Welcome to this week’s WWE Smackdown review. We are on the road to SummerSlam in about three weeks on Saturday, August 21. I think WWE needs to announce some more matches as we get closer to that big event.
From the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, this is Smackdown for episode #1145. 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 Minneapolis, the plug for Progressive (Smackdown’s main sponsor) and then some familiar music hit.
Let’s Hear from John Cena
This week’s Smackdown begins with promo time with…John Cena. Just like last week. Good call. Cena: “This doesn’t sound as good as the Paul Heyman remix!” Great line by Cena. Huge ovation for Cena just like last week.
They showed a video package from last week with Cena calling out Roman Reigns for a match at SummerSlam. They showed Paul Heyman doing his version of Cena’s entrance song, then they showed Roman Reigns saying no while also including the “missionary position” line and then Finn Balor stepping up to challenge Reigns with Roman accepting. That leads us to this week.
Cena said that if you can find somebody that makes the missionary position entertaining for two decades, keep them in your life because it’s going to be worth it…he promises. That was funny too. Cena welcomed Minneapolis to Smackdown. Cena mentioned Finn Balor signing the contract against Roman Reigns at SummerSlam. Cena said it also proves his point that Reigns absolutely sucks because beyond all that false confidence, Reigns is just a “scared little kid.” Cena said that Roman accepts Balor and rejects Cena with Cena saying it’s not like he’s never been rejected. Cena said that Reigns said he didn’t accept because Cena has failed to change. Cena said that is so stupid like asking “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to show up with another name. Cena said that would be like if The Rock came back as Dwayne “Too Small” Johnson and then he did a joke out of a Rock catchphrase. Cena said it’s not who those guys are, the fans know it and the wrestlers know it. Cena said that they (the top wrestlers) don’t beg for you to acknowledge them. Cena said they allow you to get out of your seat to get electric and do your best to earn respect. Cena said that Reigns expected Cena to change. Cena said that Reigns has to change every two years because you don’t believe in him because Roman doesn’t believe in himself. Cena said that Roman Reigns “is nothing more than a lazy stooge named Joe.” Cena said that Reigns is a “bloodsucking product of this machine” and Cena said he would have embarrassed Reigns at SummerSlam. Cena said that Roman was afraid to fight him because of how Cena would make him look.
Analysis: That was a strong promo from John Cena taking shots at Reigns as a performer and delivering some good lines about how he would beat Reigns if he got to face him. I liked it a lot.
Baron Corbin made his entrance (no theme music) in a white shirt with a stain on it with his bad hair and disheveled beard. The fans chanted “you suck” at Corbin as he walked out to the ring. Cena joked that he had no idea who he was and then he remembered it was Baron Corbin. Cena said that he looked…Corbin said “horrible, I know!” Cena laughed and said he looked horrible. Corbin said that they have never been close, but he’s desperate and his life is falling apart. Corbin said that he lost his crown, cars, he’s about to lose his house and somebody stole his identity. Corbin said that last week he suffered an injury to a sensitive part of his body and now he’s unable (Cena: “Surf the internet”) and Corbin said he’s unable to perform. Corbin said because of that, his wife left with the kids. Corbin said Cena grants so many wishes, so if somebody can help him then maybe it’s Cena.
Cena asked if they should help Corbin and there were more “no” chants than “yes” chants. Cena handed Corbin a bill out of his pockets. Corbin said that Cena is rich and he should put Corbin in Suicide Squad. Cena said it was already filmed and is out next Friday (nice plug). Corbin said he would be Cena’s stunt double in the next movie with John dismissing that quickly. Corbin asked if Cena was going to kick a poor man while he’s down. Corbin called Cena a selfish, self-absorbed tightwad with an ego the size of the state of California. Corbin called John a “Hollywood sellout.” Cena said that they should help this man. Cena said he’ll give him an attitude adjustment and then Cena hit his move called the Attitude Adjustment. Cena left to cheers.
Analysis: This was silly with several jokes in there, but it worked and ended on a happy note for Cena. I did like the line from Cena about how Corbin needed an attitude adjustment and we know that’s the name of Cena’s finisher, so the dialogue worked. Poor Corbin.
Rey and Dominik Mysterio were in the locker room. Dominik said he would be at ringside for his dad’s match. Rey told Dominik he was proud of the competitor he has become. Rey said Dominik has made some rookie mistakes, but he’ll learn and told his son to watch what his old man can still do out there.
The Usos made their entrance as the Smackdown Tag Team Champions. Jimmy is in singles action up next.
The announcers were Michael Cole and Pat McAfee. They plugged the Roman Reigns/Finn Balor contract signing coming up later. They were shown at ringside for the first match.
