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SmackDown: The Uso family values soap opera
WWE

Pro Wrestling

SmackDown: The Uso family values soap opera

Roman Reigns shows why he’s the best heel in WWE, and maybe all of pro wrestling.

Team SmackDown was defeated on Sunday night at WWE Survivor Series, and the fallout for Jey Uso and the other members of Team Blue Brand is a very real thing. When you embarrass Roman Reigns, there are consequences.

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Meanwhile, the rest of the roster attempts to move on from a pay-per-view that had zero stakes attached to it and to the best of anyone’s knowledge, didn’t impact the week-to-week storylines whatsoever.

AIPT’s very own JJ Travers and Brendan Lee are here to break down the most important pieces of the SmackDown for you: Roman Reigns emotionally bullying his own cousin, Jey Uso’s frayed mental state, the potential of KO, the dream feud that is Sami Zayn and Daniel Bryan, Bianca Belair’s slow and steady ascension, the curious case of Big E, and a magically healed eyeball.


JJ: I was a little worried going into tonight’s show that SmackDown was about to start on a downward turn. Phew! Thank god. That was some solid rasslin’ right there.

Brendan: SmackDown was finally ready for a good time too. There was a veritable feast of A-show matches and segments to enjoy tonight. Also, absolutely no Lars Sullivan.

JJ: Nothing says Happy Thanksgiving quite like watching Roman Reigns emotionally bully his own family member into committing acts of violence against his peers and teammates. After Team SmackDown’s loss at Survivor Series, I had suspected Reigns would order this, instead he scared the life out of Jey Uso and everyone watching at home. Do it because you fear me, not because I asked you to.

Brendan: If I had to title every episode of this show, tonight’s would have been called “Uso Family Values.”

Roman is channeling some dark, disgusting feelings into these promos. I wanted to go back and rewatch the opening segment to pull out specific lines that hit hardest, but elected against it because it’s quite honestly an uncomfortable viewing experience. That aspect doesn’t diminish the overall quality of the work, but it’s not something that is necessarily worth reliving.

Paul Heyman’s silent anxiety onscreen is contagious and it’s an excellent Greek chorus. We are Heyman, sitting mute and helpless while Roman Reigns casually dismantles his blood relatives on-air. Should I find this compelling or not? That’s a loaded question, Uce.

JJ: “Wanna be a b*tch in the locker room begging for Thanksgiving leftovers?” Uhhh…no sir? Off the top of my head I can’t remember the last time someone cut a promo that made me that legitimately uncomfortable, and to top it off he wasn’t even raising his voice. His ability to deliver all his lines with the utmost level of authority and a layer of pure condescension while speaking in barely a whisper is just incredible. I’m confident there isn’t a better heel in WWE right now.

Brendan: We might have to change the scope there and ask if there’s presently a better heel in any of the major promotions. Reigns is THAT good and locked in right now. WWE is going to be hard pressed to create programs with top of the card faces who can work opposite this level of pure heel heat.  In that regard, it’s exciting to see Kevin Owens get a crack at it. He takes “Head of the Table” very, very literally.

Even if that announce table spot fell flat, KO screaming directly at Roman through the ringside camera while stomping out Jey was effective. I’m fairly confident that he’ll be able to improvise on the mic and match Reigns’ promo work. Their eventual match at the next PPV will also be serviceable at worst. For a placeholder feud, you couldn’t ask for more than that, right?

JJ: You sure can’t. KO being in the main event picture of SmackDown is about as close as you can get to using the guy to his full potential. I’ve been hoping for a while now that he doesn’t resign so he can get be at the top of the card in a different promo, but maybe, just maybe this is the start of WWE realizing what they have with the guy again. Yes, it screams placeholder feud and if that’s all it is, whatever. I just want to see the guy succeed.

KO and Reigns feuding is great enough by itself, but then we’ve also got Daniel Bryan and Sami Zayn in the same two hour block. Talk about spoiling us. WWE has demoralized us so much that here I am thinking we don’t deserve this. These guys have been going at it again and again over the years, since all the way back in their PWG days. This is pretty much one of the top matchups I’d pick if I could fantasy book the roster right now. Zayn is peak smarmy dickhead at the moment, and I know you appreciate his fourth wall breaking jabs as much as I do.

Brendan: Sami Zayn doing a stolen land callout on WWE programming is the exact type of thing I need right now. I love this man. May he reign as IC champ for as long as this current contract runs. That ring apron brainbuster on Bryan tonight was disgusting too.  In a good way, if that makes sense.

Not exactly the type of bump I want to see D-Bry taking and definitely not something I expect from weekly WWE programming. It wasn’t Naito/Ibushi level disregard for personal safety, health, or overall physical well-being, but I feel like these guys trust and respect each other enough to throw high quality matches at the drop of a hat. That’s apparently going to include terrible, cringe inducing head-and-neck violence for the Planet’s Champion.

