Welcome to The Smackdown Reaction where I offer my take on this week’s throwback-themed show. As always, you can check out John’s full in-depth report here.
There was an old-school theme opening video with the old-school graphics being used. Michael Cole and Pat McAfee were shown at ringside in old school dress. The Smackdown Fist makes its return in CGI format, but it’s the thought that counts. Our first throwback moment is a replay of the very first Smackdown and the Triple H/Rock WWE Championship main event.
Roman Reigns kicks off Promo Time with his new entrance, Jey Uso, and Paul Heyman. We get a replay of the amazing Universal Title main event last week between Roman and Daniel Bryan. If you have not seen that match yet, go find it. Likely a Match of the Year candidate right there. Roman talked about vanquishing Bryan and replacing him with someone else, Jimmy Uso! Cesaro shows up to break up the Uso Reunion before Seth Rollins attacks him. That fight is broken up by referees in the old Smackdown Blue shirts. Holla! Holla! Can’t have a throwback Smackdown episode without Teddy Long coming out to book a tag match. Instead of the tag match, Teddy said that Adam Pearce granted him his match-making ability and will book Cesaro versus Roman Reigns for the Universal Title at WrestleMania Backlash if he can beat Rollins next. Roman and Seth attack Cesaro to throw us to commercial break.
Lord Alfred Hayes informs us that promotional consideration was provided by ICOPRO and you gotta want it. Um, I don’t think anybody really wanted it.
Seth and Cesaro’s match started with the Usos still hanging out at ringside. The outcome was never in doubt, thanks to Teddy Long, but the question was how to get there. Their match was a toned-down effort from their WrestleMania bout. Most of the best spots were not used, including Seth’s corkscrew Frog Splash, Cesaro Swing, and the UFO. They hyped that move so much and we haven’t seen it since Mania. Anyway, the Usos try to get involved and Seth stops them because he’s not Roman and doesn’t need their help. Usos wind up interfering and Cesaro drops Seth with the Gotch Neutralizer for the win. There was no need for the Usos to get involved in this match and it hurt a bit. At least the old throwback 50/50 booking didn’t make its return. The Usos realized that they messed up.
After the break, Seth confronted Roman over the Uso interference. Roman said he wasn’t pleased about it either. Seth told Roman to handle it or he would. A tease for a future title match between the two? You decide.
The classic Smackdown moment was a clip from the greatest segment in Smackdown history, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Booker T in the Lucky Frog Supermarket on 12/13/01. If you have not seen that segment, go seek it out. Why can’t we have more spots like that?
Teddy Long was backstage with Sonya Deville when Sami Zayn shows up. Sami wants Teddy to book an IC Title match for him tonight since he is not part of the biased establishment. Instead, Teddy books Sami in a match with The Undertaker. Classic Teddy right there. Sami points out that Undertaker has retired so Teddy books Sami in a tag match with Apollo instead. Their opponents are going to be Big E, birthday boy Kevin Owens, Shinsuke Nakamura, and the Street Profits. Sami complains that’s not fair but his other partners will be Alpha Academy and King Booker. Sonya downgrades the match by replacing King Booker with King Corbin. We couldn’t get Booker T to revive his King gimmick for one night to cross-promote his A&E Biography on Sunday? The commercial for it aired immediately after the next segment.
The Usos showed up to face Roman. Roman was upset with the mess he has to clean up now and Jimmy said he isn’t nobody’s bitch and left with Jey going to find his brother. Good to see Jimmy’s been watching the product.
Oh. My. God. A Riott Squad sighting! Ruby Riott is going to take on Carmella. Ruby has the tools to be a big-time star, along with Liv Morgan, but Ruby has to put the tool Carmella over in a Three Minute Raw Special. Did someone say Three Minutes? Ugh.
The Smackdown Throwback moment was Edge winning the Tag Team Titles with Hulk Hogan on the Fourth of July special Smackdown in 2002. Bayley came out for Promo Time after the break.
Another Smackdown Throwback moment is shown which was the superplex heard ’round the world. Brock Lesnar superplexed Big Show causing the ring to implode for the first time (the spot has been done once or twice since) to send the 6/12/03 Smackdown off the air. This was likely the greatest in-ring spot in Smackdown history.
