This week’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown emanated from Baltimore. Get a complete look at the show with the live blog right here.
It’s always difficult to judge shows like this because they function as news events more than they do legitimate attempts at a cohesive episode of television. There were four separate times throughout the night that Sonya Deville and Adam Pearce took the stage to give us four draft picks, two for Raw and two for SmackDown. It breaks the natural flow of things to do that.
But you more or less have to tune in because you can’t miss the big news dropping with each of those segments.
A major issue, however, is the way WWE fails so spectacularly with adequately explaining pretty much every part of its draft process. Hours before the show went on the air, we got a brief explainer video on social media that didn’t really tell us much of anything at all.
We were told only half the roster would be eligible to be drafted on this show, and the other half on Raw next week. But we were never told what wrestlers were included on either list, which created a disconnect with quite literally every pick. For instance, if Bianca Belair is being drafted to Raw just after Charlotte Flair was picked by SmackDown, it helps to understand that at least part of the reason for that is because Becky Lynch wasn’t eligible to be drafted on this show. But we couldn’t know that because they never said that.
That goes for the free agent pool as well.
This probably has something to do with the writing process within the company and it’s a big reason these shows have long struggled to maintain any kind of continuity and depth of storytelling. Sure, we got drafting done to SHAKE THINGS UP AGAIN but why was Finn Balor, who just challenged for the Universal championship days ago and lost under strange circumstances, never once mentioned on the broadcast? Is he eligible to be drafted next week? Or is he a free agent now?
I suppose we’ll have to stay tuned. Which is maybe the point, at least to some degree, but this is a tremendously crappy way of executing that.
Bullet point ‘em all
- Yes, I’m going to bullet point the rest of the show because that was the nature of the show itself.
- Paul Heyman remains the most intriguing part of this Roman Reigns-Brock Lesnar storyline, with the latter once again sowing distrust within the former by calling Paul his “good friend” and making like Heyman is doing business with him on the side. Reigns is getting increasingly fed up with Heyman but there’s absolutely an undertone here that part of that is Roman’s own inability to match up with Brock and his needing a target to unleash his frustration over as much. If The Usos aren’t drafted to SmackDown next week on Raw, they’ve been instructed to put Heyman in the dirt. Intrigue!
- I will say, every single time Lesnar and Reigns come face-to-face, they create that big fight feel and it’s fantastic every time.
- Charlotte Flair is every bit at the level of Becky Lynch, and that was made clear to me when she stood tall to close this show having laid out Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair after their predictably good main event match. Flair’s dismissal of Lynch as she held her title up while Becky did the same ringside was outstanding and I’m not the least bit upset at the idea that Lynch could move to Raw with Flair running things on SmackDown.
- Home invasion angles are pretty much always awful, dating back to Brian Pillman pulling a pistol on Steve Austin back in 1996, and Seth Rollins showing up at Edge’s house was no different. It was an incredibly tame ordeal this time, where he just sort of hung out at Edge’s supposed place of residence, enraging Edge, who actually did show up to SmackDown like he said he would, and forcing him to call his wife to tell her not to go home while informing us he called a couple guys to handle it. The problem, of course, is they never went back to this. It just ended on that note. A WWE cameraman followed Rollins and made sure to shoot him as professionally as possible while Rollins broke into another wrestler’s home and disparaged the paintings of said wrestler’s children. It was stupid, which sucks because everything else they’ve been doing has been tremendous. Also stupid: Edge, who was taken out on a stretcher and made like his career could have been ended by that Stomp that was played so powerfully weeks ago, was completely fine. Sure, he said he wasn’t cleared but there was no sign at all that he was ever hurt to begin with. Bad story beats all around here.
- I can’t quite decide if Madcap Moss is a tremendous name or hilariously bad. It’s entirely possible it’s supposed to be bad, considering everything the character is and represents. I’ll say this — he’s already doing one hell of a great job being an annoyance that is making me actively dislike Happy Corbin even more than I did before. Kevin Owens losing and being booked this way is probably going to make some folks read too much into it, but even he is doing a good job of getting the heel act over. We’ll see where this goes.
- Carmella stopped her match against Liv Morgan to put on a weird mask, fans chanted she looked stupid, she laid out Morgan in the ring before taking it off to run her mouth, and that was the entire segment. This was in keeping with the story they’ve been telling but it was dumb and did no one any favors.
- There was an eight-man tag team match that saw The New Day squatting up with The Street Profits to fend off The Dirty Dawgs and Alpha Academy. There isn’t much of anything to say about this from a narrative perspective, it was just a fun TV tag match. Nothing wrong with that!
That was the show. There were good things about it but it wasn’t very good overall.