Before we get down to some wrestling business, I’ll start on a personal note. This week marks my one year anniversary of reviewing SmackDown, so thanks to everyone that’s been along for the ride so far and to the fantastic team I get to be a part of here. You’re all awesome! Looking back at September 2020, we were slap bang in the middle of The ThunderDome Era, with Roman’s Universal Championship reign just starting at the end of August at Payback. What a journey he’s been on over this past year and while some things are now different – like the fans thankfully being back – the title is still around the waist of the Tribal Chief. The more things change…
We’ve certainly got some hot feuds going on at the moment – Bianca Belair looking to regain her championship from Becky Lynch, Edge and Seth Rollins playing violent games with each other and Roman looking to be on a collision course with Brock Lesnar. But first, he needed to get through the man that arguably got screwed out of his title shot at SummerSlam by John Cena. Since going back to NXT, Finn Balor found his edge again and this week was his chance to prove to everyone that he’s the one that deserves to be on top. A rare Universal Championship match on SmackDown this week and maybe even a new champion.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Contender’s Match – The Usos (c) vs Street Profits
As part of The Bloodline, The Usos have been hugely successful together lately. Sure, I felt like the Jimmy stuff was rushed through a little once he came back and there felt like more to come, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they returned to that one day when they’re ready to break the family up. Until then, as long as The Usos keep delivering and have those belts round their waists then Roman will be happy. There’s no happiness from the Street Profits though, who have had a real tough journey with Montez Ford’s injury and then battling to get back to the top, and this is as close as they’ve been for months.
This felt more like an appetiser. A hot opener with the crowd fully behind Ford and Angelo Dawkins as they both took it to the champs with their unique brand of speed, strength and agility. But for all their drive and talent the Profits found out why The Usos have been tag champs so many times over the years, and they’re maybe better than ever. Both teams showed why they’re so successful but unsurprisingly a decent tag match broke down as The Usos decided to punish Ford with the ring post and caused a DQ loss. Not the wisest move and the Profits weren’t going down without a fight, with Dawkins ending up being sent into the steps but Montez recovered enough to dive over the top rope and single-handedly take out the tag champs. They wanted the smoke and they got it and it looks like they’ve also got a championship opportunity coming.
The No Movement
It seems like Vince McMahon has decided to combat the potential Daniel Bryan/AEW partnership by giving Becky Lynch the heel ‘no’ move. We just need her to team up with Kane now. In all seriousness if they are looking to turn the crowds against her then making her into a champ that keeps ducking the popular babyface in Bianca Belair isn’t the worst move. It’s not how I saw Lynch’s return going, or Belair’s title reign, but we’re here so we might as well hope for the best. Becky came out with a smile on her face this week but she’s disappointed at how the crowds are reacting to her. She took the time to put over Bianca but then focused on how people were painting her as the bad guy just because she walked out with the title. As with any good heel, it was mostly facts while still having enough of a dastardly edge to make you wish she could get her ass beaten down.
As with any good WWE promo, we know it doesn’t go without interruption, so Belair came out to deliver her rebuttal. I’ll give it to Bianca – she feels like one of the most real talents they have on the roster. Everything she says makes sense, comes across as human and it really makes you want to believe in her. It doesn’t feel like she’s out there playing a wrestling character. She doesn’t give excuses but instead believes in herself and always tries to be better. So once again Belair came with the challenge for Lynch, suggesting she should be more like Roman Reigns and actually defend the belt, but listening to all the EST chants didn’t encourage her. Instead, it was simply another refusal again and the former champ left disappointed once again. I’m not sure it’s the best move for Lynch as by the time Bianca gets her hands on her she’s going to be so mad. Good luck to her.
Dolph Ziggler (with Robert Roode) vs Rick Boogs (with King Nakamura)
Future WrestleMania main event right here. Both exceptional talents, ready to get down on the mat and wrestle each other in circles and deliver a 60-minute epic and… oh. That wasn’t quite how it went down, unfortunately. You’ll be glad to hear that Boogs won though so that’s really all that matters. He’s on a roll lately and I’m totally here for it.
I’m not quite sure what Ziggler’s role in the company is anymore apart from just turning up here and there and wrestling. He doesn’t really seem to have a gimmick or a feud or anything these days which is a bit odd. And Robert Roode is just there walking around with him. They surely need a change of scenery in the next draft.
Cesaro vs Seth Rollins
We all know that SmackDown is the home of fresh and exciting match-ups, so it was a real surprise to see a rematch on the show this week. At least it was a rematch between two guys that work together so well in Rollins and Cesaro, with the latter seemingly disappearing all over the place recently which was a bit strange. Did they get bored of him already? I’m not sure, but this Rollins is a little different and a little more unhinged than the one he faced before. Edge has really done a number on Seth and while he’s still all about the drip and his swanky suits, the ex-Shield member is on a much darker path these days.
