WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from March 12
With just one week before WWE Fastlane 2021 and WrestleMania 37 less than one month away, the Road to WrestleMania was heating up. The March 12 edition of Friday Night SmackDown promised major faceoffs between top stars.
Daniel Bryan earned an opportunity to fight Roman Reigns at WWE Fastlane by defeating Jey Uso last week. He and The Head of the Table were required to sign the contract for their match this week, stepping into the same ring with hatred brewing between them.
Kevin Owens invited the two women set to fight at WrestleMania 37 on to "The KO Show," Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair. Before their battle at The Show of Shows and even before they teamed up to face Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax at Fastlane, the two women had a chance to talk about their future.
Apollo Crews has allowed his true colors to shine through, embracing his heritage but also a ruthless, egotistical edge. His first act was to badly injure Big E, and the WWE intercontinental champion returned this week with plans for revenge.
The blue brand did not have any major matches promised for the night, but anything could happen. Each of these segments had a chance to lay the groundwork for some of the biggest clashes of the year for WWE.
Edge Calls Out Daniel Bryan for His Tactics
Edge arrived to address Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan. The Rated-R Superstar told The Leader of the Yes Movement that he should never question his love of professional wrestling. This brought out Bryan, who wanted to set the record straight.
He explained that he respects Edge, but he would do anything to get his one last shot at WrestleMania. The Rated-R Superstar showed his own respect to The Leader of the Yes Movement, but he said Bryan was better than these tactics to get the world title. Edge walked off in disgust.
This segment was almost too good for the sake of WrestleMania, unless WWE wants to pull off a surprise twist. Bryan is a better face right now than Edge, and it shows in their interactions. The fans are behind The Leader of the Yes Movement, and The Rated-R Superstar comes off as a heel working with him.
While Reigns vs. Edge is a match that needs to happen at some point, SmackDown needs to get moving with the build for that contest if it is still the plan. It is becoming a tougher sell as the main event of WrestleMania each week with a better option presented.
Street Profits and Mysterios vs. Dolph Ziggler, Robert Roode and Alpha Academy
The heels attacked the face on the way to the ring, and the dirty tactics continued into the match. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode did everything they could to keep one man isolated in the match. Dominik Mysterio was a victim of those tactics.
Rey Mysterio got a huge hot tag and helped clear the ring. The Mysterios hit a double 619 on The Glorious One, who snuck in a blind tag off Otis. Montez Ford finished it off with an emphatic From the Heavens.
Street Profits and Mysterios def. Roode, Ziggler and Alpha Academy by pinfall.
Everyone worked hard in this match to make it work, though it was still far too clear that WWE needs to do more to establish the characters of the talent involved. This is particularly important for Chad Gable and Otis. The Alpha Academy has given Otis direction, but it's unclear who he is as a heel.
Street Profits have been kept away from Roode and Ziggler for two months, which is long enough to set up one last match between the teams. Holding off any longer will not work. The two teams have fought too many times for it to work as the WrestleMania angle.
Cesaro vs. Murphy
Seth Rollins was asked about Cesaro's swing on him two weeks ago, and he lost his cool.
The Messiah watched at the top of the ramp as The Swiss Superman threw around Murphy. Murphy jumped right into the giant swing from Cesaro, which set off Rollins. The Messiah attacked Cesaro to cause a disqualification.
Rollins planted Cesaro with The Stomp then trapped his head in a steel chair, ready to Stomp him again, but officials got involved to save him. Rollins met Shinsuke Nakamura backstage, who glared at him.
Cesaro def. Murphy by disqualification.
It is a shame that Murphy was sacrificed to Cesaro again, but he got in a few nice moves first. He is far too talented for this, and it unfortunately feels like he will need to go back to helping Rollins to get any kind of attention.
The positive was that Cesaro remains dominant and Nakamura looks to still be working with his former partner in some capacity. As both are faces, they can be friends by WWE standards, and that can lead to some great matches on the Road to WrestleMania.
Rollins vs. Cesaro has been built as a huge match for The Grandest Stage of Them All. To save it for that moment, we can get Rollins vs. Nakamura at WWE Fastlane.
