Roman Reigns Is The MVP
Even on a show that was below the standard WWE Friday Night SmackDown has set for itself, Reigns continued to amaze. Like a star quarterback on a struggling team, Reigns stood out on Friday night with yet another stunning performance. This time around, he delivered a brutal backstage attack to his opponent at WWE TLC, Kevin Owens. “The Tribal Chief” got his hands dirty and displayed the intense aggression we analyzed last week, but it was his promo after the assault that left fans buzzing. Reigns looked right into the camera and sent a chilling message to Owens’ wife and kids. With cold intensity, the WWE Universal Champion threatened to take the food off their table when he destroys Owens at WWE TLC.
Some fans thought this segment went too far, but this writer thought it was the perfect way to give SmackDown’s top heel even more heat. Now, more than ever, fans have every reason to root for Owens at the pay-per-view. The WWE Universe should be rallying behind Owens and hoping he’ll give Reigns his comeuppance on Sunday. He’ll probably lose, as it doesn’t seem like Reigns will drop the title soon. When he does, “The Head of the Table” will cement his place as the most despised villain in WWE. Carmella may call herself “Untouchable,” but nobody comes close to the character work Reigns is doing right now.
Sasha Banks Got A Little Bit Of The Bubbly
Speaking of Carmella, Sasha Banks’ challenger for the SmackDown Women’s Championship had perhaps her best performance in her new persona. This writer hasn’t been a fan of Carmella’s repackaged gimmick so far, but Friday night was a step in the right direction. It was still hard to look past her calling herself “the hot chick” because that feels like low-hanging fruit for a heel. But in the main event, which many fans expected to be a wonky one, Carmella actually brought the fight to Banks.
Carmella’s ability to hold her own in the ring with “The Boss” will be vital to the success of this feud and, ultimately, her new character. She performed well in the main event and left fans excited to see what a full-length pay-view-match would look like. But as with Reigns, she shined with her own character work. Carmella sacrificed her sommelier so that she could deliver a beatdown to the champion. She then smashed a bottle of Champagne over the champion’s back. The visual of the bottle exploding upon impact sold the physicality of the assault.
With one final SmackDown before WWE TLC, look for Banks to get the upper hand next week. But Carmella has certainly proved that she shouldn’t be taken lightly in this feud.
A Mixed Bag For The Tag Division
Last week, we shined a light on how SmackDown’s tag team division might have a bright future with the return of The Forgotten Sons. Friday night didn’t necessarily dispel that hope. But the tag team division had an inconsistent episode of SmackDown this week. One half of the SmackDown Tag Team Champions, Montez Ford suffered a shocking defeat to Dolph Ziggler. That’s the same Dolph Ziggler who has been a certified jobber to the stars for a few years now. Ford has been one of the most protected WWE Superstars for a few months now, as it feels like he rarely gets pinned. So having him take the loss here stands out as a questionable call. There were various ways to build the Street Profits’ feud with Ziggler and Robert Roode that didn’t require this pinfall defeat.
Elsewhere, Otis and Chad Gable took their new partnership to the ring for the first time, but they lost to Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura. This outcome actually made perfect sense. A tag team that’s still finding its footing has no business defeating a duo that held the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship just a few months ago. It was refreshing to see WWE do something so simple, yet so logical, from a storytelling perspective. Gable and Otis can rebound from this loss and continue to grow together. Down the road, they could excel as a team together, and this initial obstacle could help them in the long run.
As for the Forgotten Sons, they made a brief appearance alongside King Corbin, who dubbed them “The Knights of the Lone Wolf.” The brief segment suggested that this team remains in the plans on the blue brand. At the very least, it’s promising to see SmackDown’s tag team division receiving a substantial boost after it spent most of 2020 suffering from a severe lack of depth.
As always, there’s so much more to dig into. We haven’t even touched on Big E and the WWE Intercontinental Championship. To hear an in-depth review of this week’s show, check out the SmackDown Double Down on the WrestleZone Facebook page. It’s also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Soundcloud. Tune in to the SmackDown Double Down every Friday at 10:10 p.m. EST (unless otherwise noted.)