By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,126)
Tampa, Florida at Tropicana Field
Aired live on March 19, 2021 on Fox
Michael Cole and Corey Graves were on commentary and started the show off by hyping the Edge vs. Jey Uso main event. The show then cut to Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair bickering over Sasha Banks wrestling a match later. Bianca didn’t like that this match was happening because of sommelier Reginald. Bianca Belair told Sasha that she wasn’t going to help Sasha in her upcoming title defense…
Entrances for the women’s championship match took place. They showed a picture of Reginald with cucumbers on his eyes due to him having a “spa day”. Greg Hamilton handled the formal in-ring introductions for the championship match.
1. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax (w/Shayna Baszler) for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Sasha went for an early pin and a few of her signature moves. Jax shrugged off Banks and then hit Sasha with a Military Press and Body Slam. Jax got a two count after an elbow drop. Jax hit Banks with a Samoan Drop. Bianca Belair’s music played as she showed up to ringside to coach Sasha. The show cut to commercial.[c]
Jax continued to shrug off Sasha’s quick moves. Jax hit Sasha with a sidewalk slam. Jax then used a Stretch Muffler move to slam Bank’s face into the second buckle. Jax worked on Sasha with methodical and power offense. Sasha turned the tide after Jax missed a Banzai Drop. Sasha hit Nia with a meteora to the back of the head for a two count. Both women countered each other’s holds. Sasha hit Nia with a DDT right into the Banks Statement.
Shayna Baszler tried to kick Sasha but accidentally kicked Nia (right in front of the referee’s vision). Bianca Belair cleared Baszler from the ring. Sasha defeated Nia after a jackknife pin.
Sasha Banks defeated Nia Jax via pinfall in 6:07 of on-air time to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
A replay aired of the punt kick spot. Corey Graves wondered if Baszler kicked Jax intentionally? The show cut to a sponsored recap of the Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns storyline to hype up Fastlane…
John’s Thoughts: A “good while it lasted” type of match, but this is weekly TV so you count on those type of matches. Sasha’s such a good seller that the match worked in the limited amount of TV time given. While it’s encouraging that they are keeping the Women’s Tag Team Champions on TV, it’s still odd that they have to interweave this with the Smackdown women’s championship story, combined with a unnecessary side story involving a wine taster. Wouldn’t it be easier if Sasha had a setup feud for Bianca? Wouldn’t it have been easy to book Nia and Shayna in a feud with Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez for mania weekend? I’m thinking too much for them. What they do seem to be putting a lot of effort into is protecting Nia for something down the road (because Baszler is usually the one that takes the simple loses while Nia gets protected). By the way, I’m filling in for Jason this week as a trade for Jason covering NXT this past week.
Kayla Braxton interviewed Edge in the backstage promo ring set. Edge was asked about his excitement about returning to wrestle on Smackdown after a decade. Edge said he had his best moment, a win against Undertaker, and his worst moment, his retirement, on Smackdown TV. Edge talked about how Jey Uso can be a great star, but he’s stuck in Roman’s shadow. Edge said he was going to teach Jey a lesson later…
Seth Rollins made his entrance wearing a suit that made him look like a Milagro vodka bottle…[c]
Michael Cole and Corey Graves checked in from the commentary table where they announced Titus O’Neil and Hulk Hogan as the hosts of Wrestlemania. Cole reminded viewers that they will need Peacock Network to watch Mania…
Nia Jax berated Shayna Baszler backstage for costing her the Women’s Championship. Baszler apologized and said she’d make it up by beating Bianca Belair in a match…
The show cut back to Seth Rollins in the ThunderDome ring. Rollins did his usual talking high of himself. He said he respected the locker room’s decision to be idiots when they walked out on him. Rollins said Cesaro took disrespect too far by staying and confronting Rollins. Rollins said Cesaro humiliated him and embarrassed him. Rollins said the simple answer is that Cesaro is jealous of Rollins. Rollins bragged about being a main eventer. Rollins said that Cesaro is a failure. Rollins pointed to the Titantron which showed a replay of Rollin’s attack on Cesaro last week.
