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Winfree’s WWE Smackdown Review 3.05.21

March 5, 2021 | Posted by Robert Winfree
WWE Smackdown
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Winfree’s WWE Smackdown Review 3.05.21  

Hey there everyone and welcome to another Friday evening, so that means WWE Smackdown and I’m here to cover it. Fast Lane is fast approaching and there’s some uncertainty around the Smackdown offering for that event, last week Daniel Bryan tried to stake his claim to a Universal title match with Roman Reigns but fell short when his match with Jey Uso to earn that went to a double count out. Roman doesn’t want to risk his title before Mania, and Edge seems fixated on taking on Roman so there are some questions over what he’ll be doing building to Fast Lane. Other parts of the landscape are clearer, Cesaro confronted Seth Rollins last week and gave him a bit of a beating while Apollo Crews flexed his new heel character to likely set up another clash with Big E for the Intercontinental title. On the tag team side of things there only the Street Profits as faces, so I fully expect them to get another go around with new champions Ziggler and Roode. As for the women Bianca Belair made the painfully obvious choice last week to battle Sasha Banks at Mania, and Belair will be in action tonight. Anyway, that’s more or less where things stand right now so let’s see what pot holes we hit on the Road to WrestleMania.

Our video intro is a recap of Roman and Edge’s interactions to hype of their Mania match.

Michael Cole is in the ring to start us off, he brings up the possibility of Roman vs. Edge but that Daniel Bryan might have something to say about that. That brings out Bryan, apparently he’ll get a rematch with Jey Uso tonight in a steel cage that can get Bryan his shot at Roman for Fast Lane. Bryan has a mic, Michael Cole talks in corporate talking points rather than sentences. Cole reminds us that Bryan was supposed to team with Edge against Roman and Jey at Fast Lane, and asks why Bryan turned that down in favor of going for the belt. Bryan says he was never even asked to take part in that tag match, no one felt they had to ask him or consult him because he’ll show up and work his butt off. He knows why Edge didn’t ask him, he knows why Roman didn’t bother to ask him, but he’s making a change. He wont be the old Daniel Bryan anymore, management has in their minds Edge vs. Roman, the Attitude Era vs. the Thunderdome. Everyone wants that, everyone but him and he’ll do his best to make sure it doesn’t happen. Bryan excuses Cole and throws to a video package about what he did at Elimination Chamber. So we see Bryan winning the match, then nearly getting Roman with the Yes Lock before getting choked out. And of course Edge’s spear punctuated that. Bryan says he’s lost a lot in his career, he’s been beaten up a lot in his career (hi Morishima) so you’d think it wouldn’t be such a big deal when he saw Edge spear Roman and point to the sign but never in his life had he felt like such a failure. A lot of people might not know this about him, people think he doesn’t have a ton of ambition including the WWE as he took a personality test that gave him the lowest ambition score they’d ever seen. But he loves this, and he doesn’t feel he’s had to work a day in the last 21 years because he loves it. He’s put himself on the back burner for the last year to be more of a dad, and he let other younger talent take the chances. He felt like he failed himself when he watched Edge spear Roman, he looked up at the Mania sign and knew he should be in the main event of Mania. Because he loves this, in the last three weeks he’s wrestled more matches than Roman and Edge have in the last three months. He knows what he can be, and that’s the absolute best. Tonight he’s getting into a steel cage with Jey Uso, and the only way he’ll get to Mania is if he beats Roman at Fast Lane and he knows this could be his last chance.

Roman’s music cuts him off from going further, and here’s the Tribal Chief with entourage in tow. With Roman’s usual entrance time we get a commercial break, he’ll probably be in the ring by the time we get back. Really great promo from Bryan to kick off the show.

Roman’s pyro is going off as we come back, so he made it to the ring. Roman says he’s confused, so of course the audience is as well. Bryan isn’t ambitious, he’s the underdog who waits around and sometimes it works out for him. Men like Roman, and there aren’t many, are ambitious. He’s taken what he wanted every step of the way. Roman says Bryan doesn’t love wrestling, he needs it because he has nothing else. Love is based on service, not need, take Roman for example because he loves this business. He doesn’t need it, he does it because everyone needs him, even Bryan. And after Jey beats him tonight he’ll understand that he needs Roman, and once he knows that he’ll acknowledge Roman. Jey grabs Bryan’s mic and tells him not to worry about the title, this is as close as he’ll get to it. Bryan asked for the cage match and now he’s not locking Roman out, he’s locking himself in with Jey. Jey tries a cheap shot but Bryan was hip to it and tosses him out of the ring then stares back at Roman. Roman looks displeased, but just slowly exits the ring. Roman’s promo work is great as usual, and he set up the perfect dynamic of his self professed importance against the genuine passion Bryan has for wrestling.

