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On the heels of a historic Royal Rumble victory, Edge returned to SmackDown Friday night, the status of his WrestleMania championship match unknown.
Would The Rated R Superstar officially reveal that he intends to challenge Roman Reigns at The Showcase of the Immortals or was his highly-anticipated announcement again be interrupted by one of the blue brand’s top stars?
And what about the women’s Rumble winner, Bianca Belair?
The EST appeared, too, with championship aspirations on her mind.
Did she reveal which title she intends to challenge for come April 11 and 12 in Tampa?
Find out with this recap of the February 5 show.
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Credit: WWE on Fox
Announced for Friday’s broadcast are:
- Edge returns to SmackDown
- Bianca Belair appears
- Triple Threat Match for the Intercontinental Championship: Big E vs. Sami Zayn vs. Apollo Crews
Coverage begins at 8:00 p.m.
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Flanked by Jey Uso and advocate Paul Heyman, universal champion and “Head of the Table” Roman Reigns made his way to the ring to kick off the night’s show.
He wasted little time putting the past behind him, admitting he doesn’t like recapping. Instead, he’s looking to the future and the future…is Edge.
Reigns called himself the main event and questioned why Edge wasted time on Raw and NXT, and instead saying he should be groveling at The Tribals Chief’s feet and begging for a place on the Island of Relevancy.
Reigns ordered Edge out but the 2021 Royal Rumble winner did not appear. “Edge must think I’m a fool. Do I look like a fool, Paul? Do I look like a man who wants to play games? WHY WOULD YOU PLAY GAMES WITH ME?!” he exclaimed, clearly frustrated.
Reigns told Edge he had until the end of the night to give him his decision by the end of the night. “Edge…you’re going to give me your decision by the end of the night.”
Reigns is the best thing about the WWE product right now and making a serious run at best character in the entire industry. The Tribal Chief is so good, an egotistical franchise player who has no tolerance for those who don’t recognize his greatness and significance to the WWE product.
His reaction here when Edge denied his request for an appearance, his voice cracking as he asked why the Hall of Famer would play games with him, such a fantastic touch whether it was intentional or not.
The Tribal Chief staring intently into the camera, with an intensity that suggested very bad things for The Rated R Superstar if he does not comply, as he told Edge what he was going to do was great. Whether he delivers on his not-so-subtle threat keeps fans invested through the show.
A great start to kick off the night’s broadcast and a tease for the segment later in the night.
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King Corbin attacked Dominik and Rey Mysterio before the first scheduled match of the evening, leaving the future Hall of Famer to nurse his injuries while taking the fight to his son.
Corbin wore Dominik down, grounding him and working over the rookie. A pre-commercial tope and twisting neckbreaker after the timeout allowed the second-generation star to fight back. Corbin cut him off with a Deep Six, though, again grounding the youngster while Rey shouted words of encouragement from the ringside area.
At ringside, Dominik sent his opponent into the announce table. From there, Rey grabbed hold of the King of the Ring’s ankle, allowing Dominik to neutralize him and put him away with a top-rope frog splash.
Mysterio defeated Corbin
The grade may suggest averageness nut this was exactly what it needed to be.
It was simple, did not expose Dominik’s inexperience, and gave him and his father a measure of revenge against their primary tormentor of late.
Corbin does not get nearly enough credit for being as good as he is. Three years, he wouldn’t have been able to have this quality of match against someone with as little televised ring time as Dominik. Not only did he have a good match, but he was also the veteran leader who ensured everything hit its mark and the story was told as intended.
He is a polished professional with underrated timing and one of the coolest signature move sets of any big man. A hidden gem, despite the disdain some have for him.
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Looking to turn his fortunes around, Daniel Bryan battled Cesaro in a rematch from a few weeks back.
Aggressive and frustrated, Bryan pummeled The Swiss Cyborg, even opening up a wound on Cesaro’s head. Bryan set up for the running knee but Cesaro caught him and dropped him across his knee with a backbreaker.
He followed with the Cesaro Swing and applied the Sharpshooter for a surprising submission victory.
Cesaro defeated Bryan
A sprint of a match, this was a hard-hitting, uber-physical encounter that drew blood, left both men clutching at injured body parts, and provided Cesaro another statement win.
The commentary team really put over The Swiss Cyborg and his recent run, correctly stating it is exactly what you want with WrestleMania on the horizon. It is a hint at a potential push for the underutilized star, coincidentally as he prepares to re-sign with the company.
None of it would have been possible without the selflessness of Bryan, who continues to put others over as he admittedly nears the end of his in-ring career. A consummate pro and, based on his performances in those losses, still one of the measuring sticks for in-ring performance in the sport.
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Billie Kay joined Michael Cole and Corey Graves on commentary as Ruby Riott battled Bayley in singles competition. The former SmackDown women’s champion weathered an early storm, launching Riott into the top rope and injuring her left shoulder.
Bayley worked over the joint until Riott sent her face-first into the turnbuckle and followed with an arm drag from the top rope. Bayley recovered and went back to the shoulder of her opponent. She applied a submission that Kay tried to break up. Liv Morgan confronted the Aussie, creating a scuffle that distracted Riott enough for Bayley to drive her into the mat for the win.
Bayley defeated Riott
Bayley picked up a necessary win in a fine enough match hurt only by its pacing. Riott and Bayley tried to pack so much into their limited time that it, coupled with the Kay-Morgan stuff on the floor, felt a bit rushed. The result was a match that never quite exceeded “average” status, even as the work and effort was anything but lacking.
