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SmackDown recap & reactions (Aug. 20, 2021): Beware, take care

This week’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown emanated from the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. To check out a complete live blog with a detailed breakdown of all the night’s events click here.

This was a perfect promo from Edge to really bring home what this match against Seth Rollins at SummerSlam is all about.

Look at that man.

That is a man who has been driven to the brink of madness, a place he knows very well because he spent the majority of the most successful runs of his career existing in that space. He likes it. He always liked it, at least in part because it brought him that success. He is not that man anymore, though. No, the man he is today has everything to do with the kind of perspective one can only get by going through a near career-ending injury.

Rollins using that injury against him, with a finish that could put him right back where he was before, then, is unacceptable to the point of being enough to drive him back to the dark place he left behind. He just has to channel that.

He’s doing so, too, and we know this because he broke down Rollins’ promo from last week’s episode of SmackDown to its core. The message wasn’t so much about the threats Rollins was making. No, the realization Edge came to is that Seth actually believes all this bullshit he’s spewing.

That makes him far more dangerous than your run-of-the-mill A-hole. He’s radical. There’s only one way to deal with a guy like that, in a situation like this. “I don’t just have to beat you, I have to break you. I have to humble you. And Seth, oh Seth, at SummerSlam I am going to BURN. YOU. DOWN.”

Rollins got the chance to respond later, and you could really tell how well Edge’s promo worked because the crowd would hardly let him talk.

I’m not the biggest fan of the direction they went next — Edge using The Brood music, cutting a Brood promo, and then dumping black gunk all over Seth in the ring. It’s a bit too theatrical for everything they set up before it, which felt so raw and personal without needing those kind of theatrics. But this is WWE, you gotta take this kind of thing as part of the deal.

Either way, this is going to be good.

For the sake of transparency, it’s much harder to write about this Roman Reigns-John Cena promo segment after watching CM Punk’s return to pro wrestling in AEW on Rampage.

Having said that, the crowd helped it feel like the kind of big deal WWE has been hoping it would be. I still can’t agree with how meta they’ve gone with the story, and they pressed down on that button once again this week. Cena did well enough to intersperse the meta talk with his refrain of only needing to keep Reigns down for the count of three but it’s hard to ignore him saying things like “isn’t it obvious? They promoted this as the ‘Summer of Cena,’ I’m here to demote you.”

It’s a cutesy line, but it’s too cutesy for my blood.

It also goes against Cena’s entire character and what he was supposed to represent, but I hardly think that even matters or should be the focus here. Reigns threw in the stipulation that he’ll leave WWE if he loses, Cena agreed to it, then got the upper hand on him to show that it can be done.

We can all be reasonably certain it won’t be done but the good news is these two tend to deliver in big matches like this. If Vegas has the same energy this crowd did, it’s going to be electric. Sometimes that’s enough to make the details fade into the background.

All the rest

  • It’s worth pointing out that Rey and Dominik were arguing backstage before Rey’s match against Jey Uso. They couldn’t get along about the way things went down last week before getting on the same page for this week. Or so we thought. Dom tried to cheat to help Rey win, and dad didn’t like that. He got tossed out by the referee and when Rey went outside to scold him, The Usos took advantage and scored a victory. This was well executed to make clear there are internal issues in the Mysterio camp ahead of their tag team title rematch at SummerSlam.
  • I’m legitimately shocked that WWE came up with a genuinely compelling story for the Money in the Bank contract and that silly briefcase. Bum Ass Baron Corbin, as the impeccable Pat McAfee has taken to calling him, is such a desperate sack of sadness that he’s gone from being a beggar to a thief. He stole the briefcase last week, and when Big E came to collect this week, it felt so damn good seeing him lay those big forearms right into Baron’s cranium. It was equally maddening to see Baron once again manage to snake the briefcase away and run off with it again. I am very much looking forward to the next time Big E catches up with him.
  • Bianca Belair is incredibly talented and absolutely worthy of being champion of the blue brand but there’s been something missing during this babyface run with the title. That something was the edge she displayed during her “I’m absolutely fed up with all this shit” promo on this show. I’m not entirely sure why, but it hits so much harder when she gets some attitude before saying she’s the EST of WWE instead of being happy go lucky about it. This was made all the better by her beating Zelina Vega and then Carmella, back-to-back.
  • Shotzi & Tegan Nox defeated Natalya & Tamina Stuka, the current women’s tag team champions. The commentary team called this a “major upset,” which is awfully strange considering Shotzi & Nox have defeated Nattie & Tamina literally every time they’ve wrestled since the two were called up to the main roster weeks ago. Three times in total in tag matches, and also Nox beat Tamina in a singles match for good measure. But, hey, it’s good to see Natalya looks healthy and is already back from that awful looking injury!
  • They’ve committed to getting this new, more serious version of Otis over and I still can’t decide how I feel about it. I don’t like that it’s been at the expense of The Street Profits, but I also don’t even know if it will ultimately work. I still have a hard time seeing Otis and not hearing that hilarious way he used to talk to TUCK-AY. Just me?
  • I don’t want to overreact or anything but I’m pretty sure BOOGS is world title material. That man played guitar on Apollo Crews during an abdominal stretch, and then pinned him right there in the middle of the ring. He’s going places. Another shout to McAfee for this one when fans were cheering for his name: “they’re not booing; they’re BOOGS’ing!”

This was a fun show!

Grade: B+

Your turn.

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