WWE's Bait and Switch, Time for Babyface Miz and More Friday Wrestling TakesJanuary 28, 2023
WWE's Bait and Switch, Time for Babyface Miz and More Friday Wrestling Takes
Friday night was business as usual for AEW, but WWE's SmackDown was the go-home show before Saturday's Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
Karrion Kross and Rey Mysterio met for a singles match to deal with their own personal issues before competing in the men's Rumble.
We also saw The Miz appear in a segment with Austin Theory, The New Day, Bobby Lashley and Brock Lesnar, and WWE subbed in Ricochet and Braun Strowman to take Sheamus and Drew McIntyre's place in the ongoing tag team tournament.
Over on Rampage, Emi Sakura and Jamie Hayter put on an awesome match to close the show on a high note.
Let's look at each of these moments from Friday's block of pro wrestling.
WWE Waited Too Long with Karrion Kross
Kross returned to WWE on August 5 as part of Triple H's rehiring streak, but he has only had six matches in the nearly five months since he has been back. Four took place on TV and two at premium live events.
This week's SmackDown match against Mysterio marked his seventh outing, and the hourglass enthusiast came up short.
The problem isn't Kross. He is a talented competitor with a look and gimmick that should make him successful. The issue is how he is being booked.
He isn't wrestling enough for those who missed his run in NXT to form any sort of connection to his character, and losing a random match to Mysterio isn't going to help.
At this point, a change of scenery might be the best way to rehab his career. If WWE holds a draft sometime soon, Kross needs to be moved to Raw and given a fresh start.
More matches, more wins and tweaking his promos would get him back on the right track. There's no reason why he shouldn't be fighting for a midcard title by the time summer rolls around.
The Miz Is Ready for Another Babyface Run
During Theory's promo on SmackDown, The New Day, The Miz, Lashley and Lesnar all made an appearance. While The Beast may have been the last man standing, The Miz might have had the most interesting part of all this.
As Theory was running his mouth, The A-Lister fired back with a series of reasons why he is better than the United States champion. The crowd was fully behind him until he and Theory began fighting The New Day together, and that is a good sign that The A-Lister might be ready for another babyface push.
The Miz has been a heel for an overwhelming majority of his career, but the crowd has shown that it will get behind him as a babyface.
His reality show has let him show a funnier side of his personality in recent years, so that may have allowed more people to connect with him as a person instead of a character.
He is witty, experienced and capable of making just about anybody else look good. If the WWE Universe is ready to cheer for him again, management should embrace it and see if a turn works out.
Pulling a Switcheroo Is Lazy Booking
McIntyre and Sheamus were all set to battle Hit Row in the semifinals of the tournament to crown new No. 1 contenders for the SmackDown tag titles, but that match never happened.
As they were making their entrance, The Viking Raiders attacked The Celtic and Scottish Warriors. This led to Sheamus and McIntyre willingly giving up their spot in the tourney to go chase after them, which meant a replacement team needed to be found.
Ricochet and Strowman were chosen and ended up winning the match to advance to the finals of the tournament. It all felt very haphazard and somewhat lazy.
Why would two former world champions give up their chance to win another title just to chase down two guys they will probably see in the Royal Rumble anyway?
If WWE wanted Ricochet and Strowman in the tournament, that is what should have been booked from the start. This just felt poorly planned all around.
Imperium defeated Legado Del Fantasma in the other semifinal match, so we will have RIcochet and Strowman vs. Imperium in the finals to see who challenges The Usos for the SmackDown tag titles next.
Jamie Hayter vs. Emi Sakura Stole Rampage
This week's Rampage was headlined by Hayter vs. Sakura in a non-title bout. These two women couldn't be any more different, but they worked well together to put on the best match of the night.
Considering they were on the same show as Wheeler Yuta vs. Adam Page, that is saying a lot. They made this fight both hard-hitting and exciting.
Sakura has had plenty of ring time on Dark and Elevation, but the majority of the AEW audience might not be too familiar with her because she rarely appears on Rampage or Dynamite.
If this bout did anything, it proved Sakura deserves to be on TV more often. She is a veteran performer who always brings the best out of her opponents, and her match against Hayter was no exception.
The AEW women's champion has been one of the most reliable and consistent performers on the entire roster for months. If she keeps putting on bangers like this, AEW may never take the title off her.