This “Who Attacked Roman Reigns?” mystery has been one hell of a ride. First, we had the initial attacks that were...interesting. Some scaffolding fell to end an episode of SmackDown on an odd cliffhanger, and a camera was attached to the front of the car that nearly ran Reigns over. That sort of a comic gaff takes away from the seriousness of someone, you know, trying to murder Roman Reigns.
Then, we got the Buddy Murphy interrogations. They were excellent, in my opinion. They also seemed to implicate Bryan as the culprit...but then it dragged out for a few more weeks, adding an Erick Rowan doppelganger into the mix. They lost me once again.
But this? An Erick Rowan who’s totally snapped and has betrayed Bryan’s trust? Fun!
I really like Rowan’s motivations here too. He was controlled by Bray Wyatt before having a solo run that didn’t amount to much. He teamed with Luke Harper before being shackled to Bryan’s cause. And that’s basically his big issue here: he’s tired of being subjugated to others. He’s his own man and he’ll do what he pleases.
Now, we’re still missing the motivation for attacking Reigns. He didn’t really give us anything on that front other than “I enjoyed hurting you.” And to be fair, that’s a perfectly fine motivation for a minor villain.
Who’s to say where this heads, but it could be the start of a redemption arc for Bryan. Perhaps someone’s been in Rowan’s ear in the shadows. There’s intrigue here, and that’s more than enough for me for the time being.
And Gable. You’re goddamned right.
I recall complaining about how Chad Gable was getting portrayed in a recap a few weeks ago. To have heels outright laughing in his face and mocking him for his height just seemed like an idea that was destined to fail.
Well, that shows what I know. I forgot the most important thing: Chad Gable is really freaking good.
He’s good at the resigned acceptance when Samoa Joe interrupted his pre-match routine. He’s good at the sad eyes that Joe accused him of having – you know, the ones that show that the short jokes still hurt him. And more than anything else, he’s damn good at the wrestling.
When this King of the Ring Tournament started, I had mentally-penciled Ricochet vs. Andrade as the finals. Leave it to Gable to ruin that plan in entertaining fashion. He and Andrade killed it, delivering my favorite match of the night. There was an awesome moment where Andrade went for the Three Amigos which Gable countered into a trio of German Suplexes. Eddie Guerrero? Kurt Angle? Is that you?
Zelina had to interfere to set up Andrade for the win, but Gable fought out of the Hammerlock DDT and rolled up Andrade for the win. He pumped his fists with blood in his teeth as the crowd exploded.
So yeah, I was totally wrong about this. Gable’s ready, willing, and just can’t wait to be King.
Bayley’s a role model – If you are calling yourself a role model...you’re absolutely not a role model.
Bayley came out to an intensely mixed reaction to open the show, where she tried to spin her attack on Becky Lynch in a positive light. In reality, she’s just being loyal – an extremely important trait for anyone to have! On top of that, she’s just trying to give others opportunities and to make the SmackDown Women’s Championship as important as the Raw Championship...thereby implying that she is, in fact, overshadowed by Lynch.
But hey, a few chair shots to Charlotte will totally make you a face. Right, Bayley?
Orton vs. Kofi Kingston feels extremely overshadowed – Speaking of shadows, this feud feels like it just doesn’t matter. Orton’s got the Revival on his side, Kofi’s friends are missing...and it still feels inevitable that the champion will win in the end. It’s not tugging at my emotions like I’d hoped.
King of the Ring, Round 2: Elias def. Ali – Ali’s nuts, man. This match actually had me reflecting on the entire tournament. Think of all the men who aren’t going to win, and yet have looked awesome in defeat. Murphy, Cedric Alexander, Apollo Crews, Drew McIntyre, Cesaro...now Ali.
Elias went after Ali’s leg for much of the match and was able to eventually use it to hit Drift Away. I was shocked by this outcome, initially. I’m much more on board with this after seeing Gable win the crowd so well.
Aleister Black def. Shelton Benjamin – I really liked the imagery of Black ripping away at his clothing out of anger. This whole self-imposed exile, waiting for someone to knock on his door has shown that Black’s got a couple of screws loose. It’ll be interesting when he meets a challenge that he can’t totally annihilate.
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Local Talent – I laughed like an idiot as Sami Zayn lost his mind on the microphone over every single thing that Nakamura did. He had a live microphone and the crowd had no idea what to do with him screaming in joy. It was hilarious.
Fire and Desire def. Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss – Fun little match, but this division is becoming odd to me. It’s suffering from a lack of depth. Fire and Desire were title contenders, lost, went off television...and are back as title contenders in one night.
That’s not ideal.
24/7 Championship shenanigans – If you had Bo Dallas with the roll up in the boiler room, you win! Also...was R-Truth dressed as a lamp coat rack hiding by the King of the Ring throne? Did I see that correctly?
I really dug this episode. The King of the Ring has really helped some midcarders find direction. Throw the Bayley stuff and the Rowan reveal on top and you’ve got yourself a really fun show.