The Yes! Movement Lives
WWE Fastlane could feature a match that, just two months ago, was widely expected to main event WrestleMania 37. Assuming Daniel Bryan defeats Jey Uso this week on WWE Friday Night SmackDown, he’ll earn the chance to challenge Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship. Everything reason this bout could have main evented the biggest show of the year holds true year. It’s a classic battle of good and evil, as “The Yes! Man” will aim to dethrone the despicable “Tribal Chief.”
In some ways, it’s disappointing that fans might get this match on such a quick turnaround. It could have benefitted from the gradual build Edge’s feud with Reigns is receiving. But let’s focus on the positives here. It looks like a pay-per-view that was destined to be a throwaway show will feature a genuinely compelling title match between two future Hall of Famers. The blue brand even added another layer of intrigue to the bout by teasing some tension between Bryan and Edge this past week. It’s unlikely, but there’s one potential path that could lead to a stellar WrestleMania match between Bryan and “The Rated R Superstar.” Needless to say, WWE Fastlane is now appointment viewing.
To The Moon!
Take a bow, Apollo Crews. Over the last few weeks, he has become a breakout star on a show that’s loaded with talent. The former WWE United States Champion finally has a character that everyone can sink their teeth into, and it’s a beautiful sight. On Friday night, Crews cut an impassioned promo about his Nigerian heritage, and he explained that he only wants the respect that he rightfully deserves. For a wrestler who has rarely been praised for his mic work, Crews knocked it out of the park on SmackDown. In just one segment, he sold the fans on his new persona and established himself as a legitimate contender in the mid-card.
It’ll be fascinating to see how the new Crews will interact with Big E when the Intercontinental Champion returns. These two men could tell a riveting story about heritage, respect and, dare we say it, honor. It’s refreshing to see that the Intercontinental Championship could be involved in this potentially remarkable feud on the road to WrestleMania. One might expect to see the title defended in a multi-man match at WrestleMania, but if WWE plays its cards right, the feud between Big E and Crews could culminate in a featured singles match at “The Showcase of the Immortals.”
It’s “EST” Time
It’s official. Sasha Banks will defend the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship against Bianca Belair at WrestleMania 37. We’ve discussed the buzzworthy nature of this feud in recent weeks, but it’s still exciting to know that the supposed uncertainty surrounding Belair’s choice is over. “The EST” wants to prove herself as SmackDown’s top star, and she’s stepping right up to Banks in order to do so.
But it’s worrisome that WWE is already on the cusp of overcomplicating this feud. The company keeps giving Reginald a prominent role in a story that should be about two powerful, impressive women. Dear WWE, please cut the fluff out of this story. This narrative doesn’t need it. Like the feud between Edge/Bryan and Reigns, it writes itself. In this case, the company could simply focus on the impressive track records Banks and Belair both boast. Beyond that, the feud could rightfully lean on their charismatic personalities, as these women have the “it” factor more than most wrestlers in the business today. That’s all. No Reginald, no (failed) tag team title pursuits, nothing. Just a good old struggle to determine who truly is the best.
As always, there’s so much more to dig into. We haven’t talked about Cesaro Swinging Seth Rollins, Otis pinning Rey Mysterio, or Tamina regaining her prominence. To hear a full breakdown of the show, check out the SmackDown Double Down, hosted by WrestleZone writers Colin Tessier and Robert DeFelice.