Bayley was out to honor some of the past Women’s Champions. She ran through the list of names; Alundra Blaze, Jacqueline, Lita, Trish Stratus, Beth Phoenix, and Molly Holly while putting herself over before bringing up current champion Bianca Belair. Bayley ran down Bianca so she came out. Bianca showed confidence going into their title match at WrestleMania Backlash before the expected scuffle broke out. It ended with Bayley coming out on top so Bianca can get the big win at WrestleMania Backlash.
Jey Uso finally caught up to Jimmy to discuss family. Jimmy proposed Universal Champion Roman Reigns and Tag Team Champions The Usos before leaving. It’s a good idea and a way to prolong The Mysterios title win until SummerSlam.
Our next Smackdown Throwback moment was from 6/27/02 with John Cena debuting his “Ruthless Aggression” against Kurt Angle and Undertaker backstage follow up.
Dolph Ziggler was supposed to take on Rey Mysterio next but got Dominik Mysterio instead after cutting a promo on him. Dolph put Dominik over by losing to a small package instead of the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! in a two-minute match, if that. Ziggler and Roode will defend the Tag Team Titles against the Mysterios at WrestleMania Backlash. I suspect that this is the reason why Backlash is called WrestleMania Backlash so The Mysterios can win the tag titles at “WrestleMania” but it should have been held at the real WrestleMania with an actual crowd and not fake WrestleMania inside the Thunderdome. Is there any way we can push this back until SummerSlam? They dragged out the Sasha/Bayley break-up angle for far too long until they could get fans inside the Thunderdome. This piece of history deserves an actual fan response.
Kayla Braxton had a throwback hairstyle while interviewing Reginald and the Women’s Tag Team Champions, Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax. Reginald is going to have a match with Tamina because she disrespected Nia. Another Smackdown Throwback moment is sandwiched in from 11/11/99 with Arnold Schwarznegger being presented with the WWE Title and beat up Triple H.
The “match” as they called it was simply horrible. These intergender matches do not work in WWE and should never ever be done. They can only be one sided and this one was so awful it belonged on Raw. The tag champs attacked Tamina for the DQ and to look strong going into their tag title match next week on Smackdown. I’m praying for a title change and free Shayna.
Dueling promos from the participants of the 10 man tag toss us into the commercial break and the match starts as soon as we get back with everyone coming out during the break. We get the standard WWE multi-man tag team match here with lots of action all around and everybody getting to hit their spots. The bizarre ending had Corbin pin Nakamura clean after End of Days. That was puzzling as neither are feuding and Nakamura is the bigger star. Maybe it was done to set up a feud between the two?
Our last Smackdown Throwback moment was when Eddie Guerrero gave Vince McMahon a ride in the lowrider. I loved the lowrider entrance.
Main Event Promo Time with Roman and company again. Roman wanted to know where Jimmy’s loyalty lies and Jimmy showed the Hell in a Cell “I Quit” match (from last October) which Jimmy said we shouldn’t be saying “I quit” to Roman. Jimmy left and Jey went to talk to him on the ramp. Cesaro comes in and attacks Roman from behind. Jimmy tells Jey that’s Roman’s fight but Jey eventually runs back to try to help. Jimmy eventually runs back down but Cesaro drops him with a picture-perfect European Uppercut. Jey stumbled on the Gotch Neutralizer. Cesaro ends Smackdown with a Gotch Neutralizer on Roman. I doubt Cesaro will win the title on his first try on a throwaway PPV. They’ll likely save it for SummerSlam in front of an actual crowd.
Let’s look at tonight’s highs and lows:
The Jimmy Uso story was great all night. Paul Heyman had to have booked it. It left you wondering whose side is Jimmy on all night. I think it’ll eventually lead to the Usos holding the tag titles with Roman still holding the Universal Title, probably by Money in the Bank.
The throwback theme was pretty good to fit the Fox weekend theme. It would have been nice for another cameo or two or have someone revert back to an old gimmick for the night. The Fist returned as CGI since the Thunderdome is too small to convert it for its physical return. Maybe next year?
The four main roster women’s matches this week combined were way shorter than the NXT Women’s Tag Team Title match and individually were shorter than the Sarray/Zayda Ramier match. I understand that there is only so much time on the show but how do you expect to connect with the fans in under three minutes?
That’s all I’ve got, until next time.