When Brock Lesnar returned this past Saturday at SummerSlam, it raised the question as to when Lesnar would face Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship. But it looks like that confrontation will have to wait. Because it was Finn Balor who threw down the gauntlet, confronting Reigns in the final segment on Smackdown.
The show kicked off with Michael Cole and Kevin Owens joining Corey Graves at the commentary desk. It was explained that Graves’ usual broadcast partner Pat McAfee was home recovering from COVID-19.
Becky Lynch segment
The new Smackdown Women’s Champion, “The Man” Becky Lynch came out to great applause. She said that after she gave up the RAW Women’s Championship last year, now that she’s back, she’s more motivated to hold on to this one. She mentioned her actions at SummerSlam where she beat Bianca Belair for the title. She acknowledged the criticism that people were sending her way for the tactics she used to sucker Beliar, and she apologized… for nothing. The crowd cheered that.
Former champ Bianca Belair came out, skipping and twirling her ponytail in a celebratory way, like you do when you’ve just lost the championship. She challenged Becky to a rematch for the title tonight. This began a parade of women – Zelina Vega, Carmella, and Liv Morgan – each one saying that she should be the one to face Becky.
Bianca said the others had no business being out there, and that Becky should give her a title shot. Becky responded with a “Nah,” and left the ring. If that was supposed to be the start of a heel turn, as is the rumour, that was pretty underwhelming.
After she left, the other four fought, leading to a commercial. More to come on this one, likely.
Match 1: Zelina Vega vs. Carmella vs. Bianca Belair vs. Liv Morgan – Fatal 4-way Elimination Match
The commentators said that this match was made during the break by Smackdown management, with the winner becoming the number one contender for Becky’s championship.
We joined the match in progress, with Bianca in control of Vega, dropping her with a Gorilla Press and then hitting a Standing Moonsault. Vega and Carmella joined forces for a while, but they eventually turned on each other. As they argued, Bianca ran in and clotheslined Vega, threw Carmella out of the ring, and hit the KOD on Vega for the first elimination. Bianca went outside to grab Carmella, but she was the one who got thrown into the ringside barrier. Carmella went for a running attack on Liv, but Liv followed her into the ropes and hit a Springboard Flatliner to eliminate Carmella.
Morgan and Carmella squared off as the show went to commercial. When we returned, we Morgan was in control, and in a flashback, they showed that both women had been sneak-attacked by Carmella during the break.
Morgan was in control and had an answer every time Bianca tried to change up the situation. She hit a Springboard Double Stomp to Bianca’s back, but Bianca kicked out. She went for another, but Bianca moved out of the way, and then planted Liv for a near-fall. In a nice sequence, Morgan tried for the Springboard Flatliner, but Bianca caught her and then powered up for a Vertical Suplex. But Liv escaped and hit a Codebreaker for two. Morgan was able to avoid the KOD for a while, and then she wasn’t. In the end, that’s what put her down for the count.
This was a fine match, though the placement of the commercials throughout made it feel disjointed and a bit choppy. The last few minutes with Liv and Bianca were good. Liv is decent in the ring, but she really suffers from a bland personality. They should bring back her Harley Quinn look and mannerisms.
Winner: Bianca Belair
Backstage, Kayla Braxton asked Paul Heyman where he stands now that Brock Lesnar has returned. Heyman said he stands back and to the left of his tribal chief, Roman Reigns. He tried to enter Reigns’ locker room to help plan the family celebration, but the door was locked.
It was still locked after the show returned from commercial, and Heyman lashed out at Kayla. Finally, it opened, and the Usos came out. They questioned Heyman if he knew that Brock was going to return at SummerSlam, but Heyman denied it. He said it would make no sense for him to tear down everything they had worked so hard to build up. They didn’t believe him, saying that’s why he told them to stay in the back for Reigns’ match against Cena. He reminded them that it was Roman who actually gave that order. But they still didn’t believe him. And said that if didn’t know the Brock was going to be there, he should have. They went back inside, leaving him out in the cold.
