WWE spent the entirety of Friday Night SmackDown this week, streaming clips from the past showcasing the deep history between Universal Champion Roman Reigns and his Royal Rumble challenger, Seth Rollins. They led the stage together in The Shield, Rollins fired up the band, they fought in the main event of the big shows, the full nine.
Now they are back.
But it feels… I don’t know, forced? Precipitate? Weak?
After all, it happened when Adam Pearce simply decided that Rollins would be the guy to challenge Reigns for his title at WWE’s next major pay-per-view event because his bosses said he had to. The fact that they have such a rich history helps, of course, but their respective character lineups provide an odd viewing experience as a fan.
They’re both bad guys! Who the hell am I supposed to be cheering on here? Why do I care so much about who wins?
In their first in-ring encounter since the announcement, Rollins focused on being up front in singles matches against Reigns while Roman said that was in the past and he was. in “God mode now”. It’s a pretty badass line, no doubt, and they’re both much better now than they’ve ever been before, but, then again, who am I to cheer?
When Reigns decided to dig deeper with his insults, telling Rollins if he wanted someone from the Rollins household with real star power to headline Royal Rumble with whom he would call Seth’s wife, that was a success. But how successful can it be when they’re both heels?
It’s also unfortunate because I don’t want Rollins to tour. He is fantastic in his current role. It all felt weird, which is unfortunate because it could have been really interesting had they hit the story at the right time. It just wasn’t the time.
At least the match will be an absolute bang.
I love Sami Zayn.
This segment was Sami’s peak, the start of a new show he called “INZAYN” which was supposed to be making him “Jackass” better than “Jackass” could ever do himself. He was going to accomplish this by having two guys roll him down the aisle, down a ramp, which would then lead to him jumping over the ring and landing on the other side just outside the commentary desk.
They adorned it with pads, a big bullseye and Pat McAfee can’t wait for him to pull it off. It was perfect!
Then Zayn took his time, pumping himself, trying to make sure it was safe, then checking it again, then stopping just so he could check it again. I almost couldn’t believe it really pissed me off that he didn’t succeed in his attempt.
That’s why I liked it so much.
As soon as you saw the setup, you knew it wasn’t going to do it. I mean come on. It was so obvious. But he’s so good, he pushed me to such an extent that I definitely wanted him to do the thing that would clearly result in some form of injury, enough that I was legitimately angry when he didn’t.
And so was glad that Shinsuke Nakamura showed up to knee him in the skull and that the reliable old Rick BOOGS was there to throw him over the top rope into the bullseye anyway.
Sami Zayn is amazing.
- The Usos have a way of them, but WWE actually let them show some range in their show opening promo, and the result was hugely entertaining where Jimmy featured all the teams in a Fatal 4-Way to determine their next challengers. It was fun! We need more fun in WWE. The match that followed was just that, while The Usos had fun commentating. The Viking Raiders emerged victorious and they will get a future title shot.
- Sonya Deville once again reminded Naomi that she hated her and might withdraw her entry to the Royal Rumble, or something. His reasoning? “You act like a main character when you’re just an extra.” They later did a bit where Naomi tried to manipulate the heat into getting Sonya to take her jacket off so she could jump it but instead Adam Pearce gave her another shot at Charlotte Flair the next week. Yeah, I still don’t know what’s really going on here, I still think it sucks because they haven’t bothered to flesh out the story.
- They brought the character of “Natalya, Guinness World Record Holder” to television and actually did a great job with the segment they had booked for it. Nattie pledged to earn a record fourth defeating Aliyah, a bundle of nervous energy in her first singles match on SmackDown, in just over three seconds. So he jumped on poor Aliyah before the game could start, knocked her down and nearly went out, then backed up so the game could start and she could score the fast pin. Instead, Aliyah, who pleaded with the referee to let the match continue, rolled up Natalya and scored the three count in a record three seconds. It was a really good way to use Nattie’s new persona to get over a new babyface in the women’s division who is, presumably, about to get more TV time. Really well done everywhere here.
- Lisa is back! She showed up to this show with a nice surprise — well, she was promoted briefly beforehand, but only on the day of — and made it clear that she thinks she still has a race in her. Whether or not that is the case, I especially appreciate that instead of using him as a legend returning to fill a spot in the match, they gave us a real story for his appearance in the Royal Rumble and a reason to encourage him. beyond just being a throwback legend. With Sasha Banks injured, a final run for Lita for some games with Charlotte Flair also sounds like a good time. They did a good job of putting that in place here, and I would absolutely love to see it.
- Sheamus beat Ricochet in a decent match. There really isn’t much to say otherwise.
- Madcap Moss has defeated Kofi Kingston following the latter’s announcement that he will indeed be in the Royal Rumble match this year. And now we’re waiting to see what kind of cool backup it will do. It’s one more thing, right?
It was a very good show.