The John Report: WWE Smackdown 04/23/21 Review

The John Report: WWE Smackdown 04/23/21 Review

Welcome to this week’s WWE Smackdown review. Prior to this week’s Smackdown, WWE announced that Bianca Belair will defend the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Bayley at the WrestleMania Backlash PPV on Sunday, May 16. I would be very surprised if there is a title change there.

From the WWE ThunderDome at the Yuengling Center in Tampa Bay, Florida, this is Smackdown for episode #1131. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Please visit TJRWrestling.net daily for our regular updates on the wrestling business featuring WWE news coverage along with reviews about wrestling’s past and present. Let’s get to it.

This week’s Smackdown began with a recap of last week’s show when Cesaro confronted Roman Reigns, who walked away from him. Cesaro faced Jey Uso in the main event and then Seth Rollins attacked Cesaro as payback for Seth losing to Cesaro at WrestleMania.

Let’s Hear from Cesaro, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Jey Uso & Roman Reigns

Cesaro was in the ring in his wrestling gear looking like he was about to deliver a promo, but here comes Seth Rollins also in his ring gear. Michael Cole and Pat McAfee were at ringside to welcome us to the show.

Rollins was on the ramp doing a promo saying that Cesaro was the man of the hour. Rollins said he was there to congratulate Cesaro for fulfilling his potential because he was in the ring at WrestleMania with Seth Freakin’ Rollins, the new Mr. WrestleMania. Rollins said he took Cesaro from way down there and gave him the performance of his life by bringing him to the promised land. Rollins wanted some thanks for that. Rollins said that Cesaro has his sights set on the Universal Championship and Rollins reminded Cesaro that this isn’t over until Seth says that it is over. Rollins said that the rain delay threw him way off his game because all things being fair and equal, on Seth’s worst day and Cesaro’s best day, Cesaro couldn’t beat Rollins again.

Cesaro asked if Seth is having a good day because Cesaro is having a great day. Cesaro said he wanted to prove to Rollins he can beat him tonight, right here and right now. Rollins said that maybe he should use tonight to teach him a lesson.

Jey Uso made his entrance to join the promo party. Jey said that Roman Reigns brushed off Cesaro and Jey said that Cesaro can’t beat him. Jey was at ringside with Rollins, so Rollins told Jey to go on opposite sides to go after Cesaro.

That led to Daniel Bryan making his entrance after he missed Smackdown last week with the “yes” chants on his way to the ring. Bryan joined his buddy Cesaro in the ring, so Rollins and Jey tried to leave. Bryan said that Cesaro came out there because he wants a Universal Championship match against Roman Reigns. Bryan said that Rollins is embarrassed and upset that Cesaro beat him at WrestleMania with Seth getting mad at that. Bryan said that Jey came out there because Roman told him to. Bryan said he came out there to make sure that Cesaro finally gets what he deserves. Bryan said he has an infinite amount of respect for Cesaro because he’s worked harder than everybody including all of them and Reigns. Bryan said that the only reason that Reigns is where he is today is because of family connections while Cesaro hasn’t got one break his entire career. Bryan wondered if they would fight right now or maybe Roman Reigns will face Cesaro for the Universal Title, but then Roman doesn’t like to wrestle. Bryan said that if Roman wants to come out there to try to attack them, there is nobody that Bryan would want to stand beside more than Cesaro.

That led to the Universal Champion Roman Reigns making his entrance with Special Counsel Paul Heyman. Reigns was on the ramp.

Reigns trash-talked “DB” about how he should be talking about the work he put on Bryan at WrestleMania. Reigns said he said he’d smash ’em, stack ’em and pin em and there was a t-shirt that Roman was wearing that said that. Reigns laughed at Bryan for being the guy at the bottom, which means he is a loser. Reigns said Cesaro is a loser if he lets Bryan talk for him. Reigns called them losers, Bryan is a WrestleMania main event loser, Cesaro is like a casino loser with bad luck and Bryan is a stupid loser. Reigns said Bryan was stupid because they were surrounded by people that want to whoop their ass. Reigns wished them good luck.

