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WWE SmackDown recap & reactions (Aug. 19, 2022): Sami Zayn rules

Sami Zayn is fantastic. He always has been, but he was given the main spotlight on this week’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown in Montreal, getting a show long story that ended horribly for him — I mean, come on, they always do, right? — but reminded us of all the things that make him so great.

I mean, look at this guy cozying up to Roman Reigns, finally feeling good about getting the chance to do just that:

Then taking a call from Jey Uso and delivering the bad news that The Usos wouldn’t be on the show, thinking he can get himself in even further by offering his services up. Reigns encourages him to go win the Intercontinental championship and bring it back to The Bloodline.

The best part of this video might be the look on Roman’s face after Sami says “we should do this more, this is great.”

Later, Zayn gets a hero’s welcome in Quebec, the fans absolutely blowing the roof off for him. It’s been some time since we’ve seen one crowd so heavily behind a single wrestler like this, with this much focus and intensity:

He proceeds to deliver the goods in the match itself, getting everyone to the edge of their seat united in their desire to see him pull off the victory in a Fatal 5-Way he almost certainly wouldn’t be winning. There were glimpses in the match of the Sami Zayn who was delivering like this on the regular not all that long ago, before his character arc took him in another direction, a great reminder of the brilliance that remains and can be unleashed at any time under the right circumstances:

In the end, Zayn came oh so close but came up just short once again. It was destined to be. It’s not time for him to turn again just yet, even if you couldn’t help but get swept up in everything with this amazing crowd on this show.

By the end of the evening, when Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre were set for their face-to-face encounter, it seemed clear it was as much about how Zayn would insert himself as it was about promoting the match these two are scheduled to have in a couple weeks. Sure enough, he sacrificed himself for Reigns, eating a Claymore Kick for him. The WWE Universal champ failed to capitalize on that, eating one of his own a very short time later, but Zayn gave himself up to give him the chance.

Of course, this is almost certainly leading to Zayn as the fall guy anyway. Reigns used him all throughout this show, because he didn’t have his normal backup, and he won’t be able to accept his failures here, despite Zayn going out of his way to assist him. It’s certainly not on Sami that it played out this way but we know damn well it will be painted that way.

The question now is after the reception he got here, and the way everything was booked, are we in for a babyface turn? Should we be? I’m probably swept up in adoration for him right now, admittedly heavily influenced by that electric response for him, but I’m fully on board. If they keep playing this right, there’s no reason Reigns vs. Zayn couldn’t headline an event sometime this year.

I can’t say it enough, so I’ll say it again — Sami Zayn rules.

All the rest
  • Ronda Rousey is on WWE television while suspended more than Roman Reigns is while he’s champion!
  • Okay, with that dumb low hanging fruit out of the way, we got a retread of Rousey wreaking havoc like last week. This time, Adam Pearce had her arrested when she attacked the security guards and refused to leave until her suspension was lifted. She willingly submitted to the cops without a fight and her parting words to Pearce just before they slammed the door were “You know what, Pearce? Nice haircut!” Good one, Ronda! The Montreal crowd was well and truly behind her but this didn’t land for me as well as last week’s angle.
  • There’s no telling if plans called for Nikkita Lyons & Zoey Stark to advance in the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Tournament, but once Toxic Attraction took their place it seemed obvious they would be defeating Natalya & Sonya Deville. I mean, come on, is Triple H going to have this duo come up to the main roster and instantly do a job to a makeshift team? No way. Bayley, Dakota Kai, and IYO SKY were there to soften things up a bit, what with providing distractions. The match was solid. It will be most interesting to see who gets the push come next week when Dolin & Jayne take on Raquel Rodriguez & Aliyah.
  • Maximum Male Models were made to look like the biggest dorks on Earth when they were laughed off and tossed out of the ring by Hit Row, who proceeded to give us “something special” in the form of performing their entrance theme in the ring to a crowd that, at least on television, seemed entirely disinterested. Maxxine Dupri danced along and upset Max, really driving home just how dorky the whole crew was made to look here.
  • We learned what a Viking funeral is on this show, when Erik & Ivar painted each other’s faces up and then burned some t-shirts. It was well produced but this kind of thing does nothing for me personally. Maybe you’re a fan, and if so, good for ya.
  • It’s been really fun listening to commentary for Liv Morgan lately, what with Michael Cole and Pat McAfee spending a lot of her match against Shotzi on this show talking about how she’s in deep shit. They’re treating her title match against Shayna Baszler as a foregone conclusion. Shotzi did a good job of putting her over here to build her up but it really does just feel like a matter of time.

I enjoyed this show.

Grade: B+

Your turn.

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