If you’ve missed laser beam graphics, Michael Cole in a golf shirt, and Teddy Long, tonight was your night. Long, however, is not the only returning character tonight.

We kick off the show with an appearance by Roman Reigns, along with Jey Uso and Paul Heyman, and we get a recap of what took place last week in the main event of SmackDown (that was Reigns defeating Bryan and thereby ousting him from SmackDown). Reigns has such great music now. It would have been even greater if his heel turn had happened slowly, after he had returned, but, whatever.

Before Reigns speaks, we get a flashback to SmackDown’s debut on August 26th, 1999, featuring Triple H versus The Rock. 

Now Reigns has an “Acknowledge Me” t-shirt. Is anyone counting how many shirt designs he’s gone through?  Actually, it’s only one design. He just keeps changing the text. I think he got a t-shirt printer while he was gone last summer.

Heyman, uncustomarily these days, speaks on Roman’s behalf, to “eulogize” the career of Daniel Bryan with a mock ten-bell salute. I’m not sure what I think of appropriating the time-honoured celebration of a wrestler’s life into a storyline. Actually, if you read between the lines, you can tell how I feel.

Anyway – they do know that Bryan’s career wasn’t on the line last week, right? His time in WWE wasn’t even at stake – in the storyline, at least. It was just Bryan’s being on SmackDown.

Reigns introduces someone who he says, unlike Bryan, will acknowledge him. It’s Jimmy Uso, last seen saying something like “What’s wrong with you” to Reigns, back when Jey was fighting for the Universal Title in a Hell in a Cell match. 

Jimmy Uso returns, seemingly in the good graces of his cousin Roman Reigns. Photo: WWE

Cesaro interrupts the family reunion to say, to Reigns’ amusement, that he has no time to get involved as he must focus on his match tonight with Seth Rollins. Seth jumps him from behind and they battle towards the ring.

Now guess who’s on throwback SmackDown? Teddy Long struts out, and if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, Teddy sees several scrappy wrestlers hanging around the ring and … doesn’t make a tag team match? Instead, he tells Cesaro that if he can beat Rollins, he’ll get a title shot against reigns at WrestleMania Backlash.

Seth Rollins VS. Cesaro

Rollins takes advantage of a little beatdown of Cesaro by Reigns to start the match in control – and the Usos hanging around at ringside doesn’t look good for Cesaro, either. Cesaro struggles to his feet but a Sling Blade drops him quickly. Cesaro gets back to a knee, but Rollins plants his own knee into Cesaro’s head.

As Rollins spends some time getting nearfalls, Cesaro’s second wind kicks in, delivering an uppercut and attempting a press slam which Rollins wriggles away from. Rollins cinches in a front facelock, but Cesaro simply powers him up into a suplex instead. A string of uppercuts leads to Cesaro perching on the top rope for an attack, but Jey gets up on the apron for a distraction. Rollins takes advantage and leaps up for a superplex, following into a Falcon Arrow for a two-count.

Rollins throws Cesaro back to the mat. Photo: WWE

A return from commercial break sees Rollins in the Sharpshooter, which Cesaro turns into a crossface as Rollins tries to reach the ropes. Rollins rolls out of it and soon drives Cesaro into the corner with a buckle bomb, but Cesaro bounces right back with a clothesline.

Both men stand in the middle of the ring trading slugs before Rollins flips Cesaro over the ropes to the floor. As Jey approaches the fallen Swissman, Rollins stops him and says “I’m not Roman”, telling him to stay out of his business.

Jey can’t help himself, though, moving towards Cesaro again, so Rollins shoves Jey to the floor, leading to Jimmy superkicking Rollins. Cesaro picks Rollins up, throws him into the ring, plants a Neutralizer, and wins a title opportunity at Backlash.

Winner via pinfall: Cesaro

Match Rating: 3.5/5

After the break, Rollins and Reigns have a tête-à-tête, with each of them saying to keep out of each other’s way. With 1980s transition music playing in the background, we get another throwback SmackDown moment with Steve Austin beating up on Booker T fighting in the grocery store. 

Teddy Long and Sonya Deville are getting along, and Sami Zayn is happy to see the former SmackDown general manager. He’s happy because Teddy is clearly not part of the conspiracy dogging Zayn. Sami wants a title shot tonight, but instead Teddy puts him in a ten-man tag match later tonight. 

That’s more like it, Teddy.

Cut to Reigns in a chair, thinking deeply. The Usos enter and Reigns has to dress Jimmy down for his actions earlier. Jimmy won’t put up with it and walks out.

Carmella against Ruby Riott (w/ Liv Morgan)

Carmella ducks a clothesline and moonwalks – so that’s cool. Riott knocks Carmella down with a shoulder-block, but Carmella follows by kind of slipping out of a suplex and pulling Riott to the mat. Carmella throws a harmless looking superkick (so – just a kick?), which Riott counters with a sort-of Rock Bottom.

Riott gets on the ropes, and Carmella kicks her down to the mat and tries for a pin with her own feet on the ropes, but Morgan points it out. Doesn’t matter, as moments later Riott is caught in the Code of Silence and quickly taps out.

Winner via pinfall: Carmella

Match Rating: 2/5

Throwback to July 4th, 2002 as Edge and Hulk Hogan win the tag titles. Interestingly, the crowd seems to be cheering Hogan. Another one sees Brock Lesnar superplexing Big Show to the mat, collapsing the ring. It’s always a fun spot to see.

In the ring, Bayley is sporting some Doc Brown-looking hair. She reminds everyone about her lengthy women’s championship reign, but she’s really here to pay tribute to former women’s champs.

She gestures to the screen and brings up Alundra Blayze, Jacqueline, her childhood hero Lita, Trish Stratus, Ivory, Beth Phoenix, Molly Holly, and finally Bianca Belair. That was kind of a “one, two, skip a few”, but all right.