Match 2: Chad Gable (w/ Otis) vs. Cesaro
Cesaro charged Gable at the bell, blasting him with a series of European Uppercuts. He went for the Swing, but Gable escaped, and then used some technical wrestling prowess to take over. Gable hit a great Moonsault for two, but got caught on the top for a follow-up, and Cesaro dropped him with a Hurancarana. Cesaro then had Gable in the Giant Swing, but Otis ran in and broke it up, resulting in a disqualification. After the match, Gable and Otis double-teamed Cesaro, ending things with a Superfly Splash by Otis.
This was good while it lasted. Gable and Otis are a fun pairing. Tucker who?
Winner, by disqualification: Cesaro
Kayla was in the parking log awaiting Roman Reigns’ arrival. A fancy car pulled up, but it was Baron Corbin, who was dressed to the nines in a fancy new suit and hat. He told Kayla that she could refer to him as “Happy” Corbin. He said that, as documented on his social media, his luck had turned around, and now he was filthy rich and happy. If I ever became a wrestler, I’d want my name to be Filthy Rich.
Happy Corbin promo segment
Happy Corbin came out with a new theme song and entrance video that had a slot machine motif. The ring was decked out with red carpeting, velvet ropes, and a champagne table. Corbin trumpeted all of his recent luck and the return of his good fortunes, and said that he was now the happiest he’s ever been. They showed the video of him in Las Vegas after his SummerSlam match, and how he turned his last $35 and parlayed that into a fortune. And now he’s happy. He said what could make him even more happy was for Big E to come out. Well, whatever floats your boat.
Big E obliged by coming to the ring, brandishing his Money in the Bank briefcase. Corbin said he wanted to buy the Money in the Bank contract from Big E, and offered him $20,000 for it. Big E declined. “How about $50,000?” Big E again declined. Corbin said that Big E would probably lose the match if he cashed it in, so why not take the sure deal. He made a final offer of $100,000. Big E did some comedy and sucking up to the crowd, and again declined. He told Corbin to get out of there lest he get violent. Corbin walked away, but his smile never did.
Corbin is doing great things with not-so-great material. Ultimately, this went nowhere.
After a video package recapping the Edge vs. Seth Rollins match at SummerSlam, they threw to a promo from Edge filmed earlier today. He said that he had to go to a dark place that he doesn’t like going to in order to beat Seth. And that darkness affected him, but he was willing to do it. But now the Seth Rollins chapter of his life is closed, and now he’s going after the Universal Championship again.
They then threw to Seth Rollins who was in the back. Seth started off with an angry tone but then congratulated Edge. He said that the loss taught him something about himself: that he admires Edge’s career and life. Seth said that if he wants to fight his way back to the Universal Championship, he may have to become a little more like Edge. So he thanked Edge for the lesson. He ended the promo with a crazy-eyed stare into the camera with a creepy Wyatt-esque smile.
Rick Boogs played the guitar and introduced the Intercontinental Champion King Nakamura. They will compete after the commercial.
Roman Reigns was walking backstage. He found a dejected Paul Heyman standing outside his dressing room door. Heyman was nervous about what Reigns might say or do to him, but Reigns simply treated him like a toady like nothing had changed.
Match 3: Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode vs. Rick Boogs and King Nakamura
Boogs played Ziggler like a guitar and then used him as workout equipment. But the Dirty Dawgs cornered Boogs and they beat him up, while Apollo Crews cut a promo against Nakamura in an inset box. Boogs escaped and tagged in Nakamura, who took over. Roode avoided a Kinshasa, and after that, Ziggler surprised Nakamura with a Zig Zag on the floor, to take us to an ad break.
Back from the break, the Dawgs were in full control, until they weren’t. Nakamura tagged Boogs who showed off his power, manhandling both Ziggler and Roode. In the end, Boogs hit a Pumphandle Powerslam on Ziggler for the win.
Boogs still comes across like a bad indy wrestler gimmick, but his strength is pretty impressive. Ziggler and Roode, meanwhile, continue to be under-appreciated. Kevin Owens wasn’t good on commentary all night, and particularly bad during this one.