Cesaro & Daniel Bryan engage Jey Uso & Seth Rollins in a war of words: SmackDown, April 23, 2021

Analysis: It was the usual show opening promo where the four guys were out there in their wrestling gear to set up the tag team match after the break. That’s fine because it should be a great match. I thought Rollins did well with his heel promo, Jey was the usual trash-talking heel that he is and then Bryan was tremendous in terms of mocking the heels for the way they do things. Reigns showing up wasn’t expected, but I like what he said. The shirt is pretty cool for a heel wrestler too because it does the bragging for him.

(Commercial)

It’s a holla holla holla Teddy Long tag team match, playas. The four guys were brawling in the ring until Bryan was alone with Jey to start the match. This is the kind of match that could main event Smackdown, but we’re getting it early in the show.

Cesaro & Daniel Bryan vs. Jey Uso & Seth Rollins

Cesaro and Bryan did a double-team slam on Jey with Cesaro knocking Rollins off the apron to the floor. Cesaro delivered a delayed vertical suplex on Jey for a two count. Rollins tagged in, avoided a corner attack and Rollins hit a Slingblade neckbreaker for a two count. Jey with a running forearm on Cesaro followed by a hip attack against the turnbuckle. McAfee was doing his heel commentary work supporting Rollins and trashing Cesaro as Rollins tagged in with a knee drop. Cesaro charged at Rollins against the turnbuckle, Rollins got a boot up and then Cesaro came back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker on Rollins. Bryan tagged in with a missile dropkick, then he kicked Jey off the apron and Bryan delivered the Yes Kicks to Rollins. Seth went for a jumping kick, Bryan caught the foot and Bryan followed up with a German Suplex for two. Bryan went for a running knee, Rollins caught Bryan and Rollins gave Bryan a Buckle Bomb into the turnbuckle. Jey with an Uso Splash on Bryan for a two count as Cesaro made the save. Rollins and Jey sent Cesaro on the floor where the heels delivered a double suplex to Cesaro on the floor. Good action going into the break after five minutes.

(Commercial)

The heels remained in control with Rollins working over Bryan on the ring apron as Rollins hitting a running kick to the head. Rollins with a forearm to the back of the neck for two. Jey with a standing side kick to the body and two stomps to the ribs. Jey rocked Bryan with an uppercut leading to some illegal choking from Rollins against the turnbuckle. Bryan fought back with punches, but Jey hit a Samoan Drop for two. Rollins worked over Bryan a bit by the turnbuckle, Bryan got some momentum going, he jumped over Rollins and they did a double cross body block spot to knock both guys down. Cesaro got the hot tag with repeated uppercuts on Jey and then a discus lariat (RIP Luke Harper) for a two count. Jey with a step-up enziguri and then Cesaro came back with a corkscrew uppercut off the ropes. Cesaro with a lifting uppercut for two as Rollins broke up the pin. Rollins charged at Bryan, who did a back body drop over the top to the floor and Bryan hit a suicide dive on Rollins. Jey sent Cesaro to the floor, but Cesaro blocked a dive with an uppercut. Cesaro jumped off the top with Jey stopping that attempt with a huge superkick. Jey and Cesaro were down in the ring while Seth and Bryan were down on the floor, so it was time for another break.

