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The tension between Edge, Daniel Bryan and Universal champion Roman Reigns intensified on the penultimate SmackDown before WrestleMania 37 Friday night on SmackDown as WWE delivered the latest build to the Triple Threat main event of this year’s Showcase of the Immortals.
The latest developments between the blue brand’s top dog and his challengers headlined a show that also featured an appearance by YouTube celebrity Logan Paul and the latest in the rivalry between Bianca Belair and SmackDown women’s champion Sasha Banks.
What went down, who emerged with momentum on their side, and what did it mean for the brand heading into the biggest show of the year?
Find out with this recap of the April 2 broadcast.
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Announced for tonight’s show are:
- The latest between Edge, Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns
- Logan Paul attends Sami Zayn’s world premiere
Coverage begins at 8 p.m.
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2021 Royal Rumble winner Edge kicked off this week’s show, discussing the “chaos” that has ensued over the last few weeks before thanking Daniel Bryan for awakening in him the Rated R Superstar, “the guy who does whatever he has to do.”
He said his WrestleMania opponents don’t understand the ramifications of what they’ve done, nor does Adam Pearce. He admitted to snapping, to “waking the hell up.” He is a Hall of Famer, an Ultimate Opportunist, and The Rated R Superstar. He is what they aspire to be, he exclaimed.
He ended the promo and headed up the ramp.
As Edge exited the arena, he looked almost relieved, as if a giant weight had been lifted off his chest.
It’s not particularly surprising, either.
He has always been at this most comfortable as a heel and now is no different. His promo on this show, announcing the re-emergence of The Rated R Superstar, was the best he has cut since this latest return and sets the stage for him to cheat and steal his way to the Universal Championship come April 11.
Of course, his whole story arc is a lot like Batista’s in 2014, which saw the former world champion return, only to be overshadowed by Bryan. It will be interesting to see if his return to the grand stage features the same result or if he can thwart the surging leader of the YES! Movement and Tribal Chief to capture the top prize on SmackDown.
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Ahead of next week’s special WrestleMania edition of SmackDown, Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode will defend the blue brand tag team titles against The Street Profits, Alpha Academy, and Rey and Dominik Mysterio in a Fatal 4-Way Match.
This week, Ziggler and Roode teamed with Chad Gable and Otis to battle the Mysterios, Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins in a big eight-man tag team match.
After an energetic sequence to start, the match came back from the commercial break with Dawkins a ball of fire. A clubbing clothesline by Otis halted his momentum and allowed the heels to take control of the match.
Dawkins finally created separation and tagged Ford into the match. The former tag champ exploded into the match and took the fight to the opposition. The action broke down, the Mysterios taking the fight to the champions Ziggler and Roode.
Back in the ring, Gable and Otis teamed up to put an end to Ford’s onslaught, the latter finishing him off with a flying splash from the middle rope.
Backstage, Paul Heyman approached Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville about a hold-harmless agreement for Jey Uso so that he will not be held accountable for what he does to Daniel Bryan later tonight. Deville agreed with it, to the dismay of Pearce.
Alpha Academy, Ziggler and Roode defeated Street Profits and the Mysterios
There was little in the way of narrative or real flow to this one as half of it took place during the commercial break. The action that there was, though, was explosive and highlighted what has been a solid division over the last two months.
Gable and Otis appear to be the hottest team in the division entering next week’s title match, but this feels very much like an opportunity for WWE to book Rey and Dominik to make history and become the first father-son duo to capture tag team gold.
The company does, after all, like to pat its own back when it comes to producing history-making events.
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Corey Graves conducted an in-ring promo with Cesaro and Seth Rollins ahead of their WrestleMania match next Saturday night.
Rollins insisted he was unshakable, attempting to no-sell the effects of last week’s humiliating backstage swing courtesy of Cesaro. The Swiss Superman responded, teasing his opponent with mentions of the swing.
“He may be unshakable but he damn sure isn’t unswingable,” Cesaro said.
Rollins threatened to end Cesaro before WrestleMania, to which his opponent dared him to “take a swing.”
The segment ended with Rollins retreating and, thus, saving face.
Cesaro is over, only of the most interesting Superstars ahead of WrestleMania. The surest way to kill his momentum is to book promos like this one, full of cheesy “swing” lines and no real substance.
We know nothing more or less about Cesaro than we did prior to this promo, except for his penchant for puns that elementary students wouldn’t find funny.
Rollins did his best to deliver a money promo but this just did not click.
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Natalya, seconded by partner Tamina, squared off with women’s tag team champion Shayna Baszler, accompanied by Nia Jax and Reginald.
Before the match could really get started, The Queen of Harts countered a small package rollup and scored the pinfall victory.
After the match, the tag champs beat Natalya down before The Riott Squad made the save. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke joined the fray, followed by Naomi and Lana. Eventually, Tamina joined Nattie for a Hart Attack on Lana before standing tall.
