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The Roman Reigns Show
Another week and another best-in-show performance by Roman Reigns. At this point, everything that Roman touches turns to gold, and it is now safe to add Rey Mysterio to the list of wrestlers that has seen their standing lifted from ordinary to excellent in the matter of moments. Add Jimmy Uso to the list as well. For the first time since his return, I felt that Jimmy truly stepped up in a way that matched the performances of Jey Uso, Roman and Paul Heyman. In most ways, nothing else on the show matters aside from the Roman Reigns world because the world is expansive enough that it covers enough ground for Smackdown to retain the crown as the best show in the business.
Speaking of retaining a crown, there is a lot of clownery involving Baron Corbin and Shinsuke Nakamura right now, but it oddly is serving as a fine enough entertainment point for me. Is it a high point in either careers? Most certainly not. It is, however, a relatively light point of a show carried by darker personalities and storylines, and that is fine enough for me. Hopefully after the Battle of the Crown we can move on swiftly to something a bit more important for Nakamura, but it’s good to see him week-in, week-out for me.
Battle of the Patriarchs
Going back to the Roman world for a second (really do we ever leave it with anything on Smackdown?), the main event program heading into Hell in a Cell really tracks. It would have been way too soon and similar to last year to have Jimmy Uso face Reigns, and Rey Mysterio is a perfect counterpoint to Reigns trying to be the patriarch of Smackdown. I loved the show ending brawl and the foreshadowed kendo stick leading to the attack by Dominik. The camera angle of the throw of Dominik wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but everything else felt like a fight. That was perfect for me.
It’s Otis Time
No I don’t think Otis is necessarily in line for a world championship push, but there is a movement to a more WWF era Vader feel to him that is more serious than I would’ve ever projected a year ago. I think the change in facial hair is a further step in seeing Otis transform into a more seriously used act with elevation potential. Gable is tremendous as well and continues to excel despite Otis feeling more of the WWE priority.
The meeting of the minds between Bayley and Seth Rollins felt to me like a version of when Ric Flair debuted in WWF and shared the screen with Bobby Heenan. It was two worlds that made sense coming together. The fact, though, that they are both carrying the verbal end of programs against less dependable vocal performing opponents wasn’t lost on me when Cesaro and Bianca arrived. The laughing might’ve also teetered too closely into the later days of Vickie Guerrero for my taste, but in general it was enjoy able chemistry from two pros making the most of what they are working with. “Did you order food” did have me laughing more than anything else on WWE tv in a very long time.
If anyone asks me why I don’t think Big E is main event material, I’m going to show them his entrance on this week’s show.
It is 2021, and yet we have a female wrestler (not valet, not manager, not side character) insisting on being called the most beautiful woman in WWE. I understand entirely that not every woman on the roster needs to be presented as a world-class championship fighter but this felt reductive to high degree to me. Pair that with a lower end of WWE women’s wrestling match between Carmella and Liv Morgan, and this felt like a definite step back in any so-called evolution we’ve seen.
Respect for Sami
Poor Sami Zayn deserves better. He has been so good for so long that it feels like time that some respect actually begins to truly be put on his name. The intercontinental picture is doing fine enough to fill its spot and I’m glad that Kevin Owens is getting sustained attention and is seemingly treated with importance, but Sami’s day is coming due for sure.