Featuring a parade of champions, this May 21st episode of SmackDown has a main event of epic proportions.
Sonya Deville comes out to the ring to talk about how WWE is returning to touring. She congratulates all the current Champions of SmackDown who helped make the weird ThunderDome era of WWE so great. Apollo Crews grabs a mic and makes sure everyone knows that he’ll be retaining his title tonight. It was an incredibly necessary segment, I promise.
However, when she introduces Roman Reigns, he doesn’t come out. Instead, Paul Heyman comes out to belittle the other champions, calling them “titleholders” instead of champions. According to him, Roman is the true “champion” of all of sports entertainment. Heyman leaves, and Sonya asks for a round of applause for all the champs.
Bayley comes out as well, irate that she wasn’t congratulated for her accomplishments as well. She says that Bianca Belair cheated her to win at Backlash, and she should be stripped of her title. Belair comes down to the ring to get in Bayley’s face, but Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler attack her from behind. Natalya and Tamina come down to the ring to help Belair out and the situation devolves into a brawl.
Bianca Belair, Natalya & Tamina VS Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler & Bayley
The match starts during the commercial break, and when we come back, Nia is beating Tamina down. She tosses her into her corner and tags in Shayna, who delivers some brutal strikes before pinning Tamina for 2. Shayna tags in Bayley who kicks one half of the tag champs. Tamina tries to rally, but Bayley spears her into the corner and hits her with elbows. Tamina catches Bayley with a suplex and tags in Natalya, who hits Bayley with a series of snap suplexes before Bayley yanks her to the ground by her hair and tags in Shayna, who stomps the arm of Natalya. She tags in Nia, who bodyslams Natalya for 2.
Natalya tags in Belair and Nia tags in Shayna, who eats a dropkick from the EST of WWE. Belair hits a powerful spinebuster and climbs to the top rope, but Shayna’s partners pull her out of the ring. Belair dives onto them on the outside, but it seems she’s injured her leg in the process as we go to commercial.
When we come back from the break, Bayley is viciously assaulting the injured left leg of Belair. The SmackDown Women’s champ fights back by tossing Bayley out of the ring before tagging in Tamina, who slams Bayley into the turnbuckle and slams her with a spinning powerslam. She tags in Natalya, who delivers a dropkick and a German suplex.
Natalya tags in Tamina, who delivers a superkick, but Bayley grabs the ropes during the pin. Bayley escapes the grasp of Natalya and tags in Shayna, who hits Natalya with a knee. Tamina interrupts the pin attempt by Shayna, and Natalya goes for the Sharpshooter, but Bayley interrupts her. Natalya shakes off Bayley with a discus clothesline, Nia shoves Natalya away, Tamina superkicks Nia, Shayna kicks Tamina, Belair throws a right at Shayna, and Bayley pulls Belair out of the ring and hits her with a Bayley-to-Belly on the floor. Natalya takes out Bayley, and Shayna uses the distraction to lock in the Kirifuda Clutch on Natalya. Natalya is forced to tap, and the heels get the win.
Winners via submission: Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, & Bayley
Match Rating: 2.5/5
I am so unbelievably tired of Natalya & Tamina VS Jax & Shayna, in any combination. Natalya & Tamina are the more enjoyable and entertaining team, just let them move on to other things already.
Kayla Braxton interviews Big E about his chance to win the Intercontinental Title back tonight. He intensely and loudly promises to leave tonight with the title, and you gotta believe him when he’s that excited about it.
Aleister Black brings us another lesson from Tales of the Dark Father. He says that Father’s lessons were painful, and he shows off his disturbing tattoos. He says that our identity as humans is to be loathsome and blind, and that we are sick and dying animals. He says that it’s time for him to separate the weak from the strong, which hopefully hints at a return to action for him.