Rollins was over-the-top in his evil laughing and mocking of Cesaro. Rollins then calmed down and stared at the camera with a serious look. Rollins said he counted and Cesaro swung him 23 times. Rollins said Cesaro won’t embarrass Rollins again. Rollins said that Cesaro is the biggest failure in WWE. Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance. Rollins kept trying to talk Nakamura down, but Nakamura did a spinning heel kick to Rollins. Rollins backtracked up the ramp but was baited back when Nakamura did his “come on” hand thing. Nakamura left Rollins lying after a STO and Kinshasa….
Cole and Graves checked in on commentary. Graves announced Eric Bischoff’s induction into the WWE Hall of Fame that will happen WrestleMania week…
The Street Profits made their entrance heading into commercial…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Rollins’s character may be divisive these days, but I can see it succeeding if he completely keeps away the Messiah stuff and connects it closer to his main event heel persona during his WWE Championship days. The thing I am grateful for is Cesaro getting a decent push out of this, but seeing is believing on Cesaro pushes because we’ve seen this many times with Cesaro in the past. It also looks like Nakamura is established as Cesaro’s gatekeeper little buddy now. It’s still very odd that they gave Nakamura that Gauntlet Match push, only to push him back to being a supporting character.
Rey and Dominik Mysterio made their entrances. Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler joined the commentary table…
2. “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins vs. Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio. Dom and Montez started off the match with a lucha stalemate sequence. Dom reversed a suplex and tagged in his dad. Rey dropkicked Ford and got a two count. Ford took down Rey with a shoulder tackle and Dawkins tagged in after backdropping Ford on Rey to get a two count on Rey. Dawkins and Ford traded tags to isolate Rey.
Rey gave Ford a huracanrana to tag in Dom. Dom ran right into a lariat and side slam from Ford for a nearfall. The Street Profits went for their finisher on Dom. Rey knocked Ford to ringside. Dom picked up the victory after a victory roll on Dawkins.
Dominik Mysterio and Rey Mysterio defeated The Street Profits via pinfall in 2:50.
Otis and Chad Gable made their entrance after the match. Gable said that Rey and Dom shouldn’t be in line for a title shot before he and Otis. Gable was hyping up Otis but was cut off when Rey and Dominik cleared them from the ring…[c]
John’s Thoughts: I sure hope there is an effort to push Rey and Dom as future tag team champions, because there’s a welcome amount of wholesomeness to the father-son team. Again, seeing is believing on that because WWE tends to do Rey dirty sometimes when it comes to respecting his legend and giving him consistent pushes.
3. Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio vs. “The Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis. The match was joined in progress. Rey hit Gable with a 619. Otis crotched Rey when Rey went for the top rope dive. Otis tagged in and gave Rey a falling headbutt. Otis gave Rey a series of body slams. Otis continued to dominate Rey with power offense. Rey escaped a bear hug by biting the head of Otis, but Otis came right back with a body slam. Rey avoided a headbutt and gave Otis a basement dropkick. Dominik and Chad tagged in.
Dom gave Gable a few lariats and a huracanrana. Dominik rolled up Gable for a two count. Dominik gave Gable a Tornado DDT for a two count. Rey cleared Otis from the ring, but was then tossed into a barricade. Gable blocked a 619 from Gable. Otis back tagged Gable. Gable slammed Dominik. Otis gave Dom a splash for the victory.
Alpha Academy defeated Dominik Mysterio and Rey Mysterio via pinfall in 4:41.
Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler posed on the announce table saying that they are willing to take on all challengers. Cole and Graves went into more hype for WWE’s transition from the Network to Peacock…
The show cut to Sami Zayn and his documentary crew. Kevin Owens showed up while Sami was coaching his crew. Sami expected Owens to take up his offer to be in his documentary. Sami referenced his interaction with Logan Paul on Twitter after he talked about getting “Logan Paul Numbers”. Owens tried to calm down Zayn but Zayn went into his usual conspiracy theories of everyone being against him. Sami told Owens to join him at ringside later on to see if the world is actually against him…
Daniel Bryan made his entrance…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A solid tag team match during the tv time given with the purpose of keeping the tag team title picture wide with several characters. While I prefer not stretching yourselves thin by trying to book 3+ teams/wrestlers in a title program, I have been impressed by Gable and Otis as of late. Of all people, Otis has really clicked as a heel and he somehow found a way to take his lovable character over seamlessly to this heel persona. Gable’s one of WWE’s most underutilized talents and it’s easy to see him succeed. He’s just still in rebuild mode after being in Shorty G mode for what seemed like forever.
