SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Leave it to Daniel Bryan to be the best part of the main event program that ultimately he is going to be left out of come WrestleMania. It’s jarring just how much more chemistry Bryan has with Roman Reigns than Edge and also just how much more likable Bryan is of the two challengers in their backstage interactions. Bryan and Jey Uso were fantastic as usual and the lack of a definitive win was fine for what it was. I left more excited for Bryan vs. Reigns, though, and imagine that if a live crowd was there, they would be in firm agreement with me. And yet, Edge just continues to roam backstage…
The rapid fire morph of Otis into a long lost cousin of the Natural Disasters has been an unexpected, yet satisfying turn of events. This past year has been filled with twists and turns for Otis, but this is likely the most sustainable approach for him to come anywhere close to the top of the card. Chad Gable, too, seems rejuvenated despite being the side character in this whole storyline. Together though, they form a more captivating union than their individual characters have shown in years. Dominik continued to also look strong last night and is less nerve-inducing to watch by the week. Poor Rey looked worse for wear with a bloody nose at the end of the segment.
The fact that Apollo Crews was given proper promo time to outline his motivations and family history was a win. It wasn’t exactly the greatest performance, but his new attitude remains an exciting element of Smackdown that also shines through in his physical in-ring performances. It is such a shame that Nakamura is being relegated to a plus-1 in the elevation of Crews, but together they do feel fresh. That said, it’s likely safe to assume that the clear pin on Nakamura effectively ends all hope of a major program ahead for him at WrestleMania. Extra credit also goes to Crews’s new ring gear that simultaneously assists in making him look both taller and more muscular. Where can I find that seamstress?”
Seth Rollins is a loser. Everything about this new character of his is the peak of lameness. However, Cesaro shined brighter than ever tonight by saying nothing and over performing. Striking a perfect pose paired with the best Cesaro Swing ever and a star is hopefully being born. It’s a shame about Rollins, but the act makes no sense.
It’s now becoming a weekly expectation to start off Smackdown with a Roman Reigns promo. That is both good and bad. The good is pretty obvious: his microphone work alongside Paul Heyman, Jey Uso, and a rotating cast of opponents (this week being Daniel Bryan) is always stellar. The bad is becoming just as clear, though. The whole dynamic loses quite a bit when the formula remains too familiar. It’s time to introduce new ways of continuing the Reigns character to keep him fresh.
Wor-EST Possible Progression
There was so much wrong with the segment in which Bianca Belair decided her WrestleMania match. Let me count off exactly all that went wrong…. 1. Why is a man (and underwhelming performer at that) being unnecessarily inserted into what should be a historical first for WrestleMania in a women’s title program between two black wrestlers? 2. What suddenly caused the sharp heel turn of Sasha Banks? 3. That was a heel turn, right? She can’t just be that irritating naturally. If you’re sure the answer is no, it’s probably best to stay away from the Austin interview. 4. Why not actually add drama to the festivities by having Asuka and the conspicuous-by-her-absence Io Shirai present? 5. Why do we need all this noise when the talent is so good?
Apparently it is Tamina’s turn to receive the random, out-of-nowhere push in the women’s division. Unfortunately, it’s coming at the expense of the far more impressive Liv Morgan. A push at this point for Tamina feels entirely unearned. She maintains her in-ring awkwardness, is carrying years worth of losses as baggage, and is paired with a nearly equally stale Natalya. If she’s being built as a speed bump for Bianca Belair or Sasha Banks, fine, but anything beyond that feels like a wasted place at the table. That said, we know who the head of that table is after all and family (even close friend-family) goes a long way.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S SMACKDOWN HITS & MISSES: WWE SMACKDOWN HITS & MISSES 2/19: The Reigns whisper, Rollins the retread, and Apollo Crews reignited