Kurt Angle is a certified legend in the pro wrestling industry, so WWE takes any chance it can to celebrate him. In this case, that meant an episode of Friday Night SmackDown dedicated to wishing him a happy birthday.
We got multiple looks backstage at Angle walking around shaking hands with everyone. He was flanked by Gable Steveson, the Olympic gold medalist amateur wrestler we’ve heard very little from since he signed with WWE to great fanfare. Braun Strowman was playing a jolly ol’ giant when he bumped into them but still managed to set up a future match with Steveson.
Later, Jason Jordan made a cameo to give his “father” a birthday card. It was a nice bit of harmless fun that actually acknowledged that goofy story from the past under the old regime.
Finally, it was time for the main event and Angle to get the chance to head out in front of his hometown faithful.
It really doesn’t ever get old, does it?
Alpha Academy showed up to crash the party and there was really only one way to get back at them.
Come on, you didn’t think they would have Angle back for a birthday celebration and not bring the milk truck with ‘em, did you?
The funny thing is these segments really only work when you have the right characters to play off, and Otis shaking himself all about in the ring with milk flying everywhere was amazing. He was perfect for this.
WWE has gotten much better at bringing Legends back for segments like this.
You just knew they were going to find a way to promote The New Day challenging for the NXT tag team titles at Deadline, and I love how they did so.
Ricochet and GUNTHER were scheduled for an contract signing to make their Intercontinental championship match next week official — I guess it wasn’t already, despite Ricochet winning the SmackDown World Cup for exactly that — and Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston decided their boy couldn’t be out there alone. Imperium is together always, and contract signings end the same way every time, so they hit the scene as a show of support for a friend.
Who doesn’t love that kind of wholesome content?
I also loved this about the segment:
GUNTHER is a favorite if only because I’m getting older and therefore more and more tired of pro wrestlers not buying into what pro wrestling is supposed to be. They are performers but they shouldn’t be acknowledging themselves as such. That kills the whole thing! GUNTHER and his crew is the last hope for this great sport.
A six-man tag team match ensued, which was also a great play because it allowed both Ricochet and The New Day to score a big win ahead of title matches while GUNTHER himself didn’t have to take a pinfall or submission in the process.
This was all really great.
All the rest
- I’m just fine with The Usos tag team title reign lasting for many years if they keep delivering matches this good on such a consistent basis. These guys simply don’t miss, and they didn’t miss again this week in defeating Sheamus and BUTCH with some help from Sami Zayn. Not much story progression, just a really fun match to kick off SmackDown that saw the champs keep their straps.
- I usually dislike when WWE calls attention to minor details in its stories, because the act of calling attention to them make them something more than that. I always appreciate art that helps me get there but doesn’t drag me there. Having said that, I do appreciate the way the LA Knight used the Bray Wyatt attack clues to paint a picture in just the most condescending way possible. And then he went backstage and they did more spooky business, with the lights going out and Knight using his phone to illuminate Wyatt in the mask having invaded his locker.
- Tell the china shop the bulls are coming cause you know what they say — you mess with the bulls, you get the horns! I don’t even care, I love Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler together.
- Hit Row have been made to look like chumps recently, so they interrupted a Legado del Fantasma vs. Viking Raiders match to take everyone out. They needed to do something like this just to reestablish some credibility.
- Karrion Kross threatened Rey Mysterio while he was doing rehab on his injured foot. Tick tock and all that. His angle? “It’s almost sad when you have to put an animal out of its misery.”
- A video package aired giving us the story of Tegan Nox in WWE, one marked by adversity with multiple catastrophic injuries she somehow managed to claw her way back from. Now, she’s back and apparently they’re putting her in a tag team with Liv Morgan. They tussled with Rousey and Baszler, in a match commentary made like would put the winner in line for a title shot. Naturally, Nox and Morgan emerged victorious in part because Raquel Rodriguez showed up to distract Rousey and the referee as a measure of payback for Shotzi being taken out earlier in the night. Shortly after the win, they outright announced Nox & Morgan would be getting a title shot next week.
This was a decent show.