This week’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown emanated from Philadelphia. Get a complete look at the show with the live blog right here.
One thing I really like about Roman Reigns, and The Bloodline, and the way stories are written on Friday Night SmackDown more generally, is that they tend to service many masters all at once. So while Brock Lesnar is waiting in the wings for Reigns, no matter what happens with Finn Balor at Extreme Rules, they can also work an entire bit around Montez Ford being at this week’s show without Angelo Dawkins and turning that into one hell of a main event match.
Ford disrespected The Bloodline, and Reigns decided to put the boots to him in response. What came of it was actually one hell of an opportunity for Ford to showcase his skills against the top guy in the entire company in a headline spot, and he did quite well for himself.
He felt like he belonged just fine, a good sign for the future.
Of course, that was all just to get to Reigns winning and Paul Heyman asking for him to send an EXTREME message and Ford going through a table on the outside. That’s when THE DEMON showed up to give us this cool visual:
There’s something to be said for moments like this that may not come through so well on TV. It’s still cool, sure, but these are live events and moments like this are very much for the fans in attendance. They likely enjoyed the whole thing far more than we ever could just by virtue of being there, and that’s pretty great for them and something to keep in mind for the rest of us.
They didn’t do much to create any more doubt for the match at Extreme Rules but that would be playing a losing game anyway. All told, this was a pretty damn good way to handle things.
I’m not sure how I feel about this character turn for Becky Lynch — she’s in a constant state of playing like she’s had no choice but to do the dastardly things she’s been doing, and actually it’s everyone else who is wrong. It’s not that such a strategy is ineffective, because it certainly can be with the right character, I just don’t know that it works with this particular wrestler.
Maybe I’m just longing for the badass, make no apologies, take no prisoners Lynch I remember from before she left. To be fair, she cut a promo later in the show that sort of got back to this, so maybe there’s hope just yet.
Meanwhile, I really don’t like that they keep going back to Bianca Belair saying “I wasn’t expecting to have a match with you” at SummerSlam as a defense of her loss that night. It makes everything Lynch says correct! You don’t want your babyface making excuses, and she already owned up to her part and promised to come back stronger. Why go back to this talking point just days before the match?
As an aside, It also kind of buries Sasha Banks, right? Belair was prepared for Banks and therefore couldn’t deal with a challenge from Lynch? Are they not on the same level?
Anyway, after all that, this segment devolved into catchphrases and general promotion of the upcoming match that was your standard fare. Nothing special.
It was really only interesting once Becky hauled off and smacked her in the face after Belair offered her hand to her. That ignited a brief but aggressive brawl that made clear the focus all along should have been about Belair wanting to showcase that. “You caught me off guard before, now watch this” and all that.
It’s hard to stretch that out over a month, I guess.
Mostly, I’m just glad the match is here and we can move on from this soon enough.
This was the best thing about this show by a mile.
A while back, Naomi showed up on Friday Night SmackDown to say she was here and ready to get in the ring to wrestle and show what she can do. She was greeted by an oddly distant Sonya Deville, who played dumb while brushing her off.
Fast forward a few weeks and Naomi was getting increasingly pissed off at being strung along, to the point she got right up in Deville’s face and all but threatened to pop off right then and there. She was fined for this.
Finally, she just came out to the ring this week, getting on a microphone and leading a crowd in a chant of “make the match” in reference to, well, literally any match. This extremely qualified, naturally talented woman just wants to wrestle, damn it. What the hell is Sonya’s problem, anyway?
Here’s the thing: we still don’t know the answer to that.
Here’s the other thing: we hardly care at this point because my god was Deville incredible here.
She demanded Naomi’s mic be cut, called for security to escort her out, and then absolutely laid into her while they were doing so:
“You don’t see it but I was actually trying to help you because we all know when your elaborate entrance is over, everything else is downhill from there. We’ve given you chance after chance after chance and you constantly drop the ball. So you wanna be mad at somebody? Be mad at yourself. Get her out, boys, get her out. Now you can go back there and Tik Tok dance your way into obscurity while I create the future of SmackDown. Get her out of here!”
Give me Naomi vs. Sonya Deville NOW!
All the rest
- Oh, I quite liked the added wrinkle they introduced in this week’s brief Seth Rollins promo, cut while sitting in a darkened backstage area. He made clear this week that he expects Edge to drag his ass to the ring to answer his call on next week’s show and if he doesn’t there will be consequences. He made sure to make a key point in demanding this, though: he said Edge needs to make clear to the world that Rollins is not, in fact, Edge-lite, and he is the reason Edge will be gone going forward. Whereas last week his angle was about purging himself of the weakness he perceived through feeling sorry for his foe, this week was about ego. It’s not just that he won, it’s that he needs to hear Edge say it and he’s willing to go after Edge in front of his wife and kids to achieve this. This is great because of what it means for the Rollins’ character and its progression but also does well to set up how Edge will respond to this after what happened in their match.
- Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Apollo Crews to retain the Intercontinental championship in a match that wasn’t terribly interesting. It felt like more of a showcase for Rick BOOGS, who played the guitar to help a Nakamura comeback before tossing Commander Azeez to ensure he couldn’t interfere in the match.
- I, for one, am really happy to see Nikki A.S.H. and Rhea Ripley coming over to the blue brand to fresher up the women’s tag team division over here, if only by way of once again taking out Natalya and Tamina (even if it was just Nikki beating Nattie in a singles match). That paved the way for Shotzi & Nox to show up with that tank and fire off a shot at the champs. I love the idea that this is how they make a challenge for a match. Just fire a tank at their would be opponents. They deserved the next match anyway, and there’s a lot of potential in those two, so let’s get to that now, please and thank you.
- Dominik Mysterio finally stood up to his dad just a bit on this show, flat out telling Rey he would have beaten Sami Zayn twice if it weren’t for his father hanging out ringside. Rey dismissed this completely, giving him space because “it’s clear you’re not thinking straight.” As we know, Dom is in the right here. We don’t have to worry about whose side to take in all this, though, because Zayn showed up to further get into Dom’s head about it. We can be reasonably sure he doesn’t have good intentions, even if it seems like he does, and right now that’s the case. They’re doing a good job of pacing with this story, not rushing into anything and letting it develop naturally. I’m here for the next chapter.
- Zelina Vega defeated Liv Morgan thanks to Carmella providing a useful distraction. Not much to say about this one. Carmella is far too worried about getting hit in the face and Morgan is maybe a bit too overzealous to deliver on that. Match incoming!
This was a solid show.