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Winfree’s WWE Smackdown Review 4.23.21

April 23, 2021 | Posted by Robert Winfree
WWE Smackdown
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Winfree’s WWE Smackdown Review 4.23.21  

Hey there people, another Friday, another WWE Smackdown. Tonight Apollo Crews will allegedly defend his Intercontinental title against someone, so there’s that to look forward to. There’s also the big question about what’s next for Roman Reigns, they teased a Cesaro feud only to have Seth Rollins get involved again and prolong the Rollins/Cesaro program. If Rollins and Cesaro extend to Backlash, sorry WrestleMania Backlash, then Reigns will need a placeholder for his theoretical placeholder Cesaro feud. Both Edge and Daniel Bryan were absent last week in the wake of Mania, so will one of them step up to the Roman plate or will they spend a bit feuding with each other? I’m sure something will happen with the tag team scene, but since that scene is as stale as those saltine crackers you left out 4 weeks ago I’m struggling to care. Well let’s see what comes of it, hopefully a good episode of television.

Standard video recap, and then we head to the ring where Cesaro is here with ring gear. Seth Rollins and his new music interrupt before Cesaro can even start talking. Rollins also in ring gear, he stays on the entrance ramp then mocks Cesaro a bit before giving a deeply insincere congratulations about Cesaro finally reaching his potential all because he was in the ring at Mania with Rollins. He says he elevated Cesaro at Mania, but he got no thanks or adulation. All he’s heard from Cesaro is that Cesaro wants to move onto the Universal Title, but this isn’t over because nothing is over until Rollins says it’s over. You see if there hadn’t been a rain delay that threw him off his game he’d have won, because on Rollins worst day even the best version of Cesaro couldn’t beat him. Cesaro interrupts, asking Rollins if he’s having a good day. Because Cesaro is having a great day and would loving nothing more than to beat Rollins again. Rollins heads down thinking about accepting, but here comes Jey Uso. Jey says Cesaro should listen to Rollins, he doesn’t deserve to be in the title picture since he can’t beat Jey, Rollins again, or anyone. If Cesaro didn’t get the message last week Jey will show him tonight. Rollins joins up with Jey to surround Cesaro and take him out. Oh, here comes Daniel Bryan to even the odds presumably. Bryan heads to the ring and joins Cesaro, as Rollins and Jey try to leave he starts talking. They didn’t come out here for the reasons they said, Cesaro wants a title match and was honest while Rollins was just here because he’s embarrassed that Cesaro beat him at Mania while Jey only showed up because Roman told him too while Bryan came here to make sure Cesaro finally gets what he deserves. There’s a reason why Bryan hasn’t done this for either of them, because he respects Cesaro and all Cesaro’s hard work which eclipses all of them. Roman’s only the champ because of family connections while Cesaro has never had a single break. Bryan says Rollins and Jey are welcome to fight them, but of course they wont. Will Roman come out and accept Cesaro’s challenge? Probably not, Roman doesn’t like to wrestle. He imagines Roman will come out and try for a 3 on 2 fight, and if that’s true there’s no one Bryan would rather fight with than Cesaro so bring it on. Rollins keeps trying to separate from this, but here comes Roman Reigns with Paul Heyman. Heyman hands Roman a mic. Roman says Bryan’s out here talking about hard work while he should be talking about the work Roman put on him at Mania. Roman called the entire thing at Mania, he’s got a new shirt showing off that phrase. And Cesaro letting Bryan talk for him makes him a loser, they might be top tier losers but still losers. Bryan is a main event loser while Cesaro is a casino loser, a guy with no luck. Roman questions the brains of Bryan picking fights when surrounded by people who want to kick his ass, good luck with that. We head to break, looks like a tag match will be going when we come back. I’m not a big fan of the revolving door promo segment, it’s tired as a trope, but the talent involved here means this was about as good an example of it as you’ll find.

We come back to a brawl, there’s a tag match that just hasn’t quite started. OK, the ref gets a degree of control and here we go.

