By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,132)
Live from Tampa, Florida at Yuengling Center
Aired April 30, 2021 on Fox
A video preview aired to start. It covered Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns, and how Daniel Bryan has to leave Smackdown if he loses. We then got the normal Smackdown video package, followed by the arena pyro. Michael Cole and Pat McAfee joined on commentary. They plugged Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan in the main event. Bianca Belair then made her ring entrance wearing her signature smile. Before she could say anything, Cole introduced a video package that defined what she meant by EST.
Bianca played to the virtual crowd, and said it was her pleasure to welcome them to the coolest, dopest, hottest show on Fox. She was quickly interrupted by Roode and Ziggler, who said they would kick off the show right. Before they could say much, The Street Profits entered and roasted Ziggler and Roode for interrupting the Smackdown Women’s Champion and the Main Event of WrestleMania. Before Ford could finish, Bayley made her entrance and grabbed the mic from Bianca.
She laughed uncontrollably until Bianca slapped her across the face. Bayley grabbed a double leg, and a brawl broke out between everyone at ringside. Referee Jessica Carr tried to restore order…[c]
My Take: About 9 minutes went by and nobody said much of anything, honestly.
Next Friday was announced as a throwback edition for next week’s show.
1. Bayley, Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode vs. Bianca Belair, Angelo Dawkins, and Montez Ford: The match was joined in progress. Bayley was in control of the offense, and according to Pat McAfee had been during the break. Belair attempted a dropkick, but was swatted away. She was able to land one a moment later, and Bayley scrambled for a tag. Belair had a standoff with Dolph Ziggler, but Angelo Dawkins was quick to spear him out of the way.
Ford and Dawkins sent Roode and Ziggler to the floor, and then Ford dove on them at ringside. Bayley then shoved Belair into the ring steps on the floor. Ziggler then landed a Superkick on Ford when he climbed back on the ring apron. Roode tagged in that they cut off ford on the heel half of the ring. Bayley took a cheap shot at Ford while Roode had him choked against the second rope. Roode and Ziggler landed a double suplex and Ziggler covered for a near fall. He then applied a rear chinlock, and Ford escaped with a judo throw. Ziggler lined up for a superkick as Ford regained his senses.
Ford intercepted him with a superkick of his own, and made a hot tag to Dawkins. He entered the match and landed a splash and a duo of suplexes on both Roode and Ziggler. He then landed a neckbreaker on Ziggler and covered, but Roode broke up the pin. Belair entered the ring and picked up Ziggler, but had to toss him aside to land a forearm on Bayley. She then whipped Roode with her hair, which led into a spinebuster from Dawkins. Ford landed a huge splash and got the win.
Bianca Belair and The Street Profits defeated Bayley, Dolph Ziggler, and Robert Roode at 7:45
Backstage, Baniel Bryan was interviewed by Kayla Braxton. She asked how he felt about putting his career on the line. He said he felt confident to be in a fair fight against Reigns, because he’s tapped him out before and he can do it again. Bryan said his next challenger after gaining the Universal Championship will be someone who had been waiting far too long…Cesaro.
Seth Rollins appeared onscreen and chuckled about Bryan saying he would give a title shot to a joke like Cesaro. However, he did predict that Daniel Bryan will win in a huge upset. He then challenged Cesaro to a match next week…[c]
My Take: The odds of us getting a finish in the main event with all the potential interference seems pretty slim, but if we do, Reigns sends Bryan packing to another brand (or a vacation). That’s my stone cold lead pipe lock of the century….of the week.
We got a video recap of Nia and Tamina’s singles match from last week. They Women’s Tag Champs walked backstage with Reginald, and were asked about their tag match with Natalya and Tamina. They said they are tag champs for a reason, and singles matches mean nothing to them. Nia complained about the disrespect they received on Raw, and they were jumped by Natalaya and Tamina before they could finish their comments. Nattie threw Shayna into the wall, and Tamina shoved Nia into some storage crates.
2. Tamina and Natalya vs. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler: Tamina quickly shoved Nia into the corner, and gave her a kick to her back. She kicked Shayna off the apron, and went up top for a splash. Nia got the knees up, and made a tag to Baszler. Shayna landed a running knee for a two count. She then pummeled her with strikes, and tagged back out to Jax. Nia landed a splash in the corner and covered for a two count.
Tamina recovered enough to land some strikes. She tried to pick up Nia for a slam, but got splashed for her trouble. Jax tagged out to Baszler, and Tamina showed some signs of life. Shayna attempted an arm submission, but Tamina picked her up and slammed her. Natalya tagged in and landed a discus lariat on Shayna for a near fall. She then went for a Sharpshooter, but Baszler broke free and landed a knee strike. Jax tagged in a landed an elbow drop, but missed a splash in the corner a moment later.