Both guys got to have a much more competitive and back and forth match than the Ziggler/Boogs one which was a nice change of pace. Two men, much like Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, who always look to deliver something different when they’re out there in the ring and you almost forget it’s yet another rematch. Cesaro was on the path to victory, but Seth switched things up a bit and stole a few moves off Edge this week just to play some mind games. Unfortunately for him it didn’t help with his plan to avoid the Cesaro Swing and he fell victim to twenty spins and then a Sharpshooter but he held on to escape. Clearly feeling like a win wasn’t coming, Rollins introduced a steel chair to one of Cesaro’s uppercuts and the bell rang for a DQ. The assault continued with the chair and then the metal bar assisted crossface, but then Seth got cocky and went for a Con-Chair-To, resulting in Edge running out for the save. Close call for Cesaro and more unfinished business for Edge and an escaping Rollins. Later in the night Edge would lay down yet another challenge to Seth, this time for Madison Square Garden next week.
The Happy KO Show
Everyone loves Kevin Owens. That much is true. But recently we’ve all fallen a little bit in love with Happy Corbin haven’t we? Let’s not lie. He’s been great to watch and it’s no surprise he got an invite to appear on the KO Show this week. But they’re not exactly buddies and Corbin was far more interested in showing off his Rolex and talking about Wagu beef than re-paying Kevin’s kind donation from a while back. The crowd were booing pretty heavily but clearly not enough as Happy decided to make things even worse by bringing out Logan Paul, the guy who was on the wrong end of a Stunner at WrestleMania.
Paul is a great heel and very easy to hate so it’s no surprise he got into it with Owens again this week with a few shoves back and forth, and then Corbin interrupted with a chokeslam to impress his new YouTube buddy. Not a great night for Kevin Owens but I hope Happy and Logan start travelling around together because I’m pretty sure that’d result in some quality content.
Sami Zayn vs Dominik Mysterio
At this point, WWE might as well paint a big “Dominik is going to turn on his father!” sign and shove it in the middle of the ring for a segment one week. It feels that unsubtle at the moment. At least, it now involves Sami Zayn who is always one of the most entertaining people on the show, no matter what he does. I assume he’s over his conspiracy and documentary stuff and is far happier just beating Dominik up on a weekly basis. Is that a gimmick in itself? I’m not sure but as long as it keeps Zayn on my screen then I’m fine with it.
I guess Rey will keep sending his son out until he wins but you know what doesn’t help? Coming out and distracting him all the damn time. Dominik was doing just fine with some great counters causing Sami to try and leave, which Rey then came out to stop in what I assume was a nice guy thing to do. But instead, it caused all kinds of confusion and distraction and Zayn kicked him in the face and 1-2-3. More Mysterio misery and I’m sure more to come.
Universal Championship – Roman Reigns (c) vs Finn Balor
Now that John Cena has been defeated and sent back to Hollywood, we can finally return to our regular programming with a guy like Finn Balor. I don’t think he’ll be going to Hollywood any time soon so he’s here and ready to kick some serious behind, or at least that was the plan until The Usos jumped him during his entrance. They clearly had some making up to do to the Tribal Chief after their earlier disappointment with the Street Profits, so they smashed Balor with chairs until Ford and Dawkins came to the rescue. Finn was always fighting an uphill battle against Reigns but even more so after the brutal attack from the tag champs. But Balor has battled his way around the world and won multiple championships so we know how tough he is and a few painful ribs would never stop him from taking his opportunity.
Reigns took a calculated approach to his opponent and looked like he was on top but Finn started trying to chop him down like a tree and he actually got a decent amount of offence on the champ and made a few people in the crowd believe that he could be the one to finally topple the dominant monster on top. A kick out of a Superman Punch, followed by a Spear reversal and then a Shotgun Dropkick setting up for a Coup de Grace had everyone on their feet for one of the closest near falls you’ll ever see. Unfortunately for Finn, Reigns kicked out with his sneaky low blow and that ultimately led to his downfall in a vicious Guillotine to allow Roman to keep his title. Can anyone defeat him? A quick heartbeat and red light suggested that maybe a darker version of Balor will come for him eventually. A great main event and a nice tease to end the show.
The best of SmackDown
- Roman Reigns – retained the title even if it was under questionable circumstances
- Finn Balor – put up a damn good fight, against all the odds
- Rick Boogs – yet another win for Pat McAfee’s favourite star
- Street Profits – finally back on track
The worst of SmackDown
- Dolph Ziggler – an embarrassing quick loss
- Rey Mysterio – he needs to stop interfering
- Logan Paul – we love to hate him
- Becky Lynch – stop being a coward, damnit
- Sonya Deville – overlooked Naomi again
This definitely feels like another transition period for SmackDown. We’ve still got a few unfinished feuds that probably need blow-off matches at Extreme Rules, while things like the Mysterios are bubbling under the surface and will probably explode over the next few weeks. Becky and Bianca will eventually get their hands on each other at the PPV and Reigns might have a Demon to deal with as well as a Beast so good luck to him. There’s a lot of talent on SmackDown right now and it’s still the best weekly show WWE put out. I just hope they don’t get screwed in the Draft in October although when do they ever stick to brand splits anyway. But for now, we’ve got some hype for MSG next week. Should be a damn good SmackDown!
All images and videos courtesy of WWE