Smackdown – June 18, 2021

Date: June 18, 2021
Location: Yuengling Center, Tampa, Florida
Commentators: Pat McAfee, Michael Cole

For the first time in over twenty years, we’re getting a Hell in a Cell match on free TV, as Universal Champion Roman Reigns is defending against Rey Mysterio. Why you ask? There doesn’t seem to be much of a reason other than “let’s do it on TV”. That is quite the change of pace and I’m not sure how bright of a move it is. Let’s get to it.

We open with a recap of Rey Mysterio vs. Roman Reigns and the setup of their Cell match. That was back when it was taking place at the pay per view of the same name, before the change was made this week.

Here is Rey Mysterio for a chat with the Cell partially lowered. A rather emotional Rey talks about how Reigns attacked him as a father by taking out his son Dominik. Rey remembers seeing the pain in his son’s eyes and he will never forget that feeling. He can’t wait another day so tonight it is time for him to get his revenge inside the Cell. Rey wants Reigns out here right now and the Cell lowers to the floor. Cue Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns, with Roman saying this wasn’t his fault. What happened to Dominik was PG, so is Rey sure he wants this? Rey is sure, so Reigns says not we’ll do it his way.

Video on Commander Azeez.

Apollo Crews is ready for Azeez, his secret weapon, to show Kevin Owens and Big E. true pain.

Apollo Crews/Commander Azeez vs. Big E./Kevin Owens

In the back, Owens talks about how great of a tag wrestler Big E is. Big E.: “Kevin is very good.” Owens: “That’s it?” Big E. gives one of his fired up speeches about how Crews and Azeez are about to feel the power. Sami Zayn comes out for commentary as Big E. drops Crews for the Warrior Splash. Owens adds a backsplash for two, with Sami wondering how legal this is. It’s off to Azeez (in his uniform) to kick Big E. in the face and slam him on the floor.

We take a break and come back with Azeez hitting a suplex as Sami wants more punishment. There’s another suplex (Sami: “That’s good form.”) but Azeez misses the big elbow. Crews comes in and they head to the apron, with Big E. hitting a release gordbuster. It’s off to Owens for a Swanton for two and a Pop Up Powerbomb gets the same. Azeez makes the save and comes back in to run Big E. over on the floor. Owens gets posted and a quick Sami distraction sets up the Nigerian Nail to give Azeez the pin at 9:09.

Rating: C. This was all about Azeez and that worked out well. Azeez came off like a total monster and ran over both guys, just as he was supposed to. What mattered here was setting up someone new and making Apollo Crews look that much better by association. Sami being all gleeful about Azeez hurting Owens made it that much more fun.

Sami is rather pleased with the result.

Post break a barely able to breathe Kevin Owens comes in to see Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville, demanding a match with Sami Zayn. Pearce makes it for Sunday.

King Corbin vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

It’s the Battle For The Crown and the rubber match after they have traded a pair of wins apiece. Rick Boogs handles the guitar intro and McAfee loses his mind all over again. Nakamura strikes away to start and hits the sliding German suplex. Boogs is rather pleased as we take a break.

Back with Corbin grabbing a chinlock, followed by Deep Six for two. A German suplex gives Corbin two more but Nakamura is back up with the knees to the head. Corbin nails a running clothesline and shouts about it being his crown. That takes a bit too long though, allowing Nakamura to strike away. The middle rope knee connects and another knee breaks up a chokeslam attempt. Kinshasa gives Nakamura the pin and the crown at 9:07.

Rating: C+. It was a better match than they have been having as of late, though that might not be the highest bar to clear. What matters is that we’re done with this feud, which has gone on quite a bit too long. It wouldn’t surprise me if this somehow set up the return of the King of the Ring, which is something that will always work, at least for a few weeks.

Post match Boogs crowns Nakamura as Corbin is crying.

Here is Bianca Belair for a chat. Belair calls out Bayley but no one comes out, leaving her to talk about how hard she has worked to get here. She has overcome all of the odds and is ready to get the last laugh against Bayley. They’re fighting on Sunday, but Belair wants it to be inside the Cell. Belair is going to throw her all over the Cell and Bayley won’t be laughing when Belair retains the title.

