Live from ThunderDome!
With a spear and a gesture toward the recycled WrestleMania sign, Edge made his selection. The Royal Rumble winner will challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal title the weekend of April 10 - 11 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
It’s not my first pick, but it’s an exciting prospect. Much as I love Kevin Owens, it’s past time to move on from his chase of Reigns - especially since WWE’s made it clear he won’t be beating the Tribal Chief at this point in their respective careers. Still, it’s six weeks - and a pit stop at Fastlane - before we get to Edge vs. Roman. What’s the rest of the build to the spear vs. spear showdown going to consist of?
For the most part, we already know. The Rated R Superstar is mixing the babyface tale of his comeback to keep us on his side with some of his old heel/tweener tactics to convince us a 48 year old with a gruesome injury history can take down a Samoan god in his prime. Reigns is the Head of the Table, ruthlessly protecting his spot atop the card. It’s a tale not unlike the KO program; Edge is fighting for slightly different reasons, but the conflict is the same.
That’s often true in wrestling stories But in the multiple hours of weekly television world of 2021 pro wrestling, it’s more noticeable, and there are rumblings of fans growing bored by Roman’s dominance. So how do they freshen things up to make the ‘Mania build feel special?
Edge’s time in Hollywood has made him an even better talker than he was when he was a full-time wrestler. Promos were honestly the highlight of his 2020 and the prospect of mic duels with Roman and his special counsel Paul Heyman are pretty exciting. But that’s only part of the puzzle. Good news is, the other pieces are right there.
SmackDown’s been teasing growing Reigns’ on-screen family for months, and now’s the time to do it. Jey Uso can’t be the only obstacle between Edge and another clean shot at the Chief. Make an alliance with Apollo Crews official. Assuming he’s ready - and barring any setbacks in his rehab from last spring’s knee surgery , he should be close - have Jimmy join his brother. Make it clear Sonya Deville is Heyman’s ally in management.
There’s no shortage of allies for Edge to work with either. Giving Roman reinforcements gives guys like Daniel Bryan and Cesaro a reason to stay around the main event scene, positioning them as post-’Mania rivals for Reigns while giving us entertaining matches that matter with the Usos or Crews on the road to the Showcase of the Immortals. There’s also a certain friend of Edge’s we haven’t seen since Royal Rumble who’s supposed to be back as a part-timer...
Tonight, the champ will have something to say about how Edge left him laying moments after he dispatched Bryan’s challenge at Elimination Chamber on Sunday. Here’s hoping we get a lot more than just talk between Roman and the Rumble winner over the next month and a half.
The title scene
It’s not official yet, but Edge’s fellow 2021 Rumble winner should be making her pick soon, too. The story of Bianca Belair and SmackDown Women’s champ Sasha Banks looks like it will be focused on whether Banks will embrace her heel Boss ways to deal with The EST’s challenge. She rejected the chance to take a shortcut to beat WWE Women’s Tag Team champions Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler last Sunday when Reginald offered it to her. Will she be able to resist temptation again to protect her crown?
Whether or not he takes a seat at Roman’s table, Crews definitely accepted his role as villain last week when he attacked Intercontinental titleholder Big E with the ring steps. That should get him the one-on-one rematch with the champ he’s been angling for. We’ll see if E and his brachial plexus injury take the week off before coming for Apollo’s head.
Whether or not she makes her ties to Heyman explicit, Deville is definitely blocking Street Profits from their rematch against Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler for the SmackDown Tag Team championship. She chastised Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins for asking her about it on the Elimination Chamber Kickoff, and the champs seem more interested in giving a shot to Alpha Academy.
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Speaking of the Academy, Chad Gable appears to be convincing his student Otis that nice guys don’t win. Rey & Dominik Mysterio probably aren’t happy he taught this lesson at their expense.
- Nobody’s buying what Seth Rollins is selling, but that has stopped the SmackDown Savior from pitching it. He does seem to be targeting Cesaro more than most. Maybe Swiss could shut him up for a while?
- Even after Billie Kay’s tag team expertise (documented on her resumé) helped them beat Riott Squad, Natalya & Tamina refused to celebrate with her. Violently.
It’s the Elimination Chamber fallout show!
What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?