Wrestlemania Smackown Rundown
Updated: Jul 18, 2021
Reverse Hipster What mattered
1.Promo Triple threat
This week is was a little different for me. Covid has caused us all to have to adapt and part of that for me was watching Smackdown with the sound off and the subtitles on.I found the Promo segments were still very engaging just based on reading the words and seeing the wrestlers emote.
Daniel Bryan's promo was the most gripping. I loved how he was able to inspire us with just the words no and yes. He reminded us that his whole career, he has been told no but yessed himself into this position and everything else be damned; I am cheering for Daniel Bryan to win this match. If Daniel wins, it is a great underdog story.
On the other hand, Edge makes a very compelling case for why he has a legit beef with Bryan. Roman vs. Edge would have been a great match, and he earned it. I also loved that Edge reminded us he was the architect for Roman Reigns offering another layer to this match. I also liked that Edge pointed out he is the one with the clout. He is a Hall of Famer, and Roman and Daniel would hope to be him one day. He also pointed out that his match will be happening a decade to the day he retired another layer to this match. Edge is a legend willing to do whatever it takes to get back the title he never lost. If he wins, it is a great comeback story.
Roman Reigns cut a great heel promo, saying he is the reason this match matters and his opponents were just stepping stones. Also, he made the case he elevates everyone around him, and it is hard to argue he has not elevated Paul and Jey. My favorite part of the promo is when he pointed out Daniel Bryan and Edge have had great moments, but only he has been great consistently since Summerslam. This is the perfect example of every guy being the hero of their own story. If Roman wins, it's an excellent Heel story.
2. Jey Uso conquers the hall of the fallen tag division.
It felt like every member of this battle royal was a member of a broken tag team the whole tag division was right here. This match was entertaining, and I was glad Jey Uso won. He deserved this victory. He had such a great year.
3. The Women Level up
I liked the tag division storyline a lot more than in previous weeks. I thought Nia vs. Tamina was a fun exhibition, and I got hype when Tamina hit Nia with the Samoan drop. I loved that Tamina and Natalya looked dominant, so dominant that Shayna had to stop Tamina from pinning Nia. I also thought the backstage segment seemed more logical and continued the story of Tamina and Natalya being dominant.
4. Tag Team Championship Match.
The tag match was excellent. They put on a show I really thought they would main event, and the match quality was definitely worthy. They flew around non stop even starting with a pre-match brawl.
I criticized Raw for not knowing the time and place for a hype package. This was the time and place. Seth Rollins running a political ad on Cesaro was absolutely hilarious. I cracked up the whole time, and it reminded us of what Cesaro had to gain by winning his first ever singles victory at Wrestlemania.
Rob’s What mattered
1. Daniel Bryan, Edge, and Roman Reigns
Good wrestlers are often defined by being great technical in-ring workers, but great wrestlers are defined by their storytelling and promo ability. Good wrestlers are good at selling the action in ring, but great wrestlers are great at selling why you need to watch the match. We already knew Daniel Bryan, Edge, and Roman Reigns were all good wrestlers, but tonight they showed why they are all great wrestlers.
Each week, this main event feud has exceeded expectations and proved its spot as the main event. Unlike most WWE feuds, this story is nuanced, compelling, and not forced in any way. Each wrestler gave a compelling argument of why winning this match matters to them. Bryan framed his “Yes” catchphrase as a motto for his can-do attitude and ability to overcome as the underdog. Edge continued to talk about his story returning after 10 years, why it matters so much to him, and how he feels cheated out of a singles match after winning the rumble from 1. Reigns showed that despite tapping out to Bryan, he is as confident as ever as the champion and plans on steamrolling his opponents at WrestleMania. The promo reminded me how important this heel character change was to how I think about Reigns. Reigns absolutely thrives as a cocky heel champion because he’s been portrayed as the best since he became a singles star.
My only critique is the order of the promos. I think Reigns was the weakest out of the three, but he went last. Regardless, I think it was important to establish the champion going into WrestleMania. This is undoubtedly the match I am looking forward to most this weekend because these are three great wrestlers that sold the stakes, the story, and the in-ring potential.
