It takes a lot to make seasoned WWE fans sit up straight in their chairs and say, “Wow.”
Even for the company’s least jaded fans least jaded fans, it can be hard to fully buy into surprising moments because we’ve been conditioned to expect disappointment more often than not.
Then, on Friday night, this happened.
— WWE (@WWE) May 22, 2021
Insert whatever cliché you like best; any one of them would describe this writer’s reaction. The white flash of light, followed by Aleister Black’s reapparance, was genuinely electric. For a wrestler who, just a few short months ago, seemed wrongfully destined to wind up on the scrapheap, the stunning conclusion to WWE SmackDown’s main event was a reinvigorating rebirth. Sure, his vignettes in recent weeks have been hit-or-miss. But Black’s talent made these confusing promos forgivable because you just had to hope that WWE had something big planned for him.
As it turns out, those hopes were valid. A feud with Big E, kickstarted by Black’s attack on the former champion, seems like the most enticing option that was available for the former NXT Champion. The matches should be fantastic, and both men can cut great promos. While it’s fair to worry about the outcome of a feud where both men need to win, let’s enjoy the moment. For now, let’s celebrate the intriguing return of a star who has main event potential if he’s handled properly.
Is Cesaro’s Turn Over?
While it seems like Black is being positioned for a strong run on SmackDown, the end of his time on RAW was hard to swallow. Specifically, watching Seth Rollins stomp the man and beat him down week after week derailed any momentum Black had gained previously.
Ironically, the same night Black came back to the blue brand, Cesaro suffered a similar fate for the second show in a row. Just days after Rollins left Cesaro lying in a heap at the end of WWE WrestleMania Backlash, he unleashed another brutal assault on “The Swiss Cyborg” on Friday night. This time around, the beating was severe enough that Cesaro had to be carted away on a stretcher.
— WWE (@WWE) May 22, 2021
There’s an argument to be made that these two angles have been used to set up a potential Hell in a Cell match between Cesaro and Rollins. If that’s the case, fine. At least then, the storyline is going somewhere, even if the outcome is a pay-per-view defeat for the fan-favorite competitor. (Rollins probably wouldn’t lose three major matches in a row to the same man.)
But after seeing what happened to Black last summer and watching other stars suffer similar fates, it’s fair to feel concerned about this sudden twist of fate. Just a -short week ago, Cesaro was booked like a top contender on SmackDown. Less than seven days later, he’s in danger of getting firmly shoved to the back of the line, with little hope of climbing his way back up.
— WWE (@WWE) May 23, 2021
Mob Boss Reigns is the Best
Most weeks, at least some room in this space is dedicated to Roman Reigns’ brilliant performance every Friday night, and there’s no reason to stop now.
This time around, Reigns went full mob boss by dismissing Jey Usos’ hope to reunite with his brother, Jimmy in a tag team match. “The Tribal Chief” coldly emphasized the importance of SmackDown’s world order; “The Head of the Table” eats first, and everything else is secondary to his reign. He then pulled Jey in for a hug and whispered in his ear, much like you’d expect a dastardly mob boss to do in a classic movie. Presumably, the WWE Universal Champion gave the order for Jey to take his brother out. Regardless, the dynamic storyline between Reigns, Jey and now Jimmy remains the best program in WWE. From this point on, the story is at a fork in the road; next week, either the Usos will work together, potentially driving a wedge between Reigns and his henchman, or Jey will betray his brother, likely setting up a feud between the champion and the recently-returned Uso. Both directions are quite compelling, so it’s a rare case where WWE can’t lose.
The brief segment backstage, where Reigns voiced his displeasure about the Usos’ planned reunion, added even more intrigue ahead of next week’s show. Will the brothers actually team up, or will Reigns’ influence tear them apart? One thing’s for sure — you’ll have to tune in next Friday to find out.
There’s so much we haven’t even talked about yet, from the contiuation of the feud between Bayley and Bianca Belair to yet another match between Natalya & Tamina and Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax. To hear a full discussion about the show, please check out the SmackDown Double Down with Colin Tessier and Robert DeFelice.