With ratings quickly sliding back to pre-WrestleMania levels, WWE needs to think of something fast. Did they turn things around on WWE Smackdown this week? No. But we promise it won't take long to read the recap anyway.
WWE Smackdown Results – April 23rd, 2021
Week after week, WWE Smackdown begins with a long, boring promo by Roman Reigns and whoever his rival is on a given week. WWE decided to shake things up this week with a long, boring promo by Seth Rollins and his rival this week, Cesaro. Jey Uso joined in for a two-on-one beatdown, but Daniel Bryan evened the odds. Bryan put over Cesaro for being a hard worker (which is the wrestling version of saying someone has a "nice personality"), and then he suggested Roman Reigns come out and they have a three-on-two match (wait, what?). Reigns did come out, but not for a match. It was… surprise… to cut a long and boring promo. So Smackdown took the long way around, but it did eventually end up at the same destination.
Cesaro and Bryan faced Rollins and Uso in a regular tag team match. It went on forever, until Rollins got frustrated and walked out on Uso, setting up Bryan to get the pin. Cesaro gave Uso the Swing after the match while Bryan tried to goad Roman Reigns into accepting Cesaro's challenge for the Universal Championship. Cesaro gave him the Swing a second time but Roman still didn't come out. Bryan and Cesaro came to the conclusion that… hehe… that… bwahaha… that Roman is afraid he can't beat Cesaro.
I can't believe Bryan said that with a straight face. There's no reason that match needed to last as long as it did, especially when it ended so pointlessly.
Apollo Crews, or as he's known around the locker room, Nigerian Karen, complained to management about having to defend his Intercontinental Championship tonight against a mystery opponent. Adam Pearce told him the opponent is Kevin Owens.
Nia Jax fought Tamina in a match that ended without anyone dying in the ring and was, therefore, a success. Reginald is back from wherever he was, and he got into a scuffle with Shayna to cost Nia the match.
Jey Uso cut an incoherent promo backstage about how Cesaro was definitely gonna get it next time.
Big E interrupted a Kevin Owens interview to complain about Owens getting a shot at the Intercontinental Championship before Big E. The script was so bad, they both started laughing and Smackdown went to commercials.
Backstage, Adam Pearce admitted to being an ineffectual manager to Daniel Bryan.
Kevin Owens challenged Apollo Crews for the Intercontinental Championship while Commander Azeez grimaced at ringside. Sami Zayn also eventually made his way to ringside to join commentary. With many shenanigans involved, Crews got the win. Owens Stunned Crews after the match but got the Nigerian Nail from Azeez in return. Zayn then danced around Owens' broken body.
Backstage, Paul Heyman told Kayla Braxton that Roman Reigns would answer Cesaro's challenge tonight.
Also backstage, Big E attacked Apollo Crews during a victory promo.
Somewhat copying the vibe of the Xia Li storyline from NXT with some cinematic animation, Aleister Black reemerged with a spooky vignette where he read a story called The Dragon from a book called Tales From the Dark Father.
The Street Profits interrupted an interview with The Dirty Dawgs to demand a tag team title shot, but Bayley interrupted that interruption to talk about her upcoming match with Bianca Belair at WrestleMania Backlash. Montez Ford Facetimed Belair and he showed up after the commercials. Bayley expressed her respect for Belair, catching her off guard, but it was just a troll and she laughed and walked away.
Alpha Academy fought the Mysterios again. Not that it matters, but the Mysterios won.
Cesaro and Daniel Bryan demanded Roman Reigns come to the ring and answer Cesaro's challenge. But Reigns said that he didn't want to fight Cesaro. He challenged Daniel Bryan instead. Cesaro gave Bryan his blessing to accept. But then Roman added a stipulation: if Bryan loses, he leaves Smackdown. Bryan accepted anyway.
Not the worst episode of Smackdown, but watching the show did feel like being caught in some kind of time vortex. The opening promo and match took 45 minutes — not an exaggeration — but somehow, the rest of the show still felt like it went on for another three hours. But at least next week's Reigns vs. Bryan match, by its nature, will have to end with something of consequence happening, so maybe things will get better next week.