Commentary talks about the card tonight. We get a recap of how Corbin and Zayn lost to the Street Profits last week. Speak of the devil, here comes the Street Profits. After the match they’ll have a rematch with Zayn and Corbin.

Back from break and Zayn has a mic to air his grievances. He says tonight he and Corbin will prove that last week was just a fluke. Corbin comes out and says they’re not friends or tag team partners, he wont team with Zayn and says he wants either of the Profits in a singles match. Ford and Dawkins riff about Roode and Ziggler dodging them, and Dawkins accepts he’s happy to be in Zayn’s movie. Zayn thinks they’re all against him, he agreed to a tag team match, not this. Somehow the Profits desire for the smoke overrides his complaints and we’ll have dueling singles matches.

Match #1: Montez Ford w/ Angelo Dawkins vs. King Corbin w/ Sami Zayn

Ford goes acrobatic early and lands a drop kick. Corbin catches Ford with a spine buster and takes over with his usual stuff. Ford gets launched into the corner, then gets slammed. Ford jumps for a sleeper hold, but Corbin over powers him then walks into a series of kicks. Corbin tries to elevate Ford but eats a DDT for that, then a standing moonsault from Ford gets a 2 count. Zayn with a distraction, Ford hits an enziguri but walks into an End of Days to win.

OFFICIAL RESULT: King Corbin won

Rating: DUD

Too short to be anything but also clearly not a squash by any reasonable definition.

Zayn says he helped Corbin and asks him to help him in return. Dawkins shoves Zayn off of the apron onto Corbin. Corbin has had enough of that and leaves Zayn alone as we head to commercial.

Match #2: Angelo Dawkins w/ Montez Ford vs. Sami “Who keeps the Martians under wraps?” Zayn

We come back to Dawkins beating up Zayn. Zayn with a cheap shot, but he runs into a shoulder block and Dawkins is running the ropes now then hits a drop kick. Out of the ring now, Dawkins chases Zayn but runs into a kick then gets bounced off the barricade and ring apron before being sent back into the ring. Some punches from Zayn, then he trash talks Ford on the outside. Zayn hits a hard clothesline but can’t keep Dawkins down on repeated pin attempts. That leads to Zayn arguing with the ref and telling him to get a metronome. Dawkins with a heavy series of clotheslines and a flying back elbow. Dawkins with his usual offensive sequence, hits a bulldog for 2. Zayn fights out of a suplex attempt, but walks into a spinning double underhook neckbreaker Dawkins apparently calls the Silencer and gets 2. Dawkins gets hung up on the top rope but fights out of a blue thunder bomb, then Zayn hits an exploder suplex into the corner. Zayn wants the Helluva kick, but Ford stars messing with the camera crew. Zayn objects to that, and his lack of focus means Dawkins rolls him up for the win.


Rating: 1.5 stars

Longer enough than the first one of these to avoid a DUD.

Zayn demands to know who’s behind this and asks who one of the cameramen is. He wants answers and beats the poor intern demanding answers.

In the back Reginald has champagne for Carmella. Carmella says she took a chance on a lowly sommelier who turned out to be a snake who just obsessed over Sasha Banks. Well she’s not having that, smacks the bottle out of his hands and fires him.

Dominik Mysterio heads out for his match which will be after this break.

Back from break, Big E will be returning next week.

Match #3: Dominik Mysterio w/ Rey Mysterio vs. Chad Gable w/ Otis

They tie up early, with Gable predictably out wrestling Dominik on the mat and in close. Dominik is able to gain momentum and tosses Gable out of the ring. Gable back in, and eats an arm drag. Dominik tries to work the arm but Gable escapes and hits a drop toe hold then goes to work on the leg of Dominik. Dragon screw leg whip and more leg work from Gable. Dominik is able to kick free, then hits an enziguri when Gable went for a single leg. Dominik up to the second rope, flying hurricanrana then a low body scissors toss into the second turn buckle. Gable tosses Dominik out of tornado DDT, then hits a tiger suplex for a near fall. Gable up top now, misses a moonsault but lands on his feet, they trade pinning combinations but Dominik gets the better of it and pins Gable.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Dominik Mysterio won

Rating: 2 stars

Decent little match, Dominik still needs seasoning but Gable is the right kind of guy to be in there with as he’s mostly safe.

In the back Seth Rollins is with Kayla Braxton, he says that swing last week felt like forever because it was forever but the question is why. Has she ever seen Cesaro do that to anyone else for that long? Of course not, because he hasn’t, so why did he? Because he’s afraid of “us” who embrace the vision. Cesaro wanted to humiliate him, and he wont forget that. Murphy is here randomly, they share a long stare, then Murphy says perhaps he could assist Rollins with the Cesaro situation. Rollins, no longer looking at him, tells him to get out of his sight.