Rey Mysterio made his entrance with his son Dominik Mysterio by his side. They showed clips from last August when Rey and Dominik teamed together for the first time.
Rey Mysterio (w/Dominik Mysterio) vs. Jimmy Uso (w/Jey Uso)
Jimmy with a shoulder tackle, a kick to the gut and Rey hit a headscissors sending Jimmy to the turnbuckle. Rey hit a bulldog out of the corner. Jimmy picked up Rey leading to a run towards the turnbuckle with Jimmy hitting Rey’s upper back against the turnbuckle. Rey with a dropkick to knock Jimmy off the apron. Rey went for a sliding attack to the floor, Jimmy avoided it and Jimmy hit a superkick to knock Rey down on the floor. They went to break there.
Rey bounced off the ropes with a couple of kicks to the head. Jimmy sent Rey to the apron, Rey with a forearm, but then Jimmy hit a jumping kick to the head. Jey went for a superplex, Rey with a headbutt to knock him down and Rey hit a senton off the top followed by a springboard cross body block for two. Rey missed a corner splash, Jimmy with another kick to the head and Rey hit a dropkick to the knee to set up Jimmy against the ropes. Jey pulled Jimmy out of the ring, so Rey hit a corkscrew plancha over the top rope onto both Usos. Back in the ring, Rey with a headscissors on Jimmy, then Rey had to knock Jey down off the apron and Jimmy caught Rey. Rey countered Jimmy into a crucifix pin with Dominik putting his feet against Rey’s back for the cheating win! Payback for the Mysterios against The Usos, who cheated against them in the past. It went nine minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Rey Mysterio
Analysis: *** Good opener with Rey hitting a lot of impressive moves while Jimmy did a nice job of stopping the momentum every time. Rey continues to amaze me as a great athlete even in his mid-40s. Rey getting the win because of Dominik’s help is payback for what The Usos have done in the past. I know people are sick of rematches and I get sick of them too, but this kind of finish made sense based on their booking in the past. There might be a title rematch coming soon.
They showed a clip of Bianca Belair beating Carmella on Smackdown last week.
Bianca Belair made her entrance with the Smackdown Women’s Championship. She gets some promo time after a break.
Let’s Hear from Bianca Belair
Belair was in the ring with interviewer Kayla Braxton and there was a red carpet in the ring as well. Kayla said that Belair has officially surpassed 100 days as Smackdown Women’s Champion with Kayla saying it was 110 days.
Belair said that these last few months have been amazing like defending the title at Rolling Loud, winning an ESPY, main eventing WrestleMania and being in front of all of you…the fans.
Carmella showed up for the interruption. I think people were hoping for somebody else in that spot. Carmella congratulated Belair on 100 days and said that Belair should give one more title shot to somebody that held that title for 130 days. Carmella reminded us she’s “the most beautiful woman in WWE” which led to boos. Carmella got into the ring saying she deserved it. Carmella complained that the lighting was so bright at Rolling Loud.
Zelina Vega was next as she told Carmella to slow her roll. Vega said that Carmella was too pretty to be a third time loser. Vega, who hasn’t won a match on WWE TV this year, got in Belair’s face. Vega said the WWE Universe wanted to see Belair challenge a rising star like Vega. Zelina said that no one is more deserving than her and she wanted Bianca to accept the challenge. Belair told Vega she is on. Carmella attacked Belair from behind and then Carmella/Vega worked together to beat up Belair. So many camera cuts during this. Stop shaking the cameras too.
Sasha Banks ran out to the ring for the save. Big pop for Sasha running out there. Banks cleared house by beating up Vega and Carmella easily. Banks hugged Belair in the ring. Banks celebrated her return after being away since WrestleMania and the fans loved her. You can tell Sasha enjoyed being in front of the crowd again.
Analysis: The Banks return was expected here and the fans loved seeing her again. The problem with a segment like this is the fans don’t view Vega as a threat since she has zero wins on WWE TV this year while Carmella has lost repeatedly to Belair. They need stronger heels. Sasha has been gone since WrestleMania, so it’s been nearly four months off for her. It would make a lot of sense to do Belair vs. Banks in a WrestleMania rematch at SummerSlam.
They showed Reginald winning the 24/7 Title on Raw two weeks ago. For some reason, Reginald is also on Smackdown and in a match up next.
They showed some people that sent in a video to be a ring announcer at SummerSlam. It’s something they are doing with TikTok. I predict a child will win to be the ring announcer.
