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WWE SmackDown recap & reactions: Stolen valor

The main event angle on Friday Night SmackDown this week was fairly simple but it was hugely effective because of the backstory Xavier Woods has given it.

As we’ve talked about endlessly, Woods spent a long time campaigning for WWE to bring back the King of the Ring tournament so that he could simply have the chance at winning it. When they finally did, he was the obvious choice, and that’s exactly what happened.

And it was great because it quite obviously meant so much to him.

He’s done some goofy bits since then — it wouldn’t be The New Day without that — but those goofy bits don’t take away the value the position holds for the man holding it. This bend the knee stuff is kinda silly, yeah, but it still means something. This shit matters to him.

Which is why it was fantastic to have Paul Heyman announce that Reigns would bend the knee if he couldn’t beat Woods and force him to do so first, even going so far as to say he would be stripped of the Universal championship if so. This, of course, was never going to happen, because The Bloodline would never let such a thing happen, especially on a night when Woods would be going it alone while Kofi Kingston recovered from an injury he sustained at the hands of, you guessed it, The Bloodline.

The beauty in it all is that Woods went toe-to-toe with Reigns, appeared to have him beat, and then The Usos showed up to screw him over. It’s one thing to be screwed out of the win, but what came next is what put it over the top.

The Usos placed Xavier’s crown on top of Roman’s head while Pat McAfee could be heard saying “he who wears the crown is the king.”

A bit silly? Sure, but again, that’s only insomuch as the thing itself is silly. It is decidedly not that when you consider how much it means to the man they took that crown from. He put in years of work to even have a chance to put that thing on his own head. And these bastards just cheated him and stole it for themselves.

How dare they.

There’s gonna be hell to pay for this. I’m most intrigued by what this does to Woods, much in the same sense that as great as Big E is when he’s being playful, he’s equally badass when he gets serious. I, for one, am ready for a pissed off King.

All the rest:

  • Having the women’s SmackDown team + Naomi break down into a mess of chaos leading to a tag match to open the show was a fairly standard play, but it worked out in the end, what with how fun said tag ended up being. How about Aliyah and the cheers she got for that rollup pin on Natalya at the end? They added on to this by having Sonya Deville remove her from the team as she was celebrating her win backstage, for reasons we weren’t made aware of. Something to do with Naomi, it seemed. If nothing else, she already has a story. We’ll get to see what they’ve got here sooner rather than later.
  • Los Lotharios reminds me of days gone by, when I was a little kid watching tag teams who felt like actual tag teams instead of just two dudes thrown together. That could very well be solely related to the fact that they have a team name. I’m easy to please, I guess, but I remember Power & Glory, Rhythm & Blues, The Rockers, The Hart Foundation, Demolition, Legion of Doom, so on and so forth. You can tell I was watching early 90s WWF. But I don’t know, they’re dressing alike, doing actual tag team moves, and kicking ass. I like it! It’s too bad it came at the expense of Shinsuke Nakamura & Rick BOOGS.
  • Charlotte Flair took some shots at Becky Lynch, like saying there’s nothing natural about her, and throwing out there that she came back from having a baby too soon. I’m not sure how she determined as much or if that was just designed to be a big shot but it didn’t really hit very strong. Honestly, I expected more out of this and was disappointed she didn’t go harder.
  • Oh, I loved what they did with Toni Storm here, though. I am one of many who has talked about the way WWE keeps forgetting about her, as I wrote about it just days ago. They had her appear on this show to interrupt Flair’s promo on Lynch to ask for a title shot with some legitimately solid logic, namely that Lynch actually backs up her big talk in the ring in title matches while Charlotte has yet to do the same. Flair, instead of actually living up to the “star maker” moniker she had literally just bestowed upon herself, straight up said “no” and just walked out. That was it. That was the whole segment. Tremendous stuff.
  • The bit they did with Sami Zayn and Jeff Hardy arguing before the former campaigned to rid the blue brand’s Survivor Series team of the latter, leading to a match between the two that saw the opposite happen, felt like it was more about Zayn and the introduction of Von Wagner than Hardy. But man, when that dude is wrestling someone on his level, and the crowd is hot, it’s so very obvious that he’s a main event level guy who just needs some heating up. Even after all these years, people still absolutely adore this man. Let’s hope they do something bigger with him before he goes. Give him that Roman Reigns match he so desires.
  • If you weren’t entertained by Jinder Mahal and Ice Ice Shanky spitting hot fire before striking the pose and saying “Hit Row? More like CRINGE ROW!” then we are simply not alike.

This was a good show!

Grade: B-

Your turn.

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