Bayley quelled a Riott, Edge & Bianca Belair decided to punt when asked who they’ll face at WrestleMania, & The Street Profits set wrestling commentary back, without hyperbole, a billion years.
While RAW was off booking for Elimination Chamber, SmackDown treaded water last week, leaving just two shows left to set the stage for what we’re going to get from them there. Did any new feuds develop? Any matches booked? Are we just going to put tag teams in pods to determine which will be King Corbin’s new goons? Let’s get to the ranking.
***Just a heads up, as I’m a couple weeks behind, I’m going to rank the stories as a whole the past two episodes rather than individual segments just to make things simpler.***
Swept Up In A Riott
Let me start off with saying that I’m pretty down on both these episodes. Story decisions & character motivations have been questionable at best on The Blue Team lately, so ranking these shows was pretty hard because almost everything is confusing as all hell. We’ll get to it & I’ll try to be as fun with it as possible, but these are far from the good SmackDowns we’ve been getting.
The two things that remain great are, and stop me if you’ve heard this one before, Bayley & Billie Kay. Episode II of The Ding Dong Show: A Jax Of The Clones we’ll dive into a little further down, for now let’s focus on those dastardly Riotts getting their comeuppance from Hero Bayley & the juggernaut tag team of *squints* Tamina & Natalya. Sure, why not. I love that fact that not accepting forgiveness is why Ruby & Liv keep losing. Had you just allowed Billie back in The Squad, none of this would’ve happened. A simpler mind might suggest Billie’s interference is why The Riotts keep losing, but we read between the lines here at SRP.
I’m also very happy to see Billie has snapped out of her Stockholm Syndrome with The Riotts & decided to join the winning side of the division. She may have gotten kicked in the face for her troubles, but these are just temporary setbacks, people. It’d be nice to get Billie an actual partner by now since there’s a glimmer of an actual division on the show. As much as her showing up every week & walking around with pictures of herself is entertaining, that may have an expiration date.
Just kidding. Please keep going with it throughout all of WWE. Have her show up on RAW as a third Sexy Muscle Friend. Then head down to NXT to howl at the moon with Shotzi & Ember Moon. Hell, have her cameo on NXT UK to in a track suit & salute the ring next to WALTER. Bandwagon Billie Kay forever.
Anyway, please enjoy the only Cleaner in wrestling going forward:
I Don’t Respect You, Booker Man
Let me lead off by saying that I wanted a SmackDown Elimination Chamber Match to determine the next opponent for Reigns’ Universal Championship, but now that they’ve pulled the trigger on it, I’m having buyer’s remorse. Part of it has to do with everybody’s motivations not in the match itself. Adam Pearce tries to make the match for the title, but Heyman & Reigns balk, saying the winner can have their shot immediately after. So why is Roman still pissed? You can argue that’s his default setting, but he’s still getting exactly what he wanted, so getting riled up about Kevin Owens in the match, especially when he’s beaten him three straight times, seems forced. That brings us to Pearce himself, who throws in Jey Uso as well, but if anything that feels like another thing going in Reigns’ favor than him sowing discord in their ranks. Pearce is neck & neck with a laptop on a podium as far as effective general managers at this point.
I do love Heyman’s reasoning that Reigns should not have to defend his title in The Chamber & would be better off going into Mania as Universal Champion because last year’s Mania Reigns wasn’t at & no fans showed. A good heel is always technically correct. The best kind of correct.
That brings us to the qualifying matches, which have the most obvious outcomes, they’re barely worth watching. Corbin & Zayn defeating The Mysterios is the most “We need heels for The Chamber Match” booking decision I’ve seen since the concept began. I would’ve preferred the opponents switched for this whole thing. You can have Roode & Ziggler defeat The Mysterios & have a heel team in there to add a wrinkle to the story, particularly if their titles aren’t being defended on Sunday anyway.
