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Chalk the Jey Uso and Roman Reigns backstage segment as the absolutely best segment on Smackdown this year, perhaps ever. The acting and the depth of story between Jey and Roman is just beyond anything else in WWE right now. Jimmy is certainly stepping up in his own right to advance the storyline and is a key in keeping the movement from feeling the same as last Fall. With that said, it is Jey and Reigns that are the beating heart of it all. “What happened to ‘we’?” Well ‘we’ are at the very top of the mountain.
Family Affair 2
The Mysterio family is absolutely the perfect foil to the returning Uso team and to a larger extent Roman Reigns. Dominik did a more than fine job last night as the underdog, trading spots with his father from WrestleMania Backlash. It turns out that the Dirty Dogs were the perfect foil for the Mysterios heading into this next chapter of the tag division, and for the first time in a long time I am anticipating next week’s tag team championship match. It is, of course, mostly due to the intertwining with the Roman Reigns storyline, but a win is a win.
The immediate rush in to the Usos vs. Street Profits might have seemed too fast, but it gave way for a great match this week that accomplished a few goals. First, Jimmy showed that he is in great fighting shape for this return push despite his very long sabbatical. Next, it actually gave the Street Profits a feeling of importance and added value to have them paired off with two thirds of the biggest program on the show. And finally, it was just a very good match to add to the aura of Smackdown being destination viewing that not only features WWE’s best writing but also some of its very best wrestling.
Intercontinental Next Steps
I like the dynamic and the chemistry between Kevin Owens and Apollo Crews. It feels familiar but also fresh enough after the long term storyline with Big E. Owens has felt inspired for the better part of the past year and despite not having a ton of time this week, he always feels like he maximizes his moments. Some of these mid-card storylines do feel rushed, but more importantly they also feel like natural continuation points.
We had time for a happy birthday song for Seth, but no sign of Cesaro. This is seemingly a continuation of the intentional decline of Cesaro from the main event scene, and it feels like more than ever this restarted feud with Seth Rollins is simply set up for Rollins to make up for his WrestleMania loss and transition to a brighter day. It might be painful to admit, but in most ways Cesaro did this to himself. It did not feel like a giant gap to have him missing from the show, which tells all the story you need to know.
Add Aleister Black to the list of unexpectedly missing person from this week’s Smackdown and you can put Big E right there with him. It is a terrible sign that the WWE, never known for their patience, felt like it wasn’t necessary to follow up on last week’s show closing angle. Black really required a hot out-of-the-gate follow up to his Big E attack, and quite frankly in the fast moving WWE world it already just feels old and totally minimized. This one truly shocked me.
It took one week for the slightly enjoyable Nakamura/Boogs/crown/cat movement of last week to devolve into a pointless, annoying dynamic that would fit right in into the world of WWE Raw. That is not a compliment, by the way.
State of the Women
This was a concerning week for the Smackdown women. It turns out that Carmella wasn’t being protected for the long term for a follow up feud with Bianca Belair after all. Of if she is, that prospect is very damaged by having her so definitively defeated by Belair. It also feels like Bayley is dumbing down her act to reinforce Belair as the face. The problem is that it seems to go a bit too far into the cartoon realm. And then there’s the women’s tag championship situation where the women are all working very hard for very little meaning. Getting to the return of Sasha Banks can’t come fast enough.