Ronda Rousey continues to be a polarizing figure in the world of sports, entertainment, and sports entertainment.
I, too, never quite know how feel about her.
On Friday Night SmackDown this week, she showed up to refute Sonya Deville’s claim that she would be accepting a match with Becky Lynch for the Raw women’s championship at WrestleMania 38, instead making clear she’s going after Charlotte Flair and the SmackDown women’s championship. She was sure to say that it’s not that Flair is special, it’s just that she’s first.
Because she’s back to teach her new baby the family business, and that business is kicking ass. Flair is simply the first name on a long list of asses that need kicked. So she’ll go about doing that in the main event of the biggest show of the year.
Lynch comes later.
Flair responded to this by saying, well, the women’s title is her baby and it’s a lot prettier than Rousey’s. Which, that’s a pretty damn good line for a heel like Charlotte to throw at a person who we all know is going to take it far too personally.
That may be what is most interesting about these two going at it. It wasn’t long ago Flair was going off script to protect her character in a segment with Lynch. Might we expect some level of tension between these two in a similar manner?
Something tells me we won’t, but the fact that we could is enough to keep some of my interest.
Meanwhile, it’s worth noting Rousey was openly smiling and interacting with fans on her way to the ring. I suppose she’s back to being a babyface? Maybe she fell for the fans giving her so much love again?
It wasn’t a plot all along.
Not by Roman Reigns, at least.
Paul Heyman opened this week’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown explaining that there never was a convoluted plot on the part of The Bloodline to screw Brock Lesnar, with Heyman jumping between the two sides only in service of a greater strategy employed to give the Universal champion the advantage over his greatest foe. No, it turns out Heyman wanted the best of both worlds, and he copped to that.
Lesnar as champion running Raw.
Reigns as champion running SmackDown.
It didn’t work out, though, because Lesnar, the big lug, won the WWE championship and instantly decided to challenge Reigns to a title vs. title match at WrestleMania. Heyman, understanding what this meant, had to pick a side. And when the time came, he did so.
He chose The Tribal Chief.
So we got the mea culpa, and the effusive praise, and the fanning, and the fawning, and the full nine.
I’ll just say that I fully understand why WWE would seek to take advantage of having Goldberg under contract, seeing as he is most definitely still something of a draw for them. I can not say I understand why that’s the case but I have to acknowledge it to be true. Hell, even on our humble site, he draws traffic when we write about him.
He’s just not all that interesting as an actual character on television. He hasn’t been since 1998 or so. Everything that made him so compelling then does not exist in 2022. The fact that they’re still presenting him mostly the same way all these years later is a damning indictment against him, in fact.
But, again, if he can still draw, use him. So we deal with it.
All the rest
- Ricochet def. Ridge Holland in a nothing match that was given very little time. Cesaro distracted Sheamus on the outside and the bad guys were very upset about the good guys going over. The WWE Twitter called it a “BIG” win for Ricochet. As it turns out, this was just to set up a tag team match that would take place after a commercial break. Naturally, Holland scored the pin on Cesaro to get one back right away. BIG win.
- The Viking Raiders will challenge for the SmackDown tag team titles at Elimination Chamber, so we got Jimmy Uso vs. Erik in a singles match on this show. Jimmy won, as the champs showed superior teamwork, even in a singles match. Not sure how that’s good promotion for the Raiders as challengers, but whatever.
- Natalya, the Guinness World Record holder, lost another match, this one to Aliyah, because she’s too cocky and full of her own shit now that she is, in fact, a multiple time Guinness World Record holder. This is the kind of angle I can get behind. Looking forward to seeing where it goes next.
- Drew McIntyre returned to tell us a doctor informed him he wouldn’t be making WrestleMania, let alone Royal Rumble. Well, he did make the Rumble, though that didn’t go according to plan. He left open the door to go after Roman Reigns in the future before turning his attention back to Happy Corbin & Madcap Moss. McIntyre made Moss tell him a joke, it was bad, he laid him out, and then promised Corbin he would make his life hell. It was very much a standard fun time babyface style segment where fans could simply be happy for someone they like getting one over on folks they don’t like.
- Jinder Mahal was fed to Shinsuke Nakamura for the sake of promoting his Intercontinental title match against Sami Zayn, which we learned will take place on Feb. 18. It was a simple way to get the champion a win against a guy everyone knows while Zayn was on commentary to promote. Easy, effective booking.
- Naomi punked Sonya Deville so hard she got a SmackDown women’s title match out of it. Deville has done such a good job of making herself unlikeable that it felt great seeing Naomi make her squirm. Which, I suppose that’s a testament to the story working as intended, so maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh on it. We’ll see about next week, though.
- The New Day wrestled Los Lotharios on this show because Big E & Kofi Kingston crashed a Valentine’s Day photoshoot Angel and Humberto were doing. Look, I love New Day as much as the next guy but how am I supposed to cheer them for doing such a thing?!? Anyway, they won the match, and said match was far more entertaining than it had any business being.
This show lives and dies by the main event stuff, and that stuff was solid this week.