Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar have a long history, the kind of history you can draw on to tell a simple story heading into yet another big match between the two. That’s more or less what we got in the main event spot of Friday Night SmackDown this week in Atlanta.
Paul Heyman was charged with saying a few words, but he didn’t need to say much. This is the kind of match that sells itself.
Instead, they went with everything surrounding it, just enough to add some intrigue to it. Theory attacked Lesnar from behind before he could get his hands on Heyman, and Brock absolutely annihilated the poor guy because Vince apparently forgot to teach him that you don’t attack Lesnar in the back, you attack him in the crotch.
Straight for the biggest weakness, kid.
While Theory was trying to rush off, Drew McIntyre hit the scene to lay him out with a Claymore before staring down Lesnar. That may very well be what the future holds. Probably not, but maybe!
It was a little strange to have this show without Roman Reigns, but that’s a reality we should just get used to at this point. The part time status of the top guys is going to be a major talking point of McIntyre moving forward, so we’ll just have to deal with it.
There were reports a while back that Vince McMahon wanted Ronda Rousey to smile more. If you thought that more or less went against everything that always made Rousey interesting, you were one of many.
They may actually be correcting course now that McMahon is out.
That’s sure what it felt like on this show, where Rousey was back to being her very pissed off self, looking to kick some ass and take some names. She is the “Baddest Woman on the Planet” after all. The chief goal always should have been to make the badass look really badass at all times, while finding new and interesting ways to make that clear.
Here, they achieved that by having Shotzi attempt to brag about scoring a win over Aliyah and Rousey hit the scene to tell her to get the hell out of dodge. When Shotzi came back with “oh, hey Ronda” and tried to throw a punch, Ronda easily put her on her ass and smoothly responded “Bye, Shotzi.”
She took the microphone and stumbled over her words a bit while getting across how pissed she was, which is obviously a step back, but she made up for it by telling some random guy in the crowd “you shut up, and your mom failed you.”
Also pretty badass.
You don’t need to be a Rousey fan to support this, simply because it’s not so much that it’s Rousey but rather it’s a sign that there are now creative minds who understand how to actually use someone like Rousey. This is good!
It all led to Rousey teaming with her opponent at SummerSlam, Liv Morgan, in a match against Natalya & Sonya Deville. They told a good story with the match, too, with Morgan repeatedly refusing to tag Rousey in because she wanted so badly to show that she could win on her own and she didn’t need Ronda.
Finally, Morgan got close enough that Rousey could simply tag herself in, at which point she ran wild on Deville, tapping her with the Ankle Lock while Morgan took care of Natalya. What was notable was that Morgan only won after Ronda got in.
This was a great way to build to their title match at SummerSlam.
All the rest
- WWE opened this show with Drew McIntyre and Sheamus finally having their good old fashioned donnybrook match, presumably because they wanted to set up the next top contender on the September PPV at the start of the show so they could build to tomorrow night’s PPV at the end. They still ended this segment with Theory attacking McIntyre, because I guess Theory has to have his hand in no less than 50-percent of all segments on any WWE program right now. Anyway, the match itself was a fun gimmicked up brawl that was well received by the fans in the arena. No surprise in McIntyre getting that headlining spot in Cardiff.
- I really enjoy Pat McAfee and hope they have him work a few more programs while he’s with WWE but it would be fantastic if they came up with better creative for those programs than “guy who doesn’t like him harasses/assaults him while he tries to do his commentary job.” This time it was Bum Ass Corbin screaming behind him from the crowd — he bought a ticket for this, apparently — while they did a full ad read for the SummerSlam card. It was hugely annoying, and not in a good way. It also got in the way of the actually interesting thing here, that he was holding up a sign that had a photo of McAfee’s mugshot from his 2010 arrest for public intoxication. The issue is there are probably a lot of WWE fans, likely the vast majority, who don’t even known about as much. They never bothered to explain it in any way. Just used it for a cheap spot and left it unexplained to an audience who almost certainly needs that explanation. The segment ended with Corbin jumping the rail, of course, and punting McAfee in the nuts.
- We were supposed to get an Aliyah vs. Lacey Evans match, but the latter wasn’t medically cleared, as we were told, and instead we got Aliyah vs. Shotzi. In the end, Shotzi scored the victory to a muted response.
- The Usos and The Street Profits got together with Jeff Jarrett to go over the rules for the tag team title match at SummerSlam. He made clear his only job is to count to three when someone’s shoulders are down, but that’s at SummerSlam and if they wanted to brawl here, go for it. So they did and, inevitably, Jarrett got absolutely destroyed by a superkick to the face from Jey Uso. He apologized repeatedly but Jarrett didn’t seem keen on forgiving him and the segment ended with The Street Profits standing tall. A nice bit of added intrigue, I suppose, not that this match needed it.
- Max Dupri is still around after all! He showed up with Maxxine to help debut the Beachwear collection in a backstage pre-taped segment that you may have missed if you blinked during the latter half of this show. His beard is growing back in and he seemed a little more relaxed but there wasn’t much to draw from such a short pre-tape.
- The Vicious Viking Raiders beat The New Day and I just cannot make myself care about any of this. The match was fine, I’m just not terribly drawn into this whole thing. After the match, they ran an injury angle on Xavier Woods, using their shields to knock him down and a chair to hurt his ankle.
This was a pretty good show overall!