Date: April 30, 2021
Location: Yuengling Center, Tampa, Florida
Commentators: Michael Cole, Pat McAfee
We are rapidly approaching Wrestlemania Backlash and that means it is time to start hammering the card home. However, that is going to have to wait this week as there is a major main event. In this case, that means Roman Reigns defending the Universal Title against Daniel Bryan, who has to leave Smackdown if he loses. Let’s get to it.
The opening (and narrated) video sets up tonight’s Universal Title match.
Here’s Bianca Belair to get things going. After a quick Belair highlight package, she welcomes us to the show but here are Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode of all people to interrupt. Before they can say much, here are the Street Profits to interrupt. Before they can say much, here is Bayley to interrupt. Bayley laughs at her and gets dropped, meaning the big brawl is on before the scheduled six person tag.
Bianca Belair/Street Profits vs. Bayley/Dolph Ziggler/Robert Roode
Joined in progress with Belair crucifixing Bayley for two. Belair hits a dropkick into a nipup so it’s Ziggler coming in to face Dawkins, even though Belair was ready to do it herself. Everything breaks down in a hurry and Ford hits a big flip dive to take out Roode and Ziggler. Bayley drives Belair into the steps on the floor though and the distraction lets Ziggler superkick Ford.
Roode comes in to plant Ford with a swinging Rock Bottom for two. Bayley gets in a cheap shot from the apron and Ziggler slaps on the sleeper to the avail of the average sleeper. With that broken up, Ford beats Ziggler to the superkick and the hot tag brings in Dawkins to clean house. Belair gets an airplane spin on Ziggler and there’s the KOD to Bayley. Roode kicks Dawkins in the face though and an O’Connor roll with tights…is broken up by the hair whip. The Anointment into the Cash Out finishes Roode at 6:44.
Rating: C+. This was energetic in the time that it had and that’s how a six person tag should go, especially with a heck of a finish. Belair is already set to defend against Bayley at Backlash and it would make sense to have the Profits get the title shot as well. At the moment, is there anyone else worth having a shot anyway?
Daniel Bryan is excited for the main event because he finally has a fair fight for the title. He has made Roman Reigns tap before and he is going to do it again. If he wins, his first title defense is going to be against someone who has waited a long time for his shot: Cesaro.
A laughing Seth Rollins prediction for the title match is….Bryan winning in a huge upset. As far as Cesaro is concerned, he isn’t making it past next week.
Natalya and Tamina jump Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler in the back before their match.
Natalya/Tamina vs. Nia Jax/Shayna Baszler
Non-title and Reginald is here with Jax and Baszler. Tamina takes Nia down to start but a splash hits knees. Nia gets her into the corner and Baszler adds a running knee to the face. A slam doesn’t work for Jax and Tamina slips over for the hot tag to bring in Natalya. House is cleaned for a bit until Baszler strikes her down. Jax comes in off the blind tag and drops an elbow for two as everything breaks down. Tamina gets caught on top but headbutts Baszler down, setting up the Superfly Splash for the pin at 4:53.
Rating: C-. Just in case the three stories that Nia Jax already has aren’t enough, here’s another feud for her to stay on TV. I’m trying to get my head around the idea of Tamina being pushed as a face, especially when there are quite a few more interesting women on the roster with nothing to do. Not a terrible match, but the idea of being interested in these teams in a title match makes my head hurt.
Booker T. picks Roman Reigns.
Next week: Old School Smackdown. Cool.
Shinsuke Nakamura picks Daniel Bryan.
Rey and Dominik Mysterio think it would be cool to win the Tag Team Titles.
Aleister Black talks about people looking at him and judging him because this is the nature of man. We go to the animation again, with Black talking about walking the halls in high school and having everyone think something about him. People cared about building their own lives on a foundation of lies. Imagine thinking that is real or falling for that. His father never fed him those dreams, because the truth is that there is something horribly wrong with all of that and all of you. He could give us the keys, but he won’t. The animation is a different way to go and these are intriguing so far.
We look at Apollo Crews winning the Intercontinental Title from Big E. at Wrestlemania with the help of Commander Azeez.
Big E. says he has been around the world and everyone is asking him what he is going to do to overcome Azeez. Tonight, Big E. is getting his baby back and putting it in the passenger seat, with the buckle fastened because safety first of course.
Xavier Woods picks Daniel Bryan.
Kofi Kingston picks Roman Reigns.
Intercontinental Title: Big E. vs. Apollo Crews
Crews is defending and has Azeez with him. An early hiptoss puts Crews down and we hit the abdominal stretch. With that broken up, Big E. sends him to the apron for the splash and an early two. Back in and a hot shot staggers Big E. and a clothesline puts him down. Big E. rolls outside so Crews drops him again and we take a break. We come back with Big E. throwing some suplexes to get out of trouble.
