SmackDown has changed. Changed to the point where it has become the superior brand of WWE. Something that if said two months ago would have received a crowd of laughter as it seemed FOX’s brand was on the downfall. The Universal Championship was being fought for in a never-ending feud, the women’s division outside of its champion was non-existent, and there were really no outside stories to latch onto, making it a dull and missable show on a weekly basis. And then SummerSlam happened and everything changed. The blue brand became the brand.
Here’s a look at who and what has reinvigorated Friday Night SmackDown to the point that it is now the A-Show of WWE, over both Raw and NXT.
“The Tribal Chief,” Universal Champion: Roman Reigns
Man… Roman Reigns is finally allowed to be in his element and he is one of the best things in wrestling because of it. For such a long time, writers and fans have wanted one thing from Reigns, and more so WWE. That was to let him be himself, turn heel, and just see what happened. So far, those results have been nothing but money. His pairing with Paul Heyman has made him a force on Friday nights and the key cog in the machine of the blue brand. “The Tribal Chief’s” first feud with Jey Uso has really captured that attitude Reigns needs to show, as a guy who is able to set up his opponent to trust him, believe in him only to destroy him. It helps that this opponent is his cousin, making it all the more devious.
SmackDown suffered from not having a true world champion for the better part of a year. Bray Wyatt, Goldberg, and Braun Strowman were not the faces to lead the brand on the biggest channel they have been on. It has been and will always be Roman Reigns. It was a turn we were never sure we’d actually get to see, but it has happened and everyone is benefiting from it. Reigns, the fans, and the blue brand. Long live “The Tribal Chief.”
Bayley and Sasha Banks
There has been one consistency with WWE television since COVID-19 hit and shows were forced to continue without fans. That constant has been Bayley and Sasha Banks, who dominated the summer in their rivalry with Asuka while traveling to all three brands and being the faces the company needed when they seemingly lost their first three options for different reasons. Now with some back, it has allowed WWE to pull the long-awaited trigger and break apart Bayley and Sasha Banks to be rivals. Something that can only lead to magic. It’s really been years in the making, as fans wondered when these two would finally go at it on the main roster in a true rivalry.
Bayley’s run as SmackDown Women’s Champion has supplanted her legacy in WWE as one of it’s greatest women’s wrestlers ever, as her heel turn late last year turned her from a dying gimmick to a bona fide superstar. Something that she has experience of being before in that dying gimmick. And what’s even better about this angle is them going with the notion of keeping Bayley the bad guy, as she has been untouchable as the heel in the past year. These two are going to go to war as soon as Sasha Banks is able to return, only making SmackDown that much better with two of the best champions in the company leading the way.
The Intercontinental Championship Triangle
To have a quality professional wrestling TV show, it’s good to have good champions and good angles for said champions. SmackDown has figured out that utilizing the midcard championship, especially the Intercontinental Championship, can lead to great success. Jeff Hardy has served as a great champion to this point. One that actually makes people want to watch and care. And his rivals are certainly helping with that. AJ Styles believes he still has a claim to the championship after Hardy used a knee brace in their match to help him retain, even if it wasn’t intentional. Then there is Sami Zayn, whose claim to the championship is far more deserving considering he never lost the title in the first place.
It’s this angle that has helped make all parts of SmackDown better, superior to the rest. They will fight in a Ladder Match to decide who is the true champion, but after it happens, they must continue to roll with the division and keep it a strong one. It’s been like that for the past few months, so the faith is there.
Alexa Bliss’ Obsession With “The Fiend”
Alexa Bliss is an interesting one to include on this list in my opinion, but deserving nonetheless. The most interesting part of Bray Wyatt these days is not him, but Bliss and her infatuation with “The Fiend.” Could it be love? Could it be something we do not know at all? Both questions are wise to ask and both are the reason you should be interested in this secondary story on SmackDown that keeps things interesting. When the time comes for Alexa Bliss and Bray Wyatt to see one another again, what will happen? So much intrigue for two performers that needed it to be quite honest.
Bliss had been in tag team purgatory while Nikki Cross keeps getting the opportunities to fight (and lose) to Bayley. With this story, she rises to the top of the card for the first time in a very long time and we just have to keep watching to see where it all goes. It’s cultivating and interesting, that’s all we can ask out of a storyline these days.
The Meteoric Rise of Big E as a Singles Star
Everything about Big E screams world champion. And soon enough, that will be the case. Big E has been put on the hot path to the main event, and if folks haven’t seen that, it’s time to before it’s too late. It feels like it has been forever of people asking, waiting, and wanting for Big E to get a chance to shine. Sometimes, WWE can eventually listen. And the former NXT Champion is in that driver seat to be a star like he has earned to be. His current feud with Sheamus has been some brilliant stuff, as the rub of a former multi-time world champion is always a good thing, especially when you are pinning them.
I don’t know where this is all going, but a smart man could say that if The Rock is out of the question for a return at WrestleMania, Big E is option B to fight Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship on “the grandest stage of them all,” WrestleMania. Sounds too good to be true, but sometimes things work out and you get to see a star made rather than a one-time attraction. No matter, Big E’s final destination should be becoming Universal Champion within the next year. It’s time. Making SmackDown the show to watch all the more.
The A Show
It took a long time, but SmackDown is finally in the spot that it should have been since the moment they aired on FOX. The A Show of WWE. These angles can only develop, get better, and keep SmackDown on top. It’s a good time to be watching the blue brand, so if you haven’t been, it’s time to flip the switch and do so.
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