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BRM Reviews the 4/23/2021 Smackdown (bad, despite an awesome match)

Posted: Apr 26th, '21, 15:44
by Big Red Machine
We open the show with Cesaro in the ring in his gear with a mic in his hand, but Seth’s music plays before Cesaro even starts speaking. Seth is also in his gear already, so I guess the match is happening now rather than being set up for later.
Seth says basic heel stuff. He gave Cesaro the rub, he claims he was thrown off by a rain delay and Cesaro otherwise wouldn’t have beaten him, etc. Cesaro challenges him to a match. Seth seemed happy with it, but before he could get into the ring, Jey Uso came out and cut a promo on Cesaro for reason’s I don’t really understand. His job last week was to deflect Cesaro’s challenge to Roman, and now Cesaro is feuding with Seth again, so mission accomplished. Why is Jey inserting himself into this?
Seth makes a plan, but before they can put it into action, Daniel Bryan comes out and happily skips down to ringside seemingly oblivious to the danger. He’s all happy, despite the fact that, as Cole pointed out, this is the first time we’ve seen him since losing in the main event at WrestleMania.
He cut a promo that was mostly good (albeit more jovial in tone than I would like), saying the expected negative things about the heels without demeaning their abilities in any way and putting Cesaro over huge (and I thought Seth’s unscripted reactions to this were much better than his usual speechifying). That being said, I think this was hurt by the fact that Cesaro didn’t get to speak at the beginning of this segment. It felt like Cesaro’s mission-statement was coming from Bryan, and it’s always best for a babyface (and, in most cases, a heel, too) to give his/her/their own mission statement. It makes things feel a lot more meaningful and personal to hear them straight from the source.
Bryan concluded by cutting a promo calling Roman a coward. Roman came out and cut an awesome heel promo, then left. Cue commercial break. When we came back from the commercial break, everyone was brawling in the ring despite the relative clam we had seen before the break. You might think that a match had started because there was a referee in the ring, but we were specifically told that the match had been made official but “hadn’t started yet” because the wrestlers had just started brawling before the bell rang…which makes me wonder what happened that got them to start fighting right away even though they had a match scheduled for a few moments from then.
It’s one of those situations where I can see how the decision-making process went, and it just makes me shake my head. They wanted to come back from the commercial hot, but they also didn’t want to start the match during the commercial, so they decide to have the wrestlers brawling without thinking about why they would be brawling, when the much easier solution would just be to start the match in the middle of the commercial.
Anyway, we got…
When Bryan got the hot tag Pat McAfee said it was the first time he bd been in the ring since getting con-chair-toed by Roman at WestleMania… which was incorrect because Bryan had actually STARTED THIS MATCH!
Thankfully, the match was awesome. This has to be the best match on main roster TV in quite a while, and probably the best one not involving Sheamus since the Keith Lee vs. Drew McIntyre match at the beginning of the year. Bryan and Cesaro are both tremendous babyfaces, and Seth and Jey both more than help up their roles as well.
That being said… did we really need Seth to walk out on Uso here? Really? Can f*cking Jey Uso not just take a pin without something being done to protect him?

POST-MATCH SEGMENT- didn’t like it
Bryan (who got the pin on Uso) grabbed a mic and cut a promo calling Roman out. Jey Uso tried to attack him from behind but Cesaro intercepted him and gave him a big swing while Bryan counted the rotations. They emphasized that Roman wasn’t coming out to help Jey. Bryan said that Roman needed help to beat people… and then they once again had Bryan cut Cesaro’s big promo for him.

Pearce says he doesn’t think he’s ever “seen that side of him before.” Sonya says that “he has a point” (so I guess that he means Bryan. Pronouns, pal)… she ten tires to make a counterpoint, which is that “the Head of the Table is the Head of the Table.” AT BEST, this statement is silly and idiotic, as it’s just a reflexive statement involving a nickname. At worst, this is Sonya and Pearce openly acknowledging that they don’t care about fairness. They just take their orders from one of the competitors.”

Sonya Deville left because… umm… she’s afraid of African people? Or maybe she just can’t be in the same room with Apollo without laughing at his accent.
Crews is upset that he has to defend his title tonight. He is under the impression that he is defending his title against Big E. That’s kind of bullsh*t of Pearce to not tell him who he’s defending against until now without some sort of reason.
Anyway, it’s not Big E. getting the title shot, but rather Kevin Owens, who is getting a title shot because… um… well… at least he has won some matches since his last #1 contendership match, although both of them were over Sami Zayn and one of them was just a count-out win. Apollo’s accent it comical, and the decision that Commander Azeez has to act like he’s still in the military has made it even worse (they know that Nigeria is a republic and Crews’ royal blood won’t have earned him any obedience from the military in a long time, right?

She asks Jey about Seth abandoning him. He says he doesn’t care, but that he will make sure that Cesaro is “put down” for his disrespect to Roman Reigns. How about Bryan?

TAMINA (w/Natalya) vs. NIA JAX (w/Shayna Baszler & Reginald)- DUD!
The referee TWICE saw Shayna interfere and didn’t even eject her from ringside, never mind call for a DQ. Tamina pushed Reginald into Shayna, so Shayna yelled at him. This distracted Nia, allowing Tamina to hit a superkick and win with a roll-up. This was a total f*cking mess on SOOOO many levels:
1. The wrestling was not good.
2. The stuff with the referee.
3. It’s hard for me to buy something as a “big win over one half of the tag team champions” if it feels like the babyface only won because the heel was distracted by her friends arguing.
4. This whole Tamina push is yet another example of WWE not even knowing how to capitalize on something organic. For whatever reason, the fans at Mania decided that they loved Tamina, so now we’ve got the announces showing us clips from Mania and pointing that out to us (as opposed to all of the other people who get chanted for every night and they don’t make a big deal out of it) and they’re going overboard with their clearly canned cheering for Tamina in the Thunderdome. It’s really, truly sad that these people don’t seem to have any idea how to not make something feel phony and overdone, even when it gets dropped right into their laps.

