Friday Night SmackDown aired from Knoxville, Tennessee. It featured a showdown between Roman Reigns and Big E and a night to remember for Bianca Belair.
It was literally a homecoming week for The EST. The former Tennessee Volunteers track star visited her old high school during its autumn pep rally. Then? She was presented the key to Knox County by its mayor, Glen “Kane” Jacobs-small world, indeed!
However, the episode was ostensibly dedicated to moving the action along to Extreme Rules on September 26.
Momentum was also built for September 20’s Monday Night Raw, which will see a six man tag between the reunited New Day and the Bloodline-Roman Reigns, Jimmy Uso, and Jey Uso.
Reigns, the Usos, and Paul Heyman opened the broadcast with Heyman trying to shore up Roman’s trust in him as he declared that his former client Brock Lesnar fears facing the “Tribal Chief”, as did Reigns’s upcoming Extreme Rules opponent Finn Balor. Big E’s music sounded throughout the venue.
Then, the newly-minted WWE champion returned to SmackDown with his championship in hand. Curiously, this leaves Raw housing only the United States, Raw tag team, 24-7, and Raw women’s titles at the moment. Balor soon followed after E to confront Roman. When the broadcast returned from commercial break, Balor and E were sided up in a tag match against the Uso. The duo – who have never teamed up before – were victorious. Roman Reigns showed his displeasure with this result.
It would seem a curious move. But the confrontation between the two champions was well-received
Big E’s singles run has gone the traditional ascent of a major push. He first clinched first the Intercontinental and then the WWE championship. In essence? It’s the route of WWE/F luminaries like The Rock, Bret Hart, and Shawn Michaels before him.
Why, then, land him back in a tag team scenario? Soon after the match concluded, it was announced that E will be re-joining Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods. The New Day will face Reigns and the Usos on Raw’s upcoming September 20th episode. And… Reigns will be returning to Raw for the first time in 2021.
As competition from All Elite Wrestling becomes stiffer, WWE has been doubling down on the popularity of Raw’s tag teams. For instance? Featuring an hours-long tag team turmoil match on its September 6th episode. RK-Bro, made up of the immensely popular Randy Orton and heavily featured Riddle, the perennially beloved New Day, and Wrestlemania 37 breakout Omos’s presence alongside A.J. Styles.
It seemed to be Raw’s arsenal against the ratings climb and buzz generated by AEW and its recent acquisitions of popular former WWE Superstars like CM Punk and Bryan Danielson.
Now, with AEW’s worrying gain over Raw in ratings, WWE is also breaking the glass on their ‘in case of fire’ options. They pitting Reigns, the Universal Champion, against WWE champion Big E at the beginning of his already well-received reign. Both of them flanked by their equally popular factions.
Speaking of factions, there have also been whisperings that The Hurt Business are soon to reunite on Raw, as well.
When MVP and Bobby Lashley cut Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander loose, fans and the pro wrestling press alike found the decision ‘bad for business.’ With MVP out with an injury, a reunion would probably make Benjamin, Lashley and Alexander a three-man team. They could be poised to face off against the New Day as Lashley seeks to regain the WWE title from Big E.
While this hasn’t been confirmed, the 6 man New Day vs Bloodline tag is proof enough that as WWE finds itself in a latter day ‘TV War’. Its strategy at this time is to double down on what’s been working well about Raw. Its tag team division, and the draw of its most popular Superstars like the New Day and the Bloodline, for a fighting chance.
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