Friday Night Smackdown Is Finally Back!
Welcome to the Cool Points.
It’s a new day! (Yes, it is!)
For years, I’ve been following the WWE nXt brand, reviewing the weekly Wednesday shows from 2015-2020. Since the pandemic though, a lot changed. Some of that I wrote about in my last column about watching WWE programming in the Thunderdome, and some of that was related to family and work changes. I pressed pause on my wrestling reviews and a lot of the usual routine during Covid times, but I’ve been anticipating July 16th for a while now.
For the first time in 70 weeks (thanks, Michael Cole), the WWE Universe fans were allowed to be physically present at a Friday Night Smackdown TV show and it just so happened to be the go-home show for Money In The Bank 2021. So, who’s going into this Big 5 PPV with cool points? Let’s find out.
Edge & The Mysterios vs. Roman Reigns & The Usos
Right call to start the show, wrestling-wise, with the Universal Champion feud and the Tag Team Champion feud. That was an economical use of time to go with the 6-man tag that allowed both feuds to get in-ring time and keep that sold-out crowd hyped to be at the first real Smackdown in almost a year and a half.
I was a big fan of the narrative of Edge getting the entire family to tap with that crossbar crossface, and the fans popped pretty huge seeing Edge surprise Roman twice, even though the team lost the match. He hit the spear on Roman on the outside and then hit him again in the ring to set up that submission with the bar of the chair. Say what you will about guys going over on the go-home show not winning at the PPV, but Edge in his crazy, old-man form is extremely likeable and a good match for the head of the table. Also, Roman’s presentation is fantastic. Arrogant, self-assured champ is easy to boo and he conveys it well with his body language and facial expressions, both to the camera and to the crowd.
The Mysterios/Usos feud hasn’t been given too much attention in the last few weeks, so that became somewhat of an afterthought in this segment. I’m sure the match will be fine, but I’m not invested enough to pick a winner at this point.
3 cool points for everyone in this welcome back to live fans opening match.
Women’s Wrestling *Clap Clap Clap-clap-clap*
Two segments for the ladies tonight. Fortunately, the spotlight was on them in having the only championship title defense as Bianca Belair defeated newly named challenger, Carmella. She was a replacement for Bayley, who suffered an injury in training recently, and will be out for 9 months. Carmella seems to be positioned, at present, as the hot girl you dislike because you know you’ll never be with her or look like her. Reminds me of Eva Marie, except she can actually wrestle okay.
That said, I really like Bianca Belair as champion and it is definitely her year. Royal Rumble winner, Wrestlemania Main Event, won the Women’s Championship there, and has been holding strong since then. She was a star in nXt and she is getting better and better.
Carmella is NOT a threat to beat her and has to be a tide-over until we find out who the Money In The Bank winner will be on Sunday.
Speaking of which, there was only one woman who got the push during the tag team match between nXt graduates Shotzi & Nox, and Smackdown Women’s Tag Champs Natalya and Tamina…and that’s Liz Morgan. Yes, yes, Shotzi & Nox now have 2 surprise wins on the champs. I don’t think it helps the champs look very good, but it’s somewhat novel to see them upset.
The real winner was Liz Morgan, who irritated Zelina Vega enough on commentary to brawl at ringside, which caused the distraction Nox needed to win the match for her team.
Post-match, we see Liv in the centre of the ring pointing up at the briefcase. Honestly, the Smackdown side of the women’s MITB match looks pretty weak compared to the Raw side, so why not give Liv some camera time and see what happens. The fans will get to have their say on Sunday about how much they like her work over the past few months.
2 cool points for Bianca Belair and Liv Morgan, the shining stars for the Smackdown Women’s Division on Friday night.
Smackdown Men’s Money In The Bank All-Stars
Anyone else seeing this Men’s Money In The Bank match as an All-Star match?
This is not a match of mid-card greatness or up and comers. These are mostly top draws and former multi-time champions all fighting for another shot at a WWE or Universal Championship.
Smackdown has: Big E, Seth Rollins, Shinsuke Nakamura and Kevin Owens.
Raw has: Drew McIntyre, John Morrison, Ricochet and Matt Riddle.
There’s the potential for some major high-flying, major risk-taking…and major surprises. Seeing the 4 Smackdown participants fight in the main event of Smackdown provided a teaser of what to expect on Sunday, and it’s a match that everyone is going to enjoy. Match quality should be 4+ stars and everyone in the match has a half-decent chance of winning. Seth Rollins walks away the winner on Friday Night, which doesn’t mean much for Sunday, but his interaction with Edge was an interesting one.
Backsatage, Rollins laughed heartily at Edge’s remarks about beating Roman Reigns. Rollins indicated he would cheer on Edge because it would make it even easier for him to cash in and win the Universal Championship again. He even brought up their unfinished business of 7 years ago when Rollins didn’t follow through on curb stomping Edge, which was more because John Cena agreed to bring back the Authority to avoid it from happening. Still, storyline history is appreciated!
Whether or not, Rollins or Edge win, there is an opportunity to move forward on a feud between those two. A match and/or feud against Rollins would fit in nicely with the kind of talent Edge wants to work with during this comeback stage in his career. While it wouldn’t require the Universal Championship to happen, seeing Edge as a champion again seems like a good bet and an Edge/Rollins feud could certainly carry the Smackdown brand for a few PPVs.
Big E also received decent promo time, interrupting Paul Heyman backstage, to make his claim on the briefcase. No doubt Big E vs. Roman Reigns is a match waiting to happen, but I don’t know if Big E has enough momentum at this point to get the MITB nod. He literally got curb stomped into the foot of the ladder, by the way, but no blood, of course… For him to be in the mix is a great vote of confidence though for those fans who remember what was a dominating nXt Championship run pre-WWE Network era. Call him an underdog for the briefcase on Sunday and the kind of wrestler that historically would be seen as a prime contender for moving to the championship scene.
1 cool point for Seth Rollins and Big E, who made the biggest impact inside the ring and outside the ring of the Smackdown Men’s MITB participants.
My Wife Says…
A few anecdotes from my wife who watched with me this evening:
– “Do we like him? Are we supposed to like him?” asking about new-to-her commentator Pat McAfee
– “I’m pretty sure Bianca Belair is wearing a weave.” And then we proceeded to investigate for confirmation of this online. Belair was quoted as saying all of her hair is real, but that doesn’t mean it’s all her hair.
– “Baron Corbin lost his crown? Really. He looks awful.”
Yes, he does.
Here are a few questions to consider from today’s column:
Are we guaranteed one RAW and one Smackdown winner in the MITB matches? Who are your predictions? I’m thinking we’ll see a RAW women’s winner and a Smackdown men’s winner.
Will Baron Corbin eventually get the sympathy of the fans or are we happy to see him descend further into despair?
Please join in the discussion below on those questions or anything else you’d like to share. You can also follow me on Twitter to keep the conversation going there.
Cool Points- I Can’t Watch The ThunderDome
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Can’t Knock The Hustle: WWE Money In The Bank (What Will Happen & What Should Happen)