SmackDown

WWE

JJ: Yeaaah, I immediately said “Wow good brainbuster!” followed quickly by immense concern. Like, who the f*ck am I to tell Daniel Bryan what to do in a wrestling ring, but god damn if that type of stuff doesn’t scare the hell out of me, and hey, maybe that’s the whole point. Either way, one heck of a match and I so dearly hope this feud continues to at least TLC next month.

Some other minor callouts before we move on to bigger moments from the show. Billie Kay may have a small and pointless gimmick, but she’s on TV and she’s making it work as best she can. I’m not over the IIconics split yet, and I really don’t want to see someone with her comedic timing wasted. Also, watching Montez Ford deconstruct Dolph Ziggler’s character in two seconds via a Shawn Michael’s comparison killed me.

Brendan: Ford is just out there living the dream of a million internet dorks and mercilessly roasting Ziggler with the one thing everyone wants to scream in his face. Loved it. I also really enjoyed Dawkins’ new double underhook power bomb/swinging neckbreaker combo. New additions to the move set definitely help me take him more seriously in-ring, with the added benefit of making him less Jannetty-ish. NO HBK REFERENCE LEFT UNTURNED.

JJ: Ford is killing it and his wife is killing it. Slowly and surely, Bianca Belair is being built into a legitimate Superstar, and the real test for her arrived tonight in the form of Bayley. If WWE means what they say about Belair and sees her as the future of the women’s division, then a win of one of the four Horsewomen is a huge step down that path. I’m very excited to see where this feud goes.

Brendan: It was mildly disappointing that this was the only good women’s segment on the entire show, but they managed to pack a lot into it. Bayley vs. Bianca is a program with huge potential. I’m almost worried they are rushing into it, but it’s definitely Bianca’s time right now. She has momentum, the backing of management and writers, and is one of the most talented performers on any WWE roster. One consistent criticism of WWE programming is that they never pull the trigger on things viewers want to see and wait too long to deliver compelling angles. It’s extremely gratifying to see Bianca getting a meaningful push to the top of the card on SmackDown and I can’t wait to see the weekly build for this series of matches with Bayley.

SmackDown: The Uso family values soap opera

WWE

JJ: While I’m by no means a fan of Carmella, I did enjoy the way that her segment with Sasha Banks was put together. The hand with the “BOSS” ring slowly coming into the frame was well done and it’s nice to see Sasha finally get some licks in. Carmella’s repacking has been disappointment, after disappointment and I think the biggest one at the moment is I don’t see anything that feels particularly defining about this new character. It’s a fine feud for Banks, but it can’t be anything more than just filler, right?

Brendan: That’s my biggest concern with Banks and Carmella. There’s no upside for Sasha here. It’s something she should win handily. On the other hand, losing her first feud after significant time off and a major repackaging also doesn’t serve Carmella. Unless something very unexpected happens here, it feels like we get Banks demolishing Carmella, or Sasha dropping the belt after another very short title reign. It’s just lazy booking that doesn’t elevate either wrestler.

JJ: Pretty perfectly summed up. Typically, a dusty finish would involve another heel, but I can’t think of a single one that would fit the bill. I’ll continue to watch this develop with a lot of apprehension and low expectations.

Something that we forgot to bring up while talking Sami Zayn and Daniel Bryan was Big E. At the moment, I’m not sure what the deal is there. You pulled the guy away from New Day for what the entire world assumed would be a massive singles push and we’ve yet to see anything significant. As much as I’d like to see him involved with Zayn and Bryan, it doesn’t feel like it fits, and not because there’s anything wrong with Big E. It just doesn’t feel right storyline wise.

Logically, Roman will be tied up with KO, and they aren’t feeding Big E to the Big Dog if he’s truly supposed to be headed up the card. The IC belt feels like it’s already a dream scenario and pushing E in would just ruin an already perfect thing. So where does he fit?

Brendan: I’m just glad they found a way to get him some TV time this week too. Big E’s post-draft arc has made very little sense, and it’s concerning that WWE is handling one of their most popular performers and decorated champions ever in this fashion. He didn’t even feature on Team SmackDown in the Survivor Series match, which seems like an obvious move for one of the best tag team wrestlers to ever do it. Sami mentioned his IC title run and he countered with making a 5 count joke at the end. They are clearly aware of his singles’ history. Being involved in the IC title scene post-New Day is not a lateral step for Big E. Hopefully, 2021 has something better in store for our boy.

JJ: There were concerns tonight, but as I said when we got started this was some solid rasslin’. Heck, I’ll upgrade that to a “good” rating. This was a good show. The only thing I outright disliked was the Mysterio family doing this super weird poor man’s version of Triple H and Stephanie, except instead of Murphy coming in to wrestling royalty, he’s shacking up with his child bride and her Louis Vuitton obsessed family.

Brendan: You’re missing the high level takeaway from this bit. Rey Mysterio’s eye completely healed! It’s a holiday miracle!

JJ: It’s been three weeks, man! The board is clear.

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