Hi all, I’m David Bedwell and I’ve got the pleasure of walking you through SmackDown this week. As a quick intro – I’m old enough to remember the Gobbledy Gooker, when Bret Hart was known for being the Excellence of Execution rather than being screwed by his boss, and Hulk Hogan was my hero rather than an out of touch racist. Times change, hey.

Back down to Earth with a bang in 2020 and we’re right in the middle of the COVID Era, which has to be the least catchy name possible. It’s hard to believe we’re still in it, but at least we now have The ThunderDome, which must be Vince McMahon’s wet dream and worst nightmare all rolled into one. Something to show how big and grand WWE can be, but with the opportunity for fans to show photos of Chris Benoit. I’d like to say I’m surprised.

We’re here for the post-Payback show and I’m actually quite excited. Heel Roman as Universal Champ. Big E finally getting his opportunity as a singles star. Matt Riddle picking up a valuable win over the King. The PPV was actually a lot better than it looked on paper. The real question is, how will they follow it all up? It feels like they have momentum on their side and things are shifting into place for a positive future, but as a long-term WWE fan, you get used to being let down a lot of the time. There’s a lot of potentials but let’s see how they deliver on it.

My name is Paul Heyman…

Whoever finally managed to convince Vince to let Roman have a heel run – thank you. Sure, you could argue it’s a few years too late, but better late than never. Arguably the biggest selling point for SmackDown this week was getting some answers from the unholy alliance of Heyman and Reigns, and we got just enough of a glimpse into their reasons to keep us interested.

No longer the brash, cocky and loudmouth advocate but the “special counsel”, Heyman made it perfectly clear that Roman was the driving force between this partnership forming. He’s the one that should be champion and the face of the company. Not a Fiend. Not a Monster. But he’d been forgotten and underappreciated, much like Heyman being tossed aside from RAW. They both believe they deserve far better and now they’re here to take the success they feel is owed to them.

Most importantly they play to each other’s strengths. Heyman is the man of many words and Roman is focused on letting his fists do the talking. With a new mantra of Show Up And Win, it’s hard to argue against Roman’s latest move. He’s finally on everyone’s lips for all the right reasons again. And that quip from Heyman about ‘Carmella’s latest boyfriend’? Absolute fire. More of this Heyman, please.

Heavy Machinery vs Miz and Morrison

It’s hard to believe that Otis was one of the most over acts in the company at one point. Admittedly, he was getting pushed beyond anything he ever should have been but the live crowds loved him. Now I feel a little sad anytime I see him with the Money in the Bank briefcase, much like my heart sinks every time I see John Morrison still stuck with The Miz. Who did he upset?

On a SmackDown full of high points, this was probably the lowest. Morrison bumped well for Otis but it’s a reminder that he really should be doing more. Imagine him in the Intercontinental Title picture right now. I have no idea what their plans are for Otis and the briefcase but at this point, I don’t really care either. This was just filler which ended up with Miz losing clean to Otis and then Morrison stealing the briefcase. Miz must look back at main eventing Wrestlemania and think it was all a dream sometimes.

Woods is back! Or is he?

I usually find backstage segments quite skippable but I’ll always make an exception for Big E. He’s charisma personified and on the cusp of something truly special. And what a nice guy. Even on one of the biggest nights of his career, fighting for an opportunity at the title, he still found time to celebrate Xavier’s birthday. Although really when has a wrestling show had cake and something not gone wrong? He should’ve known better. The dastardly Sheamus attacked him in the parking lot and suddenly that title opportunity was off the table. Disappointing for Big E but I’m also enjoying how much arse Sheamus is kicking lately. I’m all for big men smashing through each other.

Women’s Tag Team Championship: Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler(c) vs Sasha Banks & Bayley

If you’d told me a few weeks ago that I’d be enjoying a Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler team then I would’ve laughed off the suggestion but this was the second time this week that they’ve really delivered. The size and strength of Jax alongside the ruthless former 2-time NXT Champion and her pinpoint submissions really makes for a formidable combination. Having enjoyed Shayna in NXT and considered her to be one of the best heels they ever had, her transition to the main roster has been concerning, to say the least. She’s not to everyone’s liking as she’s not a big character or flashy in the ring, but book her right and she’s one of the most believable athletes in WWE.

