By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,123)
Tampa, Florida at Tropicana Field
Aired live on February 26, 2021 on Fox
[Hour One] Michael Cole and Corey Graves were on commentary. Cole welcomed viewers to the show and plugged the insurance company sponsor…
WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns made his entrance with Paul Heyman and Jey Uso. A video package recapped Daniel Bryan winning the Elimination Chamber and then losing to Roman Reigns in the title match that followed.
Production piped in “you suck” chants while Reigns stood in the ring. Reigns said he doesn’t think it’s a secret that Smackdown needs him. He said the Elimination Chamber needed him and he answered the call. He said that the Tribal Chief saves “the place over and over again.” Reigns boasted that he smashed Bryan.
Reigns said anyone else in the same role would have boasted and bragged and would have had a party thrown for them. Reigns said he’s at a higher level. “If it’s not perfect, it’s not me,” Reigns said. He added that things are not perfect because of one man, Edge. Reigns said Edge speared him in his ring and on his night.
Reigns said Edge made it official by pointing at the sign. Reigns said Edge doesn’t need that in his life. He told him that he was giving him an opportunity to back down. Reigns told Edge to go home. “You’re a father, you’re a husband, I don’t want to hurt you,” he said. Reigns said he appreciates the comeback and what Edge stands for, but he doesn’t want to hurt him. “A man like you just doesn’t stand a chance against a man like me,” said Reigns.
Daniel Bryan made his entrance. Bryan entered the ring and mocked Reigns for defending his title against him after he worked the full Elimination Chamber match. Bryan said some feel that what Reigns did was cowardly. Bryan claimed that wasn’t him, it was just rumors he heard from other people.
Bryan said he was baffled by Reigns choosing to defend his championship in the second match of the night. Bryan said he would have assumed that the Head of the Table would have wanted to defend his title in the main event spot. “Or would that have given me too much time?” Bryan asked.
Bryan said Reigns could end the complaints by defending the championship against him in a straight up match at the WWE Fastlane pay-per-view. Jey Uso took the mic and told Bryan that all he hears are a bunch of excuses. Uso said Bryan lost and now he’s at the back of the line. Uso challenged Bryan to face him.
Reigns asked Bryan if he really wanted him to hurt him again. Uso hit Bryan with a forearm to the head and threw him to ringside, then tossed him over the ringside barricade while Reigns laughed in the ring. Reigns’ entrance music played and he left the ring and headed to the back with Reigns and Heyman.
Cole hyped Bianca Belair making her WrestleMania decision, and Graves hyped The Street Profits vs. Sami Zayn and King Corbin…
Adam Pearce was speaking with Sonya Deville backstage when Edge showed up. Edge took issue with Bryan getting the title shot at Fastlane “even though he was in the same Rumble that I won.” Edge told Pearce that they need to talk… [C]
Powell’s POV: The Reigns and Bryan segment was predictable in a good way. I got a kick out of Reigns acting like his Elimination Chamber win was something special, and Bryan made the logical pitch for a title shot. But I didn’t expect Edge to take issue with Bryan getting a title shot before him. That’s an interesting development and I’m curious to see where it goes.
Backstage, Uso apologized to Reigns for jumping the gun. He said he couldn’t handle Bryan disrespecting him. Reigns told him that he didn’t need to apologize, as long as he gets the job done…
Inside Pearce’s office, Pearce told Edge that Bryan would get a title shot if he beats Uso later in the show…
1. Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio vs. Chad Gable and Otis. Before the match, Gable and Otis stood on the stage and took pleasure in the footage of Otis splashing Rey last week. The Mysterios hit a stereo 619 on Gable. Rey followed up with a top rope splash and went for a cover, but Otis broke up the pin.
Otis tagged and Rey tried to perform a springboard dive, but Otis caught him and slammed him. Otis went to the second rope and splashed Rey and scored the pin…
Chad Gable and Otis beat Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio in 3:25.
The broadcast team hyped Bryan vs. Uso as the show’s main event. Cole noted that Big E was recovering at home after being attacked by Apollo Crews, who was shown warming up backstage… [C]
Powell’s POV: As much as it felt like Gable and Otis were turned out of necessity due to the lack of heel tag teams on Smackdown, they could turn out to be a good act. It’s nice to see Gable doing something better than the awful Shorty G gimmick.
Apollo Crews made his entrance. Highlights aired of his attack on Big E from last week’s show. In the ring, Crews put a scarf around his neck while WWE went absolutely crazy with the canned boos. Crews said people have been saying that what happened last week wasn’t the real him, but people don’t know anything about him. He said he’s been humble and respectful, but he wasn’t getting it in return.