(Commercial)

The match continued about 17 minutes into it with Cesaro and Rollins exchanging forearm. Cesaro with a trip into a Swing attempt, but Rollins countered into an inside cradle. Cesaro applied a Sharpshooter, but then Jey was back in with a superkick to the back of the head of Cesaro. Jey was up top and then Cesaro hit an uppercut. Rollins walked up the ramp saying he didn’t need this because he’s Seth Freakin’ Rollins. Cesaro was the legal man against Jey with Cesaro hitting a superplex. Bryan tagged in with the running knee on Jey for the pinfall win after 19 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Cesaro & Daniel Bryan

Analysis: ***3/4 That was an awesome tag team match that got a lot of time. You don’t see nearly 20-minute matches that go three segments on Smackdown all the time. They are four experienced guys that were out there having a classic tag team match with Bryan as the face in peril for most of it, then Cesaro was even up with Rollins later and Rollins chose to leave because he was tired of Cesaro going for the Cesaro Swing on him. That left poor Jey all alone. I thought all four guys looked impressive in the match with Jey hitting some timely kicks, Cesaro looking like a guy that the heels fear, Rollins is all around the ring looking confident and Bryan is tremendous in terms of selling as well as making the big comeback. I thought Cesaro might get the win, but at least his team won. The babyfaces winning made sense here. (Based on the main event promo later in the night, Bryan’s win did make sense.)

Post match, Daniel Bryan did a promo wondering where Roman Reigns was. Jey Uso tried to attack Cesaro, but that didn’t work. Cesaro gave Jey Uso the Cesaro Swing with Bryan counting the spins for about 10 of them and then Cesaro stopped shortly after that. When Jey got back, Cesaro delivered another uppercut. Bryan and Cesaro said that they were waiting. Cesaro said that Roman not saving his own cousin shows what kind of family man Roman is. Bryan suggested that Cesaro delivers the Swing to Jey Uso again. Cesaro delivered the Cesaro Swing as Bryan pointed out that Jey was the guy that saved Roman in every single Universal Championship match. It was about 10 or more swings again. I didn’t count out, but it was a lot. Bryan said that he knows Roman couldn’t beat Kevin Owens without Jey’s help, Roman couldn’t beat Bryan without Edge’s help and Roman couldn’t beat Edge without Jey’s help. Bryan said that Roman knows if he faced Cesaro for the Universal Championship then Cesaro would be the Universal Champion. Bryan led the crowd in “YES” chants, well as much as you can without a crowd actually there but the piped-in noise certainly helped.

Daniel Bryan & Cesaro vs. Jey Uso & Seth Rollins: SmackDown, April 23, 2021

Analysis: They had Bryan do most of the promo work while Cesaro got to continue to beat up Jey. I think that was smart because WWE knows Bryan is an elite talker while Cesaro’s strength is showing off his in-ring talent, so it keeps the focus on Cesaro with Bryan putting over his friend as a threat to Reigns. Everything Bryan said made sense too, which helps the promo as well.

Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville were in their office talking about what happened. Apollo Crews showed up with the Intercontinental Championship with the big Commander Azeez by his side. Crews complained about having to defend the title. Pearce let Crews know that his opponent tonight is Kevin Owens. Crews just stared at Pearce.

Nia Jax made her entrance with Shayna Baszler as the Women’s Tag Team Champions. Reginald was back after missing a few weeks.

(Commercial)

Jey Uso was interviewed by Kayla Braxton in the backstage area. Jey said he didn’t give a damn about Seth Rollins or the disrespect from Cesaro. Jey said if Cesaro tries to step up to the “Head of the Table” Roman Reigns, he’s about to be put down.

The announcers were shown at ringside talking about how Tamina was impressive at WrestleMania and fans were cheering for her.

Tamina (w/Natalya) vs. Nia Jax (w/Shayna Baszler & Reginald)

Jax was in control early on with some trash talk. Tamina with a Thesz Press followed by punches as if she was Stone Cold Tamina or something like that. Baszler held onto Tamina’s legs to prevent Tamina from doing a move to Jax. Tamina sent Jax out of the ring and Tamina sent Jax into the barricade. Tamina sent Jax into the barricade a few more times. Reginald was on the apron, Tamina knocked him down and she kicked Baszler in the back. Reginald tripped over the steel steps. Jax was distracted, so Tamina hit a superkick and the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Jax for the pinfall win after about four minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Tamina

Analysis: *1/2 It was smart to keep it a short match. They love the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! finish even after a superkick, I guess. It’s typical WWE booking where a tag team champion like Jax puts over a challenger like Tamina. I think they’ll do the title change at WrestleMania Backlash unless it happens before that. It would be Tamina’s first title in WWE (the 24/7 title doesn’t count to me).

