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WWE SmackDown recap & reactions (Jan. 7, 2022): INTRIGUE!

I am just the biggest fan of how confused I am by all this.

Roman Reigns did indeed return to WWE television on Friday Night SmackDown this week, and Brock Lesnar did indeed show up to antagonize him, right alongside Paul Heyman. This would be our first chance to see how everyone would play their side of this as we barrel right on down the track toward the inevitable collision of these two runaway trains on opposite sides of the same track.

Lesnar, unnerving as it is when he acts this way, was a pig in shit, a tornado in a trailer park, a kid in a candy store, just having himself a ball of a time. He’s way out ahead, after all, why wouldn’t he be this way?

Reigns, meanwhile, is pissed, disgusted, still the brash, confident champion he always was but with a little more of an edge when it comes to his greatest rival, thanks to his greatest rival’s advocate. He made that clear too, over and over, up to all but outright refusing a title vs. title match on the grounds that Lesnar does business with “trash.”

Finally, Heyman got his chance to speak and he … broke down?

He broke down.

Emotionally.

When confronted by Roman’s outright hostility Heyman responded by damn near crying while sneaking a microphone to tell Reigns himself how much he loved him and worshipped the ground he walked on, how much he meant to him while Lesnar was away for all that time, how hurtful this all is and why does it have to be this way. Then it was Brock’s turn to be disgusted, appalled at what he was hearing, enough to tell Heyman to shut his mouth.

When that prompted Reigns to admonish Lesnar for speaking to Heyman in such a way, that’s when confusion reigned. Perhaps Reigns was too rash in his decision making when he fired Heyman? Maybe seeing “The Wiseman” break down that way appealed to his softer side and bypassed the anger he felt at his perceived betrayal?

Or maybe, just maybe, it was all part of the plan and they’re still playing Lesnar for a fool. I mean, hell, look at what ended up happening here. Reigns used a Superman Punch to put Brock down and walk out smiling while Heyman stood in the corner.

It’s getting harder and harder to separate who is working who and just how much they’re working them, and that’s the kind of layered storytelling WWE has long needed. That we’re getting it with the top two stars in the company, while they hold the top two titles, is a real treat.

More, please.


All the rest
  • Am I the only one who can’t decide how to feel about Johnny Knoxville getting this much TV time? Maybe it’s because I grew up on Jackass and it makes me feel old seeing him with grey hair knowing we’re this many movies in and they’re still going with it. I don’t know, he’s cool, I guess. I do like that he explained the Royal Rumble to Sami Zayn, then managed to qualify for it by physically showing Zayn that he could throw him over the top while he wasn’t looking.
  • I do not know why they would make Zayn top contender to the Intercontinental championship and then immediately use him to put Johnny Knoxville over just after losing to Rick BOOGS. He did a great job with both, and you need that in an industry like this, but, again, he just earned a title shot he hasn’t received yet. Am I supposed to want to see that now?
  • Last thought on all that: Would I still enjoy BOOGS as much as I do if Pat McAfee wasn’t doing commentary for his appearances? I’m not so sure I would.
  • I’m a little surprised they announced so many returns in the women’s Royal Rumble match in a video package the way they did. But, when you think about it, it always makes more business sense to promote talent ahead of time. The Rumble is the one place you can get away with not doing so because they’ve established the expectation that we’ll get big surprises, but I have no problem with them outright letting us know we’re getting The Bella Twins and Impact Knockouts Champion Mickie James, who was addressed as such. How bout that?!?
  • I remember a match Stone Cold Steve Austin had with Dude Love at Over the Edge 1998 where the authority figures at the time kept stopping the match to add stipulations that would screw Austin over so he would lose his title. It was a massively overbooked mess of a match that ended up being a lot of fun, or at least I felt that way at the time. I was reminded of that with Sonya Deville screwing with Naomi as she wrestled Charlotte Flair, ultimately losing thanks to Deville’s rule changing. This wasn’t nearly as fun because they STILL haven’t firmly established why Sonya is going on and on with this grudge against Naomi. And, as I’ve mentioned countless times before, they have to actually start giving Naomi victories. Otherwise it’s just the heel bullying the babyface over and over and over and over and over again. You could even make an argument for that being acceptable if there was a clear path for Naomi to work through to get to the end of the road, but there isn’t! It just feels like beating her down for the sake of it. Awful.
  • I should have been more entertained by Madcap Moss doing a Drew McIntyre cosplay but I think I’m at the end of my rope with the Happy Corbin/Moss duo. It’s just not really going anywhere all that interesting.
  • The Usos and The New Day had one of their worse matches on this show, even though it was set up to be good with a gimmick stipulation and put in the main event slot. Perhaps it’s just burnout with this. It’s time for both to move on to something new. But what? There really isn’t an easy answer with the current state of the blue brand’s tag division. Shrug.
  • Seth Rollins as Roman Reigns’ next opponent maybe doesn’t make much sense but, hey, you can’t help but pop for those surprise moments when the camera pans to show you someone you didn’t expect, right?

I adored the open to this show with the main event story but the rest was forgettable.

Grade: B-

Your turn.