A replay aired of Edge from 14 Years Ago on Smackdown, cashing in his Money in the Bank contract on Undertaker…
Daniel Bryan was in the ring where he was super hyped up for Edge returning to the ring on Smackdown for the first time in 10 years. Bryan also brought up the stipulation of the winner being the enforcer for his match against Roman on Sunday. Bryan brought up how he understands that Jey winning will guarantee that Bryan won’t make Mania, but he also brought up how he thinks that Edge would rather face Roman than Bryan. Bryan said he’s going to prove he belongs at WrestleMania by making Roman Reigns tap out.
Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman made their entrance to the ThunderDome. Reigns laughed off the notion of Bryan tapping him out. Roman said he can deal with the white lies that Bryan tells himself. Roman said Bryan has no chance of tapping Roman. Roman said that Bryan has a bigger chance of shooting lightning out of his ass or sprouting wings than tapping out Roman. Roman said he’d rather die than tap out to someone like Bryan.
Bryan said that “dying” is a bit of a strong word. Bryan said that Roman is the one who’s delusional. Bryan said everyone thinks they are unbeatable until they get beat. Bryan said he is going to break roman of his beliefs, of everything he is, and his delusions. Bryan said that Roman won’t die; but either Roman will tap out or not get tapped leading to Bryan winning on Sunday and becoming new champions. Bryan’s theme played with him leading the virtual fans in Yes chants…
Cole and Graves recapped the last segment. Graves sent it over to a “anti-hype” video for Sami Zayn vs. King Corbin which joked about how nobody wished for a Corbin vs. Zayn match…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Bryan and Roman were great here as usual. Solid mic work. That said, no body expects WWE to move away from their planned and hyped Roman vs. Edge match at mania. You can’t blame Roman and Bryan for that. That’s just the position these two men are in heading into the filler Fastlane PPV. Bryan “might” win, but that would come off more as shock for shock value’s sake, and even then it wouldn’t necessarily push the needle on Mania buys. What Daniel did do in this promo is make it seem like Jey has zero chance to win (I mean, we all had the same thought, but Bryan just laid it out there)
WWE’s COVID Vaccination Public Service Announcement aired…
4. Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin. Kevin Owens was on commentary where he continued to brush off Sami’s conspiracy theories. Corbin dominated Zayn early on with the size advantage with Zayn trying to duck out. Sami rolled up Corbin and got the referee refused to count due to Sami putting his feet on the ropes. The referee stopped Sami from removing the top buckle. This self-imposed distraction on Sami allowed Corbin to hit Sami with an End of Days for the win.
Baron Corbin defeated Sami Zayn via pinfall in 2:03.
Cole asked Owens if he saw any conspiracies against Zayn. Owens said he’s more shocked that the referee was competent. Sami walked up to Owens and continued to cry about everyone conspiring against him. Zayn ended up walking off. Owens apologized to the announcers about having to deal with Sami. Sami ran back and took out Kevin Owens with a Helluva Kick. Zayn walked up the ramp saying that it’s Owens’s problem that he doesn’t want to see the truth…
Big E and Apollo Crews were shown being mic’d up for a split-screen interview…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Heel vs. Heel matches are never really entertaining, but at least WWE leaned into this sucking and it was short and sweet. Zayn continues to be entertaining with his whole conspiracy theory thing. It looks like they’re leaning into getting a little attention from Logan Paul, but don’t expect Paul to show up on WWE TV anytime soon (at least that’s what I think). It reminds me of that time WWE got a big of buzz after Microsoft gave them attention due to Drew Gulak addressing Powerpoint in promos.
The commentary team announced Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for Fastlane…
The show cut to the Apollo Crews and Big E split screen interview. E claimed it was all over in terms of Apollo’s peace offerings. E said he’s all about vengeance now. E said Apollo needs to take the next two days to enjoy the normal function of his limbs, enjoying the march air, and enjoying existing because Apollo’s future is dark and bleak. E said he is going to retain the Intercontinental Championship and Apollo is going to end up being everything Apollo deserves.
Apollo said that E needs to think twice before speaking like that to Nigerian Royalty. E said that reminds him of a Nigerian proverb from his uncle. Apollo said when you fill your mouth with razors, you spit blood. Apollo said he’s going to crack E’s face on Sunday and you will see the Nigerian warrior in Apollo. Apollo said his ancestors will see him stand over E’s mangled body when Apollo becomes new Intercontinental champion. Big E took off his mic and said they don’t have to wait til Sunday.
