By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,129)
Taped last week in Tampa, Florida at Tropicana Field
Aired April 9, 2021 on Fox
[Hour One] Smackdown opened with a recap of last week’s show-closing segment with Roman Reigns, Edge, and Daniel Bryan… The broadcast team was Michael Cole and Corey Graves, and Greg Hamilton was the ring announcer…
Daniel Bryan made his entrance for an in-ring promo. Bryan spoke of his excitement for WrestleMania and being able to hear the roar of a crowd in person. He said he loves the ThunderDome, but there’s nothing like wrestling in front of a live audience, doing it at WrestleMania, and winning the WWE Universal Championship in the main event of WrestleMania.
Bryan said he’s known for the word “yes” but he’s also known for being told no throughout his career. Bryan said that whenever people told him no, his parents and mentors told them to ignore it and that’s how he came to find the truth and how he came to say yes, yes, yes.
“Because every time life told me no, I said yes,” Bryan said. He recalled being told he couldn’t wrestle again or be world champion again, but he said yes. When Roman Reigns said no, he couldn’t tap him out at Fastlane, he said yes. Bryan said Adam Pearce said no about him main eventing WrestleMania, but then Pearce said yes.
Bryan said Sunday’s match is the biggest of his career. Bryan said he would be the best and most dangerous that he’s been. He said it’s a Daniel Bryan with fire in his eyes and fire in his heart and he is willing to do anything. Bryan said it leads to one last question. “Can Daniel Bryan walk out of the main event of WrestleMania as the Universal Champion? Yes! Yes! Yes!”
Powell’s POV: A fantastic go-home promo. How can you not be a little more excited about WrestleMania after that?
Backstage, The Street Profits were chanting yes on the Gorilla Position set. Kayla Braxton spoke to them briefly about the four-way for the Smackdown Tag Titles. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode attacked them. The teams fought their way onto the stage. Chad Gable, Otis, Rey Mysterio, and Dominik Mysterio joined in the fight that continued into a commercial break. [C]
1. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode vs. “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins vs. “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis vs. Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio in a four-way for the Smackdown Tag Titles. The match was joined in progress. Rey dove onto a pile of opponents on the floor and then Dom performed a springboard dive onto the pile. [C]
Ford was isolated until he performed a big powerbomb on Ziggler. Both men tagged in their respective partners. Dawkins got the better of Roode and took out Gable when he tried to interfere. Rey tagged Dawkins. Rey tagged in Dom and they hit a double 619 on Roode and Ziggler. Dom performed a top rope frogsplash on Roode and had him beat, but Otis splashed him to break it up.
Rey dove at Otis, who caught him and threw him to ringside. The Profits sent Otis to ringside. Ford performed a flip dive onto him. Dawkins and Gable checked into the match and traded near falls. Ford made a blind tag. Gable suplexed Dawkins, but Ford frogsplashed him. Roode tagged himself in. Ziggler threw a superkick at Ford, then Roode covered Gable and pinned him…
Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode defeated The Street Profits, Alpha Academy, and Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio in a four-way to retain the Smackdown Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: An action-packed match. It’s a shame that this match didn’t make the WrestleMania cut. There was a lot of talent in the match and it’s unfortunate that they probably won’t be on the WrestleMania card.
Bianca Belair was interviewed by Kayla Braxton on the backstage ring set. She admitted that she had butterflies heading into her first WrestleMania. She recalled her father saying that it’s okay to be nervous as long as you’re not scared. She said it’s an opportunity of a lifetime.
Braxton pointed out that Sasha Banks will do anything to keep the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Braxton asked if Belair would do anything to win the title. She spoke of being the EST of WWE and how it gives her the tools to win the title. She said it would be the greatest night of her life…
The broadcast team hyped Peacock as the exclusive streaming home of WrestleMania and the last chance for the half-price sale. They also hyped a Fiend and Randy Orton video for after the break… [C]
The WrestleMania video aired. We are one day away…
Cole spoke about Big E being from Tampa. Cole said Big E went back to his roots earlier this week. A video package showed Big E at a barber shop. He said he goes there to get his mind right. Big E was shown at various locations in Tampa and spoke of his history there. He spoke of playing football at Raymond James Stadium and said it’s also where Apollo Crews’s Intercontinental Title dreams go to die…
Cole hyped that Wale will perform Big E’s entrance theme at WrestleMania…
A Randy Orton, The Fiend, and Alexa Bliss video package aired… Ring entrances took place for Nia Jax vs. Tamina… [C]
2. Nia Jax (w/Shayna Baszler, Reginald) vs. Tamina (w/Natalya). Jax and Tamina locked up. Tamina pushed Jax over after Cole said no one could overpower Jax, who acted shocked. Reginald climbed onto the apron. Tamina grabbed him, but Jax used the distraction to knock Tamina to the mat.
