I may be a bit high on that number. You get the point.

The Reigns/Cena main event segment is up next.

(Commercial)

Face to Face: Roman Reigns and John Cena

Roman Reigns made his entrance as the Universal Champion with Special Counsel Paul Heyman joining him. Reigns defends the Universal Title at SummerSlam against John Cena in what Michael Cole called the biggest main event in SummerSlam history. Reigns has been dominant over the last year while Cena goes for his record 17th World (includes Universal now) Title in WWE. Reigns held up the Universal Title in the air as some pyro went off on the stage.

John Cena made his entrance to a huge ovation from the crowd! That was loud. That was impressive. Cena is getting those big pops everywhere he goes. Cena got into the ring showing a lot of energy and emotion.

Reigns said that a lot of people say a lot of stupid things to him and that’s what Cena did last week. Reigns said that the fans react to it because Cena brings his energy. Reigns said that it’s great, but he won’t let Cena lie to you and misinform you. Reigns said that Cena thinks he can pin Reigns 1, 2, 3. Reigns asked Heyman the last time he lost. Heyman said: “No one has ever beaten THIS Roman Reigns.” True. Reigns: “And there you have it.”

Cena said he won’t let this go on. Cena said that everyone understands that at SummerSlam, all eyes are on this main event between Team Reigns and Team Cena. Cena said that everybody believes that the impossible is possible. Cena told Reigns that he has no idea what he’s in for. Cena said that he came back a month ago, everybody was excited and he thanked the fans for that. Cena said that people think that Reigns is going to win while Cena is going to the movies. Cena said he’s going to take the title from Reigns, go film a movie and Reigns will be embarrassed. Cena said that all it’s going to take is for Cena to get the 1…2…3. Cena said he’s not there to promote movies, he is there to demote his ass. Cena said that this match is made for Cena while Reigns didn’t want it. Cena told us the same thing for 20 years: “Never give up.” Cena said that the reason Reigns is so frustrated is because if Reigns is frustrated then it’s 1, 2, 3 and if Reigns is not perfect then it’s 1, 2, 3 and Cena said that tomorrow he’ll set the record with 17 World Title reigns. Cena said that Smackdown will no longer have a resident Universal Champion until WrestleMania in Dallas thanks to Roman Reigns. Cena said that the impossible is possible thanks to Roman Reigns and all it takes is 1, 2, 3.

Reigns told Cena he doesn’t get it and he’s trying to rationalize it. Reigns told Cena he should have smartened himself up before he came back. Reigns wondered what made Cena special because he’s in movies and commercials. Reigns told Cena he could do that stuff too. Reigns said it’s Vegas, so let’s raise the stakes.

Reigns said that either he’s leaving that stadium as the Universal Champion or he’s leaving WWE. McAfee: “What?” Heyman: “What?” Reigns and Cena shook their hands to agree on it. Reigns picked up Cena going for a move, Cena slipped out of it and did rollup for the 1, 2, 3. Cena left the ring celebrating. Cole signed off wondering if Reigns would leave WWE if he loses. Cena celebrated. End show.

Analysis: It was another very good promo from these guys. I liked some of the lines Cena had. I don’t know about all that stuff he was saying about if he won the Universal Title then we wouldn’t see him again until WrestleMania. Cena is booked for the Smackdown in New York City in three weeks, but I guess they don’t want to give that away as a possible spot for another match. Anyway, the part with Reigns saying he might leave WWE if he doesn’t win the match against Cena. Just remember that heels lie. I have my doubts about that stipulation if Reigns does lose. I’ll just leave it at that and we’ll see what happens at SummerSlam.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. John Cena
  2. Edge
  3. Roman Reigns/Seth Rollins

 

The Scoreboard

6.75 out of 10

Last week: 7.25

2021 Average: 7.07

 

Final Thoughts

I thought it was mostly an average Smackdown this week. There was a heavy spotlight on the Cena/Reigns and Edge/Rollins SummerSlam matches due to the promo time they were given. That makes sense since they are featured matches at SummerSlam. They didn’t really have as many great matches as we are used to seeing on Smackdown, so that’s why it just felt different than one of the better episodes of Smackdown.

The next WWE pay-per-view event is SummerSlam in Las Vegas on Saturday, August 21. Here’s the lineup so far:

WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. John Cena

WWE Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Bill Goldberg

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (c) vs. Sasha Banks

Seth Rollins vs. Edge

Raw Women’s Championship: Nikki A.S.H. (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley

Raw Tag Team Championships: AJ Styles & Omos (c) vs. RK-Bro (Randy Orton & Riddle)

Drew McIntyre vs. Jinder Mahal

Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) (c) vs. Rey & Dominik Mysterio

United States Championship: Sheamus (c) vs. Damian Priest

Alexa Bliss vs. Eva Marie

You can watch SummerSlam on Saturday, August 21, streaming at 8 ET/5 PT exclusively on Peacock in the United States and WWE Network everywhere else.

Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Rams. My contact info is below.

John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

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