Reginald was behind the curtain with Kayla Braxton interviewing him. Reginald said to call him Reggie, so Reggie reminded us that as the 24/7 Champion he’s constantly looking over his shoulder. Reggie said that trouble usually comes his way in every direction. Reggie said that whoever challenges him should expect the unexpected.
Reginald did some backflips on his way to the ring and he got the trampoline entrance that Sin Cara used to have. He was announced as “Reggie” while the graphic said Reginald. Chad Gable entered with the big man Otis.
Otis: “It’s not me, it’s him.” Otis hit Reggie with a shoulder tackle and the bell rang.
24/7 Championship: Reggie vs. Chad Gable (w/Otis)
Gable hit a running elbow and then a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Reginald did some flips, then he ducked multiple chops. Gable slammed Reggie off the shoulders. Gable with a Tiger Suplex for two. Gable went up top with Reginald with Gable going for a suplex, but Reggie landed on his feet. Reggie hit a somersault dive onto Gable for a two count as Otis attacked him. Otis tossed Reggie over the top, but Reggie flipped and landed on his feet. Anyway, it was a DQ because Otis attacked Reggie. It went about three minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Reggie
Analysis: *1/2 It was fine for some of the spots, but boring overall. I like Gable. I just don’t really care about Reggie doing flips and then booking a DQ finish for the joke title. I guess it’s not the same rules as the Hardcore Title, so you can do a DQ finish. It’s just lame booking.
The WWE Officials Sonya Deville and Adam Pearce were in their office with Deville saying the wrestlers were informed of the main event: Carmella & Zelina Vega vs. Bianca Belair & Sasha Banks.
This Monday on Raw: Nikki A.S.H. vs. Charlotte Flair in a No Holds Barred Match and Goldberg returns to Raw looking for Bobby Lashley.
Contract Signing for Roman Reigns & Finn Balor
Sonya Deville and Adam Pearce were in the ring to officiate the contract signing. They introduced us to let us know that they are there to make sure that this contract is signed. This is for Roman Reigns vs. Finn Balor at SummerSlam. That’s what they are saying anyway.
Finn Balor was introduced first as the challenger to the Universal Title. Good ovation for Balor dressed in street clothes including the familiar leather jacket. Balor turned 40 years old (welcome to the club) on July 25th, so happy birthday to him earlier in the week.
Roman Reigns was up next as the slow-walking Universal Champion with the Special Counsel Paul Heyman at his side. Reigns had on his “Acknowledge Me” shirt. Reigns took his time getting to the ring. There were a couple of fans dressed like John Cena at ringside, so Reigns laughed at them. When Reigns got into the ring, he didn’t like the chair placement, so Heyman put the chair at…the head of the table. Of course. Pearce told them to look over the contract and feel free to sign on the dotted line. There were “Cena” chants as Reigns was handed a microphone.
Reigns said that we’ve already seen “Mr. Missionary” tonight. Reigns recapped Cena saying that Reigns was ducking Cena, so that means that Cena thinks Balor is less than him. Reigns said that Balor is worthy to challenge for the Universal Championship and worthy to catch this beatdown at SummerSlam. Reigns said that Balor isn’t like John coming out there using other people’s catchphrases. Reigns said that Balor is hungry and he wants it and Reigns digs that about him. Reigns said that if Balor signs the contract then Reigns will smash him and send Balor right back to NXT. The fans chanted “Roman sucks” as Roman was about to sign. Roman signed the contract first.
Balor said that Reigns thinks highly of himself and perhaps justifiably so. Balor said that it will be his privilege to return to NXT once again as the Universal Champion, but there’s Baron Corbin! Corbin slammed Balor into the table and tossed Balor out of the ring. Corbin tossed Balor over the barricade. Corbin grabbed the contract. Corbin was about to sign the contract, but there’s Cena sliding into the ring and Cena kicked Corbin. Cena tossed Corbin shoulder first into the ring post. Cena grabbed the contract, he brought out a blue sharpie and Cena wrote “CENA” along with his signature on the SummerSlam contract. Cena handed the contract to Pearce. The fans loved it while Reigns remained seated looking frustrated about what happened.
Analysis: We all knew it was going to be Roman Reigns vs. John Cena. Nice swerve at least. When Reigns signed first, I thought there was a good chance that they would do something different there. By having Reigns deny Cena at first, it makes it seem like Reigns is afraid of losing to him, so that puts over Cena as a threat and the build to SummerSlam can crank up from here. It sucks for Finn Balor, but it’s not like anybody really thought he was getting the SummerSlam match with Reigns. They can have Balor face Reigns in the fall months when Cena isn’t there. Anyway, they also set up Balor vs. Corbin as a feud since Balor didn’t get a chance to sign. I’m looking forward to Reigns vs. Cena a lot.
