It’s all about the bloodline Uce. After his defeat at the hands of a merciless Roman Reigns at Hell in a Cell last Sunday, Jey Uso’s words have come back to haunt him. It’s time to get in line and bend the knee, or be cast out of the family forever.
Meanwhile, SmackDown begins to set the stage for Survivor Series and WWE leans into a storyline that’s making literally everyone uncomfortable.
AIPT’s very own JJ Travers and Brendan Lee are here to break down the most important pieces of the SmackDown for you: the complete dominance of Roman Reigns, Bayley and Sasha send the internet into a frenzy, Carmella’s disappointing new gimmick, WWE’s creepy obsession with a teenager dating a grown man, Kevin Owens in jeans, and Jey Uso finally understands now.
Brendan: In these uncertain times, we turn to WWE and, more specifically, SmackDown on Friday nights to have a good time. I was ready for a good time tonight. I wanted a good time. Instead, I feel like I got a dark glimpse into a future where the grotesque horror of 2020 never ends and SmackDown leans into tendencies that could be charitably described as…very Raw.
JJ, I don’t know if it’s a pre-Halloween snowstorm, a full moon, the onset of Daylight Savings Time, pandemic fatigue, or electoral anxiety seeping into my viewing experience, but was this episode a bit of a letdown coming out of Hell In A Cell.
JJ: There were certainly bright spots and we’ll discuss them, but as you said, it was more in the vein of that scary three-hour mess that happens every Monday night. This was not the SmackDown that I’ve come to know and love. Heck, last week I was just saying how the post-Draft landscape isn’t that bad. This is, uh, awkward now. Did someone remind Prichard that he’s also in charge of SmackDown? Because that’s what it feels like.
Brendan: Hot wrestling takes should age well beyond 6 days, but we are talking about WWE. There were some positive things tonight, so let’s start there. The opening promo with Roman Reigns and Jey Uso was extremely effective in highlighting why Roman is the head of the table, both in story and as an in-ring performer.
It seems like we’ve hit the ceiling on Jey’s ability to emote during these non-wrestling segments. There’s one setting and it’s everything all at once. Non-stop feeling. Roman, on the other hand, is just getting started. His mic work is subtle and he never breaks character. At least prior to the outburst mid-match on Sunday anyway. Last night, he spun that as emotional manipulation and that seemed to send Jey over the edge. As a viewer, you’re left to wonder if Roman really IS that ice cold and heartless, if he’s lost sight of who he is in order to become Tribal Chief, or if this is who Roman Reigns has been all along.
— WWE (@WWE) October 31, 2020
JJ: The storytelling and psychology on display throughout this fued has been some of the finest seen in wrestling in 2020. Not just WWE, but all of professional wrestling. Going in to SmackDown tonight the fallout from Hell in a Cell with these two was the #1 thing I wanted to see, and thankfully it didn’t disappoint.
Roman is operating on a level all by himself. I can’t think of anyone else in the company right now that’s putting out the caliber of promos that he’s delivering week-to-week.
But I can’t act like Jey hasn’t been an incredible dance partner for The Big Dog. I never would have thought that Jey Uso had this in him. His tears and rage at the start of the show, “I HATE YOU!” I sure as hell believed every word coming out of that man’s mouth. He’s been a star, plain and simple. The heel turn was one of the most convincing that I’ve seen WWE put together in a long time. We all knew he had to fall in line, but I also believe that he “understands now.”
Brendan: I certainly didn’t mean to minimize Jey Uso making the leap to the top of the card from the tag division in under 2 months. He’s been absolutely incredible. It’s just that Roman’s correct in his assessment that there are levels and he operates above Jey. Roman directing the post-match beatdown on Daniel Bryan without saying a word worked to perfection. It’s getting to the point where I’m not even sure Paul Heyman needs to be involved, except as a foil to show how intimidating heel Roman is. The idea that he knows Jey hates him and he doesn’t care is an excellent plot device. Roman doesn’t need love, but he does demand loyalty. And he can help you direct all that anger toward him (plus the self-loathing too) if you want, Jey. Very intricate and complex stuff for a wrestling program.
JJ: “Show him how much you love me.” F*ck that’s cool! In the span of two months we’ve seen Roman Reigns turn heel, align with Paul Heyman, win the Universal Championship, beat a member of his family so bad that even Heyman got uncomfortable, propelled Jey Uso to the top of the card, turned Jey heel, and began building the Bloodline faction. Two months. That’s just a silly amount of cool sh*t within the shortest of time periods. I just described a standard four month build to WrestleMania, but here Reigns is just casually knocking a storyline out of the park that no one would have ever even considered in the first place.
— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) October 31, 2020
Brendan: Similarly, it was cool to see SmackDown not move on immediately from the other tentpole of the show over the past year: Bayley v. Sasha. The promo segment tonight was short and sweet, but delivered exactly what I wanted in a rematch. Sasha bringing the chair down to the ring and mirroring Bayley’s initial promo after her heel turn was a nice callback. WWE writers acknowledging their poor booking of Sasha as champion and turning it into a TV storyline just fueled, like, a year’s worth of internet wrestling commentary content. We’re still in business, homie.
JJ: Sasha/Bayley and Roman/Jey are spoiling SmackDown fans because they’re easily the two best storylines WWE has going on the main roster right now. That simple line from Bayley about Sasha’s record kicked the hornets’ nest and has the entire wrestling fandom freaking out on all forms on social media. Bayley has so much confidence, such a firm grasp on her character, and I’m really excited to see what she does after this. I want Sasha to win because I’m a huge mark for her, but also because these two, as wonderful as they are together, deserve a break from one another once this is done. I’d like to see them operate at a top level without leaning on each other for a bit, but I feel like that’s also a little iffy with Bianca Belair being the only other talent in their division that I’m excited about.
Brendan: When Cole said “That’s classic Natalya” in that Survivor Series qualifying match, the women’s division issues became VERY apparent. Belair winning felt like an afterthought, but who else are they going to get to fill out the team for the traditional 5 v. 5 match? Who could they possibly find with 3 weeks left? Oh, that’s right. A returning Carmella with a miserable new gimmick . The faster they can get her back in the ring, the better. It can’t possibly hurt this awful rebranding or do any more damage to the memory of her as a credible in-ring performer. I would welcome a reminder of Carmella’s wrestling ability if it means not having to see anymore “Untouchable” hype videos.
JJ: That’s the thing, Carmella is a good wrestler and has traditionally been one of their better upper midcard players. But this whole Untouchable gimmick with lipstick, champagne, and the weird outfits has done absolutely nothing positive for her. I understand that WWE is trying to build hype and anticipation, but the way they’re going about it feels like they’re debuting a brand new talent, not someone that’s been here for 7 years. Thank god she’s finally debuting next week because the longer this goes on, the more I see people complain about it. Without being a smark, I can’t legitimately think of a single instance that I read something positive about her repackaging.
Brendan: Somehow, Carmella wasn’t the worst promo of the evening. You can pick your poison here if you want. I’m choosing to ignore Lars Sullivan forever, so my pick of the week is a three-way tie between Murphy, Seth Rollins, and the Mysterio Family. This angle came over from Raw and never should have continued. It’s the worst attempt at appropriating a telenovela of all time.
JJ: I remember those brief, wonderful moments during the Draft that we all thought we’d finally seen the end of the Rollins/Murphy/Mysterio triangle. Innocence was lost that night.
But really, can any of us say that we’re surprised to see a company who employs Lars Sullivan and Velveteen Dream, have a teenager making out with a 32 year old man on their live national television program? I doubt it.
I was openly laughing during the parts where she told us that her Mom is open-minded about it, the look of genuine humor in Seth Rollins face when the teenager kissed the grown man, and the fact that this was the ONE episode where they didn’t repeatedly remind us that Aliyah is 19 and, in fact, legal.
Brendan: Murphy looks extra comfortable with everything that’s going on, too. Top notch booking.
In terms of actual wrestling, the tag division delivered tonight. Cesaro launching Montez Ford 9 feet into the air over the barricade into the Thunderdome set was a legitimate memorable moment for wrestling in 2020. If nothing else, the men’s tag division on SmackDown will be a-ok going forward. Ford is also a low-key contender for best dropkick in the business right now.
JJ: Will it be a-okay though? There’s uhhh…3 teams? Street Profits, Ziggler/Roode, Nakamura/Cesaro, and I have no idea who else. I think Lucha House Party kinda, sorta broke up before the Draft happened? There’s plenty of talent available to use for the tag division, as we saw during the D-Bry segment last week, but Vince seems obsessed with torpedoing every team that isn’t holding the titles.
Brendan: There’s a healthy, reunited Usos in our future, and I still haven’t given up on Daniel Bryan tagging with Kevin Owens.
JJ: KO wears jeans now. He’s a lone wolf! And sadly, a giant waste of talent. I think I’ve officially given up on WWE ever using him to his full potential again.
Brendan: Whatever that new move KO did midmatch with the reverse swing into a modified fireman’s carry/sidewalk slam should be his finisher. You can’t give up hope. If Sami Zayn can work a parenthetical diss of Donald Trump and the US government’s COVID-19 response into a 90 second promo to hype a meaningless match with Bobby Lashley, anything is possible.
— WWE (@WWE) October 31, 2020
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