This week’s SmackDown was a decent mix of the Crown Jewel stuff and some storylines that will extend beyond the special event next week, but I wanted to lead with the Crown Jewel stuff because it was fairly compelling.
My biggest gripe with Brock Lesnar is that there are just too many shows where he doesn’t do much. It’s part of the character, but it’s also the part that makes him not as must-see as WWE probably wishes he was.
However...when he’s beating up an entire family – son, father, and godfather – because he’s been threatened? That’s the good stuff. The reveal that Lesnar had Dominick was very well done. Rey Mysterio looked shocked, and the show quietly faded to commercial as he went running to look for his son.
It also shows the hubris of the Mysterio family. They thought Dominick was safe just because Cain Velasquez was there? Lesnar took far too much pleasure in proving that was not the case. I’d imagine Dominick and Mysterio get the heck out of the way on Monday if they decide to do something with Velasquez.
On the other end of the Crown Jewel card, we had a 6-man tag match that featured all the SmackDown contestants in this Team Flair vs. Team Hogan thing. That meant Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura, and King Corbin vs. Roman Reigns, Ali, and (...ugh...) Shorty G.
WWE knows how to do a 6-man. They’re generally awesome, and all of these guys are talented. I hated when Flair and Hogan were talking to start the show, but it was a much better watch once the talent was left to put on a show. If you’re planning to watch Crown Jewel, they just gave away 60% of the match, but that’s fine by me.
This is really, really excellent. But what else would you expect from Daniel Bryan?
On this show, WWE promoted an interview with Bryan where they promised to answer the question “is the Yes Movement back?!” It’s the sort of sensationalist, attention-grabbing b.s. that you’d expect from a myriad of businesses these days.
And instead of answering that question and making things dull, WWE did the same thing they did with the recent Finn Balor heel turn that’s made everything so fun on NXT: They didn’t answer the question.
Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura came out to offer Bryan a different choice. Zayn cited all the things those three have in common to try to reach Bryan on a personal level. And the best part? Zayn was right about a lot of his arguments! He called Bryan on of if not the best to ever do it and claimed that “going back” to the Yes Movement would be, essentially, beneath him. Reading between the lines, it’d be the sort of cash-grabbing move that both Bryan and Zayn seem to strongly detest.
And instead of the usual babyface rally to say no to a heel’s temptations, Bryan left without a word and without a fight. That’s a great for a number of reasons. First, it’s in line with Bryan’s usual motivations. He’s been so driven to improve things, and I’d imagine Zayn’s Yes Movement comments hit home. Second, it implies that we’re going to see something new from Bryan.
And new Daniel Bryan is always good. I’m sold.
The Firefly Fun House was ominous again – Did you notice how the Firefly Fun House wasn’t harmed at all from Rollins’ efforts? How about Rambling Rabbit being resurrected by the “Heal” glove? Either way, Rollins is clearly powerless when it comes to Wyatt...so can Wyatt just freaking stomp him this time?
Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode def. The New Day – Man, it was wild to see Kofi Kingston take a loss from a roll up. After the Gauntlet Match, the WWE Championship run, the year he’s had...man.
The Revival and Heavy Machinery came out to turn this into a big brawl, essentially introducing the tag division on SmackDown for the foreseeable future.
Lacey Evans def. Local Talent – Okay, WWE. Now you have my attention. This was super fun and surprising – and sometimes that’s all I need from WWE. I have watched WWE for so long that I can predict a good portion of their shows before it even happens. This was fun and I’m interested to see what else Lacey can do to provide a different feel to these local talent segments.
Kalisto def. Drew Gulak – Gulak was back with his powerpoint presentation, and he’s been really excellent for two weeks straight. The crowd was so happy to cheer his demise once Braun Strowman showed up to deliver a message to Tyson Fury.
Nikki Cross def. Mandy Rose – This was a too cookie-cutter for my taste. Sasha Banks and Bayley were at commentary to talk during a short match. Cross is Bayley’s next opponent, obviously, but this didn’t really sell it much for me.
The lower card stuff was hit or miss, but this was a good show. I was very pleasantly surprised by the outing, actually. But then again, just look at the talent listed above. This show should always be good.
What did you think, Cageside?