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SmackDown recap & reactions (Feb. 10, 2023): Acknowledge him

Remember when Sami Zayn was a conspiracy brained madman running about aimlessly trying to convince anyone who would listen that WWE had it out for him? Now he’s the voice of reason, left to be the only man willing to stand in front of the great Paul Heyman on Friday Night SmackDown this week and break down all the ways Roman Reigns is gaslighting and manipulating everyone in his family.

My oh my, how times have changed.

Meanwhile, they went the only route they could in regards to how to handle the fact that Cody Rhodes is already scheduled to face Reigns for the title at WrestleMania — they simply had Zayn acknowledge as much by saying “tell Roman don’t worry about him, I’ll be taking the titles off his hands before he ever gets that far.”

Hey, it’s better than nothing. I will admit this would all hit a lot harder if the Cody match wasn’t looming over it, but it’s not the worst problem to have two hot as hell programs to shuffle.

Then again, imagine how much harder they could have hit this with an emotional Sami promo if they were truly committed to it. But they can’t be.

What could have been.

The other half of the story of the split within The Bloodline played out with The Usos. Jimmy couldn’t get a hold of Jey, even all this time after Royal Rumble. Even Heyman and Jimmy were left bickering a bit about how everyone else was gone and they didn’t even have each other’s backs.

Where was Jey?

Right there, as it turned out.

And wouldn’t you know it, he showed up to help defend the titles and made sure his brother was okay. And then he went and won the damn match, saving his brother along the way. And then he made it clear with his words that he’ll always be there for Jimmy.

But what about Roman and the rest of The Bloodline?

“I don’t know.”

Later still, Jey ran into Sami backstage.

Zayn thanked him for what he did at Royal Rumble, and made his best pitch to his friend — we are on the verge of something special, Reigns is going down, and Jey doesn’t have to go down with the ship. He wants this, deep down in his heart, as much and maybe in some ways even more than Sami does. A choice will have to be made.

Maybe not now.

But soon.

And because they probably won’t get to talk again before the big moment, Sami had to make this plea now. He had to state his case and hope for the best, and that’s all that’s left to do on his side.

“I acknowledge you.”

He offered his fist for a bump.

Jey was hesitant but ultimately reciprocated.

Even later, Heyman told Jimmy to stay home next week because “sometimes you see things on TV that you don’t see when you’re here live.”


Elimination Chamber can’t get here soon enough.

All the rest
  • Hit Row complained about mistreatment to Adam Pearce before the show, so they were thrown into a match against the Banger Bros, Sheamus & Drew McIntyre, which was originally scheduled for the tag title contender’s tournament before the Banger Bros forfeited their spot just to chase after The Viking Raiders. That still doesn’t make much sense, especially since they decided to just go ahead with this match here anyway. Hit Row were destroyed, of course, and couldn’t be colder on the blue brand. We’ll get the Banger Bros vs. Viking Raiders match next week.
  • Lacey Evans was back this week, beating up a local athlete, who was there to put her over as much as possible. That’s what happened too, with Evans winning easy with the Cobra Clutch. The fans love to hate her, and while they’re taking their time, there’s obvious potential here.
  • Natalya called Shayna Baszler a “knock off Ronda Rousey,” which incensed Baszler, who made sure everyone knew she’s been doing everything Rousey has done even before Rousey was doing it. That brought Rousey herself out, for the first time in weeks. A feud with Baszler maybe? Nope! They linked up to put the boots to Nattie, and then Shotzi when she tried to hit the scene to save Natalya.
  • Sonya Deville and Chelsea Green complained to management about not making it into the women’s Elimination Chamber match, so they were thrown into a tag team match against two women who did make it, Raquel Rodriguez and Liv Morgan. You don’t even need me to tell you how this played out. It was fine for what it was. I don’t know how much they can get out of a “Karen” character but Green is great doing it.
  • Charlotte Flair was given a backstage interviewer for her TV time this week and her message was to say she taught Rhea Ripley a hard earned lesson a few years back. Now, all this time later, she’s going to put her in her place. This was a little more in line with the Flair of old, and I didn’t hate seeing this kind of fire from her after seeing her playing nice recently.
  • Madcap Moss won a Fatal 4-Way match to become top contender to GUNTHER’s Intercontinental championship, defeating Karrion Kross, Santos Escobar, and Rey Mysterio. I’m a bit confused by how all of this played out — Moss winning at all, the fact that he pinned Mysterio, who just beat Kross and is probably going to be involved in a major WrestleMania match, Escobar branching off and seemingly starting something up with Kross and both getting protected. I’m no fan of doing multi-person matches out of nowhere to find new title contenders for precisely this reason. For that matter, Moss is still struggling to find his identity as anything other than a big dork, and that’s even with Emma by his side. Next week is shaping up to be a bloodbath.

The blue brand is always worth your attention, and this week was no different. Another solid effort.

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