SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
You Say Hello, I Say Goodbye
This week’s Smackdown felt like a true end of an era. For as much credit as Roman Reigns deserves for his role as lead of the Smackdown brand, Daniel Bryan as the would-be and eventual challenger to him was the backbone of so much possibility since last Summerslam. Bryan was the pitch perfect foil for the Reigns mob boss character, and while it is time for something fresh, the loss of Bryan on Smackdown is going to be felt for a long, long time. This is now Cesaro’s chance to shine. Without competition from the best babyface in all of WWE, Cesaro is now in sink or swim territory. The show ending uppercuts just might show he is ready for the sea.
Big Fight Feel
The build to the main event was nothing short of spectacular. The creation of an epic feel of most main events is a thing of the past, which made this build so novel. I loved that there was also a recognition in the predictions from the other wrestlers of Reigns’ dominance to further develop him as a once-in-a-lifetime act that he really is performing to be. I cannot say enough about the spectacular main event match itself. It was an excellent capstone to a monumental run of Bryan and Reigns and a suitable passing of the torch to Cesaro. Jey Uso and Paul Heyman again were invaluable in their addition to the overall top tier acts.
The Sound of Music
Yes, another hit involving Roman Reigns. Major kudos to the decision to give Reigns new entrance music to further compliment his updated persona. On that note, even more of a thumbs up to the actual music itself. Roman now feels like the ultimate boss of any video game or the top bad guy of the modern golden era of TV dramas. The music is only going to enhance that perception.
I liked the start of show with extra meaning being given to the six-person tag. I’ve had a bit of a change of heart of linking Bianca Belair with Street Profits in that it actually is a positive to have a relationship between the face acts as support for one another. Bayley is leaps and bounds more interesting than the Dirty Dogs (what a lame name), but it was a fine enough of a combination for the purposes of tonight. Overall, a good continuation for what is ultimately a segment that had one goal – to continue to build Bianca Belair.
A Growing Problem
It would appear that the tag team division decided to bring the Intercontinental Championship division into the same lane of the same, same, same action each and every week. Apollo Crews, Big E, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn are a solid crew to carry this portion of the show, but it all doesn’t seem to be going anywhere other than an eventual just passing of the title to the next champion of the moment. I remain convinced that Aziz is harming Crews far more than actually helping, Big E has made zero steps forward since Christmas night and Owens and Zayn are totally underutilized. That is not a recipe for great success.
The heartbreak of watching Shayna Baszler lose again is unbelievable. The fact that she is getting so much screen time is not enough of an offset for the terrible damage that has been done to her as the dominating prize fighter that we knew Baszler to be. Whoever thinks that it is worth risking that persona just to benefit Tamina Snuka deserves to be placed in the trash bag that was sent to Mickie James.
Fade to Black
I have zero interest in the Aleister Black vignettes. This is does not read like a future main event act and is way overproduced. The shame of it all is that we are finally seeing Black receive some form of development and purpose. The result, though, is a mixture of too-little-too-late and being just not cool enough.