Later, Tamina went up top. Baszler tried to distract her. Natalya pulled Baszler to the floor, but Baszler ran her into the steps. Jax pulled Tamina off the ropes. Tamina ended up performing a Samoan Drop on Jax and had her pinned, but Baszler broke it up for the DQ.
Tamina beat Nia Jax by DQ in 2:35.
Backstage, Braxton spoke with Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Carmella, and Billie Kay. Carmella and Kay indicated that they are in the match. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke showed up, and then Lana and Naomi showed up. A big brawl broke out. Natalya and Tamina showed up and dominated the other teams…
Powell’s POV: The match was all about building up Tamina. The broadcast team gushed over her. And then she and Natalya destroyed the other teams. If Tamina and Natalya weren’t the favorites to win the qualifier for a shot at the Smackdown Women’s Titles, they should be now.
A campaign style ad aired with the narrator praising Seth Rollins while burying Cesaro. It ended with a a line about how the video had been paid for by friends of Rollins and was in no way directly associated with Rollins himself…
Powell’s POV: It’s too bad they didn’t start the campaign ads sooner. They could have had more fun with that concept.
Edge made his entrance for his in-ring promo… [C]
[Hour Two] Edge sat on a chair in the middle of the ring and a spotlight was on him. Edge recalled attending WrestleMania VI featuring Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior. He said he knew what he wanted to do with his life. He said that when he dreams things, he has to manifest them.
Edge spoke about ripping his career out of fate’s hands. He said he didn’t come back to be a shell of his former self, he came back to steal the show and main event WrestleMania. He said he missed nine of them and won’t apologize for it.
Edge brought up the possibility of this being Daniel Bryan’s last WrestleMania. He said a month in Bryan’s career is like a year of his own. Edge vented about Bryan forcing his way into the match and it becoming a Triple Threat, meaning he might not even factor into the finish.
“So instead of a one-on-one match, a classic of titans from two eras, now we have some indy bookstore clerk sticking his nose in our business,” Edge said.
Edge said Roman Reigns walks around like everyone owes him something. Edge said he doesn’t owe Reigns anything. He said Reigns owes him. “Let’s run it back,” Edge said. “You came into WWE in a three-man group. You enter through the crowd. You use a spear as your finisher. Well, who set the template for you? You’re Samoan Edge.” Edge said he came back to swing for the fences and Reigns is the green monster.
Edge took issue with the fact that their match will take place ten years to the day that he was forced to retire. He questioned why that’s not featured in any video packages and yet Bryan’s story is run into the ground. Edge said he hasn’t received the respect that he deserves and he shouldn’t have to jump through hoops.
Edge said he came back from a triple fusion surgery which no one in all of sports has come back from. Edge said he’s not a part-timer who will phone things in. He said he does huracanranas from the top rope and he’s competing at a level that no one has ever done from such an injury. He said it’s a slap in the face to him and his work ethic. Edge said it’s time for him to demand the respect that he deserves.
“You will put respect on my name,” Edge said. He said he is the Rated R Superstar. He said whether it’s fate or God’s will, he will become the next WWE Universal Champion. “Because I dreamt it and now I will manifest it,” he concluded…
Powell’s POV: A grand slam that would have cleared two Green Monsters at Fenway. That was a gem. I loved it.
Backstage, Soyna Deville told Adam Pearce that she didn’t think it was fair that Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode had to defend their titles against three other tag teams. She said Bryan deserves a shot, but it’s not fair that there’s a Triple Threat match for the WWE Universal Championship. She said she thinks it should have been Roman Reigns vs. Edge in a singles match…
Sasha Banks was shown on the backstage ring set with Braxton… The WWE vaccination PSA aired… [C]
Powell’s POV: This seemed to air out of sequence because it sounded like Deville was talking as if the tag title match was still to come. Either way, it’s an interesting segment. Deville has clearly has some heelish moments since she started working as Pearce’s assistant and I’m curious to see where that leads. Regarding the PSA, I had my first shot on Tuesday. Zero side effects unless you count having a slightly sore arm for a few hours later that night.
Backstage, Banks told Braxton that she didn’t care about what Belair had to say earlier. She said it’s the other way around. She said everyone wants to know what the champion has to say. She said Belair might be the EST of WWE, but she’s not the best. She said she welcomes Belair giving her all, but she’ll give it right back Boss Style. She said Belair will realize that her place is beneath her once she taps her out…
A Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre video package aired for their WWE Championship match at WrestleMania… A sponsored recap focused on the Sami Zayn, Logan Paul, and Kevin Owens segment from last week…
Footage aired of Sami Zayn showing up at a Logan Paul and Jake Paul training session and being over the top. Zayn said he had his workout gear in the car and would happy to spar with them. Zayn went to the parking lot. When he tried to return, the door was locked. A man opened the door and told him that they were closed. Zayn said he was friends with Logan, but the man closed the door on him…
Cole and Graves were starting to talk about the segment when Zayn showed up and accused them of media bias for showing the footage. Zayn claimed everything was fine between him and Logan Paul. The battle royal entrances made their entrance. Kevin Owens attacked Zayn, who escaped a Stunner attempt and ran away. Owens yelled that he would see him at WrestleMania… [C]
3. Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. The entrants included Akira Tozawa, Angel Garza, Cedric Alexander, Drew Gulak, Elias, Erik, Gran Metalik, Humberto Carrillo, Jaxson Ryker, Jey Uso, Kalisto, King Corbin, Lince Dorado, Mace, Murphy, Mustafa Ali, Ricochet, Shelton Benjamin, Shinsuke Nakamura, Slapjack, T-Bar, Tucker.
