Friday 30 April 2021

WWE SmackDown Highlights 30 April 2021


WWE Smackdown Live 4/30/21 April 30th 2021

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WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction, and Highlights for April 30

Sana Ejaz Khan


    Rarely are the stakes higher than they were Friday night on Fox, when Daniel Bryan put his career as an active member of the WWE roster on the line against the Universal Championship of Roman Reigns.

    The main event, a bona fide pay-per-view encounter any month, headlined one of the buzziest episodes of SmackDown in recent memory.

    Reigns was not the only competitor with gold on the line, though, as Apollo Crews also put his newly won Intercontinental Championship up for grabs against the man he defeated for it back at WrestleMania 37, Big E.

    Were new champions crowned? Did the landscape of the blue brand change forever?

    Find out now with this recap of the final episode of April.

Announced for Friday

1 OF 6

    Already announced for Friday's show:


    • Career vs. Title Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Universal champion Roman Reigns
    • Intercontinental Championship Match: Apollo Crews vs. Big E


    Coverage begins at 8 p.m.

Bianca Belair Kicks Off SmackDown

2 OF 6


    SmackDown women’s champion Bianca Belair made her way to the ring to kick off Friday’s show and wasted little time introducing the viewing audience to the show. Before she could introduce The Street Profits, SmackDown tag team champions Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode interrupted.

    Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins made their presence felt anyway, only for Bayley to interrupt. The top contender to the SmackDown women’s title yanked the microphone from Belair and laughed hysterically, only for The EST to smack her to the mat. 

    The show headed to the break on that note.






    This was about as uninspired and lazily booked a show open as there has ever been.

    It was a string of interruptions before Bayley’s incessant laughing, with no furthering of either feud but a multi-person tag team match sure to result.

    How do we know this? Because we’ve watched wrestling before. Also, because WWE announced as much earlier in the afternoon, so why go through the trouble of booking the half-assed promo segment instead of getting right to the match?

    A really disappointing start to a show with tons of potential to be newsworthy.

Six-Person Tag Team Match

3 OF 6


    Bayley and Belair started, engaging in some back-and-forth, before a hot tag from The EST to Dawkins. The big man exploded into the match, overpowering Ziggler and Roode, then watched as Ford launched himself over the top rope and wiped the tag champions out on the floor.

    The heels slowed Ford and worked him over, though, with Bayley even getting a shot in. Ford rocked Ziggler with a big kick to create separation and tag Dawkins back into the match.

    The action broke down, Belair delivered the KOD to Bayley, and Ford finished Roode off with a springboard frog splash for the win.



    The Street Profits and Belair defeated Ziggler, Roode, and Bayley






    WWE thrives on these multi-person tag matches.

    This was fast-paced, fun, energetic, and showcased the babyfaces. While the heels got heat for a bit, it was the explosive comeback that really helped elevate this one.

    Does Bayley feel any more like a credible threat to Belair? No. Does it feel inevitable that Ford and Dawkins capture the tag titles? Absolutely. In that regard, it could have been better. It spotlighted the talent, kept them busy, and brought energy to the opening segment of the show. In that regard, it worked.

Non-Title Match: Natalya and Tamina vs. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler

4 OF 6


    The rivalry between women’s tag team champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler, and top contenders Natalya and Tamina, continued with a rematch of their WrestleMania 37 showdown. 

    Tamina tried for an early top-rope splash but Jax got the knees up. The Irresistible Force and The Queen of Spades double-teamed the second-generation competitor, rocking her with knee before overwhelming her with a series of splashes and a corner splash by Jax.

    Tamina fought her way out of the corner and tried for a bodyslam but Jax refused to budge, falling on her opponent for a quick two-count. Tamina tagged Natalya into the match and the third-generation star uncorked a German suplex. Baszler rocked her with a big knee, though, leaving The Queen of Harts in need of her own tag.

    Tamina re-entered the match, headbutted Baszler off the mat and scored the pinfall victory off the Superfly Splash.



    Tamina and Natalya defeated Jax and Baszler






    There is talent in these matches, and the effort has been there, but these two teams simply don’t have chemistry. That we have seen them wrestle in some form or fashion far too often (six times this month alone, per Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp) only exacerbates how overexposed, and underwhelming, the program has been.

    Jax and Baszler have run their course as champions but Natalya and Tamina don’t feel like the team to dethrone them. The more the feud is shoved down the throat of the audience by way of repetitive matches every week, the less the potential win will mean.

Intercontinental Championship Match: Big E vs. Apollo Crews

5 OF 6


    Aleister Black delivered his latest cryptic message, discussing the facade that is the path to happiness and success. He knows the key to breaking through it, but refuses to give it to the viewers.

    Back in the ThunderDome, Big E made his way to the ring for one more showdown with Intercontinental champion Apollo Crews, seconded by the massive Commander Azeez.

