I will say one thing for 2020 – it has reinvigorated my enjoyment of SmackDown. Over the past few years it’s been difficult to get into a lot of WWE but now it feels like they’ve really hit the ground running on Friday nights. Sasha and Bayley lead the way earlier in the year and now it’s all on the shoulders of the Tribal Chief Roman Reigns. He’s on top form lately and I can’t wait every week to see what he does next. Not only do we have SmackDown feuds developing but also the Survivor Series build-up continues. Teams are forming and rivalries are boiling over the top. Who will be the dominant brand this year?

The Island of Relevancy

Reigns came out to start the show and damn that swagger is something else. No one carries the belt quite like him. He oozes charisma, confidence and everything a champion should. This feels like a man that has finally found his place in the industry and no one is taking it away from him. Apart from maybe Drew McIntyre. Yes, the challenger for Randy Orton’s WWE Championship on Monday night decided to pay SmackDown a visit. No one told him that Survivor Series was meant to be the one night a year they were able to do that stuff. Poor guy.

Drew is another one who is showing career-best form at the moment so I’m okay with him breaking the rules. He’s perfect as the cheery babyface who’s willing to step up and kick everyone’s arses all over the place. Roman may have called Orton WWE’s secondary champion (ouch!) but Drew certainly doesn’t feel that way. Heyman and Reigns were on fire here, suggesting no one watches RAW which is a bit too close to the line these days. But the end result of all this back and forth was Jey Uso coming out and getting himself a match with Drew to prove himself again to Roman. You’d think that would be impressive but Jey’s constant hot head moments will get him in trouble with his cousin eventually.

Intercontinental Title Match – Sami Zayn(c) vs Apollo Crews

Crews is a strange one. He spent so long having little to no personality that I find it very difficult to care these days. Admittedly they’ve been trying to give him more depth recently but it feels a little too late. There’s no doubt he’s a capable wrestler with some impressive moves but it’s going to take a lot for me to really buy into him as a title challenger or holder. Sami Zayn, on the other hand, is a guy you pay attention to as soon as he’s on screen. He only had an hour to prepare for Crews this week. Is that fair?

Once again, Zayn managed to show that his winning technique isn’t just physical but a lot to do with the mental approach too. A short but sweet match between the two ended with Sami using the apron and cables to tie Crews up and achieve a count-out win. I’d be angry if I wasn’t so impressed with the ways he keeps managing to win. I’m hoping he doesn’t just get fed to Lashley at Survivor Series because he deserves better but he’ll bounce back regardless. He’s always a highlight of whatever show he appears on.

On the top of her game

What a week for Sasha Banks. Last time she survived Bayley and finally showed that she can keep a title. About time too. Also, she appeared in The Mandalorian, which is awesome for Star Wars and WWE fans alike. She really is on top of her game but you know what? Carmella doesn’t care. After being distracted by Bayley coming down to ringside, Banks was attacked by Carmella and left on the floor. Not a big segment for the women this week but enough to keep the feud building until we get a proper match. I guess Sasha isn’t celebrating too much anymore.

Otis vs Dolph Ziggler (with Robert Roode)

After being mocked backstage in a classic set-up, Otis was ready to destroy these guys in the ring. I like to see the more serious side of Otis and I’m glad we’re moving away from all that crap we had to sit through before. As hard as I am on most Otis-related things every week I’m sure they can find a place for him that fits with what he can offer. He’s got more of a chance to survive on SmackDown than Tucker does on RAW I think. It’s one of the more questionable tag-team splits lately for sure.

Hardly a SmackDown classic but Ziggler’s always a good partner for a bigger guy and bumps his behind off every time. As a big Roode fan, I do wish he’d get more of a chance to show what he’s capable of, and he feels like one of those guys that’s just waiting for one of those mass culls that Vince loves going through every so often. It’ll be wasted potential if he is let go. Anyway back to Otis and he won. Good for him. More importantly, he then met Chad Gable backstage. He finally came back and he’s got his own Alpha Academy now which he’s trying to sign Otis up to. Vince is definitely trying to win me over by putting one of my favourites with one of the worst. Let’s see what they do together.

The Final Chapter – No Holds Barred Match – Seth Rollins (w/ Murphy) vs Rey Mysterio (w/ his family)

The final chapter? FINAL? Do you promise? Please. I mean let’s be honest – it probably won’t be. Just like I don’t believe Undertaker will retire at Survivor Series either. Terry Funk retired for about 20 years, I think, so you have to excuse me for being slightly sceptical. I’m going to go along with this though as I really want to believe that this is the end. I’ve been wanting this for weeks. It’s not like Rollins and Mysterio aren’t capable of putting great matches on together. You can even throw Dominik in with that, but it’s all the other family drama stuff that is ridiculous.