Kevin Owens was interviewed by Kayla Braxton. Owens said it’s been years since his last match for the Intercontinental Title, so he’s thrilled, delighter and a little surprised. Owens said he wasn’t expecting this opportunity because there are a lot of people to take the title off Crews and he would gladly knock Crews off his royal perch. Big E showed up to say that it was his match and his title. Owens said that Big E should be getting a rematch, but it’s not going to be tonight because Owens is getting the match and it is KO’s opportunity up next. Owens said he’ll have fun, then it will be his title and they stared at eachother.

This Monday on Raw, a colossal rematch with Braun Strowman & Drew McIntyre facing T-Bar & Mace. Plus, WWE Champion Bobby Lashley returns (he was off last week) to address Drew McIntyre.

(Commercial)

There was a backstage scene with Daniel Bryan going up to WWE Official Adam Pearce. Bryan asked if Pearce was going to give Cesaro a Universal Title match against Roman Reigns. Pearce said it’s not as simple as snapping his fingers, but he’s going to try. Bryan told him to do more than try.

Kevin Owens made his entrance. I think the camera guy that was filming him fell down because the camera went from being on Owens to the ramp. Oops. Apollo Crews entered with Commander Azeez with Crews wearing the Intercontinental Champion. McAfee was putting over how big of a guy Azeez is.

Intercontinental Championship: Apollo Crews (w/Commander Azeez) vs. Kevin Owens

The match started right at the top of hour two. Owens was in control with a side headlock taking down Crews on the mat. Owens with chops followed by repeated punches to the face. Crews ran the ropes and Owens hit a back elbow followed by a senton splash. Owens with a running clothesline to send Crews over the top to the floor. Owens ran the ropes for a dive, but Azeez stood in front of Crews. That led to Crews tripping up Owens on the apron. Good heel distraction spot. McAfee was standing while doing commentary now. Crews worked over Owens with punches to the head along with kicks. Crews sent Owens to the floor, Crews tried a moonsault off the apron, Owens moved and Owens hit a superkick. Owens sent Crews into the ring and Owens jumped off the top with a Senton Bomb for a two count. Sami Zayn made his entrance to watch the match while Sami’s music played. No documentary crew with Zayn this week.

(Commercial)

The match continued with Sami Zayn joining commentary while saying he only had a black folding chair for his seat instead of a leather chair. It’s a conspiracy! Owens tried to hit a superplex off the turnbuckle, but Crews knocked KO down with headbutts. Crews jumped off the top, Owens moved and Owens hit another superkick, this time for a two count. Owens delivered a stun gun into the top rope followed by a running clothesline. Owens fought out of a hold with an elbow to the head, Crews with a step-up enziguri and a German Suplex. Crews with two more German Suplexes for three total leading to a two count. Crews charged, Owens avoided him and Crews hit the turnbuckle. Owens with a German Suplex followed by two cannonball splashes against the turnbuckle for a two count. Owens went for a Stunner, Crews went for an Angle Slam, Owens got out of that and Owens hit a superkick. Owens sent Crews into the ropes leading to a sitout Popup Powerbomb for a two count. That is not KO’s finisher anymore, so no win with that move. Crews rolled out of the ring to the floor, so Owens hit a Frog Splash on Crews on the floor. Azeez went on the apron, Owens was distracted and Crews did the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! for the pinfall win after about 13 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Apollo Crews

Analysis: ***1/4 This was a pretty good match with a predictable outcome because you know with Azeez out there that he’s going to help Crews win and that’s what happened. They worked well together with Owens getting plenty of offense, nearly getting the win a few times and I liked all of the counters they were doing. My complaint is that they did another ROLLUP OF DEATH~! finish in back to back matches. I would have rather seen Crews hit an Angle Slam or something leading to the pin instead of another rollup.

