For as often as Chris Jericho has made it a point to try to fool the fans into thinking he's maybe not ever returning and then returning but also lying about returning so he can return inside another return...
Oh no, I've gone cross eyed.
Let me try this again.
Chris Jericho pulled off a legitimately surprising return on this week's episode of SmackDown Live. That may not seem all that significant, especially considering the circumstances, but we should really appreciate that he goes to the lengths he does to pull this kind of thing off in the year of our lord 2017.
Not only did he surprise us with a return, it made total sense that he would come back the way he did to do exactly what he would ultimately do, which was put someone over just like he always does. We don't deserve this man.
What's more, we can give him the lion's share of the credit for that triple threat US championship main event match absolutely tearing the house down.
That, too, is impressive, considering this man went out, made a hit record, toured it, then returned out of nowhere like he never left while giving us one of the better TV main event matches of the entire year.
I can't say enough good things about Jericho here, I really can't. He injected life into a program that was getting by on house show title changes and botched pay-per-view finishes.
You're not a Judas in our minds, Jericho.
This segment is the epitome of WWE.
Jinder Mahal, the WWE champion, comes out and demands to know who he will be defending his title against at SummerSlam now that he's effectively dealt with his Randy Orton problem. He is representing a country that is not America, so you know what happened next.
BRRRRRR.... you know the rest.
John Cena proceeds to cut the most John Cena promo imaginable, complete with meta reference to himself as "SuperCena" where he books himself into the title match on the strength of the fact that, well, he's John Cena and he can do that. It looks like it's on, too, until General Manager Daniel Bryan hits the scene to lie his ass off about the fact that opportunities are EARNED at SmackDown Live, they're not GIVEN.
Somewhere, Lana was laughing.
Bryan proceeds to book Cena against Shinsuke Nakamura for next week in a "dream match" that is such a dream match they're giving it away for free so the winner can take a massive step down in competition because, let's be real, that's what this is.
This is very much a WWE problem in that they are always in a hurry to book matches they should be doing everything they can to slowly build to. I don't want to see Cena vs. Nakamura as a way to build to Cena vs. Nakamura. I want to see Cena be see and Nakamura dominate in the way he does until that road naturally leads him to Cena, where he supplants him.
Anyway, this opens the door for the very small possibility that we'll actually get Mahal vs. Nakamura at SummerSlam and we should all hope for that.
USO CRAZY: When wrestlers jump other wrestlers it only really works if it's executed in such a way that you actually start to feel a little uncomfortable about it, like you would if you were actually seeing someone get jumped. The Usos pulled this off by nearly murdering poor Kofi Kingston and then dragging his lifeless body around. I wasn't sold on the idea of this feud continuing but The Usos, who are quietly amazing, pulled this off. Well done.
Throw 'em together: You know when WWE runs out of ideas for programs when they take two that don't have much going for them and mash them together with a mix-and-match tag team situation. That's what they did when they had Sami Zayn and Tye Dillinger beat Mike Kanellis and Aiden English. It wasn't much of anything.
Women's championship: The angle they're running with Natalya and Naomi is that Nattie is real upset about Naomi putting her glow on the SmackDown women's title and turning it into a toy, therefore spitting in the face of tradition. Naomi's response is to say she's actually honoring it and just adding a little piece of herself to it. It's a pretty weak angle, but at least they're trying something? I don't know, it doesn't feel right, like they rushed into something they weren't ever prepared for.
Lana is bad: This is absolutely the Eva Marie story but taken to the point of her actually wrestling, right? The entire story here seems to be that Lana sucks but, like, she's trying to get better so it's kind of okay? That's if you add her social media presence. On TV, it's just that Lana sucks and everyone is reminding her of that at all times, either of straight out telling her or kicking the shit out of her in matches. And the fans still chant for her! It's amazing.
Shinsuke: A quick thought on Nakamura here -- when he was giving his interview to Renee Young backstage, and cutting his little mini-promo on John Cena, he totally played it like a 6-year-old telling an adult a joke they heard that they think is just the funniest thing in the world. It was the most adorable wrestling thing I've ever seen.
This was a good show, other than the fact that they didn’t follow up on the Fashion X Files. Also, if you haven’t seen Smacking Talk yet, GO WATCH IT.