So we just confirmed how pointless that entire Rollins vs. Mysterio thing was with this little bit right? Months of that, and now in a few weeks Murphy will be back with Rollins.

Shayna Baszler heads out for her match with Bianca Belair, which will be next.

Belair makes her entrance as we come back from break. Apparently we’re getting another tag team title match at Fast Lane when Belair will team with Banks to take on Baszler and Jax. Only question is if one of them turns, or we get the tag team partners who don’t get along. Oh, here’s Sasha Banks as well. And Reginald walking behind her, though she seems uninterested.

Match #4: Shayna Baszler w/ Nia Jax vs. Bianca Belair w/ Sasha Banks and Reginald

They tie up, trade side headlocks and escapes. Belair with some gymnastics then a shoulder block. Baszler avoids a drop kick tries to tie up the legs then misses a kick. Belair after the arm now, and la majistral cradle but Baszler escapes and is after the arm. Baszler catches an attempted leap frog out of the corner and kicks Belair in the arm. Running knee in the corner from Baszler for a 1 count. Baszler back to work on the arm. Belair avoids a corner rush, then counters a single arm DDT attempt with a scoop slam. Shoulder blocks in the corner from Belair, and our rapid fire camera cuts kicking. Suplex from Belair, then a back body drop. Belair wants the glam slam but Baszler counters and tosses her out of the ring. Belair shoves Reginald down, for reasons, but runs into a kick to the face from Baszler. Reginald annoys Jax by existing, then avoids a charge but Jax takes out Banks. Back in the ring Belair counters a Kirifuda Clutch with the Kiss of Death to win.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Bianca Belair won

Rating: 2 stars

A lot of angle more than match, but Belair and Baszler have plenty of experience working together and it showed in a good way.

Reginald tries to apologize, Belair tells Banks that this is her problem and she needs to deal with Reginald. Banks says she and Reginald are good, then slaps the taste out of his mouth and reminds him to stay out of her business.

In the back Jey Uso tries to hype himself up. Roman wants Jey to understand, if he wins the belt is safe until Mania but if he doesn’t he’ll have to defend it. If Jey loses tonight he embarrasses not only himself, but their family as well. Jey claims to have this. That sends us to break.

Murphy is in the ring as we come back, he’s got a match with Cesaro. Will the winner gain their first name back? Oh, and here’s Rollins as well. That’s a lot of pink on Rollins.

Match #5: Murphy vs. Cesaro

Cesaro with some takedowns early, showing off the power as Rollins heads to commentary. Rollins says everyone has asked for him to be on commentary. Cesaro hits a tilt a whirl backbreaker for a near fall. Murphy tosses Cesaro out of the rang while commentary bickers. Dive over the top from Murphy onto Cesaro. Back in the ring, Murphy up top and hits a meteora onto Cesaro for 2. Cesaro shoves Murphy off then hits an uppercut. Running uppercuts from Cesaro then a running kick to floor Murphy. Cesaro calls for the swing, and here we go. A bunch of revolutions later he locks in the sharpshooter and Murphy taps out, Cole called that too early.


Rating: Calabaza. . . SQUASH

Showcase for Cesaro, which I don’t object to.

In the back Reginald knocks on Sasha’s locker room door, she just says no. Reginald walks past Baszler and Jax, Baszler mocks his failure while Jax say he’s cute. Reginald has a bit of a “why me” look as we cut to break.

Apollo Crews is here, with a new percussion remix for his theme. Oh, and he’s got a spear and a couple of goons in military fatigues. The scarf was a nice touch, leave it to WWE to take something fairly identifiable and understated then turn it into a bad joke. Crews on the mic now, and he’s trying the African accent all the time. He says people don’t like the new Apollo but this is the real Apollo, a real African American and this is how he talks. Next he introduces us to the Nigerian elite guard, protectors of his family’s wealth for generations. He just wanted to fit in, but was never accepted, and he was kept around by fools who just wanted to ask ignorant questions. He’s not ashamed of where he comes from anymore. Big E tried to best him, but his ancestors spoke to him and told him to claim his birthright. So he did what he had to do, he knows Big E fears what he’s woken up inside of Apollo. Next week when Big E returns he’ll see someone unlike the man he used to be, he’s not asking anymore he’s demanding a rematch for the Intercontinental title. He promises to leave Big E a broken man for the rest of his life after Apollo’s complete and total victory. The accent still needs work, and the whole presentation has gone way too cartoony now, but overall it was a solid promo.