Bayley says if Belair’s not careful, she’ll end up like all the others she brought up: which is not on her level. Well, Belair’s heard enough and she skips out to the ring. She questions Bayley’s observation that she’s insecure, and instead goes on about her confidence. Bayley tries to sneak an attack in, but takes a beating instead. 

SmackDown Women’s Champion Bianca Belair says Ding-Dong, Hello to Bayley. Photo: WWE

Although, Bayley grabs Belair by her big hoop earring and drives her into the buckles, then to the mat, before walking away, cackling.

Jimmy is pacing backstage when Jey finds him, and they have it out. Jimmy questions why Jey is doing Reigns’ bidding. Jimmy makes a pitch for them to stick together and become tag champs to benefit the family. Jey looks intrigued.

Next throwback clip: June 27th, 2002 , with Cena’s debut against Angle. 

Dolph Ziggler (w/ Bobby Roode) VS. Rey Mysterio (w/ Dominik)

Ziggler talks his way to the ring, and when he arrives he tells Dominik to get out of the ring because he doesn’t belong. Dominik has a chat with his dad and takes his place in the match.

Dolph Ziggler (w/ Bobby Roode) VS. Dominik (w/ Rey Mysterio)

A hard slap and a dropkick gives Dominik an early advantage, but Ziggler soon gets control of the match. Ziggler is mostly delivering punches and slams and a lot of trash talk, but when Ziggler tries a suplex, Dominik wraps him up in a small package for the win.

Winner via pinfall: Dominik

Match Rating: 2.5/5

Kayla Braxton is backstage with Reginald ahead of his upcoming match with Tamina. He doesn’t have much to say, but he says it with style.

We get a throwback WWF superstar ice cream bars commercial. Calm down, CM Punk is not here. We also see November 11th, 1999, with Arnold Schwarzenegger on commentary and backhanding Triple H.

Reigns is backstage and sends Paul to get his cousin. Paul dares to ask “which one” and gets the stink-eye from the champ before scurrying off.

Reginald (w/ Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler) VS. Tamina (w/ Natalya)

Reginald runs, jumps, dances, and flips around the ring to keep away from Tamina before she finally catches him with a superkick. Then, it’s a Superfly Splash on deck, but Baszler shoves Tamina off the top rope and the ref calls the match. 

Pop quiz, hotshot: is this an over-sell, or an acrobatic dodge? Photo: WWE

All four women end up battling, with the tag champs coming out on top. Tamina takes the worst of it with a Samoan Drop from Nia into the barricade.

Winner via disqualification: Tamina

Match Rating: 1/5

Apollo Crews delivers an old-school promo for his team, plugging the strengths of Corbin, Otis, and Gable – but he has nothing to say for Sami. On the other side, Langston is fired up and speaks first for his team of the Street Profits, Nakamura, and Kevin Owens. They’re all having a good time, and honestly it was the best Survivor Series promo I’ve seen in ages. Too bad it happened in SmackDown.

Apollo Crews, King Corbin, Chad Gable, Otis, and Sami Zayn (w/ Commander Azeez) VS. Big E Langston, Kevin Owens, Shinsuke Nakamura, Angelo Dawkins, and Montez Ford

In this mess of a tag match, Gable starts off with Dawkins, with reversals a-plenty between them to open the contest. They trade arm-drags before Dawkins tags in his partner Ford. Gable brings in Crews, who quickly tags out to Zayn. Zayn gets in some good offence (and some even better dance moves) before two tags bring us to Langston versus Corbin.

Langston drops Corbin with an elbow, but decorum breaks down and everybody starts fighting on the outside. Back from the break, Otis and Owens (celebrating his birthday in the ring) are doing battle, with Otis gaining the upper hand before bringing Crews back in. Owens goes for a tag to … who hasn’t been in yet? Ah, yes, Nakamura.

Zayn tags in and he absorbs some kicks into his beard. Nakamura almost gets a pinfall but Corbin dives in to break it up. Individual fights strike up everywhere, with everybody hitting signatures and finishers like they’re on “infinite” level on a 2K-series game (the highlight being Pat McAfee’s “Bah Gawd” call of Owens giving a stunner to Crews). 

In the end, though, it’s an End of Days on Nakamura that gives the bad guys the win. 

Winners via pinfall: Apollo Crews, King Corbin, Chad Gable, Otis, and Sami Zayn

Match Rating: 2/5

Our last flashback is from July 22nd, 2004, with Vince McMahon taking a ride to the ring with Eddie Guerrero.

Reigns is in the ring with Jey and Heyman, calling Jimmy down to hash things out. Jimmy calls back the events of the Hell in a Cell match, even rolling footage to remind everyone. Jimmy is clearly standing against Reigns and wants Jey to join him. Reigns says that’s all in the past, and to fall in line or go home. Jimmy barely hesitates before leaving the ring to piped-in cheers. He pauses, though, and Jey goes to get him.

As the brothers talk, Cesaro attacks Reigns from behind. Jey, very slowly, moves to help, but Jimmy holds him back momentarily. As Reigns lays beaten, Jey does go back and takes a beating too. Jimmy goes to help, but he is laid out by an uppercut. Neutralizers for Jey and Reigns allows Cesaro to walk out having left the fractured family fallen in the ring. 

A big statement by Cesaro ahead of his Universal Title match with Roman Reigns. Photo: WWE


SmackDown, May 7th 2021

A so-so show with ups and downs. Jimmy Uso makes for the first interesting element in the Roman Reigns saga since, well, Jimmy Uso was around. A poor showcase for Belair tonight, similarly for Ziggler. Cesaro is getting a pretty good looking push, but we’ve seen that before. Quiz answer: it was an acrobatic dodge.