Happy Halloween everyone! If you’re in the mood for some spooky wrestling then I’d highly recommend watching NXT’s Halloween Havoc event from this week which was a lot of fun, but if you prefer your wrestling a little more intense and real then welcome once again to Friday Night SmackDown. Just a few days after a brutal Hell in a Cell pay-per-view where both Sasha Banks vs Bayley and Roman Reigns vs Jey Uso delivered on their passionate and personal feuds, we’re now fully in the new era of SmackDown following the Draft. Who’s going to step up? Let’s find out.
Time to fall in line
We opened with a smug-looking Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman, as Roman walked to the ring still holding that precious Universal Championship. I say precious – he’s very much like how Gollum is in Lord of the Rings if he was a badass and angrier. No one’s getting between Roman and that title these days. Erupting like Mount Doom at Hell in a Cell, Reigns forced his cousin to quit just like he said he would. Only it wasn’t by beating Jey but rather manipulating him by choking out Jimmy in front of him. A highly emotional match that opens up so many possibilities.
Jey looked mentally defeated in the middle of the SmackDown ring. Seeing Reigns meet with Afa and Sika at the top of the ramp must have been soul-destroying. Defeated maybe, but Jey still opened the show with a sense of anger and defiance. This isn’t the Roman he knows and he hates him now. Why does his cousin have to treat him like this? It’s simply about the title and the responsibility of leading WWE as the top guy. But it has destroyed a family and Reigns laid it out clear to Jey – fall in line by the end of the night or else. These two men continue to be on another level with their passion, emotion and a truly gripping storyline.
Survivor Series Team SmackDown Men Qualifier – Dolph Ziggler (w/ Robert Roode) vs Kevin Owens
If you missed RAW then they had three qualifying matches on Monday resulting in AJ Styles, Keith Lee and Sheamus joining Team RAW. A formidable start for sure so how does SmackDown match up? Firstly, it was Ziggler’s chance to get back on the right track (with Roode giving him some sneaky backup) against Owens who is looking to make a good first impression on his new brand. Who would I rather have on the team? Well, Owens doesn’t exactly have a trustworthy background while Ziggler is always in it for himself but loves to show off. I’d probably go with the former cheerleader myself.
Both men were eager to pick up the win. Survivor Series brand rivalries are always a bit strange and shallow to me, but as long as you look at it as people just wanting to prove themselves and be successful then it’s not so bad. There’s never any real brand loyalty these days especially with people switching around all the time. Owens managed to sneak out the victory despite Roode trying to interfere, and they put on a really enjoyable match actually. Some great counters and showing why they’ve been successful for so many years.
The Freak speaks
This was a segment that I really wasn’t expecting. A sit down interview with THE FREAK Lars Sullivan. Yes, they’re certainly pushing that name as much as they possibly can. I always assumed Lars would be more of the silent destructive type yet they’ve decided to actually try and give him a backstory and let him talk about it. Opening up to Corey Graves we learnt that he was bullied at school, called a freak and he’s been destroying people in anger ever since. Considering that was when he was 9, that must be a lot of victims over the years. Was it a great interview? Not really. It was a bit hokey but I actually respect the idea of giving him a little depth. There’s only so far you can go as someone just coming out and beating people up. I hope Lars grows into the role.
Survivor Series Team SmackDown Women qualifier – Bianca Belair vs Natalya vs Billie Kay
This was set up via a backstage segment/argument involving Adam Pearce. I do love Billie Kay in segments like that. She’s a genuinely funny character and needs more opportunities like that. I’ve never really understood the fuss about Natalya and I know she sells herself as the best of all time but I don’t think she even comes close. She’s always been perfectly solid and capable but she’s just never stood out as anyone exceptional. Bianca Belair, on the other hand, is everything 2020 needs and if she’s not a megastar in the next few years then someone has messed up bad.
The match was short and sweet with Belair once again emerging victorious and continuing on her path to bigger and better things. Survivor Series is one of those matches that someone can be made to look absolutely fantastic in and I hope they book it around Belair running through Team RAW which is currently Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Mandy Rose, Dana Brooke, and Lana. I assume Lana will be going through a table again which I really don’t mind. Baszler is the only real star on Team RAW and as she’s currently in the middle of a tag title run I doubt she needs the win. Belair will be the EST of Survivor Series for sure.
So guess what? We managed to get rid of Otis this week. I assume he’s off heartbroken somewhere because he’s basically lost everything now after Hell in a Cell. His girlfriend is on RAW, he lost his briefcase and his best friend turned on him. Poor guy. I hope he never reads my reviews of his work as that’s not going to help him either. So instead of depressing me with Otis every week, the higher-ups have decided to shift the Seth Rollins/ Murphy/ Mysterios soap opera to SmackDown instead. Thanks a lot, guys.
