Last week may have been the Season Premiere of Friday Night SmackDown but this week is really where the fun begins. After all the pieces have finally fallen from the WWE Draft we now get a much better picture of the SmackDown roster going into 2021. Seth Rollins, Bianca Belair, The Street Profits, Rey Mysterio and many others now have a chance to make their mark on the Blue brand and there are some incredible potential matches we’ve got going forward. So let’s get right to it and see what SmackDown has to offer now.

The KO Show gets a new home

Fresh from getting beaten up by The Fiend, Kevin has his sights on a more successful career path on SmackDown and part of that plan was his guest this week – Daniel Bryan. After his passionate speech last week about the new roster additions, including Owens, the leader of the Yes Movement is looking forward to grappling with some fresh faces. Instead of being opponents, Owens suggested that maybe he and Bryan could go after the tag titles, something that he’s never had any success with.

Daniel did note that Kevin does turn on literally everyone, which is a fair point, but maybe it’s time to turn over a new leaf and work together. In short succession, we got interruptions from Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode, The Street Profits and finally Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura which inevitably lead to…

Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens and The Street Profits vs Dolph Ziggler, Robert Roode, Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura

A talk show that ends up in a brawl? Who saw that coming? As contrived as the scenario may have been, I’m all for it because all eight men had their working boots on and put on a great spectacle to open SmackDown this week. As I’ve said before, when tag team wrestling is done right then it’s a true pleasure and these guys all desperately wanted the win to cement their positions on the new SmackDown roster.

The story may have started with wondering if Bryan and Owens would work well together but it boiled down to Daniel injuring his knee on a landing and his opponents focusing on it with pinpoint accuracy. If I can get another Daniel Bryan vs Cesaro match out of all of this, then I won’t be complaining. Even if we get the predictable Owens turn on Bryan then I don’t think I’d mind too much either but, hopefully, they’ve got something else planned. Despite Bryan’s injury he managed to survive and let the Street Profits take over for the win and it’s clear that the SmackDown tag division is in good hands. And that frog splash will never get old. I never need to hear Daniel Bryan shouting FIST ME again though.

Bianca Belair vs Zelina Vega

The relief at WWE finally getting behind Belair on the main roster is real. I know she’s had glimpses of success here and there but this feels like they’re pushing her in the way she deserves. She’s the full package and she’s only just starting. I can’t wait to see her reach her full potential. Zelina was getting her moment in the spotlight on RAW just before the Draft showing some true confidence on the mic and a few good in-ring performances so seeing the two SmackDown newbies meet this week was an interesting choice.

This was a solid enough match between the two, mostly acting as a showcase for Belair’s strength with some impressive power moves that we’ve not seen anywhere else. That’s what I like the most about Bianca and what they really need to lean into to make her stand out from the crowd. I do wonder if the move to SmackDown will be detrimental to Vega after this loss but, hopefully, she’ll still get her chance to shine somehow as she’s got a lot of potential too. This was Belair’s moment though and her first win of many on Friday nights I’m sure.

Shorty G vs The Freak Lars Sullivan

It’s THE FREAK TIME. I’m surprised Michael Cole hasn’t adopted that as a catchphrase yet. At least it’s a better nickname than Shorty G. I feel myself die a little inside every time someone says that name. I almost don’t even want to write it. G is angry. He’s overlooked by all brands and wants to prove a point so he’s challenging the big man. Surprise surprise he basically got destroyed.

I was all ready to express my absolute disgust, especially when he then quit after the match, but guess what? Short G quit but Chad Gable didn’t. Gable is back and he’s ready to make a statement. Oh, I could not be happier. I’m trying not to get too excited but I really hope this is the beginning of something for him.

Sign on the dotted line

As we all saw last week, Bayley had absolutely no intention of signing that Hell in a Cell contract. Why would she? She’s comfortable in her reign, getting all the love and attention and really doesn’t fancy getting her ass handed to her by her former best friend. Sasha Banks on the other hand is desperate to take away everything from Bayley. When I think in a few years and look at 2020 and what wrestling was to me, a lot of it is going to be about these two ladies taking every opportunity to shine and become the best versions of themselves.

Now, I’m not sure about how legal it is to force someone to sign a contract in the way that Sasha did this week – using the chair to inflict pain on Bayley until she signed – but hey it was a nice creative way of filling out the time before Hell in a Cell and getting to the inevitable match. I do wonder if the ladies are feeling the pressure of expectation, especially as so many of us are aware of what they’ve delivered at NXT TakeOver before. That and Bayley has never competed inside Hell in a Cell but she’s capable of anything and everything in 2020. There is no doubt these two are going to go out there and try and steal the show and thankfully it’s not much longer to wait.

