Welcome to The Smackdown Reaction, where I offer my take on this week’s show from Cleveland. As always, you can check out John’s full in-depth review here.
We kick things off as we did on Monday with John Cena coming out to a thunderous ovation. Cena was just more of a hype man here, getting the fans pumped up while mentioning he’s back to take on Roman Reigns at SummerSlam. Paul Heyman shows up to mimic the Cena promo using Roman references instead and then sings Cena’s song to show himself out. That was awesome. If you missed it, watch the clip below.
Our opening match has Sami Zayn taking on the returning Finn Balor. Balor interrupted Zayn last week so here’s the match. The match was really good as you would expect from these two. The fans got super into the match as well, which was a really good sign. Balor reverted back to his Coup de Grace finisher to finish off Zayn. When Balor was in NXT, he used a different finisher. Perhaps we will see it on Smackdown, but I’m not sure yet.
Baron Corbin turned up backstage with Kayla Braxton to sell his new gimmick. I’m not quite sure what we are trying to do here, honestly.
Promo Time with Mr. Money in the Bank Big E turns into an impromptu Intercontinental Title Contender brawl with Big E, Apollo Crews, Commander Azeez, Robert Roode, Dolph Ziggler, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Cesaro. It was great to hear the reaction that Big E got. It was well deserved. Anyway, the faces cleared the heels from the ring to set up the six-man tag for the local audience. It wasn’t shown on TV.
We get sent out to the Rolling Loud festival in Miami while the Cleveland fans are treated to the aforementioned six-man tag match. The first match was Angelo Dawkins of The Street Profits taking on Alpha Academy’s Chad Gable. Wale comes out with The Street Profits to try to get the crowd invested in what was going on. The match was okay, but I don’t think the festivalgoers really cared. Dawkins picked up the win to lead into the Smackdown Women’s Title match between Bianca Belair and Carmella. Again, it was another quick match that was okay with the festivalgoers not caring. Belair retained the title, as expected. I’ll give a B for effort for trying something different here at the festival but try to find something within your audience though.
Back in Cleveland, Corbin was trying to hit up Kevin Owens for money. Owens relented and gave Corbin some money. Shotzi shot Corbin with the tank’s nerf missile. Corbin gets mugged by Roode and Ziggler before Owens chases them off with a steel chair. It looks like Owens is going to be the one to help this whatever along. At least he has something to do now, I guess.
Promo Time with Edge is next. Tremendous reaction from the crowd for Edge. Edge was ready to destroy Rollins not because he cost him the Universal Title at Money in the Bank but because somebody remembered their angle back in 2014. Rollins shows up to talk to Grandpa Edge. Rollins said that he’ll finish Edge off and they fight. Edge stands tall to end the segment and there’s a SummerSlam match, folks.
Toni Storm makes her Smackdown debut as a face taking on Zelina Vega next. The match was okay, but Vega was just there to make Storm look good. Storm’s finisher has been renamed from Storm Zero to Storm One. At least she got to keep her name. I expect good things in Storm’s future.
Our final match of the night has Jimmy Uso taking on Dominik Mysterio in a singles match with their respected tag team partners at ringside. The match itself was good but nowhere near their phenomenal tag team title match on the Money in the Bank preshow. That was probably the best preshow match I’ve ever seen. (Disclaimer: I don’t always catch the preshow matches.) Anyway, The Usos cheated the same way again to pick up the win here. I would expect a tag team title rematch at SummerSlam.
Our main event tonight is Promo Time with Roman Reigns. Reigns called Cena a nostalgia act, with the same music, entrance, colors, and promos. I was surprised that they left Cena in his John Deere colors and did not switch up to something different like he used to do. Reigns said it was like getting the missionary position over and over again. Epic burn there. Well played Roman. Reigns turned Cena’s challenge down so out comes Finn Balor instead of John Cena. Balor said that since Reigns was free, why not him instead? Reigns accepted Balor’s challenge instead to close the show out.
Let’s look at tonight’s highs and lows.
The Cena/Reigns/Heyman spots were the highlights of the night. Roman’s missionary position line and Heyman’s singing of Cena’s theme were the standout moments. The dueling promos between them should be great leading into their SummerSlam showdown. Roman never said when he would fight Balor, so that’ll be his next challenger. Not doing Roman/Cena at SummerSlam would be the equivalent of doing Rock/Cena Once in a Lifetime at Great Balls of Fire. Nothing against Balor, it’s just not going to be the SummerSlam match. They’ll do it on Smackdown soon.
I think the Rolling Loud festival stuff was a bust. It was a good idea in practice, but I don’t think those in attendance really cared that much. The matches were acceptable but this just wasn’t the proper forum for them. I wish we had the dark six-man tag match instead.
That’s all I’ve got, until next time.