Natalya defeated Baszler
There is an argument to be made that this was a rushed mess that would have been better off not airing, but it did shine a light on the budding tag division and the duos jockeying for a title opportunity.
Natalya and Tamina continued to build momentum here, Brooke and Rose shined, and Naomi and Lana looked as good as they have since forming their team.
How WWE solves this puzzle has yet to be officially announced but it should result in a tag team title picture much stronger coming out of WrestleMania than it has been in years.
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Sami Zayn welcomed YouTube and podcast celebrity Logan Paul to the squared circle for the red carpet premiere of his documentary trailer.
Paul appeared somewhat taken aback by the overzealousness of the host. Zayn threw to the trailer, a grand production that furthered his conspiracy theory.
The special guest started to break it to Zayn that the trailer wasn’t particularly good, even mentioning that he had talked to Kevin Owens and knew that Sami had become delusional. Before things got too heated, Owens came from out of nowhere and dropped Zayn with a stunner to end the segment.
After the commercial break, Owens told Alyse Ashton that he can stun anyone at anytime. Zayn attacked from out of nowhere and vowed to see KO at WrestleMania.
The much-hyped appearance by Paul amounted to nothing as he didn’t bring anything of note to the segment. He looked uneasy and uncomfortable, perhaps nervous.
Zayn, on the other hand, was extraordinary. He chewed the scenery, making the most of the segment and reminding fans why he has been one of the bright spots of COVID-era WWE. He was nothing short of outstanding, even as Owens dropped him.
Their match, if it is allowed to meet its potential, has the potential to be a genuine show-stealer and one of the defining bouts of a jam-packed card.
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Ahead of her SmackDown Women’s Championship Match against Sasha Banks at WrestleMania, 2021 Royal Rumble winner Bianca Belair battled former top contender Carmella.
The wine-drinking starlet attacked Belair before the match and worked her over during the break. Belair fought her way back into the match following the commercial and put her away with the KOD.
After the match, as Belair celebrated her win, Banks attempted a sneak attack. The EST stopped her. “WrestleMania. Not tonight.”
The victor stood tall to end the segment while Banks held her title high, a reminder to her challenger who holds the power in the division.
Belair defeated Carmella
Like most of this show, this felt like a placeholder segment.
Belair got the win, after selling way too much for Carmella, and Banks nearly got one more over on her top contender. Instead, the staredown ensued and nothing was really accomplished between the rivals.
It was merely an excuse to keep both women on-screen, while simultaneously putting Carmella over in defeat as the woman who proved she could hang with the Rumble winner. WWE’s insistence on 50-50 booking, evidenced here by Carmella dominating, only to lose so Belair continued her winning ways, benefits no one in the long run.
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Apollo Crews cut a promo, officially challenging Big E to a Nigerian Drum Match for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania. There was no further explanation of what said match entails.
Edge joined Michael Cole and Corey Graves at ringside for the night’s main event, a street fight between Daniel Bryan and Jey Uso.
Uso rocked Bryan with a steel chair shot as the latter attempted a tope suicida, but the former WWE champion roared back with chair shot of his own. Before he could do any more damage, Roman Reigns appeared at the top of the ramp with Paul Heyman as the show headed to the final commercial break of the night.
Back from the timeout, Uso produced a steel chain and delivered a clothesline with it. He blasted Bryan with a shot to the face and delivered a frog splash for a two-count as Heyman calmed Reigns on the stage.
Bryan fought back into the match, catching Uso with a missile dropkick. He kicked the hell out of Uso as Edge took exception to Cole calling Bryan the best high-pressure competitor in WWE. Bryan caught Uso in the YES Lock and tapped him out.
He rolled out of the ring and attacked Edge, stunning him with a running knee and slamming him into the ring post. He rushed the ramp and stunned Reigns with another knee, then applied the submission to The Tribal Chief.
Bryan stood tall, pointing to the sky, momentum on his side heading into a WrestleMania in which he hopes history repeats itself.
Bryan defeated Uso
To both Edge and Reigns, Bryan proved he was not just some guy who schemed his way into a title shot at WrestleMania. First, he outlasted Uso and showed he can brawl as well as anyone. Then, he left both heels lying, sending a message loudly and clearly to anyone doubting his ability to capture the universal title on April 11.
Edge was great on commentary, too, filling the role of the paranoid bad guy. Whether he was telling Uso not to look at him or chastizing Cole for considering Bryan a better high-pressure wrestler than he, The Rated R Superstar relished the opportunity to be the heel rather than the returning babyface just happy to be back in wrestling.
The story involving these three has been the best thing in the weeks and months leading into WrestleMania so it should be of no real surprise that, on this night of underwhelming creative, Bryan, Edge and Reigns excelled.