The women’s tag team match is still to come.
Pearce and Deville were shown backstage with Paul Heyman walking up to them saying that was great television. Heyman asked what are they going to do about SummerSlam? Heyman said it is Finn Balor’s name on the contract, but John Cena’s name. Pearce said that he sees Roman Reigns and John Cena’s signatures, so that is good enough for him. Deville said that Reigns will defend the Universal Championship against Cena. Heyman wasn’t happy about it.
Analysis: It’s official. I’m looking forward to Reigns vs. Cena a lot.
It’s time for the six-man tag team match that was set up last week that never aired on TV although it aired for the local fans. Big E made his entrance as Mr. Money in the Bank. That led to Rick Boogs introducing us to King Nakamura with Boogs playing the guitar. McAfee was going wild for the song while dancing on the table.
King Nakamura, Big E & Cesaro vs. Dolph Ziggler, Robert Roode & Apollo Crews (w/Commander Azeez)
Big E with a belly-to-belly suplex on Crews. Big E charged with Crews hitting a knee, so Roode/Ziggler hit a spinebuster/Zig Zag combo on Big E on the floor. They went to break one minute into the match.
The tag team match returned with Big E tagging out to Cesaro, who hit an uppercut on Ziggler and a clothesline. Cesaro got the crowd standing as he signaled for the swing and Cesaro gave Ziggler the Cesaro Swing as the fans counted for the ten spins. Cesaro with a Sharpshooter submission, but Roode pulled Ziggler to the bottom rope. Nakamura back in with a jumping knee to Ziggler while Cesaro hit a gutwrench suplex for a two count for Nakamura. Nakamura charged, but Ziggler avoided it and hit a Zig Zag. Crews tagged in with a standing moonsault on Nakamura for two as Cesaro made the save. Roode with a spinebuster on Cesaro. Big E with a Big Ending on Roode and Ziggler with a Fameasser on Big E. Nakamura kicked Ziggler out of the ring. Crews with an enziguri kick followed by a German Suplex on Nakamura for a two count. Crews went up top, so Boogs played the guitar and Azeez sent Boogs into the announce table. Cesaro with an uppercut on Azeez and Ziggler with a superkick on Cesaro. Nakamura avoided a splash from Crews, they did an exchange of moves, and Nakamura hit a Kinshasa on Crews for the pinfall win. It went about eight minutes.
Winners by pinfall: King Nakamura, Big E & Cesaro
Analysis: **3/4 Good match with a lot of action, but it was on the short side since we only got to see about five minutes of it. When you do a six-man tag team with talented wrestlers like this, you need to find a way to give them more time. Nakamura pinning Crews could lead to an IC Title feud between them with Nakamura possibly getting the IC Title as well. It was nice to hear how much the crowd loved the Cesaro Swing spot too. Cesaro needs to be pushed as a face as well.
There was a recap of Edge and Seth Rollins having issues last week. After a verbal exchange, Edge got the upper hand during their fight until Rollins bailed from the ring.
Edge made his entrance to a huge pop since the fans love the WWE Hall of Famer with the cool entrance. Edge got a lot of pyro for the entrance as usual.
The show returned with Seth Rollins in the ring. They showed what happened during the commercial when Rollins attacked Edge. Rollins hit Edge with a forearm to the back along with a whip into the barricade. Rollins kicked Edge while on the apron. Rollins grabbed a television camera and hit Edge in the head to knock Edge down on the stage. They showed officials checking on Edge while Rollins went to the ring.
Analysis: It’s rare to see something like that during a break, but they showed all of it, so it’s not like we missed it.
Let’s Hear from Seth Rollins
Rollins said that what goes around, comes around. Rollins said that he’s a revolutionary. They showed a clip from four weeks ago when Rollins complained about Edge getting a Universal Title match against Rollins. That led to Money in the Bank when Rollins attacked Edge in the match against Reigns and Rollins was the reason Edge lost the Universal Title match.
Rollins said that he is not ashamed of anything he has done. Rollins said he was proud of that and that was the hard thing to do, but it was the right thing to do. The fans chanted “We Want Becky” at Rollins. Becky Lynch is married to Rollins, but he didn’t acknowledge the chants. Rollins said that he is the rightful heir to the Universal Championship and if he can’t be the champion then neither can Edge. Rollins left.
Analysis: A good promo from Rollins as usual. The Becky chants were pretty loud, but Seth didn’t react to it at all. I have said many times in the past that I’m really excited about the Edge vs. Rollins match at SummerSlam. I know it’s not official, but it’s coming. Two smart wrestlers that know how to put together a big match and deliver a great performance.