Match #1 – Tag Team Match: Daniel Bryan and Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins and Jey Uso

Bryan and Jey start us off. Cesaro tags in and they double team Jey. Rollins complains he didn’t know he was in a match, well you came out in ring gear buddy. Cesaro knocks Rollins off the apron then hits a seriously delayed suplex to Jey. Blind tag from Rollins but he runs into European uppercuts. Rollins avoids a corner rush and hits a sling blade to take over. Jey back in and they’re working to isolate Cesaro. Rollins in, running knee to Cesaro then works a chin lock. Cesaro fights back up, runs into a kick but catches a flying Rollins with a tilt a whirl backbreaker then he tags out. Bryan flies in with a drop kick, takes out Jey then lays in the Yes kicks to Rollins. Rollins avoids the buzzsaw kick but Bryan counters a Pele kick into an ankle lock then a bridging German suplex for a near fall. Bryan sets for the Knee Plus, goes for it but Rollins counters into a buckle bomb, blind tag from Jey and he follows up with an Uso splash and Cesaro has to save the match. They beat down Cesaro outside the ring and hit a double suplex as we head to break.

We come back as Bryan is getting worked over on the apron. Rollins hits a running kick to the head and gets a near fall back in the ring. A lot of work to the neck and head of Bryan after the buckle bomb. Jey tags in and super kicks the ribs. Some stomps from Jey, the heels are isolating Bryan in their corner. Bryan stars fighting back but runs into a Samoan drop for a near fall. Cesaro starts a Yes chant from the apron as Rollins tags back in. Rollins yells at Bryan in the corner, but Bryan starts his comeback with a backflip then they do the mid ring collision spot. Both men tag out and Cesaro runs wild all over Jey with punches and uppercuts. Discus lariat from Cesaro gets a near fall. Cesaro wants the Swing, Jey fights out of that and hits an enziguri but Cesaro comes off the second rope with a springboard uppercut. Jey counters a neutralizer but runs into the Swiss Death forcing Rollins to save the match. Bryan attacks Rollins, sends him out of the ring then dives onto him. Please Bryan, you don’t need those dives. Jey knocks Cesaro out of the ring, tries to dive but eats an uppercut from Cesaro. Cesaro up top, flies off into a super kick and we head to another break.

Cesaro and Rollins are going at it as we come back, Cesaro nearly gets a Swing but Rollins with a Victory Roll for a near fall. Sharpshooter from Cesaro, it’s in but here comes Jey with a super kick to save things. Jey tags in, wants the Splash but Cesaro intercepts him with an uppercut as Rollins walks up the entrance ramp saying he doesn’t need this. Deadlift superplex from Cesaro, God I love that spot. Bryan tags in, hits the Knee Plus and we’re done.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Cesaro and Daniel Bryan won

Rating: 3.5 stars

You gave those four guys that much time, darn right they delivered. Only complaint is that I’d rather Cesaro got the pin.

Bryan gets a mic post match and starts calling out Roman and mocking his predictions. Jey tries a cheap shot, Cesaro intercepts with the Swing while Bryan mocks Roman calling them stupid. A bunch of swings from Cesaro later he wipes out Jey with an uppercut. Bryan says Roman doesn’t seem to show up and accept his challenge. Cesaro gets a mic and says they’re still waiting for Roman. But if Roman come out to save his own cousin that shows what kind of man Roman is. Bryan says they should give Roman a chance, swing Jey again and let him try. Cesaro obliges while Bryan trash talks Roman. Still nothing from Roman as Cesaro dumps Jey for a second time. Bryan wonders if Roman is afraid, since he couldn’t beat Kevin Owens, himself, or Edge with out Jey’s help and Roman knows he can’t beat Cesaro. Roman must be afraid that if Cesaro gets a fair one on one match Cesaro will become the new Universal champion. Cesaro’s music hits to close. Great segment.

In the back Apollo Crews and Azeez show up to complain to Adam Pearce about having to defend his title. He says he shouldn’t have to give Big E a rematch. Pearce says Big E will get a chance when he’s ready, but tonight Crews defends against Kevin Owens. Crews and Azeez mean mug.

Nia Jax shows up, she’ll battle Tamina because we just need more of that.

In the back Kayla interviews Jey, he’s about to throw up from the swings but he doesn’t care about Rollins abandoning him. He’s sick of the disrespect, you step to the head of the table and you’ll get put down.

Match #2: Nia Jax w/ Shayna Baszler and Poochie Reginald vs. Tamina w/ Natalya

Jax drives Tamina to the corner and starts with shoulder blocks and headbutts. They’re seriously trying to put over Tamina as having got a huge Mania reaction? Jax trash talks, but eats rights and Thesz press and Tamina is in control now. Tamina tries a slam, there’s some serious miscommunication about who should be doing what here as Baszler is supposed to have saved her there. On the outside Tamina tosses Jax around the barricades before they head back into the ring. Reginald on the apron, distracts Tamina who kicks Baszler trying to kick Reginald. Baszler starts stalking Reginald, this distracts Jax who eats a super kick then gets rolled up and Tamina wins.


