SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
•A Good Time To Move On: The Seth Rollins extended storyline with Murphy, by way of the Mysterios, found itself a satisfying conclusion last night. Murphy in particular is walking away from it all a much stronger part of Smackdown and will find himself no longer looking like a missing-half, which should have been one of the goals of this program anyway. He has always been a talented worker, but working with a purpose has added a layer of importance to Murphy that can carry on. Aalyah in his corner will continue to add storyline elements to prevent him from just entering nonsense midcard matches. The long standing hope, though, is that after an extended break, Seth returns with a rejuvenated sense of purpose, and either an entirely new character or new dimensions added to the existing one.
•Bryan Fade-In: Daniel Bryan looked like a star last night and is exactly the right person to be inserted into a long range program with Roman Reigns once Survivor Series has concluded. It was a mistake for Bryan to lose to Jey Uso a few weeks back, but tonight was a make-good on that and it is interesting to see what the fallout from Uso losing will be next week. Bryan found a fantastic look with his recent haircut and overall appearance that gives off a fresh feel. The match with Uso was excellent and is a continued testament to the work being put into turning Jey into a real power player. He is on his way there, and I believe at the end, we’ll look back and see Daniel Bryan might just be the kingmaker in this situation.
•The Future is Now: There was clumsiness and corniness in the contract signing segment, but a significant takeaway is that Reigns and Drew McIntyre looked tremendous in the ring together. Both have found such confident and crisp looks that truly feel like a new day has come for the WWE main events. The Survivor Series may feel like a waste of a dream match (which was also already given away in mediocre fashion at Wrestlemania two years ago), but I am content with this just being a first chapter to lead potentially to an even stronger proper feud. I did not care much for the longer talking by Reigns and him stepping a bit outside of his stoic new persona, but I can appreciate him trying to expand. Still Reigns remains the best part of any WWE show which is very good news for McIntyre right now.
•Bayley Bounce Back: I enjoyed Bayley tonight. While she has been so identified with the women’s championship, it did not feel awkward to watch her try to alpha the Smackdown midcard women’s division, and it tangibly felt like she added credibility to the Survivor Series women’s match. I’m looking forward to how she develops further without the constant need to infuse the title in her situations.
•Bad Day: There is always going to be a “hit” element to a match that converges the talent that came together to form the opening eight man tag, but this week there were more negatives that made its entire existence a questionable booking decision. New Day is not doing well. Aside from their in-ring action (and that is a big aside as they’ve been excellent in matches lately), there is just a negative aura that is following them right now. I also would have strongly preferred a mystique exist with them sharing a ring with Street Profits prior to Sunday. Sami should not have lost. He has benefitted so much from being stronger this go around, and I would’ve liked to have seen that doubled down on. Corbin, despite best efforts, is just a screen killer.
•Awkward Adam: How did Adam Pearce go from being an occasional hand backstage that assisted with making matches to being the only authority figure WWE has. It is clumsy after years of storyline figureheads to just throw him out there like this, and he would work much better as part of an ensemble of backstage officials. Otherwise he looks so b-level compared to the acts that have come before him. I’m just thankful to not have to live with another heel authority figure. I hope I didn’t just jinx us all!
•The Worst of the Best: Asuka and Sasha Banks are the best we’ve got in WWE’s women’s wrestling. Tonight was the worst of what they both offer making it frustrating that they were event put together on screen tonight at all. Asuka veers very heavily into the lane of being annoying if she’s allowed to, and when Banks feels uncertain of a situation, she bends fully into being unlikable. I have no worry that their work on Sunday won’t override tonight’s showing, but it’s an example that with both Asuka and Banks it is often a case of one step forward, two steps back.
•Quick Misses: Stop scripting Roman too heavily during extended promos. His eyes tell that he is finding his lines rather than feeling what he’s saying. Big-E is so bad (the character not the worker) that I am actually rooting for him to not succeed. Otis and Gable work, but it is still beneath everything that Gable deserves. Bianca Belair needs a manager