Return of Alexa Bliss, Shock Return of Sheamus and More WWE SmackDown Fallout
Following WWE Survivor Series 2019, Friday Night SmackDown had much to answer for. The brand escaped with just two wins. While the men's elimination match victory led by Roman Reigns was impressive, the blue brand was hardly ready for NXT.
The November 29 edition of SmackDown emphasized this need for a fresh start. New stars returned to action in Alexa Bliss and Sheamus. Old stars took surprising steps forward in the form of Daniel Bryan and Lacey Evans.
It was a night of surprises and long-term storytelling. No one was safe in this brand reset. However, the end result was an inconsistent and disappointing show.
In particular, the blue brand seems less than comfortable with its own stories. Roman Reigns dominated TV time again in a bad feud with King Corbin. Stars like The New Day and Mustafa Ali continue spinning their wheels.
This week's show set the stage for a potentially bright future to come, but Fox's new-look SmackDown is still struggling to deliver week to week.
SmackDown's Women's Division Needs Alexa Bliss
After Nikki Cross made quick work of Sonya Deville, Mandy Rose helped her friend beat down Cross. Alexa Bliss then made her return to save her own best friend.
The women's division on SmackDown is hardly ready for primetime. It feels largely understaffed. When The Goddess was moved to the blue brand, it was a sign that WWE knew this. The Twisted Sister certainly rose quickly in station for this exact reason.
Bliss is the most successful performer on the blue brand beyond Sasha Banks. She has held both the SmackDown and Raw Women's Championships multiple times. There is a reason she was highly featured for years.
Nagging injuries, though, have held her back. Without any announcement, she disappeared from TV just to stay healthy. Now that she's back, The Goddess should be featured heavily, especially alongside Cross. The two are great together and among the best pairs on SmackDown.
Unfortunately, Bliss already has too much history with Bayley and Banks, but this is all the blue brand has. The story may be stale, but it will keep eyes on the product.
Sheamus Return Should Be Valuable to SmackDown
Sheamus cut a pre-taped promo making a statement that he will soon be returning to WWE. He talked down the blue brand's talent, and he is ready to take over SmackDown with his brand of physicality.
The Celtic Warrior needed time to recover from his many nagging injuries, but there's no doubt that he is still among WWE's best. He is a hard-hitting performer who delivers with every opportunity.
The blue brand is certainly not devoid of talent. It may have too much given there's only two hours to the program. That said, Sheamus gives SmackDown plenty to work with. He could feud with anyone as a face or heel.
The company needs him. He is an established performer with talent to spare. Given his injury history, he may never rise back to the level he once held in WWE, but he should also not fall into the background in this latest run.
Lacey Evans Is Not Ready to Be SmackDown's Top Babyface
Bayley and Sasha Banks talked down the SmackDown women's division and their failure at Survivor Series. Lacey Evans took offense and planted The Boss with a Woman's Right.
In a surprising move, The Sassy Southern Belle seems to have turned face. Her gimmick is perfectly suited for the heel role, and it will be hard to fully transition. Even if it makes sense for this roster, Evans hardly seems ready for this moment.
WWE has often overpushed The Lady. Now, she is stepping into a feud with the only two fully established stars on SmackDown. She will be likely outnumbered yet still largely made to look like a star.
There is no doubt that Evans' charisma alone will make her a major star in time. However, she has not shown at one point in her run that she was worthy of becoming a brand's top face.
Unless she massively improves in the next few weeks, she will struggle to deliver up against two of the best in the business.
It's Hard to Say If Daniel Bryan Is Ready to Return to a Face Role
Bray Wyatt challenged Daniel Bryan to another Universal Championship match, and The Planet's Champion accepted. The Fiend answered by attacking The Beard and ripping out his hair, seemingly for a new member of The Firefly Fun House.
After weeks of teasing, Bryan has fully embraced his role as a babyface again. The Leader of the Yes Movement is back, and he sounds like he never left. However, WWE should not so readily throw away months of storytelling.
He turned heel for a reason. While he has always been popular, Bryan felt more natural as the villain, talking down to the fans. He was able to speak his mind honestly while throwing a few heel jabs at the crowd to keep them fully against him.
It will be interesting to see how he reacts to returning to a babyface role. At times in this feud, it has still felt like Bryan was the heel since The Fiend is so popular. Their next match could be great. However, it's hard to say where the story is going at this point.
WWE may ultimately regret losing one of their best heels even if The Planet's Champion is one of the best babyfaces as well.