Cageside, what stipulation would you pick if you had to deal with Baron Corbin and his goons? ...That’s not leading anywhere, by the way. I’m just genuinely curious.
That’s the situation that faced Roman Reigns on this show, however when he took on Bobby Roode in a tables match. If he won (which, c’mon, it’s Roode), he’d get to choose a stipulation for the Royal Rumble.
The match went how you might assume. It started with just the two competitors until the heel faction decided to get in on the action. And just when those odds got as bad as they could get, the Usos ran down to the ring to superkick the mess out of Roode. Corbin and Ziggler each ate one as well, and Ziggler eventually went through the commentary table from dual splashes from the Usos.
And that left Reigns one-on-one with Roode, which is really all he ever needed to deal with Bobby Roode. Reigns Speared him through a table as Corbin watched on from the stage.
And that left the stip. Reigns announced that he wants to fight Corbin in a falls count anywhere match. On the surface, it seems like an odd choice; it doesn’t really do anything to stop Corbin’s goons, does it?
Ah well. It’s not like we haven’t seen ‘em before. I’m just hoping Reigns wins and ends this thing for good.
Oh, would you look at that - the Fiend vs. Daniel Bryan story was awesome. Again. I’m shocked.
This show started with Kane(!!) coming down to the ring to talk about how much he loves the Royal Rumble because it causes so much suffering and all that jazz. Ease up on the sadism, Mayor.
Bray Wyatt was quick to interrupt with a Fun House segment where he wanted to reassure everyone that Rambling Rabbit was alive and well. (The carrot juice IV was an awesome touch.) After that, however, Wyatt basically said he’s never going to forgive Kane, and that led to the Fiend appearing in the arena by ripping through the ring apron.
Before he could lay a hand on Kane, however, Bryan darted in with a Busaiku Knee and a flurry of kicks and punches. The Fiend fled back down the hole left in the ring, but not before Bryan could rip a few dreadlocks from his head.
That’s interesting! Is that going to change the Fiend’s look? Will it affect his behavior? Bryan had an interview segment afterwards where he said he’s sick of the Fiend running and hiding, so he’s challenging the Fiend to a strap match to eliminate that problem. Logic! Hooray!
I thought the Team Hell No stuff was a really nice touch. Kane coming back randomly is odd, but it’s much better when he clearly served a purpose and was already connected to the people in the feud. No complaints here.
Lacey Evans def. Bayley - I don’t really know what to think of this feud at the moment. For a second straight week, WWE created a reason for Sasha Banks vs. Lacey Evans to be cancelled. Banks and Bayley were brawling with Evans backstage, which resulted in Banks hurting her ankle.
And here’s where that no GM thing is interesting. A dude backstage (Adam Pearce) showed up in the training room to scold the duo over ruining the booked match yet again and demanded that Bayley wrestle in her place. Bayley was furious, but apparently Pearce has the ability to make these decisions...which I don’t think they’ve explicitly laid out before.
I don’t need the guy on every show; I just want them to say why he has that power over the roster.
As for the match, running into the Women’s Right was a cool finish. I feel like this story’s still a little too...ordinary. A little too conventionally WWE. Hopefully, they can provide a twist somewhere.
Braun Strowman saves Elias - The trio of Sami Zayn, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Cesaro is really fun. They’re an awesome heel stable.
Elias had a song but was interrupted by the group, who were basically saying they didn’t want to defend the IC Title against Braun. Words were had, fists flew, and the Monster made the save. The heels are doing a great job with crowd reactions, too.
Chad Gable and Sheamus have words - I’m not a huge fan of Gable’s weekly speeches about accepting who he is, but that’s totally fine as long as something in the feud works for me, you know what I mean? And Gable attacking Sheamus, kicking his ass, and leaving with cheery wave without looking back is definitely up my alley.
John Morrison def. Big E - A pretty lively opening match that furthered this new team of Miz and Morrison. Big E’s got such a great ability to rev up the crowd with his comebacks, but Miz was able to return the favor from last week by pulling Morrison off the ring apron when Big E was charging in for a spear. That disturbance got the heels the win.
The Usos def. The Revival - That was a quick win for the Usos. Surprisingly quick, even. The story was clearly about what happened after the match though, where the Revival were basically saying that the company needs to change and care more about both the Revival and tag team wrestling.
If this gets them away from doing Corbin’s bidding, consider this my endorsement of wherever this goes.
Alexa Bliss def. Sonya Deville - This was actually a pretty amusing, 1-show sort of storyline. Deville was talking to Mandy Rose and said she finally got “the Otis thing” after his entrance last week helped Rose win a match. Deville wanted to see if Otis would be willing to do the same for her.
Nice try, Sonya; take this L and Godzilla jokes from Graves and Cole on commentary instead.
I liked this episode! It probably wasn’t SmackDown’s best effort in terms of wrestling, but the storylines were coherent and engaging. That’s absolutely what I’d hope for a week from a PPV.