Law and Otis

I suppose I can’t write the review without mentioning this. If I’m honest it’s the best thing Otis has been involved in for weeks but mostly for the guests – JBL, Ron Simmons, Teddy Long, Asuka and more. It was ridiculous and corny and we do have to sit through another Miz vs Otis match at the PPV but I’m hoping – MORE LIKE PLEADING, PLEASE PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE – that it might be a blow-off match to the feud with the Money in the Bank briefcase on the line. Personally, I’d rather see John Morrison with the briefcase out of all these people involved in the storyline but hey I’m not a SmackDown writer. Let’s see where we are this time next week.

On a separate note, surely they can’t be going through with Otis and Tucker actually being on separate shows for any amount of time. Their only success is going to be together. It’s not like either of them was looking to be a breakout star or anything. I hope Heavy Machinery are genuinely back together sooner rather than later because they’re a decent enough team to add something to some brand but as singles stars? No, definitely not.

Seth Rollins vs Murphy

Oh look, we’ve got yet another overly long storyline joining the SmackDown ranks. Now I’m all for continuity and I’m glad they’ve remembered there are issues between Rollins, Murphy and the Mysterios but I was hoping the brand switch would be a fresh start but instead we’ve got a literal continuation of the storyline. I felt like it had run its course on RAW so to see them stretch it out even further on SmackDown is a disappointment, to say the least. And it’s not because of the matches which have all been decent but the storyline is pretty cringeworthy and everyone deserves better.

Murphy and Rollins had the great match you would expect from both men. Hard-hitting, fast and explosive action with a passionate storyline background. You know what you’re getting with these guys. I think the main thing is that we’ve seen Murphy have so many great matches that he doesn’t need a breakout moment from an in-ring perspective. What he really needs is people to get behind him on a more personal level and I don’t think he has that connection with the fans yet. That’ll be tough to get with no live audiences but I hope he can find a way to get to that next level. Rollins may have picked up the win but Murphy looked extremely strong in defeat, and with Aaliyah coming out to save him from another kendo stick beating it looks like we might get a full-on Murphy’s face turn eventually. Maybe that’s how to get people behind him but these things take time and many of us are already done with this storyline.

Respect the consequences or you’re out

From one storyline that’s dead in the water to another that has delivered above expectations week on week. I am 110% invested in Tribal Chief Roman Reigns. I hang off his every word. But it was nice to see Jey Uso get a little one up on his cousin this week by using his brother as a distraction on the big screen. Again it’s a no-brainer that Roman retains the title at Hell in a Cell but these guys are working so well together that it’s not about who’s winning but rather how they get to it. The underdog story doesn’t always have to end with them being victorious. Sometimes they earn their respect through the fight and the determination and that’s what Jey has been consistently delivering lately.

What both men have done on the mic in this feud is something that everyone needs to pay attention to. When these men spit at each other it’s with so much passion that you believe every single word they say. You buy into this blood feud and family issue completely. You know it’s a true story. Jey may have managed a sneak attack on Roman to end SmackDown this week but imagine how pissed off Reigns is now. Imagine the brutality he is going to bring inside Hell in a Cell on Sunday. Both men are going to war over not only the Universal Championship but their family. Roman made it clear that if Jey loses he expects him to fall in line or the Usos are out of the family – the brothers, wives, kids, grandkids. They’re all out. It looks like the Tribe is about to change. Hell in a Cell looks like it’ll be another spectacular PPV effort from WWE.

The best of SmackDown

  • Roman and Jey – I really can’t fault either man. They’ve both played their roles to perfection.
  • Sasha and Bayley – one final display of hatred on SmackDown before they tear each other apart at Hell in a Cell in a match for the ages.
  • Tag Division – a lot of great combinations and talent out there. And that frog splash.
  • Chad Gable – thank you, thank you, thank you. RIP Shorty G.
  • Bianca Belair – fingers crossed this is the start of something special.
  • Teddy Long – holla holla holla playa.

The worst of SmackDown

  • Law and Otis – it might not have been quite so bad but it was still the worst thing on the show.
  • No Big E – why are you doing this to me? I guess he doesn’t really have a feud but still.
  • Law and Otis – it had numerous segments so I’m putting it in more than once. It’s my column.
  • Mysterio family drama – that’s enough now. Please.
  • Law and Otis – seriously how many segments did it really need? 1 max.

In summary…

It wasn’t quite the fresh look at SmackDown that we need to see how the roster is really shaping up, but that’s mostly because we were already heading towards Hell in a Cell. So the focus was naturally on the feuds which have the big matches on Sunday and I’m really looking forward to both championship matches on the SmackDown side. I’m feeling positive about the Blue brand post-Draft and they’ve got a good mix of experience and potential like Daniel Bryan said. So let’s enjoy the PPV on Sunday and then next week we’ll get a good idea of the new feuds we’re getting. DAMN.

 

All images and videos courtesy of WWE.