2. Jey Uso wins the Battle Royal
The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal has undoubtedly lost some of the prestige it had the first few years, but it’s still a great indicator of who WWE values that didn’t get a featured WrestleMania match. This year’s match had fun in-ring action. The finalists made complete sense, and everyone who made it to the final six or so looked great. Jey Uso came out the winner, a great homage to his work as a single’s star this year, how he elevated Roman Reigns with their feud, and how he has benefited weekly shows with his matches. Honorary mentions go to Shinsuke Nakamura, King Corbin, Ricochet, Murphy, and Ali, who all held similar roles this year. This was also a great way to highlight Uso as the right hand man going into WrestleMania. If Uso is this good and is the sidekick to Reigns, it makes Reigns look that much better going into the main event.
Reverse Hipster what didn't matter?
The Tag Champions
The WWE has done absolutely nothing to promote Ziggler and Roode, so I was rooting for anyone but them. I honestly do not understand why they would want Ziggler and Roode to keep the titles. It flattens the tag division's momentum, and they have shown no interest in Ziggler and Roode.
Rob’s What didn’t matter
1. SmackDown but make it the WrestleMania preshow
Going in, we knew the battle royal and tag team championship would be on this show. WWE framed it as WrestleMania SmackDown, but we all knew it was really a replacement for the preshow matches. When they announced it, I liked it because I thought there was no point in making preshow matches for a two-night show. I love wrestling, but I really don’t want to watch it for more than three hours two nights in a row. I didn’t hate the matches, but it didn’t have the same energy being on the SmackDown set. More importantly, though, WWE wasted most of the go-home SmackDown show after the go-home Raw was terrible. The three promos from the main event triple threat were excellent, but most of SmackDown was spent on the two “preshow” matches and hype packages for the Fiend/Randy Orton and Drew McIntyre/Bobby Lashely. Raw has three hours to promote their own feuds, so WHY was WrestleMania SmackDown treated like the actual preshow wasting time on hype packages from the other show we watch every week? I think WWE thinks cross-promoting is key to selling PPVs. Certainly, more people watch SmackDown on Fox than Raw on USA. I don’t have a pulse on these numbers, but I think WWE is absolutely wrong about their own audience. There are plenty of creative ways they could have sold us better on other SmackDown feuds instead of showing manufactured hype packages for the other brand. For example, Seth Rollins/Cesaro and Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens had great creative segments this week, but it was blink and you missed it compared to how much time they spent on the hype packages.
2. SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match
The in-ring work for this match was great, but we already knew that from seeing past matches. I honestly don’t think it was any better than the past clashes between these four teams. I know I’m flipping on this, but I would have preferred it be on WrestleMania and get a little more time with no commercial breaks. Alternatively, it could have been the main event tonight with a picture in picture. Crucially, as I warned earlier, this match had no story going in, and it failed to seize the opportunity to sell a story. The match had the worst possible finish with the Dirty Dogs winning. They have been terrible champions. This is their first defense, and their promos have go away heat energy. Any team winning would have been a better story in my opinion: the Mysterios being the first father/son team to win, the Street Profits reclaiming their spot as best team on SmackDown, or the potential shown by Alpha Academy. When the Dirty Dogs won, I wasn’t mad because they were the crafty veteran heels, I was mad because I have to keep watching the least promising team in the division as champions. Maybe that’s what heels are in 2021, but I think this whole division could have been booked so much better going into the biggest show of the year.
3. Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair
The best news out of all this is that Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair will main event night one. The promise of the Royal Rumble winner is fulfilled with this, and it’s a great spot for the women who have had to fight to main event over the years. Now, for the bad side. Through no fault of these two women, their feud has had very little time and been underbooked creatively. Heading out of Fastlane, we were just starting to see some of the nuance and intrigue of this feud, but SmackDown has done nothing to build upon this. They got short promo segments this week, and they did great, but it was nothing compared to how much time each of the men got. Banks and Belair should absolutely knock it out of the park in-ring, but I can’t help but think about how this feud could have been great if they had more time to develop the story.
What did you think about Wrestlemania Smackdown should they do it again?