Winners: Rick Boogs and King Nakamura
Naomi went into Sonya DeVille’s office and said she is happy to be back on Smackdown, and wanted a match. Sonya told her that she didn’t even know Naomi was back on the show, and that must have been a decision by Adam Pearce. She shaded Naomi, saying that she didn’t think Naomi would measure up to the rest of the roster. Sonya blew her off, saying she would think about giving Naomi a match next week. What’s with the shade between these two?
In the back, Rey Mysterio told Dominik that he wanted to let Dom take the next step of his career, and that to do so, he would be stepping back from their team. Instead, he told Dom that he’d talked to Adam Pearce to give Dom a singles match, though he wasn’t sure against who.
Match 4: Dominik Mysterio vs. Sami Zayn
Zayn bullied Dominik in the early moments, but Dominik surprised him with some dazzling rope work and a Flying Headscissors that sent Sami into the ropes and prone for a 619. Dominik went for it, but Zayn dodged it and pulled the ropes down, sending Dominik hard to the floor. Rey came down the ramp to check on his son’s condition, as the show went to break.
When we returned, Zayn was beating up Dominik and taunting Rey who could only watch on helplessly. Dominik fired up with a series of back elbows to Sami’s face, and hit an Enziguri and a Drop Toe Hold that sent Sami into the ropes, and this time Dominik did hit the 619. Dom went up top to go for a Frog Splash, but climbed back down when Sami rolled to the far corner. Dom chased him but got caught in an Exploder Suplex into the turnbuckles. A Heluva Kick followed, and Rey could only stand there and watch his son get pinned.
After the match, Rey tried to console Dominik who was upset with himself and kind of brushed Rey away. Dom walked up the ramp, not really listening to Rey’s words of encouragement as he walked behind him.
This was a good match, and a good showcase for both Sami and Dom. Obviously they are planting the seeds for a father-son clash. Maybe this will all blow up at Survivor Series?
Winner: Sami Zayn
Bloodline Family Festival segment
The Bloodline (Roman, the Usos, and Heyman) were ready to go out for the family celebration. The Usos headed out, leaving Heyman and Reigns alone. Heyman tried to give the belt to Reigns, as he assumed Reigns wanted only blood relatives out there. Reigns told him that this was a family celebration, and that Heyman was family and that he loved him. Heyman followed him and they joined the Usos on the entrance ramp.
After the break, they were in the ring where Reigns and the Usos held their titles over their heads and pyro went off.
Reigns took the mic but the crowd booed him down, so instead he handed the mic back to Heyman and simply relayed what messages he wanted Heyman to deliver. First, he gave the crowd permission to acknowledge him and the Usos. Then he said that it was time to accept that everyone had “Cena ‘nuff” of John who Reigns defeated at SummerSlam.
Finn Balor’s music hit and he came down the ramp. Finn told Balor that he got screwed out of his match by Cena, and now Edge was talking about getting a title shot, and Brock Lesnar had returned. So while his plan originally was to challenge Reigns to a championship match at Extreme Rules, instead, he was going to challenge him for a match next Friday night.
Roman just glared at him, so Finn threw the microphone into Roman’s chest and attacked. But that led to the Usos beating him down, until the Street Profits ran in for the save. As Balor and the Street Profits took out the Usos, Reigns and Heyman simply walked away. Balor stood triumphantly in the ring while Reigns walked back up the ramp in anger.
Smackdown - August 27th, 2021
Simmons Bank Arena - North Little Rock, AR
WWE’s insistence to show full ring introductions and only portions of matches because of the commercial placements is frustrating. Yes, it lets them come out looking like stars. But perhaps letting them showcase some of their in-ring talents might do that too? Because the matches themselves were actually all pretty good. Roman Reigns continues to be the best character in wrestling today. But the potential storyline with Brock Lesnar is much more compelling than one with Finn Balor. So the ending, while fun, seems to be only taking us down a detour instead of the destination that everyone wants to get to.