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2021 Royal Rumble winner Bianca Belair made her way to the ring to announce the champion she will challenge at WrestleMania 37.
She put over Raw women’s champion Asuka, calling her the “Empress of All Day, Every Day.” She put over the blue brand’s Sasha Banks but was suddenly interrupted by Carmella’s sommelier, Reginald. He laughed off the idea that she could beat Banks, then said she cannot even beat Carmella.
This brought the Princess of Staten Island to the ring. After some trash talk, Banks made her presence felt, hitting the ring and stating she was putting Carmella in the rearview mirror. The Boss put over Belair, but said she was not the best.
“You’ve got it all, but you don’t got this.” Banks raised the SmackDown title overhead. Reginald reiterated that Belair will not beat Banks, to which the Rumble winner whipped him with her ponytail, sending him to the floor before standing tall, still in a celebratory mood after her big win Sunday.
Belair is eyeing Banks’ title but Carmella is not going anywhere, at least not yet.
This not only teased WrestleMania’s blue brand title match, but it also kept Carmella a relevant part of the division. Expect the champagne connoisseur to be the final hurdle for Belair to clear before the most important match of her career.
That showdown could take place on an episode of SmackDown, sure, but Fastlane on March 21 seems like the more appropriate setting.
That is, if WWE can keep the story fresh enough until then.
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SmackDown tag team champions Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode battled Chad Gable and Otis in nontitle action while former titleholders The Street Profits provided commentary from an undisclosed location.
Ziggler tried to grapple with Gable, but that proved problematic as the 2012 Olympian seized outclassed him. The heels would gain the upper-hand, working the smaller of their opponents over until a hot tag to Otis sparked a babyface comeback.
The big man punished and pummeled the champion until Gable tagged himself back in. After Ziggler sent Otis into the ring post, Roode delivered a Glorious DDT on Gable for the win.
After the match, the commentary team threw to a video package recapping the iconic Main Event match for the WWE Championship between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant that occurred 33 years ago today. After, Hogan briefly discussed the match before putting over Edge’s upcoming decision.
Roode and Ziggler defeated Gable and Otis
This was a fun little sprint of a match, like most tonight, but it was little more than a showcase for the new champions and an excuse to give them a quality win.
All signs point to The Street Profits getting their rematch against Ziggler and Roode in the near future. Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins eluded to the fact that they have not received a rematch of any kind since, hinting that there may be obstacles for them to overcome before they get what should have been there’s contractually.
WWE spent all evening hyping Hogan talking bout his historic match with Andre, only to have him say a dozen or so words before putting the focus on Edge and his decision. We complain about the company using nostalgia at the expense of the modern Superstar and this bucked that trend, using a historic moment to spotlight a current event.
Even if that story involves a returning legend in his own right.
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Big E defended the Intercontinental Championship against Apollo Crews and Sami Zayn in a big Triple Threat Match in the night’s advertised main event match.
Crews struck the first blow, wiping the opposition out with a huge die heading into the break. He doubled down, launching himself with a missile dropkick that wiped Zayn out coming out of the commercial. Big E fought back, though, tossing Crews with consecutive suplexes and flattening both challengers with a big splash.
Dispatching Crews to the arena floor, Big E delivered a big uranage on Zayn for two. The champion continued to roll, launching both opponents with his raw power in a double overhead suplex. Building momentum, he sought the spear through the ropes but Zayn caught him with a big knee. He followed with a Helluva Kick but Crews broke up the pin-fall.
Crews wiped out Zayn and entered the ring but Big E caught him out of nowhere with the Big Ending for the hard-fought victory.
Big E defeated Crews and Zayn to retain
This was a damn good, action-packed match that spotlight all three Superstars.
Zayn continued to perfectly portray the cerebral, at times cowardly, heel while Crews threw everything he had at the opposition. In the end, though, neither could overcome the momentum Big E has built for himself.
The match probably would have been even better without the commercial break right in the middle of it, but this was still a strong showing with great in-ring chemistry and solid creativity that allowed Big E to showcase his pure strength.
Crews staring Big E down, a look of disgust and frustration painted all over his face, was a great indicator of things to come. Hopefully, the ultra-talented competitor can find success as a heel because he is too good to slink back into obscurity.
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On the precipice of greatness, Edge hit the ring to make his decision as to which champion to challenge at WrestleMania.
Before he could choose, Reigns interrupted, making his way to the ring squared circle with Uso and Heyman by his side.
Edge immediately asked the universal champion if he’s sweating him already since he brought backup. “Uce, I’ll meet you at the bus. I got this,” Reigns said in response to Edge’s insinuations. “You disrespected me, therefore you disrespected my family.” He ordered Edge to acknowledge him as the main event of WrestleMania. “That’s your cue. Go.”
Before Edge could respond, Kevin Owens came from out of nowhere and dropped Reigns with a stunner to close out the show.
So, SmackDown teased two WrestleMania announcements and delivered…neither?
Reigns was great, again, and Edge did a great job as the master manipulator, playing to The Tribal Chief’s ego in an attempt to get him to react emotionally. It did not work and Reigns called his bluff. In the end, the game of mental chess was for naught as Owens re-established his place in the main event scene with a perfectly-timed stunner that ruined any chance we had of knowing what the WrestleMania main event will be.
It was a fine enough segment, but one that probably should have meant more than a cliffhanger for next week’s show. Or Monday’s Raw. Or next week’s NXT. Whenever Edge decides to make his announcement.