WWE held Friday Night SmackDown this week from Jacksonville, Florida. Get a complete look at the show with the live blog right here.
The route they’ve decided to go down with Becky Lynch is having her play innocent, confused at folks deeming her the bad guy after SummerSlam came and went. On what she did to Bianca Belair, she simply said “You weren’t ready — that’s on you, not me.”
Which, fair play.
Belair’s response to this was to take ownership of the situation. She did what a true blue babyface would do, and while she acknowledged the hurt and upset that came with losing in 26 seconds after everything she did to get herself to that point, she held herself accountable for it.
You know what? It works.
Yeah, she wasn’t ready, and it doesn’t matter the reason, be it Becky acting despicably or not, she’s going to have to hold that L. She won’t be making any excuses for it either. Further, she won’t bring another woman down to bring herself back up. She’ll do things the right way, like earning a rematch, which she did last week, and winning her title back.
She won the crowd over with this promo, a not so small task considering they were just cheering Lynch before she hit the scene. She was positioned well to do so, what with laying out a challenge to have the match right then and there, and Lynch backing off from it for the second time in as many weeks.
I wasn’t initially sure of how this would turn out for Belair considering how it kicked off but she’s absolutely killed it since taking that loss at SummerSlam, especially with her promo this week. Becky’s alignment hardly matters — when Belair has her shoulders down on the mat and the referee is slapping it to count her down, the fans will be wild with hope and anticipation that he’ll get to three.
You know, one might argue that Brock Lesnar being announced for Friday Night SmackDown next week at Madison Square Garden in New York City could be taken as a spoiler for the result of the Roman Reigns vs. Finn Balor title match set for later in the evening on this very same show. But they managed to announce his appearance while using it to help sell the title match.
Reigns, when questioning Heyman about the phone call that led to this information, wanted to know how Paul knew where Brock was when he made that call. Heyman, of course, didn’t have an answer, which meant he could very well be in the building.
Look, no one believed Balor could beat Reigns for the title anyway. Using a possible Lesnar run in to create some doubt is probably the smartest play they had here. It also furthered the issue between the champ and arguably the greatest rival in his career, and nicely set up the show at The Garden next week. Michael Cole called Balor the equivalent of a “trap game” in traditional sports, which is to say he’s not actually all that much of a threat on his own but he’s still good enough to steal one provided the ball bounces his way.
The circumstances they created surrounding the match were the WWE way of making clear the ball could very well bounce his way.
The ball did not bounce his way, of course. He had his chances, and got a nice near fall, but ultimately he got choked out. It’s worth noting he was attacked by The Usos before the match started, so he’s got an out to help explain his defeat, at least.
They also teased the return of The Demon after the match, with the lights going red and that familiar heartbeat hitting the loudspeakers. There’s still plenty of intrigue around Balor coming out of this show.
All the rest
- The Usos and The Street Profits cutting promos before their match to open the show reminded me so much just how formula WWE is in general. I won’t waste time complaining about scripted promos but you can really tell these guys are being written, and it just feels inauthentic. Work the gimmick, throw the catchphrase in, generic insult, work the gimmick, close. The ensuing match was also standard fare, ending in a disqualification. This was called a “championship contenders match” and was made clear the Profits would get a title shot for winning. This qualifies, I suppose.
- Paul Heyman has Brock Lesnar’s theme as his ringtone! Bah gawd! I like thinking he actually just has it set for Lesnar himself, so he always knows it’s Brock calling when he hears that familiar riff before the drums kick in. The absolute idiocy of it being what exposes him is entertaining to me. Exposes him for what exactly is a question worth asking, and the answer is what makes this story so compelling.
- I am fully on board with this thing where Big E shows up in strange places, disguised, just to remind Paul Heyman he has the Money in the Bank contract and could be cashing it in at any time, by the way.
- Toni Storm is a confirmed Rick BOOGS fan, which is to say Toni Storm has incredible taste. She also refuted Dolph Ziggler’s advances in revealing as much, which scores her even more points and, again, proves she has incredible taste. BOOGS then went out and beat Ziggler in a singles match, which is great all on its own.
- I thought Sonya Deville and Adam Pearce were in a power struggle of sorts? I thought there were issues related to Naomi coming over and there not being any communication of as much? They apparently dropped that completely here.
- Seth Rollins said he was going to learn from Edge to get himself back to the Universal championship. I absolutely love that we were meant to take that literally and he’s just straight up stealing his moves in matches now. That includes getting himself disqualified and using a broken chair to choke out Cesaro before teasing a Conchairto that Edge had to save Cesaro from. What I really love about all this is how yes, Rollins is being an absolute shitheel in doing this, but he’s also more or less holding a mirror up to Edge. If he was Edge-lite before, and he’s ramped it up to this now, what does that make him? More importantly, what does that make Edge? Most importantly, what does it mean for the rematch? This is somehow getting even better. Up next: probably another amazing match at The Garden next week.
- If there was any doubt at all that you should never, ever cheer for Baron Corbin, they squashed that immediately by having this new Happy Corbin align himself with chief dipshit Logan Paul. The way they played Corbin’s “down on his luck turned success” story was just ambiguous enough that I actually appreciate that they made sure to beat us over the head with just how much of a dick he is and always will be. They also inadvertently made me want a Paul vs. Kevin Owens match, so it’s a win all around here.
- They continue outright disrespecting Naomi and it’s pissing me right off. So, mission accomplished there. Let’s hope this leads to something worthwhile.
- Dominik Mysterio just can’t seem to figure things out in these matches his dad has set up for him specifically so he can figure things out. He’s gotta stand on his own two feet apart from dear old dad, and all that. How many times does he fail before he turns on dad for setting him up? That sound you hear is the ticking of the clock.
I really like this show.