Bryan & Cesaro were a lock the second their names were mentioned, so the whole thing with Seth attacking Cesaro beforehand became essentially pointless as far as Elimination Chamber goes. Cesaro completely no sells the knee during his match, with the finish being him using the bum knee to backbreaker Ziggler, swing him, then step into The Sharpshooter, all of which puts pressure on his bad knee. I like that sequence a lot, but they just swept everything that happened prior under the rug. If we complain when guys like Cena do that, we gotta be consistent when guys we like do it too.
Even with the minor hiccups in character motivation & booking decisions, that still leaves us with a solid lineup of Bryan, Cesaro, Zayn, Corbin, Kevin Owens & Jey Uso in The Chamber for Sunday. Outside of Corbin & Zayn, a lot can be worked with there to build us to a great matchup for Mania, especially when you know Reigns is going to roll whoever actually wins that match since he & Heyman stipulated he gets to face the victor right after.
Solid plan right? Whoops! Here’s Edge showing up & taking a Spear from Reigns to pretty much put that into the dirt. So now we have a Chamber Match where the winner is going to have a match against Reigns & most likely lose since he’ll be all beat up from it, but get no retribution as it’s looking like Edge vs. Reigns for Mania is in play. What’s the point of anything in between? You could really build a solid Mania blowoff match between Reigns & whoever he screws over that wins The Chamber, but now that’s probably off the table. Just a weird booking decision all around.
I would’ve done Edge vs. McIntyre & do the story I just outlined above for SmackDown, which at the very least makes more sense. You get the hero potentially getting revenge at Reigns for The Chamber fallout & Edge goes after half the championship he never lost in The WWE one. Seems pretty simple, but I don’t run WWE, so what do I know?
Alphas Go Omega
I’m currently on the fence with The Alpha Academy. They took a clean loss two weeks ago to The Street Profits in a pretty solid back & forth, but they take another one here when Gable just wanders into the ring for too long (Please ignore Dominik doing the same thing once Chad does it). I do appreciate the page out of The Roman Reigns Playbook just completely ignoring the wins & losses in service of inflicting damage.
They need to figure out what Gable & Otis are & stick to it. The two started out with Gable recruiting Otis seemingly under nefarious ulterior motives, but then they were joking around with Daniel Bryan for weeks doing air thrusts backstage. Now I guess Gable’s original plan is taking shape where Otis acts as his big, dumb muscle & beats up who he says? I can get behind that idea pretty easily, but you got to make it clear to us. Fortunately, it appears that may be the case given the backstage interview after the fact. Here’s looking forward to whenever Otis goes full Lenny from Of Mice & Men on Gable.
Otis only pawn in game of wrestling life.
Reggie Puts The Division On Ice
We now reach the portion of the article where I point out that SmackDown’s Women’s Division is now revolving around a wandering drink servant. I’m talking a lot about character motivations these two episodes & I still don’t understand what is going on with almost everybody involved here.
Reggie works for Carmella but is all about Sasha Banks, talking her up any chance he gets & telling potential opponents that they stand no chance against her. Apparently the thoughts of a bartender are enough to sway Bianca Belair off the notion of challenging Banks outright for WrestleMania & that it would be a better idea to just team with her against Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler, who show up on SmackDown to confront none of the actual teams there. The only person making any sense is Carmella, who rightfully wants to know why her beverage butler is now Banks’ hype man/general manager who out of nowhere has match making powers.
The only thing keeping this out of the bottom of the column is it being saved once again by Bayley, bringing back everybody’s new favorite wrestling talk show. The lack of decorum by these heathens is astounding. When you show up to The Edge & Christian Show, you get ready for a five second pose. You go on The Kevin Owens Show, you better be prepared to probably get powerbombed. Most importantly, when you’re a guest on The Ding Dong Show, you USE THE FREAKING DOOR, YOU JERKS. Bayley’s commitment to the bit is the only thing keeping this otherwise confusing mess afloat & everybody else should just forfeit all three titles & shot at WrestleMania to her.
