I wasn’t a huge fan of this show. There weren’t any segments that were offensively bad or anything; it was just exactly the sort of show you’d expect. It filled out the Bingo board of what I’d expect from an episode of SmackDown right now with very few - if any - surprises.
In fact, I’d say there was only one “surprise,” and that’d be how well John Morrison stood out in his re-debut. Morrison was Miz’s guest on Miz TV and he got the usual video package to familiarize those who have never seen him wrestle. Those packages don’t do much to create excitement, though, and a top rope move isn’t going to captivate a crowd these days with the glut of athletic prowess now in wrestling.
So how do you stand out? You do something that others struggle to accomplish. Morrison wove a really empathetic story of how he was planning to return one way and decided to expedite his debut to help a friend.
Aww, how sweet. You know why he did it? Because he’s disappointed...in the fans. The fans booed his friend for having a bad day last week, and Morrison did an excellent job of actually framing things in a way that had me going “wait, was I too quick to call Miz a heel?” Combining that bad day excuse with Miz’s earlier apology for Kofi Kingston, and it at least seemed possible.
The New Day intervened to set the record straight, though. Kofi said that he would have respected that answer if Miz had just said that and left it there. Instead, the excuses rolled over into the usual self-important perception that we’d expect of Miz. This led to a match and - unlike last week - Miz was able to win with Morrison’s help.
This is going to be a fun feud. All the men involved are great talkers and storytellers; for an undercard story, I think we’re all going to be really happy with this one.
The Fiend’s Achilles Heel
Another story that was compelling throughout the show was one that you would expect. Bray Wyatt had a Firefly Fun House segment early on where he said that he loved his fireflies and that the Fiend feels the opposite for Daniel Bryan.
The Fiend had two clear goals with Bryan, according to Wyatt. First, he wanted to make Bryan remember their history and to remember how he betrayed the Wyatt Family. The second thing was that the Fiend wanted to “change” him, a phrasing that I find interesting. Change him how, exactly? Was he just wanting to change Bryan from the person who betrayed Wyatt? That seems to indicate that emotional vulnerability that underlies Wyatt’s entire act right now.
Anyway, the biggest development here revolved around Bryan’s belief that the Fiend can be beaten. And just as he said it, Rambling Rabbit appeared on a video screen where he confirmed that the Fiend does in fact have a weakness. And juuust as he was about to spill the beans...a HURT-gloved hand grabbed the rabbit’s head and Wyatt flashed a not-so-innocent smile before saying that snitches get stitches.
Later in the show, Bryan found a box. Inside was Rambling Rabbit with half of his head ripped off.
All of this is intriguing! Does the Fiend actually have an Achilles heel? Or is Rambling Rabbit, who has died and been reborn in this Funhouse countless times, part of Wyatt’s mindgames?
Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin def. The Usos - Were you shocked that Bobby Roode returned to rejoin the unholy dog food duo that is Corbin/Ziggler?
The Usos had mics before this match and said the dog food stuff was an insult to their entire family and it’s what spurred them into action to defend Reigns. The match was fine, but it’s just more of the same group being bullies, isn’t it?
Mandy Rose def. Alexa Bliss - This was less about Rose’s match and more about her ongoing relationship with Otis. On this episode, she finally apologized for the Christmas fruitcake incident, and offered Otis a cake in apology. Tucker’s skepticism is a good wrinkle to this whole thing.
During the match, Otis walked out, which distracted Bliss and allowed Rose to pick up the win.
Braun Strowman def. Shinsuke Nakamura - Ah, the ol’ “beat the champ to fight the champ” trope. This has been an entertaining feud from the perspective of what’s happening in the ring, but I’ve not got a very high opinion of the story itself.
Sasha Banks no-shows match against Lacey Evans - I’m not sure how I’d feel about this sort of thing if I were in the crowd. Was this match advertised in advance? Banks and Evans were supposed to fight, but apparently Banks blew off the match to go record an album in Los Angeles. Bayley was on the tron to happily inform Evans of that fact, and hit Evans with the patented “you’re not my mom” routine when Evans demanded Bayley to come to the ring.
They brawled briefly backstage, and Evans forced Bayley to retreat.
Sheamus hates small people - It feels like mocking small dudes has been a thing on WWE television for quite a while now. It’s - pardon the pun - low-hanging fruit at this point. It’s not that interesting for me, personally. With that said, still looking forward to Sheamus vs. Gable matches.
A very middle-of-the-road show. Nothing exceptionally bad, nor good enough to really recommend going out of your way to see.
SmackDown was SmackDown.
Your turn, Cageside!