Crews said he’s not from the hood or the suburb, he’s from Nigeria. He said his ancestors are Nigerian royalty and his grandfather ruled and had five wives. He spoke of the colors on his scarf and said they stand for dominance and power. Crews said Big E told him to go back to catering, but he went back to his roots instead. Crews started to speak with an accent while saying he showed Big E the steel and he will never disrespect him again. He started to address his opponent, but he was interrupted by Shinsuke Nakamura’s entrance music.
Once Nakamura was in the ring, Crews attacked him and dumped him to ringside. Crews followed and picked up the top half of the ring steps while the referee scolded him… [C]
Powell’s POV: I liked the Crews promo a lot. This was his best mic work on the main roster and an intriguing start to his new heel persona.
2. Apollo Crews vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. The match was joined in progress with Crews, who was sporting new gear, in offensive control. Nakamura came back and applied a sleeper. Crews went to his corner and used his scarf to create leverage and pulled Nakamura into the corner to break the hold. Crews followed up with a kick the back of the head and a Kurt Angle style slam that led to him scoring the pin…
Apollo Crews defeated Shinsuke Nakamura in 4:40 of television time.
Powell’s POV: A really good showing from Crews on the mic and then in the match. They can’t push everybody at once, but whatever happened to that Nakamura push that was teased for like a week?
Roman Reigns was shown sitting backstage. Paul Heyman approached him and informed him that Daniel Bryan would get a title shot if he beat Jey Uso in the main event. Heyman emphasized “if” Bryan won the match… [C]
3. Liv Morgan (w/Ruby Riott) vs. Tamina (w/Natalya). Neither entrance was televised. Cole and Graves touted Tamina’s alliance with Natalya as the cause for her resurgence. In the end, Tamina performed a Samoan Drop and then followed up with a uranage style slam and scored the pin…
Tamina defeated Liv Morgan in 3:55.
Powell’s POV: I have no idea why the Riott Squad duo are taking so many losses or why Tamina is suddenly being pushed, but at least it wasn’t another Billie Kay joke loss for Morgan.
Bianca Belair was shown walking backstage while the broadcast team said decision time was coming up after a break… [C]
Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville stood in the ring and introduced Bianca Belair, who then made her entrance.
[Hour Two] Belair said the Rumble win changed her life. Deville asked about her decision starting with Asuka. A brief Asuka video package was shown. Deville mentioned Sasha Banks as the other option, and then a Banks video package aired.
Belair recalled something her mother said about making the right choice and how the choice is clear. Reginald interrupted her and ended up joining her in the ring. Reginald said that Belair would end up broken and defeated if she made the mistake of choosing to challenge Banks at WrestleMania.
Sasha Banks made her entrance. Once in the ring, Banks put her arm around Reginald and then recalled telling him to never speak for her. Banks shoved Reginald aside and then told Belair that if she wanted to make history and be the cause of conversation then she should choose to challenge her. Banks took issue with Belair calling herself the EST of WWE. Banks said she’s the best, which makes Belair second best.
Belair told Banks that she would make Banks eat her words on the grandest stage of them all when she takes her title and proves she’s the EST of WWE. Belair pointed at the WrestleMania sign and said, “It’s on.” Pyro shot off around the WrestleMania sign. Banks held up her title and Belair posed. Reginald got in the shot for a second before backing off…
Powell’s POV: No surprise there. Banks vs. Belair is the right match. Now if only we could figure out why Reginald keeps crashing the party.
The broadcast team hyped upcoming segments… King Corbin was shown warming up backstage when he noticed Sami Zayn’s documentary crew filming him. Zayn told them not to get so close, then asked Corbin about WWE’s conspiracy against him. Corbin wasn’t happy about the crew or teaming with Zayn, who said teaming up was actually his idea.
Zayn said they had excellent chemistry when they teamed together and qualified for Elimination Chamber. Zayn said they could even become tag champions if they worked together. Corbin told Zayn to never tell him what to do and then barked at the documentary crew to get out of his face. Corbin told Zayn to be a professional. Zayn told the crew to edit out the last part…
The Street Profits made their entrance… [C]
Powell’s POV: I continue to hope that we actually get a Zayn conspiracy theory documentary on the network/Peacock one of these days.
4. “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins vs. Sami Zayn and King Corbin. The Zayn and Corbin entrances were televised. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor while drinking from Solo cups. Ford knocked Corbin off the apron. [C]
Corbin was sent to ringside where he barked at the documentary crew. Zayn asked him what he was doing. Ford did a flip dive over Zayn and onto Corbin. Back in the ring, Dawkins suplexed Zayn, then Ford performed a top rope splash and scored the pin…
“The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins beat Sami Zayn and King Corbin in 8:05.
Powell’s POV: The spot with Ford flip diving over Zayn and landing on Corbin on the floor was great. Will we get the payoff to Sonya Deville standing in the way of the Profits getting their tag title rematch soon?