Big E exited the interview area and was driving a golf cart around Tropicana Field. E found Apollo in the concourse area and missed running him over with the cart. E then beat up Apollo with a trash can and then tossed him around the halls. Adam Pearce, Jamie Noble, and crew ran in to break apart the two. Crews drove away in the golf cart to safety…
Bianca Belair made her entrance to the ThunderDome. Graves hyped up the WrestleMania tickets being on sale…[c]
John’s Thoughts: It still takes a bit of getting used to in regards to Apollo’s new accent, but the guy has been way more entertaining than he’s ever been in his career with his new Nigerian prince persona. Heck, Big E is still struggling to find his main event level voice. This was a pretty good split screen interview and I did like the nice touch of utilizing some of the larger Tropicana Field in a segment. Both men were solid here and this feud is a sleeper feud on Smackdown. I honestly can see this going either way. Big E is the safest bet to come out of this match as the winner, but I hope Crews picks up a win or something from this feud because this new character deserves a chance to shine.
Cole and Graves ran through some advertised matches for Fastlane…
5. Bianca Belair vs. Shayna Baszler (w/Nia Jax). Sasha Banks made her entrance initially, only to tell Belair that she was going to watch from the back. Baszler womanhandled Belair to start the match. Belair got a two count after a matchbook powerbomb pin. Natalya Neidhart and Tamina Snuka attacked both women for the DQ.
Bianca Belair vs. Shayna Baszler ended in an apparent no contest in 1:03.
They aired another Edge history video. This one was the Edge retirement speech from 10 years ago on Smackdown…
Edge made his entrance for his upcoming match…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Meh. At least Baszler didn’t have to take a loss, but nothing was really gained here either. Remember when Baszler and Belair wrestled in 15+ minute matches on NXT Takeover? Heck, I remember Baszler being the one to break Belair’s long undefeated streak. Anyways, I’m reminiscing too much. It felt like this match was supposed to forward animosity between Baszler, but then they go on and nullify any story advancement by having it end in an insipid non-finish. Smackdown is pretty solid these days, but this show does fall into old bad habits at certain points of the show.
6. Edge vs. Jey Uso to become the special guest enforcer for the WWE Universal Championship Match at WWE Fastlane. Daniel Bryan was on commentary. Edge took down Jey with a side headlock and shoulder tackle. Edge worked on Jey with a series of knees. Jey dumped Edge to ringside and got the upper hand after shoving Edge into the steel steps. Jey hit Edge with a suicide dive heading into commercial break.[c]
Jey worked on Edge with methodical offense back from the break. Edge ended up slowing down Jey’s momentum after both men took each other out with a crossbody press. Edge hit Jey with a Yakuza Kick and then a diving knee for a two count. Edge planted Uso to the mat and then went into his Spear pose. Jey blocked the spear with a superkick. Jey hit Edge with a top rope splash. Edge kicked out at two. Edge recovered and ended up hitting Jey with a shoulder drag and spear for the win.
Edge defeated Jey Uso in 9:15 of on air time to become the special guest enforcer at Fastlane.
Edge was looking in the direction of Bryan. When he turned around he walked right into a spear from Roman Reigns. Roman taunted Bryan to enter the ring. Jey Uso tackled Bryan from behind and sent him into the ring. Roman gave Bryan a spear. Roman Reigns posed over Bryan with the Universal Championship to close the show…
John’s Thoughts: Not much of a match in terms of a combat story, but the novelty was still there in seeing Edge in the ring on Smackdown after 10 years. I just wished we got a bit more in the end between Jey and Edge other than the quick spear, but beggars can’t be choosers. I do give WWE credit for the constant “best of Edge” segments throughout the show to make this a big deal. I’m actually really looking forward to Bryan vs. Roman on Sunday.
This is also a bit of nostalgia kicking in because Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan from Fastlane 2015 was one of my favorite Roman Reigns matches of all time. That was the first match where I saw Roman having the ability to put on top-tier main events and it was ironically a similar situation where nobody saw Bryan having any chance back then either. A solid episode of Smackdown as usual these days. Smackdown still has the edge over Raw in terms of having minimal filler segments (in fact the fillers like Baszler vs. Belair stand out in that case). I’ll be by later with my Smackdown Audio Review for the Dot Net members.