Post match, Owens gave Crews a Stunner. Azeez went into the ring and punched Owens in the face. Owens sold it like he was knocked out. Zayn loved it. Zayn went into the ring after Crews/Azeez left and then Zayn did some of his comedic dancing over a fallen Owens. That will make for a funny edited video with different music.

Apollo Crews vs. Kevin Owens - Intercontinental Title Match: SmackDown, April 23, 2021

Analysis: Owens sold that punch like it was the greatest move in wrestling history. That’s how you put Azeez over without having Azeez do much at all. Zayn’s dancing is hilarious.

Paul Heyman was interviewed by Kayla Braxton (they are co-hosts on Talking Smack), who asked if Roman Reigns would accept Cesaro’s challenge. Heyman said that he likes Cesaro, he appreciates and respects the man – he even loves the man in a professional sort of way. Heyman said that Cesaro made a name for himself with one name like Madonna or Drake. Heyman said that customer satisfaction is the number one priority on the Island of Relevancy. Heyman gave a spoiler saying that everybody in the tribe will hear from the chief (Reigns) and there will be an answer to the challenge and the answer will come directly from Roman Reigns. Heyman told Kayla she did good.

(Commercial)

There was a backstage scene with Megan Morant (a newcomer that was just hired by WWE) outside the dressing room and Apollo Crews was interviewed by her. Crews said that his royal ancestors are jumping in celebration of his victory. As Crews kept on talking, Big E attacked Crews with punches and Big E tossed Crews into an equipment case. Big E was pulled off Crews by Shane Helms, Jamie Noble and referees. Commander Azeez left the dressing room to check on Crews.

Analysis: They are clearly going to go back to a Crews/Big E match for the Intercontinental Title. We found out later that it’s happening next week.

A video aired “from the twisted mind of Aleister Black.” It’s nice of WWE to remember they need to use this guy. Black was seated in a room with candles and he had glasses on. Black read some book about the dragon. Black said that you (the viewers at home) are the ones that transform your own children into bigger monsters than you are. Black said that you should be scorched from the Earth to make room for more fertile things.

Analysis: I like that they are doing something with Black. It has been way too long for him. I don’t know where the promos are going, but it sounds heelish to me since he is trashing the fans watching at home. That’s fine. I just hope this works out for him.

Aleister Black’s “Chapter One: The Dragon”: SmackDown, April 23, 2021

Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode are the Smackdown Tag Team Champions with Kayla Braxton there to interview them. Kayla asked who they thought would win between The Mysterios and Gable/Otis. Ziggler said that he’s going with Otis/Gable since they’re amateur wrestlers like them. The Street Profits showed up, but Ziggler told them that they had to take it to the back of the line since Ziggler/Roode beat them. Bayley walked into the screen as all the guys left.

Bayley said that she was there to talk about the ungrateful rookie Bianca Belair. Bayley said that she graciously gave Belair the opportunity to work with Bayley and then Bianca made history at WrestleMania. Bayley complained about how she didn’t get a thank you because Belair is rude and spoiled. Bayley said that she’s going to take back her title, so she will be at the top of the division that she built. Montez Ford showed up with his phone, he told his wife Bianca on the phone that Bayley was talking about her, so Bianca said she’ll be right there. Bayley said she’ll say it to her face.

(Commercial)

The guests on Talking Smack this week are Sami Zayn, Bayley and Cesaro. The hosts are Kayla Braxton and the great Paul Heyman. I’ll be filling in for our regular reviewer, so look for that on TJRWrestling on Saturday.