Crews avoids a charge to send him outside and the apron moonsault drops Big E. again. Back in and Big E. runs him over, setting up the Warrior Splash for two. Crews nails a pimp kick for the same but charges into the Rock Bottom out of the corner for another near fall. They head to the apron with Crews hitting the Death Valley Driver, setting up the frog splash for two. Big E. is right back up with the Big Ending but Azeez pulls him outside for the DQ at 10:06.
Rating: C. They couldn’t have telegraphed the ending harder but that isn’t the worst thing in the world at times. I’m really not sure where Big E. goes once he is done with Crews, as I don’t think he is going to get the title back. The good thing about these matches is Crews is getting rather comfortable in his new role and it is working a lot better than I would have expected.
Post match the beatdown is on bug Kevin Owens comes in for the save. Big E. and Owens can’t quite stop Azeez but here is Sami Zayn with the Helluva Kick to Owens. Zayn orders Azeez to beat down Big E., who is sent outside. Sami hands the title to Crews….and gets dropped with the Nigerian Nail.
Miz picks Reigns, naturally.
After accepting Seth Rollins’ challenge for a match next week, Cesaro picks Bryan, so he can win the title at Backlash.
Here’s how the title match was set up.
Paul Heyman is sick of hearing about Daniel Bryan, who never should have been broken into this business. Now, has Bryan had a Hall of Fame career? Yes yes yes. Is he always the ultimate underdog? Yes yes yes. Did he dominate the minor leagues? Yes yes yes. Did he graduate to the big leagues and win the title in the main event of Wrestlemania? Yes yes yes. Now did he do it one more time and defy everyone’s expectations? Yes yes yes. Does everyone believe that he can do it one more time? YES! YES! YES! And will he do it??? NO! Bryan is done on Smackdown after tonight. Heyman’s intensity here was outstanding.
We get a clip from Wrestlemania XXX of the Miracle On Bourbon Street.
King Corbin doesn’t care who wins but wants Bryan gone.
Universal Title: Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan
Reigns, with Paul Heyman and some rather epic new music, is defending. Bryan dropkicks him into the corner to start and fires off the kicks but Reigns drops him with a single shot. A headlock is countered into a failed YES Lock attempt with Reigns bailing to the floor. That means a dropkick through the ropes into a running knee from the apron as we take a break. Back with Reigns turning him inside out off of a clothesline and grabbing a snap suplex.
The chinlock goes on to keep Bryan in trouble, followed by a right hand to the head to put Bryan down again. Bryan fights back with some kicks and puts Reigns on top, but the super hurricanrana is countered into a superbomb for two as we take a break. Back again with Reigns firing off some knees in the corner. Bryan gets in a shot of his own and puts Reigns on top for a belly to back superplex.
The cover is delayed so Reigns gets out, meaning they’re both down again for a bit. Bryan is up first and gets smart by kicking at the arm a bit more, followed by some snaps over his shoulder. Reigns misses a charge and falls to the floor, setting up the suicide dive. That’s pulled out of the air and Reigns snaps off a belly to belly. The spear only hits barricade though and we take another break.
Back again with Bryan hitting the Swan Dive for two but Reigns hits the Superman Punch for the same. The running knee connects but Reigns gets a foot on the rope. Bryan slaps on the YES Lock, which is quickly reversed into a cradle for the break. Reigns hits the spear for a near fall and Reigns is stunned. The guillotine can’t go on in full as Bryan reverses into the YES Lock again but Reigns powers out. The heavy forearms knock Bryan silly and a heck of a powerbomb plants him again. Reigns goes to pick him up and puts on the guillotine, this time with the healthy arm and Bryan is out at 27:18.
Rating: A-. This was just a step behind their Fastlane classic and that’s more than great on a free TV match. There is something great about Bryan using the technical abilities to cut Reigns down but Reigns kept coming back with straight power. Then Reigns switched to the intelligence by switching to the good arm for the win and that was just too much. Awesome match here, and one of the better TV matches in recent memory. Also: McAfee was outstanding here and sounded like the best and most polished WWE broadcaster in a very long time. He really is awesome at this and I’m impressed.
Post match Reigns grabs some chairs but here is Cesaro for the save. Cesaro knocks Reigns to the floor but Jey Uso jumps him from behind. Uso ties Cesaro in the ropes and Reigns gives Bryan the Conchairto to end the show.
Overall Rating: B+. This show was all about the main event and that delivered in spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs. You don’t get a TV match like that very often and it made a pretty good show into a very good one. Most of the Backlash card is pretty clear and the ending of this show should set up the other main event. Check out the main event though, as it really is a heck of a struggle with a great story being told.
Bianca Belair/Street Profits b. Dolph Ziggler/Robert Roode/Bayley – Cash Out to Roode
Tamina/Natalya b. Nia Jax/Shayna Baszler – Superfly Splash to Baszler
Big E. b. Apollo Crews via DQ when Commander Azeez interfered
Roman Reigns b. Daniel Bryan – Guillotine
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