Cue Bayley for the brawl but Belair tosses her outside in a hurry. Bayley pulls the hair though and sends Belair into various things, setting up the Rose Plant inside. Bayley holds up the title and the screens turn into the same image again. I’m really not sure if these two need to be in the Cell, but that has been the case with at least one match almost every year since the show debuted.

We recap the Usos’ history with Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio, including Roman Reigns costing them a Tag Team Title match. This has caused some issues between the Usos and Reigns, sending Reigns into a rather emotional rant to Jimmy last week.

Jimmy Uso comes in to see Reigns, who asks about Jey. Jimmy hasn’t seen him this week, but he knows that Reigns is his family. Tonight, Jimmy will have his back but Reigns says he needs Jey. Don’t worry about the match, because finding Jey is more important.

Otis vs. Angelo Dawkins

Or not as Chad Gable and Otis jump Dawkins before the bell and send his bad shoulder into the steps. Dawkins gets laid out with the discus lariat/German suplex so the Alpha Academy can stand tall. No match.

We look at Seth Rollins attacking Cesaro, who returned last week to attack him.

We get a sitdown interview with Cesaro, who thinks Rollins didn’t go far enough. Rollins comes in and Cesaro is ready to fight. That’s not why Rollins is here, so he takes Kayla Braxton’s place as the interviewer. Rollins doesn’t think Cesaro deserves even a single ounce of respect and on Sunday, he will put Cesaro in his place. Cesaro respects Rollins for coming here to face him man to man and he’ll see him on Sunday. Rollins gets shoved out of his chair and is shaking with anger. Not enough to do anything about it, but he is shaking.

Hell in a Cell rundown, with Belair vs. Bayley confirmed for the Cell, plus Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins officially announced.

Universal Title: Roman Reigns vs. Rey Mysterio

Reigns is defending inside the Cell. Rey grabs a chair to start and knocks Reigns down, setting up a fire extinguisher blast to the face. A toolbox off the head knocks Reigns silly again and we take a break. Back with Rey wrapping a chair around Reigns’ throat and sending it into the Cell wall. That isn’t enough as Rey sends the chair into the post as well, leaving Reigns reeling even more.

Rey sets up a table and avoids a spear to send Reigns through it, but a hurricanrana is countered into a swing into the Cell. Reigns tosses him face first into the Cell and we take another break. Back with Reigns firing off knees in the corner and nailing the Superman Punch (Heyman: “HE’S GOING TO ACKNOWLEDGE YOU!!!”).

The spear is cut off with a dropkick though and a 619 connects in the corner. Some chair shots to the back and arm have Reigns down again and the frog splash onto the chair onto Reigns connects….but Rey can’t cover. Rey adds another splash just onto Reigns for two but a top rope hurricanrana is countered into a toss powerbomb over the top and into the Cell (well that was awesome). Back in and Reigns grabs a choke to make Rey tap at 16:02.

Rating: B. It was hard hitting and violent with the frog splash being a nice near fall and that toss powerbomb looking awesome. Reigns wasn’t going to lose here but it was a little more dramatic than I was expecting. It’s not like Mysterio is going to be hurt in something like this either, though I’m still not sure if it needed to be inside the Cell. Heck of a TV main event though, and it would have been fine on pay per view as well.

Post match Jimmy Uso comes out to acknowledge Reigns. That’s not enough for Reigns, who chokes Mysterio out again. Reigns: “HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!”

Overall Rating: B. Pretty solid show here, even if it was a one match night. They almost doubled the Cell card in two hours, which is quite annoying but it is nice to do it on TV rather than over the weekend. The Cell match is the big story here of course and that worked very well, so it is kind of hard to complain about getting this much on a regular TV show.

Apollo Crews/Commander Azeez b. Big E./Kevin Owens – Nigerian Nail to Owens
Shinsuke Nakamura b. King Corbin – Kinshasa
Roman Reigns b. Rey Mysterio – Inverted guillotine

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