Bianca Belair was standing backstage with Bayley with Belair holding the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Bayley said it would be an honor to be Bianca’s first challenger. Bayley talked about how Belair picked up Banks above her head and walked up the stairs. Bayley said it would be an honor to face Belair at WrestleMania Backlash. Bayley left, then she walked back into the scene and started laughing in an over-the-top way. Belair just looked on confused by that.

Analysis: Nice promo by Bayley showing respect, but then she had to go back to her heel ways with the laughing. That was fun. I’m glad Bayley is back in a regular role after they didn’t use her that well for a few months.

Rey Mysterio made his entrance with his son Dominik Mysterio for a tag team match. Last week, Rey beat Otis in a singles match. That led to Otis and Chad Gable making their entrance as the heel team in this match. They have matching gear too.

Rey & Dominik Mysterio vs. Otis & Chad Gable

Otis with a shoulder tackle to knock down Dominik followed by a body slam. Otis with a running splash, Dominik moved and then Otis came back with another shoulder tackle. Otis teased a dive onto Dominik, but Rey pulled Dominik out of the ring. Otis hit a double clothesline on both Mysterios on the floor. Gable did a gutbuster to Rey as well. Otis sent Dominik back into the ring and that led to a break.

(Commercial)

The match returned with Gable delivering a knee drop onto the arm of Dominik, who was the face in peril. Dominik got a cradle on Gable for two. Gable with a Tiger Suplex hooking the arms for a two count. Otis delivered some punches to the ribs of Dominik. Otis with a double axehandle to the chest of Dominik plus a body slam and an elbow drop. Otis continued the attack with shoulder blocks to the ribs, Gable with shoulder blocks to the ribs and Otis tagged in with a running splash against the turnbuckle. Gable slapped on an armbar on the left arm. Gable picked Dominik up and delivered two belly-to-belly suplexes in a row. Dominik sent Gable into the top rope. Rey got the hot tag with a flying headscissors and a Sunset Bomb for a two count. Rey avoided a running Gable, so Gable went shoulder first into the ring post. Gable tried a move off the middle ropes, but Rey countered it into a hurricanrana for two. Dominik was back in with a back body drop to the apron, Rey tripped Gable and Dominik slid under the bottom rope into a Powerbomb into the wall. That was great! Rey was back in, Rey knocked Otis off the apron and Dominik jumped onto Otis. Dominik sent Otis into the announce table. Rey with a 619 kick on Gable along with a Frog Splash off the top for the pinfall win after about ten minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Rey & Dominik Mysterio

Analysis: *** A good tag team match. I continue to be amazed by Rey, who moves around the ring like a man that is in his late 20s, not his late 40s like Rey is. Any time Gable and Otis are the losing team in a tag team match, it is usually going to be Gable that gets pinned because they want to keep Otis looking strong. This should set up Rey & Dominik for a Smackdown Tag Team Title match soon because other than the Street Profits, there isn’t another babyface team for Ziggler/Roode to face. It makes sense to me anyway.

Rey Mysterio & Dominik Mysterio vs. Otis & Chad Gable: SmackDown, April 23, 2021

After Rey and Dominik won their match, they were leaving up the ramp. That’s when Cesaro and Daniel Bryan made their entrance for the main event promo segment. Cesaro and Daniel congratulated the Mysterios on the win. That promo to end the show is next.

(Commercial)

It was announced that Apollo Crews will defend the Intercontinental Title vs. Big E next week on Smackdown.

Let’s Hear from Cesaro, Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns 

Cesaro and Daniel Bryan were in the ring. They called out Roman Reigns. After about a minute of waiting, it was time for an answer.