Rating: DUD

This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend.

In the back Kayla welcomes Kevin Owens. Kevin says it’s been years since he battled over the IC title and he’s thrilled for his shot tonight, he wasn’t expecting the opportunity but he’s thrilled. Big E walks up, complaining that Owens jumped the line. Big E thinks this should be his match for his title. Owens says he’s probably right, except that it wont be tonight because tonight is his chance and it’s next. But he will have fun with his new title.

In the back Daniel Bryan walks up on Adam Pearce asking if he’ll do the right thing about Cesaro. Pearce promises to try but nothing is that simple and Bryan knows it. Bryan insists he do more than just try.

Back to the ring for our title match.

Match #3 – Intercontinental Title Match: (c) Apollo Crews w/ Commander Azeez vs. Kevin Owens

They tie up and wrestle a bit with neither man getting an advantage. Owens with a single leg then dives on a side headlock on the mat. Crews is really stuck here, finally gets free but gets kicked and caught back in the side headlock. Owens with a shoulder block then a drop kick. Crews hits a drop kick but runs into a back elbow then eats a senton. Owens knocks Crews out of the ring, sets to dive but Azeez stands in front of Crews to dissuade him. Crews sweeps the leg of Owens on the apron and takes over in the ring. Suplex from Crews and he starts in with punches. Crews tosses Owens out of the ring, but misses an asai moonsault then eats a super kick. Owens up top, hits the swanton bomb for a near fall. The music of Sami “Not the stone of shame” Zayn hits as we head to break.

We come back and Crews and Owens fight on the top rope as Sami hangs out on commentary. Sami says he’s got a vested interest in everything Owens does after he ruined his life. Crews headbutts Ownes off the ropes, misses a flying nothing and eats a super kick from Owens. Chops from Owens but he gets stun gunned and eats a clothesline from Crews for a near fall. Sami says he’s struggling getting his documentary aired, and blames Owens for all of it. Owens tries the pop up powerbomb but eats a kick and an enziguri then a trio of German suplexes. That all gets another 2 count for Crews. Owens avoids a corner rush and hits a German suplex. Cannonball senton in the corner from Owens, then another one but that only gets 2 as well. Crews avoids a Stunner, tries an Angle slam, Owens counters with a super kick then hits a pop up powerbomb for a near fall. Owens heads up top, Crews rolls out of the ring so Owens heads to the apron the splashes him. Azeez up on the apron distracts Owens, so Crews rolls him up and retains.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Apollo Crews retained the IC Title

Rating: 3 stars

Above average match, it didn’t quite click with me into the higher gear the opening hit but your mileage will vary and it was far from bad.

Post match Crews eats a Stunner, and Azeez with the Nigerian Nail to Owens. Sami Zayn dances over the fallen Owens in the ring, and that’s something I never needed to see or ever need to see again.

In the back Kayla disagrees with me about watching Zayn dance, then welcomes in Heyman. She asks if Roman will accept Cesaro’s challenge, and he says he likes Cesaro and appreciates him. Cesaro made a name for himself with only one name, and calls Cesaro his favorite Cesaro of all the Cesaro’s. By the end of the night the Tribal Chief will give a real answer to the challenge. That sends us to break.

We come back with Megan Morant is waiting for Apollo Crews. Crews comes out and says Azeez is cleaning the tears of Owens out of his clothing. He says his royal ancestors are celebrating. And let anyone even dreaming of taking his belt think about the sound of Owens’ larynx snapping, and here’s Big E to ambush him. Big E lays him out before refs drag him away and Azeez comes out of the locker room to stand over his fallen champion.

Oh hey, an Aleister Black video. So he’s still alive and on the roster. He says most people aren’t honest with you, but he will be and reads from a big book. Chapter 1, The Dragon. His father took him to many celebrations of life and death, but as he grew he wasn’t taught how to defeat the dragon but rather how to become it. He’s nothing like the monsters at home, he wont help us. With our lies and deceit we turn our children into even bigger monsters, we should be scorched from the Earth to make room for more fertile things. OK, I guess? That was odd, Black’s delivery doesn’t quite work for me even though I dug the visuals.

