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SmackDown recap & reactions (June 2, 2023): Bloodline battle lines

Early in the evening during Friday Night SmackDown this week, Paul Heyman told Solo Sikoa they need to make this night special for Roman Reigns. It was the big 1000 day celebration, after all.

Later, Adam Pierce told Heyman he enlisted security (who never stop anything, ever) to ensure that The Usos, whose travel was also cancelled (which is pretty funny, considering WWE doesn’t pay for travel), wouldn’t interfere with the big celebration. I only point this out because, well, there was literally zero security for the main event segment. I guess he meant around the building to protect them from getting in, but even that doesn’t work because they didn’t come through the crowd, they made a full blown entrance through the curtain, with their theme song playing and everything.

When it came time for the celebration itself, none other than Triple H hit the scene to welcome us to it. He was there because he had something special to present to Reigns:

I might miss Reigns holding up two titles in that iconic way he always did, but it’s good to know they’re finally doing something about it.

Then it came time to get to the good stuff — The Usos showing up to confront Reigns following the events of Night of Champions.

Naturally, Reigns demanded Jey kick Jimmy in the face to “make things right” but Jimmy fired right back and made clear there’s no fixing this. Reigns is a user, and an abuser, and a manipulator. He didn’t do what he did to Reigns to be the leader of The Bloodline, he did it to be a brother, and a brother loves and uplifts and supports his own.

He made an appeal to Solo Sikoa, who appeared to think it over.

Reigns gave him a choice.

“I acknowledge you, my Tribal Chief. But those two are my brothers.”

And he switched sides.

Reigns went to step to Jimmy, and got his face pushed. And hot damn it felt impossibly good to see it happen the other way this time. But then a surprise — Jey jumped in between them and said they gotta be better than this. They’re family. They’re brothers. They should run this whole place together, united, but with respect for each other. Jimmy agreed, and made his appeal to Reigns.

And Roman, after his own deep think on it, gave him a hug.

But then he said “no.”

And then stepped back, stared in his eyes, and waited for what came next.

Solo hitting him with a Spike.

That’s a swerve that you could see coming if you were looking for it but this story is good enough that you don’t even want to look for it. You just let yourself get swept up in it, and you’re almost always better off for having done so.

The battle lines have been drawn.

As they walked to the back, Paul Heyman could be heard asking Reigns “what about Jey?”

“Jey’s going to do what he always does — he’ll fall in line.”

I cannot say enough good things about all of this. Everyone involved in this story has been hitting a home run every time they’ve been asked to do so. It’s not just that they hit all the major beats but they do a ton of little things really well too, in such a way that you can rewatch this later and find something new and awesome every time.

All the rest

  • I quite enjoyed that Austin Theory was the first person in the ring for this episode and after they showed him there with a mic, they still cut to a video package for Roman Reigns. Theory cut a generic promo before introducing Pretty Deadly, who have a new theme song. They played nice with Theory, leading to the previously booked six-man tag team match against The Brawling Brutes. The match was a ton of fun, one of those chaotic six-mans that used to be the norm when The Shield were doing their thing. The babyface Brutes got all their shit in but it was the bad guys who scored the win when Theory pinned Ridge Holland.
  • Hit Row and The OC put together a match through social media, and that match featured very little in the way of action and saw the obvious result — The OC emerging victorious. Hit Row even tried a post-match beatdown and were quickly dropped. It genuinely feels as though the minute Swerve left, Hit Row just lost its identity and there’s no hope for the remaining three to find its footing at this point. Arguably the most entertaining part of all this was Michael Cole’s freestyle:
  • Grayson Waller had another episode of his talk show, featuring Raw Women’s Champion Asuka. She was interrupted by IYO SKY, and the crowd went silent as the two spoke in their native language. It’s a shame this didn’t feel as big as a match between the two absolutely has the potential to be. Bayley hit the scene to say SKY was just talking about winning Money in the Bank, but also she’s going to win. Then it was Shotzi’s turn to show up before Lacey Evans also arrived to deliver the same message before Zelina Vega did the very same. While they argued, Asuka escaped up the entranceway to say none of them are ready before Bianca Belair attacked from behind to make clear they aren’t finished with their feud just yet. This was meant to create excitement for the title scene ahead of a briefcase winner but it wasn’t executed all that well.
  • We learned the first qualifier for the women’s ladder match on this show, when Vega defeated Evans with the Code Red. The match was short and dominated by Evans, with Vega playing the role of underdog at a disadvantage when Lacey hit her with the Woman’s Right before the match even started. Still, she managed to hang tough and won after hitting the Code Red. They executed this well enough but Evans still needs polish in terms of her matches and they didn’t get enough time to really put anything interesting together either way.
  • In the other qualifier on this show, LA Knight defeated Montez Ford to become the third official entrant in the men’s match. The match was fine, but most notable for the fact that Knight is over enough now that even as a heel who cheated to win he was cheered over Ford, a babyface who got booed for every bit of offense.

This Bloodline story has been one of the best in my time watching pro wrestling. I couldn’t be a bigger fan of it.

Grade: A-

Your turn.

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