The women’s tag team match is the main event.
There was a replay of John Cena signing the SummerSlam contract to face Roman Reigns. Shortly after that, the match was made official. The graphic was shown on television with Roman Reigns defending the Universal Championship against John Cena. This is the official poster.
Next Friday on Smackdown: Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin.
The heel team of Carmella and Zelina Vega were already in the ring. Bianca Belair was up first for her team as the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Bianca Belair made her entrance to a big pop with Cole recapping the story of Belair beating Banks at WrestleMania and this is Sasha’s first match since then.
Bianca Belair & Sasha Banks vs. Carmella & Zelina Vega
Belair hit a dropkick and Banks was back in with a double shoulder tackle. Carmella got a hair pull takedown on Banks. Carmella with back elbows against Banks by the turnbuckle. Belair saved Banks from a double team move and Banks/Belair hit a double dropkick. Banks with a sliding dropkick on both opponents on the floor. Belair pressed Banks over her head and tossed Sasha onto the two heels for a cross body block. Good spot leading to a break.
Vega was in the ring with Belair with Vega going for a submission while hooking the arms of Belair. When Belair got out, Vega slammed her down. Carmella tagged in with kicks and she put her foot against the throat of Belair. Carmella charged into a clothesline from Belair. Vega went for another submission and Belair hit a side slam to get out of it. Banks got the hot tag to a big bop. Banks with two dropkicks, then three vertical suplexes for the Three Amigos series like Eddie Guerrero. Banks went up top and hit a Frog Splash on Vega for two with Carmella hitting a kick to break it up. I think she was a bit late, but the referee didn’t get a three. Carmella with a face plant on Banks for a two count with Belair making the save. Belair took care of Vega and they went out of the ring. Banks hit the Backstabber double knees to the back leading to the Bank Statement submission. Carmella tapped out. The match went 11 minutes.
Winners by submission: Bianca Belair & Sasha Banks
Analysis: **3/4 The match was fine with an obvious result. Carmella and Vega were there to put over the bigger names and we all knew that watching it. Belair showed off her power while Banks got to get the win in her first match back. The fans were into this match.
After the match, Belair was dancing with Banks a bit. As the celebration continued, Banks did the predictable thing with the Backstabber for the heel turn. The fans reacted to it in a big way with boos and some cheers too. Banks hit a DDT off the ropes. Banks applied the Bank Statement submission to Belair as well. Belair was tapping out. Banks held the Smackdown Women’s Title in her hands just like she has done in the past. Banks applied the Bank Statement on Belair again. By this point, it sounded like mostly boos for sure. Banks kept on applying the hold as the fans booed Banks for her actions. Sasha was laughing about it. End show.
Analysis: I think that was predictable especially when looking at the time and seeing there were a few minutes left after the show. Sasha Banks is great as a face or heel. She might be the best female performer in all of WWE no matter her role. Smackdown needed a heel woman wrestler especially with Bayley out. Belair will become a better performer by getting to work with Banks in this feud, so that’s great for Belair too. They can get several more matches out of the Banks/Belair feud and maybe Sasha will get the title back at SummerSlam. It’s certainly possible. The crowd booed Banks for her actions although I’m sure some fans will cheer Banks during this rivalry since Banks is a pretty big star that is so well-liked by fans that appreciate how talented she is.
Three Stars of the Show
- John Cena
- Sasha Banks/Bianca Belair
- King Nakamura
7.5 out of 10
Last week: 7.25
2021 Average: 7.09
I thought it was a pretty good Smackdown for the most part. The big news on the show was Sasha Banks returning after nearly four months away and then turning on Bianca Belair after they won a tag team match. It wouldn’t shock me if Banks beat Belair for the Smackdown Women’s Title at SummerSlam to give Banks some momentum as a heel. Banks is very good as a heel, so I look forward to it.
They did the swerve with the contract signing segment, which led to the obvious SummerSlam match between Roman Reigns and John Cena. Great stuff from Cena as usual. It sucks for Finn Balor, but I still feel like he will be in a feud with Reigns later in the year. The Edge/Rollins story was furthered as well with Rollins attacking Edge from behind.
The match quality was solid for the most part. I would have liked to see more time for the six-man tag team match (it was under ten minutes), but you can’t give a lot of time to everything. The only match I didn’t care for was Reggie/Reginald defending the 24/7 Title (keep that lame title off Smackdown) in a short match against Chad Gable with a bad finish. Most of the matches were good enough.
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
Raw Women’s Championship: Nikki A.S.H. vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley
You can watch SummerSlam on Saturday, Aug. 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. My contact info is below.