Tamina tagged in and landed a kick on Jax in the corner. She then went to climb the ropes, but Reginald interfered. Natalya assaulted Reginald on the outside, but Baszler pulled her away. Jax tagged out to Baszler, who climbed up to meet Tamina on the ropes. After a struggle, Tamina landed a headbutt and followed up with a big splash for the win.
Tamina and Natalya defeated Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax at 5:09
After the match, Booker T gave his prediction for the main event, and selected Roman Reigns…[c]
My Take: Tamina has been improved quite a bit in her most recent run, but she still doesn’t look comfortable or confident on the top rope at this point in her career. Maybe they can find her an alternate finish? The superkick seemed to work for her at times. This story isn’t doing much to hold my interest. I don’t much care about Reginald, and Nia and Shayna have lost far too many non-title and singles matches to be portrayed as dominant champions.
Shinsuke Nakamura was asked about the main event backstage. He predicted Bryan to win, but said he would be waiting for Reigns if he managed to defeat him. Rey and Dominick were then interviewed by Kayla Braxton. Dominick put over his Dad’s accomplishments, and Rey said being the first Father-Son tag team champions would be the greatest honor of his career.
We then got an Aleister Black video package. He was in a dark room with his “Tales of the Dark Father” book. He said people look at him and make assumptions, because it’s the true nature of man, and he has always lived in that reality. He then told a story about high school, and how the perfect dream of the prom date, college, and living happily ever after was a prison. He said father always told him what was wrong with all of that. He could give us all the keys to escape, but he won’t.
A recap of the Nigerian Drum Fight from WrestleMania was shown. Big E was then interviewed backstage, and was tired of the questions about what he would do next with Apollo and Aziz. He said he and Apollo had gone around and around, but tonight that ends when he becomes a three time Intercontinental Champion and gets his baby back. He then made his ring entrance. Aziz and Apollo were shown strategizing backstage…[c]
My Take: Big E went into preacher mode for his promo. It worked, but I’ve trained myself to immediately think preachers are full of shit, so it landed a little hollow for me. YMMV. Aleister Black rebooting himself as an emo edgelord seems like it will end up being polarizing.
Kofi and Xavier Woods gave their main event predictions. Woods picked Bryan, and Kofi picked Roman Reigns. Apollo made his entrance with Commander Aziz. Footage was shown of Aziz distracting Kevin Owens last week, and giving him the Nigerian Nail after the bell.
3. Apollo Crews vs. Big E for the InterContinental Championship: Apollo backed Big E into the corner to start the match. He quickly recovered and landed a hip throw, followed by an Abdominal Stretch. Big E then landed a slam, and pulled Crews out to the apron. He then landed some forearm shots, and a running splash. He covered and scored a two count.
Apollo recovered and gave Big E a hot shot on the top rope. He then pulled him to the floor and landed a snap suplex…[c]
Crews rained down blows on Big E, who fought to his feet and landed an overhead throw. Big E went out to the apron, but Apollo landed a haymaker, and then a dove into the floor. Big E avoided a splash in the ring, and landed a belly to belly suplex for a near fall. He then fired up for The Big Ending, but Apollo countered with a pump kick for a near fall. Crews landed a splash in the corner. He then tried another one, but Big E countered with a Uranage for another near fall.
Big E set up for an apron spear, but Apollo countered with a knee. He then slammed Big E with a Death Valley Driver on the apron, followed by a Frog Splash for a close near fall. Big E rolled him up rather weakly for a two count. He then popped up for the Big Ending, but Aziz pulled him out of the ring on the cover. Aziz tossed him into the ring post for a disqualification.
Big E defeated Apollo Crews by Disqualification at 10:33
After the match, Aziz and Apollo beat down Crews until Kevin Owens attempted a save. Big E and Owens tried to turn things around, but Sami Zayn joined the heels and cleared Owens and Big E from the ring. Sami grabbed the Intercontinental Championship, and Apollo demanded it back. He eventually handed it over, but got a Nigerian Nail from Aziz anyways. Apollo and Aziz stood tall to conclude the segment.
The Miz made his prediction, and said Roman Reigns would definitely beat Daniel Bryan. Paul Heyman will be interviewed next…[c]
My Take: Going with the interference BS finish in this match gives me a little bit of hope they won’t repeat the same thing for the main event….but just a little. Big E and Apollo work well together. I just hope the feud doesn’t continue beyond Backlash, as they have been having pretty similar matches for a few months now.
Cesaro accepted Seth Rollins challenge for next week, and said he would take the Championship from Daniel Bryan after he defeats Roman Reigns. A video package was then shown of how Daniel Bryan got his title shot last week.
Kayla Braxton interviewed Paul Heyman backstage. He whined about hearing the name Daniel Bryan. Paul said Bryan has had a hall of fame career, and was an ultimate underdog, and lit up the pee wee leagues before ascending to defy the odds in WWE. He survived a career ending injury and made the ultimate comeback, yes. Do people believe he will beat Roman Reigns and become the head of the table? Yes? But will he do it? No. He will not survive the onslaught of the tribal chief, and he will never be on Smackdown again.
