SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
This week’s Smackdown was the go home show for the Royal Rumble and instead of focusing on the champion, Roman Reigns, we were basically watching the Daniel Bryan show. It’s been a long time since we’ve had ourselves a good old fashioned Daniel Bryan show so, for once, I can dig it.
Bryan opened the show with probably the strongest piped in audio of any piped in audio thus far and talked about how much he wants to win the Royal Rumble. It has been a very long time since anybody but Roman opened the show but Bryan has spent a couple of weeks now explaining why you should watch the Royal Rumble. Then Smackdown does that thing where it gets all weird because A.J. Styles shows up. Why, you say? That’s a fair question.
This week’s Raw did not feel like a go-home show. By the looks of it and using the method of “this is a brand vs. brand invitational”, the WWE are scrapping the whole brand split just for the sake of a big go-home show.
They called it quarterly? I wonder if we’ll see this all over again right before WrestleMania?
The WWE recaps the Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens feud, briefly, before getting on with the show. We’re seeing the words final showdown in real big print. This isn’t something that the WWE has ever stuck to before. We’ve also seen this phrased on social media as a war of words. That sounds fun, doesn’t it?
You probably detected a note of sarcasm there, but once we finally reach the Roman Reigns section, I’m very pleasantly surprised with the return we get. After another recap, this time much, much longer, we reach the start of the second hour draw segment. The segment is a prerecorded interview with Michael Cole, with the cameras on a side by side. It’s a championship staple that’s been most recently used with Sasha Banks and Carmella. Roman looks bored. He looks tired. Paul Heyman does the heavy lifting here.
When Roman is ready to speak he cuts Michael Cole entirely out of the conversation. He asks whether Owens’ father is a smart man. Both men are speaking so quietly the Thunderdome audio is at risk of swallowing them up. Roman makes a chess metaphor, which I was not at all ready for.
Roman’s mafia don persona gets stronger every week. Kevin Owens, one of the strongest speakers in the game, comes across as absolutely powerless in the face of hashtag The Big Dog’s casual, relaxed threats. Kevin Owens calls Roman out as a mafia boss, proving conclusively that WWE read this here Roman Reigns-o-meter.
As Kevin Owens’ passion and fury reaches a crescendo, Roman Reigns turns off the TV. The man is apparently so good at what he does that the laws of physics change and webcams turn off like TVs. Kevin Owens needs to calm himself down; he’s going into this one far too hot.
After that, Smackdown enters go-home show territory and gets more than a little bit messy. We go from AJ Styles vs Daniel Bryan one on one, to the inclusion of Cesaro on commentary and Sami Zayn at ringside. While a great match goes on in the ring, Big E arrives to pick a fight with a Sami Zayn who has been picking a fight with him. Zayn gets thrown across the announce table towards Cesaro and just like that Cesaro gets into the fight. Bryan clears them all out with a suicide dive and the end result is five men scrapping in a ring. End result of that is Shinsuke Nakamura coming out to help out and beat people up.
Give me this Intercontinental title scene, WWE. This would be one hell of a Smackdown Six.
The WWE quickly cut to a break so that they don’t have to explain how we get to a six man tag and when we return, lo and behold, we’re in the middle of a six man tag. Michael Cole has already started with the “if this was the Royal Rumble…” schtick he does every year. What I’m trying to say is that there was not enough Roman Reigns this week.
As it turns out, six men is not enough people for one match so as the battle continues the numbers rise. The Miz and Morrison arrive, carefully steering clear of Roman, and they attack Shinsuke Nakamura and Big E. How is balance restored? Well, Otis is here. That’s good. Ideally as Daniel Bryan’s training partner he and Gable should have been here much, much sooner, but we are where we are.
We go to break again so that the WWE doesn’t have to explain what comes next. Michael Cole seemingly has no idea what it is. He calls it a ten team tag. Then it’s a ten man tag. Then it’s a nine man tag. We can at least still call it wrestling.
But that’s not all! Daniel Bryan stands alone in the ring until he is saved by, of all people, Sheamus. Sheamus who beat Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania with one kick. So what, he came across from Raw and just stood around backstage waiting to see if a massive handicap match had a slot going before the end of the night? Sheamus ends up picking up the victory in the Daniel Bryan vs. A.J. Styles singles match.
But wait, there’s more! With only one minute left of the show, Braun Strowman turns up and destroys all of the heels, suggesting yet another dynamic change on Strowman’s part.
The show ends so that the WWE doesn’t have to explain what just happened. Bless you, dear reader, but your Reigns-o-meter is going to follow suit.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REIGNS-O-METER: REIGNS-O-METER #118: Reigns and Kevin Owens collide