Roman Reigns was not at Friday Night SmackDown this week.
Jimmy Uso, too, was not at SmackDown.
As it turned out, that was because Reigns wanted Jimmy to stay home and watch his brother, Jey, take on Sami Zayn all by his lonesome. Paul Heyman explained as much backstage early in the show. When Jey, none too pleased with this, walked off, Heyman then told Solo Sikoa “either he solves the Sami Zayn problem tonight, or you solve our problems tonight.”
Later, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn met backstage. The former talked about this being a great opportunity to put The Bloodline behind them. Beat Jey Uso here, and they can move forward.
Naturally, Zayn had a feeling.
That feeling, as he explained it, was a sense of obligation and he couldn’t shake the thought that perhaps he should have a talk with Jey. KO didn’t even try to talk him out of it, instead laying out the facts — it’s a bad idea.
Sami said he was right, and then told him not to worry.
But that didn’t seem to allay any fears of what was to come.
Later still, Zayn actually did catch up to Jey and had the same message for him as before — it doesn’t have to be this way. Hey, look around: Jimmy is gone, Reigns is mad, Heyman is selling lies, and Solo looks ready to drop the hammer. Sami did what he said he would, taking the tag team titles at WrestleMania, and he’ll beat more sense into Jey if he has to. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Just then, Owens was attacked by Sikoa, getting his leg crushed as Jey looked on, seemingly unsure of himself.
It was finally time for the match.
They played it fairly straight up, a typical Bloodline match. Late in the match, Sikoa got involved, hitting the Samoan Spike and paving the way for Jey to pick up the victory. After, he helped Jey up and all seemed to be well.
Sikoa went about a beatdown of Sami that Jey stopped. It got a big pop and was one hell of a tease ... That lasted all of a few seconds, when Jey delivered a superkick and ordered Solo to get a chair so they could finish Sami off proper.
Matt Riddle, of all people, showed up to save the day. There is some storyline continuity there, as it was Sikoa who took him out when they needed to write him off. It still feels like an odd fit for him to plug in here, though.
That might just be me.
They did leave the door open just enough for Reigns and Jey to still have some problems coming out of this too, but we’ll see.
The big Triple H announcement, as it turns out, was the return of the Draft:
The Draft is one of the easiest wins of the year for WWE, because it generates automatic interest if only to see the results of it but I’m having a bit of a hard time getting all that hyped for it considering Triple H spent much of the past year more or less ignoring the brand split. Wrestlers have been bouncing back and forth from Raw to SmackDown on a weekly basis.
So what’s it matter if they’re technically on one roster over the other?
Oh, who am I kidding, I’ll be in on this big time by the time it gets here. It’s a draft! It’s always a good time, and they always manage to throw a surprise or two in there.
They damn well better have something special in store this year with how Triple H hyped it here.
All the rest
- Although GUNTHER won the triple threat match for his Intercontinental championship against Drew McIntyre and Sheamus at WrestleMania 39, they kicked off this week’s show with a six-man tag pitting Imperium vs. The Brawling Brutes. They spent much of the match building to Sheamus getting the hot tag so he could square up with GUNTHER again, and Portland absolutely loved it. Maybe this thing still has legs? The match was a lot of fun, one of those six-mans that just breaks down into chaos, with bodies flying everywhere. Ultimately, Sheamus pinned Giovanni Vince after the Brogue Kick. I wouldn’t hate going back to GUNTHER vs. Sheamus at Backlash.
- Ricochet defeated Ivar of The Viking Raiders in a match that saw both Braun Strowman and Erik barred from ringside. They played this like the typical little vs. big style match-up with Ricochet using his high flying to score the win but also proving he’s got the muscle to hang with a wrestler like that. It was a fun match with the crowd happy to see the babyface going over.
- The new number one contenders to the women’s tag team titles, Liv Morgan & Raquel Rodriguez, defeated Natalya & Shotzi — who were calling themselves “ballsy baddies” — in a match Wade Barrett admitted on commentary before it ever got underway was designed to sharpen their knives ahead of challenging for the championship next week. They won in relatively short order, and looked fine in the process.
- Rhea Ripley and The Judgment Day were here, with the new SmackDown women’s champion introducing herself as the new Queen of the blue brand. Finn Balor made like he was the real winner against Edge, seeing as he’s the one still standing. When Dominik Mysterio tried to talk, he was drowned out by boos. It was fantastic. It’s incredibly fun to hate this man. He claimed he held back on his father, Rey, at WrestleMania. Damian Priest got his turn, and he said he forgives Bad Bunny for making him do what he did to him on Raw. We’re definitely getting that tag match at Backlash, and the heat should be off the charts for it.
- The ensuing tag team match was a ton of fun, with Priest pinning Santos Escobar after South of Heaven despite a mighty effort from Rey. I’m not a big fan of Escobar being made to look so much lesser here, mostly because I think he’s got all the potential in the world to be a big star for WWE, and he’s going to need to be booked better than this. But the bigger Mysterio family drama story is still hitting enough that I can’t fault them for playing things this way. There was also a nice little teaser for a Ripley vs. Zelina Vega match in here.
- They set up LA Knight vs. Xavier Woods on this show, with the former complaining about not making it on the card at WrestleMania and the latter unwilling to listen to those complaints. “You have to make something happen yourself,” and all that. I don’t think it was meant to be ironic, but hey, point taken. This seemed as though it was headed for a match but they didn’t get around to it this week. Kinda fitting. They did announce it for next week, at least!
The matches were fun this week, and the main story got some major development.