The Bloodline Is Flatlining, AEW's Orange Cassidy Trending Up, More Friday Takes
Friday was dominated by the story about Vince McMahon that was published in the Wall Street Journal, so a lot of people went into this week's SmackDown with mixed emotions.
According to Joe Palazzolo, Ted Mann and Joe Flint of the Wall Street Journal, to hide alleged infidelity and sexual misconduct, McMahon paid four women more than $12 million over the past 16 years. Some fans are going to boycott WWE until this investigation is over, but others likely tuned in out of morbid curiosity to see if McMahon would dare to make another public appearance.
The night ended up going on as usual. There was no appearance from McMahon, but there was something that happened with Mace that might have people talking.
The Bloodline made an appearance, and the tag team division was highlighted in a couple of matches. Over on Rampage, Serena Deeb and Mercedes Martinez saw their team dissolve, and Orange Cassidy battled Tony Nese in a fun main event.
The Bloodline Is Flatlining
Reigns, The Usos and Paul Heyman appeared in the opening segment of this week's SmackDown to address Reigns' upcoming match against Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam.
While we saw the usual confident Tribal Chief, his advocate did not seem so sure of himself. Heyman spoke at length about his experiences watching The Beast overcome the odds.
Everyone involved in The Bloodline is great for their own reasons, but the group is running on fumes right now. WWE needs to do something quickly.
The Usos being the undisputed tag team champions feels unnecessary at this point. They do a good job appearing on both shows, but the tag team division has suffered a bit during their reign.
When it comes to the leader of the group, Reigns only appears occasionally now, which means we go some weeks without seeing a single world title on TV.
And now, everything is starting to feel repetitive. The Usos have fought just about everybody they can multiple times, and Reigns vs. Lesnar is a program we have already seen many times over the years. We need something new, and so does WWE as a whole.
Reigns has been a great champion. It's just time for someone else to have a run at the top.
The Rest of the Tag Team Division Has Hope
While The Usos might be dominating the tag team division right now, WWE has clearly made an effort in recent weeks to give other teams a bit more screen time.
Not only did we see The New Day and Viking Raiders this week, but Los Lotharios had a chance to face the tag champs in a non-title match.
With Alpha Academy, The Street Profits and a couple of other duos, it becomes clear that WWE has a great tag team division, but it continues to use it in confusing ways.
Teams like the Raiders and Los Lotharios can bring some freshness to the tag title scene, but it has taken WWE a long time to use either team in any kind of meaningful way.
WWE has all the tools to have every division thrive, so the fact that things seem to have hit a low point recently is that much more frustrating for the fans, and probably for the talent, too.
Maximum Male Models Might Make Millions
Max Dupri and his male models, Mace and Mansoor, had a special fashion show this week that went on way longer than it needed to, but it was also kind of funny.
This whole gimmick is dumb. It shouldn't work and it might not in the end, but something about it is weirdly entertaining, at least for some.
The former LA Knight has always been a great talker, so it shouldn't be surprising that he is making some of these terrible lines he has to say work on some level.
However, the most memorable part of the segment for some fans may have had nothing to do with what Dupri was saying.
Mace and Mansoor were in tennis gear for their runway walks, so they were wearing shorts that left little to the imagination. Let's just say that Mace was born with good genetics.
This gimmick is not going to get anyone to a world title, but like The Fashion Police, there is potential for this to at least be an entertaining group at some point. It's just not quite there yet.
The Issues with the AEW Women's Division Are Becoming More Apparent
AEW has one of the most diverse and talented women's divisions in the world, but the way it has been used for the past several months leaves a lot to be desired.
While we have seen a few longer bouts here and there, it feels like the women end up with the shortest matches on the card most weeks. Friday's Rampage was a perfect example.
Deeb and Martinez had a tag team match that barely lasted a few minutes. The post-match fight between them was the focal point, but this is not an uncommon occurrence in AEW lately.
Thunder Rosa was barely on television for the first month following her women's title victory, which is weird because she was being regularly featured before that. The same can be said about Britt Baker, Nyla Rose and many more.
AEW has a huge roster and needs to try to feature as many people as possible. It's just a shame that when it comes time to cut a match short, it seems to be the women who suffer. This likely won't be a problem forever, though.
AEW is going to trim its roster down at some point out of necessity. Once that happens, we will start to see more cohesive storytelling across the board because there will be fewer moving pieces to worry about.
Orange Cassidy's Booking Has Improved
Cassidy had to take some time off in 2022 because of an injury, but now that he is back, he is being booked better than ever before in AEW.
For a long time, Cassidy was bulletproof. He could lose matches and be a comedy character without losing any of his popularity. But that can only last for so long, and thankfully, AEW has realized this and has begun to use him differently.
He is much more competitive than he used to be, so he is no longer coming across as solely a comedic wrestler. He now seems like he has the skills to win a title at some point.
He still does his usual hands-in-pockets stuff, but his match with Will Ospreay at Forbidden Door and his bout with Nese on this week's Rampage showed how tough he can be when he wants to try.
This week's block of pro wrestling had its high and low points like every week does, but the issues facing both companies were a bit more glaring on Friday night.