Kayla has Ziggler and Roode in the back. She asks for a prediction about the upcoming match between Los Mysterio’s and Alpha Academy. They seem to lean towards Alpha. She asks who’s next, they don’t care, but here comes the Street Profits. They say Ziggler and Roode got a bunch of shots at them, only fair they get next. They all square up and here comes Bayley to cut the tension. Bayley runs down her resume and then says Bianca Belair is an ungrateful rookie who she worked with when she debuted on Smackdown. But Belair never got a thank you, Belair is rude, selfish, and spoiled. At WrestleMania Backlash she’s taking back her title and top spot. Montez Ford walks up with his wife on cell phone, and says Bayley is talking about her. Belair says she’ll be right there, Bayley indicates she’ll still be here. That sends us to break.

Back from break Belair has arrived and talks with Bayley. She asks Bayley to repeat herself, they argue about whether she will, then Bayley doesn’t repeat herself and instead insincerely congratulates Belair and feels honored to be her first opponent. She recites a few of the spots from the Mania match, again says it’s an honor and walks off. Belair says she didn’t expect that, Bayley comes back and starts laughing, then again wanders off screen cackling.

To the ring for our next match.

Match #4 – Tag Team Match: Rey and Dominik Mysterio vs. Alpha Academy (Chad Gable and Otis)

Dominik and Gable start us off. Otis wants in and tags in. Otis over powers Dominik with ease. Dominik avoids a splash and tries rights but again runs into a clothesline. Otis with a worlds strongest slam while staring a hole in Rey. Rey pulls Dominik out of the ring, Otis clotheslines them both on the floor then Gable takes down Rey with a gutbuster and that sends us to break.

We come back with Gable working over Dominik. Dominik rolls up Gable for a near fall, Gable with a tiger suplex for a near fall, then takes out Rey just because. Otis tags in and lays in body shots to Dominik. Hard Polish hammer from Otis, he’s wearing out Dominik at this point. Shoulder blocks in the corner from Otis, then he and Gable take turns tagging in and out which culminates with an avalanche from Otis. Gable keeps Dominik grounded and is controlling the arm. Dominik fights up to his feet but eats a couple of belly to belly suplexes but Dominick flips out of a German then stun guns Gable and tags out. Rey runs wild on Gable, hits a nice Code Red for a near fall. Gable misses a corner rush and posts himself, Rey up top but gets caught. Gable looking for a second rope move but gets caught in a hurricanrana for another near fall. Dominik tags in, they hit a double team sequence that ends with Dominik hitting a sliding sunset powerbomb into the barricade, really sweet. They set Gable for the 619, Dominik takes out Otis as Rey hits the 619 and Frog Splash to win.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Rey and Dominik won

Rating: 2.5 stars

Solid match, unfortunately hurt by the predictable ending because the champs are heels you know the face team will move on to face them. This tag team scene is in dire need of some kind of excitement.

Cesaro’s music hits immediately and he heads down with Bryan. They both applaud the Mysterio clan and share hand shakes, Cesaro and Bryan will await Roman after the break.

We come back and get news that next week Crews and Big E will rematch for the IC belt. OK then. Cesaro has a mic and says he’s out here and we’re all waiting on Roman’s answer. So he can either come out here and give us his answer, or they can come back there and get it from him. It takes another long couple of seconds, but here comes Roman’s music and Roman along with Jey and Heyman follow. They head head to the ring, Roman looks appropriately annoyed by all of this. He parades with the belt in front of them then gets the mic from Heyman. Roman gets incredulous about Cesaro’s challenge, and asks what he’s done to deserve it. He’s the man around here, the answer is no and will always be no because Cesaro will never be on his level. The Universal champion issues the challenges around here, and the challenge goes to Daniel Bryan. He doesn’t like Bryan, never has, never will, but he’ll get one more shot because it will be his last. Next week will be the last shot Bryan gets. Bryan seems torn, Cesaro tells him he has to accept because he can win. He’s about to, but Roman wants to warn him. When Bryan loses, he doesn’t want to ever see Bryan on Smackdown ever again. Bryan accepts. So Edge shows up next week for that, got it. Roman holds up the belt and tells Bryan he’ll never have it, it’s always going to be his.

OK, if they give those 2 time that will be awesome.

Roman and company head out while Cesaro and Bryan talk in the ring and the show concludes.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
You know what, best Smackdown in a while. Solid in ring action that was given time to breathe and develop, some good promo work from a bunch of different parties, a narrative through line centered around Roman dealing with Cesaro's challenge, and Roman's usual great character work. My singular gripe is the women's tag team stuff, because it has no heat, no direction, and no quality. But overall this was really good.

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WWE Smackdown, Robert Winfree