HEYDORN’S SMACKDOWN RECEIPT 7/16: The return of live audiences leads to big pops and reactions consistent with booking

BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH ASSISTANT EDITOR


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

This week’s episode of WWE Smackdown has wrapped. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and relive some of the madness.

-Vince McMahon with the first big pop of the night as the first person out through the curtain is the free space on everyone’s SmackDown watch along bingo card. You knew it would happen. You just knew it would happen …

-Roman Reigns was booed. Booed consistently and booed loudly. Big news. His act has a cool factor to it, but even in the presence of an audience, he was able to lean into the arrogance and entitlement instead of the cool. The guy is on another level and WWE has actual money in the bank waiting when they pull the trigger on someone beating him. It’s fun to watch Reigns manipulate a crowd within the new heel gimmick for essentially the first time.

-That pop for Edge? Holy smokes. Straight goosebumps. Probably as big of a pop as you’ll hear these days in WWE.

-WWE didn’t get too cute with the final hype for Reigns vs. Edge. It’s unlike them. Edge, Rey, and Dominik didn’t win their match, but Edge got the upper hand over Reigns and the fans got the visual of him tapping out. With the outcome not in doubt or really debatable at this point with Reigns likely retaining on Sunday, this was effective in building some A to B investment in Edge winning. The audience helped in a major way as they recognized and therefore popped for the Reigns tap.

-It’s cool, as long as it’s the cool Finn Balor that’s back. No smiling unless he’s winning the WWE Universal Championship and even then, only one.

-A nice match between Bianca Belair and Carmella. Nothing out of this world, but serviceable and one that allowed for Belair to shine. Most importantly, a strong audience reaction was there for her. Belair is a main roster star created in the pandemic era. WWE is smiling after getting the reaction they want and wrote for on the first night out. Drew McIntyre, you’re up.

-From main events with Roman Reigns to toiling with Otis and Chad Gable. Such is life for Cesaro.

-And poor Baron Corbin eats a Stunner from Kevin Owens. That takes care of all the Corbin “he’s a babyface” talk, but gives significant insight into Vince McMahon’s inner thoughts on what to do with people down on their luck.

-Loads of action in the fatal four-way main event. Rollins shined by design, but his momentum most likely serves as a red herring to hide the outcome of Sunday’s MITB match. The light didn’t beam as bright on Big E during the match and he ate the pin from Rollins. If you’re looking at traditional WWE psychology to analyze Sunday, Big E is high on the list of possible winners after tonight.

-Overall, nothing out of whack on display in terms of a live crowd reaction not jiving with storylines, character alignment, or pushes. Could be a honeymoon period for WWE. Could be evidence of capable booking. We’ll know better in a few weeks, but the latter? Nah, not buying that yet.


CATCH-UP: 7/16 WWE SMACKDOWN TV RESULTS: Keller’s report on first post-Thunderdome show in Houston with Reigns & Usos vs. Edge & Rey & Dominik, Belair vs. Carmella for Women’s Title

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