Big E. seems pretty healthy, so why isn’t he getting the title shot? He seems to be wondering that as well. He and Owens had an exchange where they were both being jovial, but you could tell that both were actually annoyed with the other (Big E. because Owens was getting a title shot before him, and Owens because Big E. was essentially blaming him for management being dumb). This is the sort of thing that could/should plant a seed for either:
1. Owens winning the belt and turning heel by refusing to give Big E. a title shot (which would work fine, but I don’t see how you can either take the belt off of Crews or turn Owens- never mind do both) without it really hurting Crews.
2. Big E. runs in and ruins tonight’s match to set up a three-way, which would make Owens feel a lot more like the wronged party in this three-way situation that Big E, and thus it would hurt the Big E. vs. Crews feud (and, of course, would be YET ANOTHER f*ck finish in a big match, which is the last thing that the main roster a whole and Smackdown in particular needs right now).

Bryan asks about Cesaro getting a title shot, so once again Cesaro isn’t speaking up for himself. Doesn’t he care?
Pearce says that he doing what he can but “it’s not that easy.” It’d be really nice if they actually explained why they’re so subordinate to Roman. As Cole pointed out, Pearce was able to make Crews vs. Owens without the champ having any say in it, so why is Roman’s contract different that he has all of this leverage over his matches? They never told us that he signed a new contract (the thing he signed in that segment last summer was for the title match, not an overall contract), and even if he did, one has to wonder why WWE would sign someone to a contract that gives him that person so much control over the booking, to the point where Roman can demand unfair matches and get them. (And if your answer to that is “he was the champion at the time he signed the contract and he had all of the leverage,” my response will be “then why the f*ck wasn’t the renegotiation a storyline on TV!?”)

WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH: Apollo Crews(c) (w/Commander Azeez) vs. Kevin Owens- 6.75/10
Sami Zayn came out in the middle of the match (right before a commercial break, naturally) to do commentary, because no feud can ever end on this show. Owens had the match won but was distracted by Commander Azeez, letting Crews win by roll-up (so that’s two straight distraction finishes).

Because Crews wasn’t made to look bad enough already, Owens got to lay him out with a Stunner. Then Commander Azeez came into the ring and hit Owens with the Nigerian Nail. Zayn got in the ring to gloat and dance over Owens’ fallen body. If you wanted these guys to feud after WrestleMania, why did you book them against each other at Mania with a clean finish?

Heyman gives us a “spoiler.” Said spoiler is that Roman will give his answer by the end of the night. The idea of this is clearly to keep us tuned in to the show the whole way through, but because of the way this show has been booked, it feels more like a ploy to keep people around than by actually building up to something people actually want to see.

Crews was being a total clown. Apparently that big thing Commander Azeez carries is the “royal lance.” Don’t lances usually taper off to a point at the head, rather than getting wider and duller?
Anyway, there was an excuse for why Azeez wasn’t here at the moment, so Big E. could swoop in and run Crews into some boxes.

He’s got a multicamera set-up and now is reading to us from “Tales of the Dar Frontier.” He said lots of vague, ominous stuff. WWE gets no benefit of the doubt from me on things like this anymore, and they will not get that benefit of the doubt back until something someone says in one of these actually winds up having some tangible meaning.

She asks them who they think will win tonight’s Alpha Academy vs. Mysterios match. Kayla asks them who is next, at which point the Street Profits show up. This interview is taking place in some sort ring. How did these guys get into the ring without anyone else noticing until they were right here? The Street Profits want a tag title shot, despite losing a tag title match cleanly last week, and they didn’t even do anything to earn that one.
Then Bayley showed up and stole the interview. She’s apparently facing Bianca Belair at the PPV, despite not having won a match in over two months. Montez called Bianca, and she said she would be right over. After a commercial break, Bianca was there and the camera and Bayley were still there, but apparently Kayla had better things to do. Bayley was being a total babyface to Bianca now, as if she thinks Bianca can’t just watch a clip on YouTube of the mean things Bayley was saying earlier. Kayla showed up, then Bayley came back and laughed.
I’m sure the idea here is that Bayley is supposed to be so pathetic and annoying that it makes me want to see Bianca beat her in a wrestling match, but the flaw in that plan is that it assumes that my desire to see the payoff outweighs how annoying I find Bayley, and that is not even close to the case. If my options are not getting a Bayley vs. Bianca match or not having to sit through weeks of Bayley being insufferable, I’m happy to not get the very good wrestling match if it means I also don’t have to sit through the aggravating bullsh*t.

The Mysterios win again. Why do these two teams keep wrestling each other?

Bryan and Cesaro came out before the break. After the break, Cesaro actually got to talk. Roman & Pals came out and Roman told Cesaro no. Not only that, he said that Cesaro will never be worthy. Cesaro just stared at him and didn’t respond.
Roman then turned his attention to Bryan, and offered him a title shot next week, but if Bryan loses, he has to leave Smackdown. Bryan was conflicted, but Cesaro told him “you have to take it.” Bryan accepted. That seems like the sort of match that should be on PPV.

Another bad show from Smackdown, despite the awesome match. Everything feels like it’s just going in circles, even with Cesaro now in the main event picture. They’ve botched that, too, though, as Cesaro comes off like a secondary player who Bryan is backing up. I’ve also had it with this whole “Roman calls the shots” thing. As I said above and in last week’s review, they haven’t ever explained why Roman can get away with this crap and why the McMahons don’t seem to give a shit.