This did feel like a final chapter in all fairness. Entirely predictable but it got us to the ending we were all hoping for. Murphy finally turning on Rollins, showing his true colours, and allowing Rey to pick up the win with a sweet frog splash tribute to Eddie Guerrero. A good lengthy match to end the feud and everyone now gets to play happy families, although Seth definitely isn’t done with Murphy. So is that really the end of the chapter? Are we calling this a new chapter now? Feels like the same book. I just hope that Murphy comes out of this looking stronger, and I’d love to see Rey and Dominik maybe move on as a tag team or something. And hopefully, I never have to see another botched 619.

Fatal Four Way Survivor Series Team SmackDown Women’s Qualifier: Natalya vs Liv Morgan vs Tamina vs Chelsea Green

What an intriguing combination. If I was to make a list of people that have been employed for a long time and done practically nothing, then Tamina would be right up there at the top. I honestly forget she even exists half the time and when she does appear I’m never really sure why. Family connections I suppose. At least, Natalya is a half-decent wrestler. It’s nice to see Liv Morgan get a bigger chance and Chelsea Green was a great surprise although apparently she got injured again (she confirmed later she will undergo surgery for a broken left wrist). Poor girl can’t catch a break.

The story here was more about Natalya’s frustrations at not being able to get on the team despite believing she’s one of the best and should get in on name alone. No, thank you. You fight your way on like everyone else, Nattie. I had been thinking about Zelina and where she was but I found that out online after. A real shame to lose her. Good to see Liv Morgan pick up the win and join her Riott Squad teammate Ruby on Team SmackDown. They needed a solid combination that would work together and now they’ve got it. Thoughts are with Chelsea Green though. I’ve really enjoyed her work in many different companies so I hope she gets the chance to come back stronger.

New Day lite

No Billie Kay this week unfortunately but Big E and the Street Profits still got to argue and laugh backstage this week. Profits offered a half-hearted apology with some food all shaped in Ls because that’s what they’ll be delivering to the New Day at Survivor Series. Cute. I quite enjoy their work together even if it is a bit stupid. Big E does feel like he’s doing nothing at the moment though, so I’m hoping after Survivor Series they can actually get him into a proper feud rather than just hanging out backstage in his gear for no reason laughing.

Unsanctioned Match – Drew McIntyre vs Jey Uso

Well, this certainly wasn’t a main-event match I was expecting for SmackDown this week but I should know better than to think RAW superstars weren’t going to show up eventually. Drew is looking to prove himself as one of the men to watch in WWE while Jey’s out there representing his family and doing everything he can to impress Roman. This felt like a good way to tie in the Survivor Series PPV with the ongoing feuds that SmackDown has been doing so well lately. It’s not easy to try and make brand rivalry look important while completing ignoring what’s already been building for weeks so having Drew trying to establish dominance and Jey defending his family’s honour worked really well.

As Roman said himself, Jey has been performing exceptionally lately and his match with Drew this week was another solid singles effort from him. McIntyre’s matches since coming back to WWE have been a lot better than his initial run too and he definitely learnt a lot on the indies about being a more interesting character and putting matches together. This was a killer (Friday 13th people!) match that stood well on its own merits but threw in the additional storylines, and it was a great effort all round. With Jey and Drew fighting for a win, Roman came out and told his cousin that he needed to make the RAW superstar understand. Beating Drew down with punches Uso took his eyes off the prize for a second and, one Claymore later, he was staring at the lights for a 1-2-3. Drew then asked Roman if he understood now and damn what a way to end SmackDown this week. I don’t think this is the last we’ve had of McIntyre and Reigns.

The best of SmackDown

  • Drew McIntyre – showing some balls walking out there onto Roman’s island and establishing dominance.
  • Liv Morgan – picking up a significant career win and showing what she’s capable of.
  • Sami Zayn – once again outsmarting the opposition.
  • The Final Chapter – they actually ended it finally. Thank you, Vince.
  • Chad Gable – I’m excited about his future.

The worst of SmackDown

  • Tamina – she’s still terrible even though she didn’t do much.
  • Robert Roode – he deserves better.
  • No Kevin Owens – always disappointing.
  • No Cesaro – even more disappointing.

In summary…

After a slightly disappointing effort last week, this show felt a lot better, especially in terms of pushing the significance of Survivor Series while still furthering the SmackDown storylines already in place. I’m far more interested in a Drew vs Roman match than I am Randy Orton being involved, although I’d be shocked to see McIntyre actually win the title back on RAW. We can all celebrate the Mysterio family drama finally being over too. Hallelujah. That’s the Christmas present I always wanted and it’s come early. We all survived Friday the 13th and it wasn’t too scary apart from poor Chelsea Green’s injury. Only one SmackDown left before Survivor Series so join me next week to see the final pieces fall into place. I wonder who will be WWE Champion by then… Oh and best of luck to Zelina Vega wherever she ends up. Any company will be lucky to have her.

All images and videos courtesy of WWE