Murphy really wanted to apologise to Rey and Dominik in public. Aalyah wasn’t sold on the idea but they both went out to the ring and Murphy called the guys out but instead, he got the pleasure of Rollins instead. I can’t get over how ridiculous he looks without socks. I know that’s probably the point but it still makes me angry. Let’s cut this short – they argued. Dominik came out angry. Rey came out. Lots of fighting with Murphy too. Aalyah tried to stop it, said she loves Murphy, kisses him, freaks everyone out and here we are. I just don’t care. Can’t we go back to Dominik kicking some arse in the ring rather than this? Please? Although I did like Seth smiling to himself. His best work in ages.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Street Profits vs Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura (non-title match)
For whatever reason, the other day, I was going through the WWE Network and watching random matches. I ended up watching the classics that both Cesaro and Nakamura had with Sami Zayn in NXT and it was just a wonderful reminder of how talented and driven both men can be in the right circumstances and with the crowd behind them. That’s not to say they’re not capable now, and they do a good job every week on SmackDown, but to see how much the crowds were behind them just made me think they could be doing so much more.
Thankfully, the Street Profits are a team that are doing some of their best work right now, especially on the main roster. All credit to Angelo Dawkins as he looks in fantastic shape and is absolutely playing his part in the team, even if Montez Ford does get called out as a future singles star all the time. They play off each other so well and their enthusiasm is infectious. This was another great tag team match which SmackDown often delivers and a well-earned victory for the Profits. I do wonder if there’s much more mileage in the Cesaro/Nakamura team or if it’s time to give them a shot on their own again.
The Boss of SmackDown
I think it’s fair to say that Sasha and Bayley had the best match at Hell in a Cell. Roman vs Jey was great but their storyline is still quite new and raw while Banks defeating Bayley felt like a necessary feud ender which is really what Hell in a Cell should be. I say that but after a few choice words between the ladies this week we’re getting a rematch next week. I can’t complain as both women have been exceptional this year but I do hope they keep away from each other for a while after. I’m not too bothered about Banks vs Asuka at Survivor Series, especially as we’ve seen it before, but I’m sure it’ll be a solid match nonetheless.
Survivor Series Team SmackDown Men qualifier – Jey Uso vs Daniel Bryan
Bryan’s attitude since he returned has been that he wants to work with as much of the up and coming talent as possible and have great matches. It’s funny to see Jey as up and coming but his singles work recently has undoubtedly been a breakout moment for him. I’d happily watch Daniel Bryan wrestle a paper bag anyway so whoever he competes against is always enjoyable for me. It’s sad to think he’s suggesting this is his last main run but who knows how long that’ll last for. Wrestlers retiring can go on for decades – I’m looking at you Terry Funk – but we should enjoy every YES we can, especially considering this is a whole run that we never thought we’d get from Bryan after saying goodbye already in 2016.
Bryan wanted the best out of Jey Uso and he absolutely got it. Jey was a man on a mission, even before Roman came out to observe and put some pressure on. I was hoping Bryan would win somehow as he’d definitely be a top pick on any team but this wasn’t his story to tell. This was about Jey finally realising what he had to do and hitting that Uso Splash for the win before absolutely destroying Bryan in front of Reigns to show that he was finally falling in line. Shouting that he understands now, Jey set Daniel up on the announcer’s table and hit a top rope splash right through it. A brutal way to end SmackDown as Roman smirked to himself. He finally has everything he wanted and this spectacular storyline has taken yet another intriguing turn. I hate Roman and I’m loving every second of it.
The best of SmackDown
- Roman Reigns – what a nasty, manipulative son of a bitch and a true heel.
- Jey Uso – delivering a whole package that he’s never shown before.
- Bianca Belair – yet another win to show why she’s the future.
- Street Profits – showing why they deserve to be tag champs.
- Sami Zayn – only a small backstage segment this week but I love the guy.
The worst of SmackDown
- Murphy, Rollins and the Mysterios – they’re all far too good for this trash.
- Chad Gable – how can you not follow up on that? Please put him on Team SmackDown.
- No Big E – where is he???
Another solid effort from the SmackDown brand from start to finish. I love it when they have storylines that run through a show like the Roman and Jey drama. It keeps you interested and gives you a reason to keep watching. I’m enjoying the rise of Bianca Belair, as well as Daniel Bryan’s willingness to go out there and wrestle anyone. The Street Profits continue to prove themselves as the future of the tag division and Sasha and Bayley should be great one last time. All in all, I’d say that SmackDown is managing all its divisions really well and there are some great future prospects there. It’ll be interesting to see who comes out looking dominant at Survivor Series.
All images and videos courtesy of WWE