    The typically fun-loving challenger started hot, dominating the early minutes of the match. He delivered a big splash on the ring apron and appeared to be rolling but Crews seized control of the match heading into the match, dropping Big E at ringside ahead of the break.

    Crews dominated the action during and coming out of the break, adding a moonsault to the floor. A missed aerial assault back inside allowed Big E to build momentum. A big splash earned the challenger a two-count.

    The champion dumped Big E on the ring apron and added a top-rope splash, but couldn’t keep his opponent down. Big E fired up, delivered the Big Ending and appeared to have the win in-hand when Azeez pulled him out of the ring and sent him into the ring post.

    Kevin Owens hit the ring, seeking revenge for the Nigerian Nail he endured last week. He found himself beaten down by the heels and the interfering Sami Zayn. The villains laid out the babyfaces before Azeez delivered a Nigerian Nail to Zayn and stood tall alongside Crews.



    Big E defeated Crews via disqualification






    Big E and Crews had a perfectly acceptable match, not unlike the others they have had, with a finish that was all-too-predictable.

    Azeez is clearly meant to be the heater for Crews but his presence ensures cheap finishes that do no justice to the match that precedes them. And then there’s the potential for him to overshadow Crews eventually. History tells us that will absolutely happen, and sooner rather than later, at that.

    The involvement of Owens and Zayn after the bell suggests a Fatal 4-Way for the upcoming WrestleMania Backlash pay-per-view and given the talent of the four stars that would be involved, that would certainly make for a great match.

    With that said, it feels like a placeholder as WWE buys time for Crews’ title reign before inevitably giving the title back to Big E. How long, though, until Big E moves onto bigger and better things?

Universal Championship Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns

6 OF 6

    Credit: WWE on Fox

    After show-long hype, including input from top SmackDown stars, Daniel Bryan made his way to the squared circle for a shot at Roman Reigns and the Universal Champion. A win and the leader of the YES! Movement would cement his legacy. A loss would lead to his banishment from the blue brand.

    The Head of the Table entered the arena to new theme music, an orchestral epic with a badass beat befitting the unstoppable force in sports entertainment.

    Bryan attacked from the opening bell, rocking the champion with a dropkick. He flattened Reigns with a running knee from the ring apron heading into the break.

    The challenger worked the left arm and shoulder of the champion, teeing off on him with a flurry of kicks to the shoulder. Reigns absorbed and returned fire, cutting Bryan off with a big back elbow for two. Bryan sent him face-first into the turnbuckle but The Big Dog recovered and delivered a powerbomb off the top rope for a two-count. 

    Reigns dominated coming back from the break, unloading with clotheslines on the floor, then added big knees and boots to Bryan in the corner. He set the challenger up on the top rope but Bryan crotched him and looked to rally. 

    Bryan delivered a huge side suplex from the top rope and shot the half on Reigns, scoring a two-count. He continued to roll, taking The Tribal Chief to the floor. There, Reigns tried for the spear but Bryan moved and the champion crashed into the guardrail. 

    Back from another commercial, Bryan launched himself off the top rope with a diving headbutt for another near-fall. Reigns answered with a Superman Punch. Bryan trapped him in the YES! Lock. Reigns escaped and delivered a spear, but could only keep the challenger down for a count of two as Bryan’s resiliency and heart took over.

    Reigns trapped Bryan in the guillotine but the babyface escaped and applied an arm submission. He segued into the YES! Lock. Reigns fought toward the ropes but Bryan pulled him back. The champion powered out, finally managing to slam Bryan to the mat. He pounded away at the back of Bryan’s head, punishing him before delivering another powerbomb.

    Reigns used his good arm to apply the guillotine, choking the fight out of Bryan and retaining the title.

    After the match, Reigns attempted a brutal chair assault on Bryan only for Cesaro to make the save. The Swiss Superman unloaded on the champion until Jey Uso made the save. Reigns delivered a con-chair-to on Bryan while Cesaro was tied up in the ropes, forced to watch.



    Reigns defeated Bryan to win the title






    This was one of the best matches of the year, a high-stakes battle not just for championship gold but the continuation of one of WWE’s most storied careers. WWE made an extraordinary deal out of the contest and the performers delivered exponentially.

    Expectations were high and the match far exceeded them, delivering a dramatic encounter that had fans thinking an inspirational win might not be out of the cards before Reigns snuffed out any sense of hope that still existed.

    Not only was the match superb, it marked a rare clean victory for The Head of the Table.

    Cesaro making the save further supports the idea that The Swiss Superman will be next up to challenge Reigns. While WWE is all-in with The Big Dog right now, one has to wonder if now is the time to use him to elevate Cesaro, especially considering how hot the Swiss Cyborg is at this moment.

    But that is for later.

    Friday night was the culmination of Reigns and Bryan’s feud, a Match of the Year candidate, and proof that WWE can still deliver those must-see, event-style matches when it wants to

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