Roman Reigns got into the ring with the Universal Title on his shoulder and he was joined by Jey Uso and Paul Heyman. Reigns told Cesaro that the answer is no because he will never be on Roman’s level. Roman said that the Universal Champion issues the challenge around here. Reigns said that the challenge goes to Bryan. Reigns told Bryan he doesn’t like him, he has never liked him and he will never like him. Reigns told Bryan that he’ll get one more title opportunity against Reigns and he asked Bryan what does he have to say? Cesaro told Bryan he has to take this. Reigns said that if, no “when” Bryan loses, Reigns told Bryan he wants him to disappear, that Reigns doesn’t want to see Bryan on his show ever again. Bryan accepted the challenge.

Reigns left the ring with his guys while Bryan was left in the ring to ponder the match with Cesaro by his side. There was a graphic on the screen about next week’s match with Cole saying it may be the biggest main event in Smackdown history with Reigns defending the Universal Title against Bryan and Bryan must win or he will be “banished” from Smackdown. That was the end of the show.

Analysis: That’s a huge match for next week. They can still do Reigns vs. Cesaro at the Backlash PPV while also giving us a big match next week with Bryan challenging Reigns for the Universal Title. The last time Reigns had a title match on Smackdown was Christmas against Kevin Owens, so it’s rare to see a title defense on Smackdown. Anyway, I’m not sure what is happening with Bryan in the future. I covered the interview he did earlier in the week about feeling detached at WrestleMania and how he might not want to wrestle full-time anymore. Bryan’s WWE contract is also up in a few months. My feeling is he’ll stay with WWE, but likely only as a part-timer and maybe this is a way to change things up for him by putting him on Raw in the future. I don’t know if that’s the plan. I have no idea right now. I just know that the last two PPV matches that Reigns had with Bryan were matches that I rated over four stars out of five, so we’re going to get an awesome match next week.

Roman Reigns makes a high-stakes challenge to Daniel Bryan: SmackDown, April 23, 2021

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Daniel Bryan/Cesaro
  2. Seth Rollins/Jey Uso
  3. Apollo Crews/Kevin Owens

I know I cheated. It was a good show, so it’s hard to pick just three people.

 

The Scoreboard

8 out of 10

Last week: 6.75

2021 Average: 7.01

 

Final Thoughts

This was a great episode of Smackdown. The first match of the night went nearly 20 minutes and was an entertaining tag team match with Cesaro/Bryan picking up the big win. I liked the ongoing theme of the show with Cesaro/Bryan wanting Roman Reigns to answer Cesaro’s challenge for a Universal Title match, but then Reigns challenged Bryan for next week. It’s not just a regular title match because if Bryan loses then Bryan is “banished” from Smackdown meaning Bryan is off Smackdown after next week since I assume Reigns is going to win. Maybe it leads to Bryan being moved to Raw or simply wrestling way less as a part-timer. I don’t know the plan, but I know Bryan has openly talked about wanting to wrestle less. It’s a big match to do next week and I’m looking forward to that as well as the IC Title Crews vs. Big E match.

The rest of Smackdown was pretty solid too. It felt like a record amount of backstage interviews, but that’s okay because those are quick and you can have different people involved in them. The Apollo Crews/Kevin Owens was a lot of fun even with the predictable finish with Commander Azeez getting involved. Plus, we got some great Sami Zayn dancing! That’s always fun. The Mysterios beating Gable/Otis builds them up in the tag team division too. I liked the Bayley/Bianca Belair backstage promo as well although it was brief. That should be a good match at WrestleMania Backlash.

I also thought that Pat McAfee was better on commentary this week. He slowed down, he still supported the heels a lot and he made his points well. I think Pat has all the tools to be great at that job as he continues to get more experience. It’s only been two shows. Pat’s going to keep getting better. I think he was a smart hire.

Big episode next week: Reigns vs. Bryan for Universal Title and Crews vs. Big E for Intercontinental Title.

The next WWE PPV is called WrestleMania Backlash on May 16th. Here’s what we know so far.

WWE Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Drew McIntyre

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

Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Raptors (brutal this year) and Toronto Maple Leafs. My contact info is below.

John Canton

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