Corbin received a separate entrance while the broadcast team ran through the WrestleMania night one lineup. Jey Uso’s entrance was also televised while the broadcast team ran through the night two lineup.
Alexander and Benjamin teamed up to eliminate Tozawa. They followed up by eliminating Tucker, who lost weight and had new gear. The rest of the entrants ganged up on Alexander and Benjamin and eliminated both men head into a break. [C]
Elias and Ryker eliminated Erik from the Viking Raiders. T-Bar and Mace eliminated Gulak, then threw Carillo over the top rope and onto Gulak to eliminate him. Slapjack was eliminated by Elias and Ryker, which led to them being eliminated by T-Bar and Mace. Ali shoved Mace over the top to eliminate him.
T-Bar tried to eliminate Ali, but Murphy got involved an Ali ended up eliminating T-Bar. Kalisto tried to act like the wanted to reunite with Metalik and Dorado, but they chopped him. Dorado eliminated Kalisto, and then Metalik eliminated Dorado in a surprise move. Corbin eliminated Metalik. [C]
Corbin eliminated Murphy. Nakamura eliminated Garza. The final five were Ricochet, Ali, Corbin, Nakamura, and Uso. Ricochet eliminated Ali. Uso eliminated Ricochet. Nakamura eliminated Corbin, so the match came down to Nakamura and Uso. Nakamura got the better of Uso and tried to eliminate him, but Uso reversed it and tossed Nakamura over the top rope to win the match.
Jey Uso won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal in 15:45.
Roman Reigns made his entrance with Paul Heyman while Uso was posing next to The Dre trophy. Reigns, Heyman, and Uso entered the ring. Reigns held up the WWE Universal Championship and then pyro shot off. [C]
Production piped in “you suck” chants while Reigns, Heyman, and Uso stood in the ring. Reigns said he was annoyed that he had to be there. He said he’s not a politician and doesn’t have to sell himself to the fans. He took issue with being in a Triple Threat because he could lose the title without being pinned.
Reigns said that when he shows up, WWE is winning. Reigns said Bryan had one good week, and the week before Edge was a real badass. Reigns said they did it for one week, while he’s been doing it for over thirty weeks in a row.
“The numbers don’t lie,” Reigns said. “Who do you think changed the ratings for this show, huh? Me.” Reigns said that brings him to the dreamers. He said Bryan is tired of hearing no and now he’s boasting that he made him tap out. Production went overboard by inserting obnoxiously loud “you tapped out” chants.
Reigns said that if Bryan made him tap out, he’d be champion, but he’s not and won’t ever be. Reigns said Bryan won’t make him tap out on Sunday. Reigns said Edge could point the finger at him and say he took it from him. He said he took it from everyone else. He said this is where the comeback story ends.
Reigns said the dream is being in the ring with him at WrestleMania and that’s where the dream ends and where his begins. Reigns said if you think this year was special, wait until you see what happens next. He said he’s the man with the golden hand because everything he touches has purpose.
“I save careers, right, Paul?” Reigns asked. Reigns said he gave Uso the greatest year of his career. Reigns said he’s going to crush dreams and it’s not a prediction, it’s a spoiler. He said he would stack both men and pin them, then stand over both opponents and hold the title above them. Reigns said Edge and Bryan would hear a million dollars of pyro shoot off and then they will hear the whole world acknowledge him.
The broadcast team hyped the WWE Universal Championship one more time while Reigns’ music played and he exited the ring. Cole reminded viewers that WrestleMania is a two-night event that begins Saturday and is available exclusively on Peacock…
Powell’s POV: While Edge and Bryan crushed it with their promos, the Reigns promo was what it needed to be given his role as the heel champion. All three men did a great job of delivering final hype for their match and they all left me feeling more excited about WrestleMania than I was coming into this show. Let me know what you thought of the go-home show by grading it below. I will be back shortly with my weekly same night audio review for Dot Net Members, who will also hear same night audio reviews of both nights of WrestleMania that I will be co-host with Jake Barnett.
Join me for my live reviews of WrestleMania nights one and two.