Bayley and Sasha worked really well here as a team with very little in the way of tension or miscommunication between the two. Unfortunately for them Jax and Baszler were just as focused and rarely made mistakes. The story of the match boiled down to Sasha hurting her knees on the ring post and Shayna taking advantage in brutal fashion. Banks put up an amazing fight to keep going, trying everything she could to survive and still win, but it just wasn’t the Golden Role Models night as they both got pinned after a splash off the ropes from Jax. They really did a good job of showing how dominant the tag champs can be, and how important regaining the titles was to Banks and Bayley. It just wasn’t their night but the titles are on the map as something important now.

Is it BOSS TIME now?

After months of speculation and anticipation, it finally happened. As Bayley helped a defiant and injured Banks out of the ring, she finally turned and snapped on her best friend. Brutal kicks to the face. An introduction to the steel steps. Bayley showed her true colours and gave Sasha one of the most memorable beatings in recent memory, finishing with placing a steel chair over her head and neck and jumping off the ropes and trying to end her career for good. All credit to both Bayley and Sasha – this was every bit as good as we had all been hoping for. Both have been the highlight of COVID Era WWE and the payoff here was exceptional. I cannot wait for their match together. It’d be nice to see it play out in front of a hot crowd as they deserve but who knows at this rate. The time for holding back pulling the trigger on things is over. This is the new normal for now at least.

Liberating the Intercontinental Title 

Can I take this opportunity to say how happy I am that Sami Zayn is back? For someone who I thought was such an enjoyable pure babyface in NXT – and I do love singing along to his music still – he’s such a fantastic irritating heel, isn’t he? Same with Bayley really. She was like the female John Cena at one point but now she’s switched to the dark side and doing the best work of her career.

Whether Zayn or Jeff Hardy is the true Intercontinental champion is something they can debate between themselves. I’m just excited about the matches, especially if AJ Styles is involved. Poor AJ isn’t having the best time lately – no title, no Gallows and Anderson, getting COVID, Heyman turning up on the same brand again and now all this Twitch nonsense from Vince. I’m more than happy to watch any combination of these three guys. It’s a reminder of why the Intercontinental Title has always been one of my favourites since I was a kid.

Main Event: Fatal 4-Way for a shot at Roman at Clash Of Champions: Sheamus vs Matt Riddle vs King Corbin vs Jey Uso

Yes, you read that right. With Big E taken out by Sheamus, the returning Jey Uso managed to get an opportunity on his first night back. Lucky guy! Heyman pulled a few strings and as they said, Roman is all about family. Doesn’t sound questionable at all does it?

Riddle and Corbin’s issues clearly aren’t over, and Sheamus is quite happy to kick anyone’s head off these days. How would Jey cope by himself though? We know the Usos have it locked down as a team but going out there alone is a whole different ballgame. Turns out the element of surprise and unpredictability worked out pretty well for Romans cousin. A superkick straight to Corbin’s face gave him the advantage while Riddle took out Sheamus. It’s still quite strange seeing Riddle on the main roster, and there are other people id rather see him work with than Corbin, but I’m glad they’re giving him a solid push. He has all the tools to be a big asset for them.

Corbin doesn’t get enough credit for putting on good big man matches. The main event was an enjoyable slobber knocker and he more than contributed to making it a success. He suffers from some dodgy character work but when he’s in the ring I do think he’s worthy of his spot each week. Although he was the only person I didn’t want to win as we don’t need any dog food repeats. Sheamus and Roman would be a fun brawl. Riddle and Roman isn’t something id ever thought was a possibility but I now want it. Yet it was Jey who came out victorious and suddenly its the most interesting main even they’ve lined up in quite some time. Well played WWE. You’ve got my attention.

The best of SmackDown

  • Bayley and Sasha – overdelivering on a much-anticipated split
  • Reigns and Heyman – intrigue continues
  • Intercontinental Title picture – building the prestige once again
  • Big E – anything he does turn to gold
  • Ramblin’ Rabbit – yes, we saw you…

The worst of SmackDown

  • Roman’s music – being picky but give him a full makeover to complete the turn, please
  • Miz and Morrison – both treading water when they need to be singles wrestlers
  • No Cesaro match – he’s one of the best so get him out there!
  • Drew Gulak – you can do better by him than just comedy backstage segments
  • RETRIBUTION – MIA again? Have we given up?

In summary…

Well, that might have been the best episode of Smackdown this year. WWE are firing on all cylinders with this roster. I absolutely love long-term storytelling like Sasha and Bayley and I’m so glad they’ve had the patience to let it play out – something they often fail to stick with. And Roman. I know we’ve been calling for it for ages but what a revelation. Throw in the rise of Big E and Matt Riddle and the future is looking very bright for the Blue brand.

All images and videos courtesy of WWE

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