Although WWE television is undoubtedly worse when Roman Reigns isn’t a part of it, the company deserves credit where it’s due here — they’ve managed to do a pretty damn good job of keeping interesting stories going surrounding The Bloodline in his absence.
That includes the journey of Sami Zayn, who is still desperately searching for some clout after the bad run he went on, and Riddle, who is equally as desperate in his quest for revenge over Randy Orton being taken out of action.
Their paths crossed on this week’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown, where Zayn was representing The Bloodline in a one-on-one match against Riddle, who would be banished from the blue brand with a loss but would earn a title match against Reigns with a win. Paul Heyman intimated it would be greatly beneficial for Zayn if he won, hugely detrimental for him if he lost.
This sets up two clear confrontations, both with their own unique intrigue, and both of which should lead to something interesting, pretty much no matter what happens. You should absolutely be excited for Reigns vs. Riddle, even if the outcome is obvious, because they’ve layered the story enough to know where it’s going and done a good enough job to make it fulfilling once we get there.
There being the return of Orton.
But you should also absolutely be excited for the inevitable confrontation between Reigns and Zayn. And there will be one.
And it will be fun.
Again, credit where it’s due for getting this much out of all this with Reigns not even appearing.
Look out, folks, Ronda Rousey might be getting interesting again.
For starters, it needs pointing out that she’s been working on her speaking. I’ve been critical of her promo work before, mostly on the basis that she would often speak in a monotone voice that came across like she was having a one-on-one conversation. This is obviously an issue when you’re in front of a crowd of thousands and need to project your voice.
She was much better with regards to literally all of that this week, so much so that it was plainly evident as she was cutting her promo. There’s still a little awkwardness there, but I thought she was pretty damn good here.
What’s more, she said the armbar her mother taught her is far better than the cheap knockoff Sharpshooter Natalya ripped from her uncle, Bret Hart, and the fans booed her for it. Ronda, bless her heart, couldn’t help but respond immediately with raised eyebrows.
It remains utterly fascinating watching her respond to real time reactions from a fickle fan base who will absolutely turn on someone at the drop of a hat. It’s more interesting with her because she has long been so invested in how those fans respond to her. She’s been delighted by the fact that she’s been so heavily cheered since her return.
What happens if the boos start coming in again?
Just something to keep an eye on while this feud with Natalya gets rolling.
In the meantime, she worked a match with Shotzi, and the fans were firmly in her corner the whole way. The match was pretty damn good, too, with Shotzi giving her one hell of a battle before tapping to the armbar. After, Nattie showed up and slapped a Sharpshooter on Rousey and it looked pretty damn good to me!
Natalya left Ronda on the mat and they’ll lock up at Money in the Bank for the title.
All the rest
- With participants still to be determined for the two Money in the Bank ladder matches this year, WWE went back to the tried-and-true method of holding qualifiers this week. The first one was an all out brawl that saw Drew McIntyre and Sheamus beat the ever loving trash out of each other, so much so they both got disqualified and then kept fighting all around the damned arena. This was my kind of pro wrestling, two big beefy dudes who got good and pissed off and just started throwing hands. When they were finally separated, they were just staring each other down, pissed as all hell, their chests heaving from the deep breathing brought on by the kind of fatigue you only feel after such extreme exertion. That’s the kind of battle that builds to something more. I loved it.
- In the second qualifier, Lacey Evans ran through Xia Li, who still hasn’t been given much of a chance to do anything on the main roster. Evans was widely cheered and there seemed to be no hint of her working heel, despite the earlier teases. A big shrug to all this so far.
- The Viking Raiders are coming to SmackDown soon! … Again.
- GUNTHER won the Intercontinental championship from Ricochet in what was a much better match than I anticipated it to be, not because I question the talent of either of these guys but rather how WWE would put the match together. Ultimately, they had the perfect big vs. small match and while Ricochet lost, he looked every bit like he belonged in there while still putting GUNTHER over big. Really loved everything they did here.
This was a tight show that flew right on by for me. Can’t complain about that!