Daniel Bryan made his entrance in the arena for the main event. Footage was shown of Bryan’s accomplishments at WrestleMania 30…[c]
My Take: An very good promo by Paul Heyman, who both built up Daniel Bryan’s credibility, and still placed him way out of the league of Roman Reigns.
We got another prediction from Baron Corbin. He said he didn’t like either of them one bit, and said he looked forward to Daniel Bryan going home for good. Roman Reigns entered with some new music. It seems to fit his new persona pretty well. Jey Uso was not with him, but Paul Heyman was. New Music could tip off another dominant win for Reigns, or it could be a little misdirection. Either way it fits the moment. Introductions were made for the Main Event.
4. Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns: Bryan landed a running dropkick out of the gate, and some extra kicks in the corner. Reigns shut down his offense with a huge uppercut, and then a shoulder block. Bryan took down Reigns and tried to spin Reigns into the Yes Lock, but he escaped to the floor. Bryan landed a running knee from the apron and continued the assault…[c]
Another ad aired for Smackdown Throwback Edition for next week. Daniel Bryan dropped knees and landed kicks to Roman Reigns chest and arms. He then landed a series of running kicks in the corner. On the third attempt, Reigns turned Bryan inside out with a big lariat. Reigns then landed a snap suplex for a two count.
Reigns applied a chinlock. Bryan fought to his feet, but was quickly shut down by a knee to the mouth. Bryan tried to regain the offensive momentum by using his speed, but Reigns cut him down again with another lariat. Reigns toyed with Bryan a bit, but he roared back with some european uppercuts. He then landed a drop toe hold that sent Reigns into the second rope.
Bryan landed some kicks and placed Reigns on the top rope. He then went for a top rope huracarrana, but Reigns reversed into a powerbomb for another near fall….[c]
Reigns tossed Bryan into the barricade and the ring apron on the outside. He then tossed him in the ring for a cover and a near fall. Reigns then followed up with a series of knees. Bryan tripped up Reigns as he ascended the ropes, and he landed groin first on the top turnbuckle. Bryan then climbed up and pulled him back into the ring with an avalanche back suplex for a close near fall.
Bryan targeted Reigns with kicks, but Reigns ducked one and landed a Samoan Drop for another near fall. Reigns signaled for a Superman Punch, but Bryan countered with a kick, and then landed a soccer kick to his arm. Bryan then grabbed an arm twist, and wrenched his arm over his shoulder. Bryan then tripped Reigns to the outside and went for a dive, but Reigns caught him and landed a slam. Reigns backed up and charged for a spear, but Bryan moved and Reigns crashed through the barricade…[c]
Bryan landed a diving headbutt as the show returned, and got another near fall. Bryan fired up in the corner, and took a run at Reigns, but got cut down by a Superman Punch for a 2.8 count. Reigns set up for a spear, but Bryan rolled him up instead for two. He then landed a running knee, but Reigns had his arm and leg in place for a rope break.
Bryan stomped on Reigns face, and then applied the Yes Lock. Reigns managed to roll Bryan up into a pinning position, and Bryan released. Reigns popped up and landed a spear, but only got a near fall. Reigns grabbed Bryan and pulled him into a Guillotine with his bad arm. Bryan managed to slip free, and pulled Reigns into an arm bar. He transitioned into a keylock, and then the Yes Lock.
Roman reached for the ropes, but Bryan managed to roll him back in the center of the ring. Reigns once again struggled, and powered out before pummeling Bryan with strikes. Reigns lifted Bryan up and landed a huge powerbomb. He then landed more strikes on Bryan, followed by another powerbomb. Reigns managed to apply the guillotine with his left arm, and Bryan eventually passed out.
Roman Reigns defeated Daniel Bryan at 27:29 to retain the Universal Championship
After the match, Roman held up the title. He then slipped to ringside and grabbed two chairs. He placed Bryan’s face on the chair, and Cesaro’s music hit. He ran in and landed an uppercut. He then landed another one at ringside. Jey Uso then ran in and took out Cesaro and tied him up in the ropes. Reigns then landed a Conchairto to Bryan and Cesaro had to watch. Cesaro screamed for Bryan and told Cesaro he would pay for that.
My Take: I’m not sure what the future holds for Bryan, but that was a hell of a match to leave Smackdown with. Really enjoyable, even with the commercial breaks. Reigns looks like a monster, and Bryan continues to be a guy that can take anybody to their limits. I’d love to see Bryan pop up in NXT to add some star power to that show, because that is a brand that badly needs some excitement. If he was serious in his recent comments about re-evaluating his future, rather than just jockeying around contract time, then he might be taking some time off. But it’s clear he’s still got plenty left in the tank.