In the back Natalya and Tamina lobby to be part of the tag team match at Fast Lane, Pearce and Deville are not moved by their pleas.

Kayla shows up to interview Jey, he starts talking but Daniel Bryan jumps him from behind. That’s how you frame that shot by the way, Bryan comes from behind Jey not off camera where Jey is looking. We see him coming but the victim doesn’t. Our main event will be next.

In the back Bayley is hosing Ding Dong, Hello where she’s doing a Sweet Tweet segment instead of mean tweets because everyone loves her. She reads a couple of painfully fake tweets, but a real one slipped through that she abandons halfway through reading. She opens the door and heads out, upset by whatever she read.

Video highlights to set up the main event, then Corey Graves stands in the ring in the cage to hype us up. They highlight a camera man sitting on the top of the cage for height perspective, one has to wonder if that will factor into the finish at some point. He’s not staying up there for the match or anything, but it’s worth noting. Oh, for about the fifth time tonight we have someone’s music hit to come down after the match participants are in the ring as Roman Reigns shows up. Roman pauses at the bottom of the ramp, and Paul Heyman gets him a chair. That is a gloriously jerk move. We head to break, this is going to be a short match.

Match #6 – Steel Cage Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Jey Uso w/ Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman

We’ll have escape rules in place here, but you can still win by submission or pinfall. Also the door will be unlocked. They start brawling right away, Bryan gets tossed into the cage. Jey shoves him into the fence and demands he acknowledge Roman. Roman stands up and walks close to the cage to observe. Roman calls for more. Jey hoists Bryan up and rams him into the cage again, then tries to head out but Bryan stops him. Right from Jey, then he tries climbing the cage. Again Bryan cuts him off from the escape attempt, they slam each other into the cage then Jey crotches Bryan on the top rope and lands a right. Jey slams Bryan into the corners, but Bryan counters the last one and slams Jey into the buckles and cage several times. Bryan up top, flying drop kick drops Jey. Kick to the arm from Bryan, and he’s working the arm now. Jey sent shoulder first into the cage, and more arm breakers from Bryan. Bryan back flips out of the corner, then avoids Jey and tries to climb but he’s caught but Jey and dropped onto the top turn buckle. Jey kicks Bryan into the tree of woe position and stomps on his bad leg. Jey tries to climb up and over, Bryan climbs after him and they wind up fighting on the top. Headbutts from Bryan, but Jey catches him and hits a top rope Samoan drop and both men are down. That sends us to commercial break as both men are down.

We come back to Bryan and Jey trading blows while sitting on top of the cage. They wind up back in the ring and Brayn lands kicks while they balance on the top rope. Jey with a super kick and Bryan is down. Jey follows up with the splash but Bryan kicks out at 2. The door is open now, Jey crawls towards it but Bryan drags him away from it then eats an enziguri but Bryan counters with a kick, then a super kick from Jey and that still only gets 2. Bryan with a crucifix roll up, then the elbow strikes and into the Yes Lock but Jey spins free and tries to unload with elbows from the guard of Bryan. Jey catapults Bryan into the cage. Bryan is down, Jey says it’s over and starts climbing over the cage again. Bryan up and after him, he catches him on the top of the cage and hits headbutts to halt the momentum. Bryan looking to escape now, he’s got his legs over the top but Jey grabs him and pulls him back into the ring. They trade on the top rope again, Bryan throwing the arm into the cage then a butterfly suplex off the top into the Yes Lock. Jey writhes, gets the ropes but there are no rope breaks and he has to tap out.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Daniel Bryan won

Rating: 3.5 stars

To the shock of absolutely no one, Daniel Bryan is still an exceptional professional wrestler. This could have been something special with more time, but what we got was very good anyway. I think the only big knock on this match is the predictability of the outcome, there was no chance of this going the other way and they never quite got me to buy into Jey winning.

Roman looks displeased as Bryan celebrates on the top of the cage and the episode ends.

The final score: review Good
The 411
This was nearly lower, but darn if Bryan and Jey didn't work their butts off to provide a really good cage match to close the show. Roman and Bryan have positioned themselves nicely for their feud, sadly truncated as it may be, and they play off of each other well. I could have done without the bits between the Profits and Corbin and Zayn, and this episode had a lot of time devoted to Reginald that probably could have been better spent. The whole Apollo Crews thing is leaving a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, the substance of the promo was solid and Apollo's delivery was good even if his accent still needs some work. But did we really need him brandishing a spear and flanked by dudes in fatigues? Felt like too much. Fortunately the Roman and Bryan stuff anchored the show, without that this would have been a rough watch.

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WWE Smackdown, Robert Winfree