SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Make no mistake about it, Roman Reigns is operating at a new peak, and we are seeing and feeling the star that he was always positioned to be. Despite being against that backdrop, the potential that exists in the rise of Jey Uso should not go unappreciated. In the tag match, Jey showed a fire and urgency that has been missing in much of the main event scene of WWE all year and as a solo act, he simply looks like a star. My hope is that the writing team is able to anticipate a reintroduction of Jimmy down the road with a new presentation so that this push of Jey is not kneecapped before it even gets started because he’s thought to be pushed down to the tag team scene anyway. The rise of Jey Uso could be the most pleasant and stunning surprise of 2020.
•Rise of the Reign-maker
We are in a moment – the one we’ve been waiting for where a true star rises. It really does’t matter that we’ve seen Roman Reign’s face on tv for years, everything about the past three weeks involving him has felt new and for the most part overshadows all that underwhelms. This is as close to the Hollywood Hogan turn as we are going to see for at least another decade, and the immediacy of the comfort level of Reigns, Heyman and Uso is remarkable. The ironic part is the years of poor handling of Reigns are such a vital element to what makes this all so great.
Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura are completely bypassing the stench of the overused cast on the Spring and Summer by having an oddly inspired and rejuvenating feud with the Street Profits. Sometimes it takes the oppositely presented acts to bring out the best in each other and their segments have become surprisingly exciting. Copy and Paste this and replace Cesaro/Shinsuke with AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy in place of Street Profits and the sentiment fits there as well.
•The Foundation of The Fiend Grows
I am very happy that the world of Bray Wyatt continues to grow with the mind takeover of Alexa Bliss and the introduction of the Wobbly Walrus. Try making that sentence make sense in any other world than WWE and you will fail. It is important, though, to commit to building that foundation because Wyatt’s character depends on having examples of his continued ability to take control of others and have his world expand. This is where the original Bray Wyatt presentation failed – he was said to be able to take over the minds of others but only had the same couple of followers. None of this was riveting, but it was forward moving.
•Infusion of the Ordinary
There isn’t a blow more crushing in this era to take down a red hot storyline than adding King Corbin to the mix, and yet, here we are. In many ways, Corbin and Sheamus served necessary roles in the Reigns/Uso storytelling but no matter how you slice it, its a come down to position them so closely to anything that feels remotely fresh. All involved worked hard in the final segment to build Jey up, and it is now time to move them out and cycle in someone with less baggage and more credibility. It just goes to show how mismanaged the entire Smackdown team has been that it isn’t exactly easy to identify who that mid-upper talent needed for the role would be.
The strength of Bayley and Sasha Banks over the past months has been in their complement of each other and the ability to show their personalities in give-and-take interaction. Spotlight solo promos have never been, and certainly aren’t now, a strength of Bayley’s and the headline women’s angle hit a speed bump this week out of the gate. With that said, I’m happy to see that we aren’t being fast tracked to a Bayley/Banks match. By offering up Nikki Cross first, who herself is involved with Alexa Bliss, WWE is showing a patience and an intertwining of storylines that does not usually exist in the women’s division.
•Curse of the Sequel
This was not the home run follow up to last week’s excellent show that a viewer would’ve hoped to see. The mediocre elements that remain began to outweighed the fresh offerings and what was fresh was not necessarily presented in its optimal way (i.e. Bayley). With that said, there was enough newsworthy happenings to keep the show from being forgettable which alone is more than can be said for many years worth of Smackdown episodes.