KO Show W/ Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair; Banks & Belair vs. Tamina & Natalya
Nia Jax took Reginald on a shopping spree as the two grew closer, and Shayna Baszler nearly fell asleep in the background. Sami Zayn tried to get Kevin Owens to join his documentary to expose WWE from the inside. KO was more focused on his show.
"The KO Show" hosted Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair, who got in each other's faces as they tried to make clear who was the best. Baszler and Jax arrived with Reggie to watch their future opponents face Natalya and Tamina.
Reginald got involved to stop the referee from catching a clear victory from the faces in the ensuing action, Tamina rolled up The EST for a three count. Afterward, Banks and Belair fought all the way to the back about Banks' treatment of Reginald leading to this moment.
Tamina and Natalya def. Belair and Banks by pinfall.
As a whole, this segment worked for the story unfolding. Banks and Belair have been friendly for a while, but there needed to be more conflict for the WrestleMania contest. While Reginald should not be involved, he is a minor inconvenience that will be forgotten in the long term.
What may leave a more lasting impact was Tamina pinning Belair. The EST has been so protected lately. Even with the many circumstances around it, it is hard to justify that result. The only way to make it work is if Natalya and Tamina are legitimately added to the WWE Fastlane match.
The two veterans have done so much for WWE for so long. It might be a rare opportunity to reward their work by letting them add a fresh element to a familiar match.
Intercontinental Championship: Big E (c) vs. Sami Zayn
Big E cut an impassioned promo on Apollo Crews, telling him that he would give Crews one more title shot but only to give him what he deserved. He offered him the ring, but the heel did not show up for the challenge.
E decided to set up an open challenge, which was answered by King Corbin. The big man took a while getting to the ring, talking down the champion. Sami Zayn arrived, accepted the challenge, and ran into the ring ahead of The King.
The Master Strategist had a plan early on, going after the ribs of E, but it only slowed the champion for so long. Once E got moving, he threw around Zayn with ease. The former champion tried to escape, but E caught him and planted him back in the ring.
While Zayn looked out of his element, he managed to regain control. He hit a sunset flip powerbomb that nearly sealed it. When E kicked out, The Master Strategist lost his cool and slapped the champion repeatedly. This set off E, who hit an emphatic Big Ending.
Afterward, Crews' theme song hit, and he attacked the champion from behind. He hit an impressive pair of Olympic slams then took out the champion with steel steps to the face.
E def. Zayn by pinfall to retain the WWE Intercontinental Champion.
This was a perfect segment from the moment Big E spoke up. He cut one of the best promos of his career on Crews, calling him out for unlocking a dark side in the champion. It set the stage once more for how special this rivalry can be.
The match that followed was really good work from two great performers. While The Master Strategist has been treated as a joke outside the ring, he is always allowed to bring it in the ring. He made the motivated champion look unstoppable.
Finally, Crews once more kept his momentum going. The heel has had the upper hand on E for weeks. He needed to stay dominant. He and E can fight at any time and it will be their best match to date.
Daniel Bryan Goads Roman Reigns into Signing the WWE Fastlane Contract
Jey Uso wanted to talk to Roman Reigns, but Paul Heyman told him to not walk into the locker room. Edge found Uso backstage and told him he was wasting his talent working under The Head of the Table.
Reigns told Daniel Bryan immediately that he had changed his mind. He did not want to give Bryan a match at Fastlane. The Leader of the Yes Movement called out The Head of the Table's cowardice, and Reigns could not hold his calm. He signed the contract.
Uso threw the table out of the ring, not happy with Bryan invoking his name. Edge arrived and challenged Uso to a match next week. The winner would be special guest enforcer at Fastlane. A brawl ensued where Bryan took out Edge with a running knee.
This was shorter than expected, but that is not a bad thing. Bryan and Reigns did so much with just a few words. The way The Leader of the Yes Movement rattled The Head of the Table was incredible. It showed how good both are selling a rivalry.
Just like earlier in the night, The Rated-R Superstar felt like the weak element of this segment. This segment could have been even better if Reigns lost it on Uso as promised earlier in the night. Instead, we got a generic announcement for next week and a brawl.