King Corbin VS Shinsuke Nakamura
Corbin grabs a mic and promises to stomp Nakamura’s face into the canvas. Rick Boogs, formerly known as Eric Bugenhagen or Joe Average, comes out with a guitar. He says that he’s here to rock with the real king of WWE, and he performs an absolutely awesome rendition of Shinsuke’s theme on the electric guitar as the King of Strong Style makes his entrance, still toting Corbin’s crown.
The match starts during a commercial break, so the first of the action we see is Nakamura delivering Good Vibrations to the crownless King. Corbin gains momentum with a couple brutal clotheslines, and when Nakamura tries to rally with a series of strikes, Corbin stops him cold with a massive powerbomb for 2.
Corbin keeps his promise and grinds Nakamura’s face into the mat with his boot. Boogs, guitar in hand, crouches on the outside and shouts encouragement as Corbin locks Nakamura into a submission. Nakamura fights out, but Corbin delivers a sharp back elbow. Nakamura strikes with a kick and a backstabber, before hitting a brutal running knee. The King of Strong Style hits Everything is EVIL, which gets a 2 count.
Nakamura goes for the Kinshasa, but Corbin reverses it into a lovely belly-to-back suplex. The King delivers Deep Six and gets a 2 count. Frustration showing in his face, Corbin goes for the End of Days, but Boogs distracts him with a sick guitar solo, allowing Nakamura to roll Corbin up with a small package to get the win.
Winner via pinfall: Shinsuke Nakamura
Match Rating: 4/5
Top tier match, awesome action combined with amusing antics. Really fun, I hope Boogs sticks around long enough for him to have a very heated rivalry with Elias.
Sonya Deville is approached backstage by Jimmy Uso, who says that he and Jey are ready to rejoin the tag team scene by fighting the Street Profits. Sonya Deville says that he’ll get that match next week, but we’re still unsure whether Jey is onboard with this plan.
Roman Reigns and Co. make their entrance, with Roman dressed as a very ripped soccer dad. The champ says he “doesn’t like to brag on live TV,” so he gets Paul Heyman to brag for him. After Heyman is finished sucking up to the Tribal Chief, Roman tells him to bring out Jimmy.
Instead, Cesaro comes out with his arm in a sling, asking for another shot at the Universal Title at Hell in a Cell. Before Roman can say much, Seth Rollins attacks Cesaro, tossing him into the stairs and the barricade, before delivering the Stomp to the Swiss Cyborg. The Messiah seems to be leaving, but he runs back and Stomps Cesaro onto the steel ramp.
Dominik Mysterio (w/ Rey Mysterio) VS Robert Roode (w/ Dolph Ziggler)
Roode goes directly after the ribs of Dominik with a spear into the corner and a series of suplexes. Roode stacks Dominik up on the top rope, but Dominik shoves the Glorious One away and hits him with a crossbody for 2.
Dominik goes for a Tornado DDT, but Roode reverses into a powerbomb attempt. Dominik turns that into a hurricanrana that sets Roode up for the 619, but Ziggler gets in Dominik’s way. Rey gets in Ziggler’s face, and Ziggler goes for a superkick, but Rey catches his foot and slams it into the steel steps. Roode rolls up Dominik for 2, and he looks for a spear in the corner, but Dominik dodges it, and Roode goes shoulder first into the ringpost. Dominik jumps at the opportunity and delivers the 619, followed by a Frog Splash for the win.
Winner via pinfall: Dominik Mysterio
Match Rating: 3/5
Jimmy Uso finds Jey backstage, and tells him that he’d better be ready for their tag match next week. Jey says he still has to run the idea by Roman, because he owes him that much.
Roman sits in his comfy chair, perusing the Usos’ situation. Jey uses the word “we” in reference to himself and Jimmy, which sets Roman off. He says that he and Jey are “we,” before whispering threateningly in Jey’s ear.