Daniel Bryan was interviewed backstage by Kayla Braxton. Bryan said he thinks he has a better chance of beating Reigns than Edge does. Bryan stressed that he respects Edge, but he’s always been honest with him and he doesn’t know if he has what it takes to beat Reigns after all the time he took off.
Edge showed up and pointed out that if Bryan beats Reigns, then he and Bryan would meet at WrestleMania. Edge asked Bryan who would win that match. Bryan said he would keep that answer to himself. He said the possibilities don’t matter unless he beats Uso in the main event…
Seth Rollins made his entrance… [C] Rollins stood in the ring and spoke about getting a big response of social media. Rollins was interrupted by Cesaro’s entrance music. Rollins said Cesaro was just the man that he wanted to talk about. Cesaro walked to the ring in regular clothes and removed his shirt once he entered the ring.
Rollins told Cesaro to hear him out. He said he didn’t call Cesaro a loser last week, he said he’s a loser because of the situation that he was in. He said those are two different things. Rollins said Cesaro is a star. He asked who says Cesaro can’t grab the brass ring or crack the glass ceiling. Rollins said Cesaro is one of the most technically gifted performers in WWE.
Rollins said Cesaro has it all. “Why is it that you always seem to come up short?” Rollins asked. “What is it that you are missing?” Rollins said he would tell him what it is because he has it. “It’s called killer instinct,” Rollins said before adding that he could give it to Cesaro if he would let him lead him.
Rollins spoke of his accomplishments and said he wants to give those things to Cesaro. He said they would be unstoppable if they worked together. Rollins said that Cesaro would have won the Elimination Chamber and beat Reigns for the title had he not walked out on him two weeks ago. Rollins said it’s never too late to start again. Rollins told Cesaro to embrace the vision.
Cesaro looked like he was contemplating. Rollins told him that he didn’t need an answer on the spot. He told him he could take a week or two. Cesaro took Rollins down and then performed The Swing on him. Cesaro stopped, then started again. Cesaro eventually released Rollins, who then stumbled around while trying to get back to his feet. Once he did, Cesaro knocked him down with an uppercut.
As Cesaro was heading up the stage, Daniel Bryan’s entrance music played. They crossed paths and bumped fists. Cole hyped Bryan’s match against Uso for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: A decent segment. I must admit that while I didn’t think it would happen, I was actually kind of intrigued by the idea of Rollins and Cesaro forming a union.
Bianca Belair, Daniel Bryan, and Seth Rollins were announced as the guests for Saturday’s Talking Smack… Jey Uso made his entrance…
5. Daniel Bryan vs. Jey Uso (Bryan will get a WWE Universal Championship match at WWE Fastlane with a win). The broadcast team pointed out that Bryan had his knee taped due to the punishment he took at Elimination Chamber. Bryan jumped out to a quick start, but Uso caught him with a superkick when he was going for a suicide dive. Uso dumped Bryan onto the broadcast table, then picked him up and ran his bad knee into the ring post. [C]
Uso targeted Bryan’s bad knee coming out of the break. Down the stretch, Bryan went for the Yes Lock, but Uso reached the bottom rope and then rolled to ringside. Bryan followed him to the floor and was whipped into the ring steps. Uso picked up Bryan and dropped his bad knee on the ring steps. Both men were counted out.
Daniel Bryan fought Jey Uso to a double count-out in 12:50.
Afterward, Bryan put Uso in the Yes Lock in the middle of the ring. Roman Reigns attacked Bryan to break the hold, but then Bryan put him in it. Uso broke it up with a superkick and Paul Heyman appeared at ringside. Reigns speared Bryan and then put him in the guillotine hold while WWE amped up the “you suck” chants again. Reigns released the hold and then stood over Bryan and jawed at him while holding up his championship to close the show…
Powell’s POV: I’m legitimately surprised that Bryan didn’t go over. I guess they want to stretch this out for another week before presumably making Reigns vs. Bryan official for WWE Fastlane. I have to say that Edge looks bad. He came off a little naive and petty for thinking that Reigns shouldn’t defend the title before he faces him at WrestleMania, and then he allowed Bryan to be beaten up by Reigns and Uso after the main event. Hopefully that’s something that will come up next week and it won’t just be forgotten.
Overall, an enjoyable show. Apollo Crews had a great night. Otis and Gable are starting to grow on me. The build to Banks vs. Belair should be fun. The Cesaro vs. Rollins feud looks promising. As much as Reigns has carried this show, it’s nice to see that there are some other interesting storylines and characters developing. I will be back shortly with my weekly same night Smackdown audio review for Dot Net Members. Let me know what you thought of the show by grading it below. Have a great weekend!