The whole thing leads to an intergender five women, one man match & oh boy is it not good. Reggie pins Nia by legitimately falling on top of her if you’re wondering. Falling on her ass has proven to be an instantly critical to her lately, so I guess that tracks. Good for Reggie though. You got to think that puts him in line for a shot at The Women’s Tag Team Championships, Corey!
Big Mean E
Speaking of people Adam Pearce DEFINITELY should’ve thrown a bone to after getting royally screwed over in that Gauntlet Match & put in The Elimination Chamber, here’s Shinsuke Nakamura answering an Intercontinental Open Challenge by himself, not as a reward from management or anything. I’m not complaining about Nak in any sort of title picture, but the omission of him from The Universal one, when he’s got as big of a gripe as anybody against Reigns, felt like a layup booking decision heading into Elimination Chamber.
He gets a pretty good match with E going, but it’s ruined just as things start picking up by Apollo Crews, who Big E ethered right before the match by telling him to “Go back to catering”. I haven’t heard a more vicious line since Baron Corbin told somebody to go back to Ring of Honor when Jim Cornette was head booker over there. Just an absolutely brutal thing to say to another wrestler. He was right to get his face kicked in.
Nak gets his win back against the guy who wronged him of a title opportunity here, just like he did with Jey Uso. If this booking trend continues, look for him to answer a 24/7 Championship open challenge & someone interfering to prevent him winning. Kidding aside (I hope), the aftermath is still all about Crews & E, with Apollo getting into a stair down with him. Get it? Because the stairs were dropped down on Big… nevermind.
I feel like this leads to the obvious triple threat, which is annoying for two reasons. One, they’re doing the same thing with the midcard title over on RAW & more importantly, Crews has now lost about a dozen Intercontinental opportunities this past month. I do like that he’s finally into full heel territory after just dipping his toes in during the previous outings, but it might be too little too late. You don’t have to go back to catering, but you can’t stay here.
He’s No Longer A Messiah, But Still A Very Naughty Boy
First of all:
I appreciate the tease that Seth Rollins might be coming back as a face with his old music, but two things should’ve dispelled that notion from the jump. Once the locker room was asked to ringside to welcome him back, we probably should’ve known he’d go at them. Last time he wanted to address everybody was after Survivor Series in 2019, when he pointed out that all of RAW stinks (Shout out to the heel being in the right once again). Secondly, anybody wearing THAT outfit screams heel. He looks like he just left a stockholder’s meeting in The Matrix.
The whole thing serves as a means for Seth to attack Cesaro just for pointing out he’s the same annoying promo he’s been for a year now. Rollins shows up the next week to call Cesaro a loser & that he has weird nipples or whatever John Cena-Vince McMahon approved insult passes these days & I guess we’re getting that feud since “They’ve been friends for so long but are now rivals” talking point has come out of nowhere.
I really don’t enjoy when WWE does this. They’re doing the same thing over on RAW with Sheamus & McIntyre. Even if these guys have been shoot friends for years, you telling us that brings zero pathos to the feud. We get upset when tag teams turn on each other because we’ve seen them work & grow together. By insisting that exists outside the ring, but us never seeing it, the same weight can’t be applied. It’s the worst example of telling & not showing. I have no doubt a match between these two will rip, however as it stands there’s no reason to be emotionally invested in the slightest no matter how much Seth nasally complains. And he better pray Cesaro doesn’t decide to bring fashion into this fight or he’s done for.
Worth Your Time: Cesaro & Bryan vs. Roode & Ziggler, Nakamura vs. Crews
If You Have Time: Bayley vs. Liv Morgan, Nakamura vs. Big E, The Ding Dong Show, Chamber Six Man Tag
Don’t Waste Time: Zayn & Corbin vs. The Mysterios, The Riotts vs. Tamina & Natalya, Anything Seth Rollins,
That’s the last two SmackDowns, gang. Join me & everybody else over on The Discord this Sunday for Elimination Chamber & be sure to check back in with us for results & an ensuing review. Until then, get hype for Elimination Chamber where pandemic wrestling comes to a head & we put a bunch of wresters in plexiglass pods. The Eliminating Corona Chamber!