Sami Zayn VS Big E VS Kevin Owens VS Intercontinental Champion Apollo Crews (w/ Commander Azeez) for the Intercontinental Championship
Kevin Owens goes right for Sami Zayn, and Big E goes for Crews. Crews beats down Big E, but Big E fights back with a back elbow. K.O. comes in and delivers an atomic drop and an enziguri to Big E, and Sami comes in and beats down Owens. Sami chokes his former best friend on the ropes, but Big E comes in and pulls Sami to the outside. He beats Sami down and puts him on the apron, and does the same to Apollo before delivering a double Big Splash on the apron. Owens flips over the top rope and onto Big E on the floor with a Swanton Bomb as we go to commercial.
When we come back, Apollo is delivering a dropkick to Big E. The champ goes to the outside and slams Owens onto the steel steps, before hitting Big E with a moonsault off the apron. Sami tries to take out Apollo, but Apollo beats him down. Sami delivers a moonsault onto Apollo off the barricade, but Owens brings him back inside and delivers a Swanton Bomb to the Great Liberator. Big E breaks up the pin, and the two trade strikes, before Big E absolutely destroys him with a clothesline. Apollo grabs Big E and delivers a series of German suplexes, but the following pin is broken up by K.O. Sami looks for the Helluva kick, and Owens tries to counter with the Stunner, but Sami reverses it into a rollup for 2 followed by a Michinoku Driver for another 2.
Sami sets Owens up on the top rope and tries for a superplex, but Owens reverses it into the fisherman’s brainbuster. Big E and Apollo break up the pin. The two trade right hands, but Apollo hits Big E with a knee before dropping Owens on the apron with a Death Valley Driver. Big E delivers a spear to Apollo off the apron onto the floor as we go to commercial.
When we come back, Apollo is taking it to Big E. Big E takes momentum back by delivering a belly-to-belly suplex to Apollo and Sami. Big E goes for the Big Splash, but Sami catches him with a kick. Owens goes for the Pop-Up Powerbomb on his former friend, and when Sami tries to reverse it into a half-and-half suplex, Owens counters with an ushi-goroshi for 2. Owens goes to the top rope, but Apollo meets there. Owens fights off Apollo, and Sami goes for the Helluva Kick on Apollo, but the champ grabs him for a suplex. Big E grabs Apollo, and a double suplex ensues.
Owens dives off the top onto Big E with a Frog Splash, but he only gets a 2 count. Owens runs corner to corner, delivering a cannonball to Sami and Apollo. He goes back to cannonball Sami again, but Sami hits him with a half-and-half suplex and a Blue Thunder Bomb for a close 2. Sami climbs to the top rope, but he has to jump off to escape Owens’ attack. Big E tries for the Big Ending on Sami, but Owens superkicks both of them before delivering the Pop-Up Powerbomb to Apollo for yet another close 2.
Owens looks for the Stunner on Apollo, but Sami pulls him out of the ring. Owens responds by tossing him into the timekeeper’s area. He tries to go back into the ring, but Sami grabs him and drops him with a suplex on the floor. Sami tries for the Helluva Kick on Apollo, but Big E catches him with a uranage. Crews looks for the Olympic Slam, but Big E reverses it into the Big Ending. Unfortunately for him. Commander Azeez pulls him away from the pin.
Big E throws Azeez into the ringpost and goes back into the ring, but the lights in the arena turn off, save one spotlight on the ring. Smoke starts spreading around the ring, and out of the smoke steps Aleister Black. He comes into the ring and hits Big E with a devastating Black Mass, and he slides back to the floor, allowing Apollo to pin Big E and retain his Intercontinental Championship.
Winner via pinfall and STILL Intercontinental Champion: Apollo Crews
Match Rating: 3.5/5
SmackDown May 21
Absolutely awesome show. Great action, solid storyline progression, and I cheered pretty loudly for Boogs and Aleister. The only reason I didn’t give this show 5 stars is because I’ve watched such a small percentage of all SmackDown shows in existence, so I feel underqualified to call this one of the greatest SmackDowns ever. In the context of recent SmackDown shows however, it’s definitely 5 out of 5.