Roman Reigns Destroys Strowman, New Day's Last Match, More WWE SmackDown Fallout
The season premiere of SmackDown brought some interesting new stories and characters to the blue brand. Following the WWE draft, Friday's episode had much to prove after reshuffling a show that was firing on all cylinders.
Unfortunately, this was not quite the night WWE promised. The show was forgettable and slow-paced. Most of the matches were uninteresting, and most stories seemed to be continuing forward rather than evolving with new talent.
In particular, the focus was on establishing why SmackDown chose the true stars of the draft. Roman Reigns dominated Braun Strowman in the main event with the WWE Universal Championship on the line, sending away the former champion with little dignity.
The New Day got a victory in impressive fashion, with Big E picking up one more win over Sheamus before The Celtic Warrior, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods head to Raw.
Lars Sullivan went right back to destroying anyone in his path, including Jeff Hardy. The big man continues to fail to impress despite his push.
Daniel Bryan at least added some interest to the night. The Planet's Champion stepped up to the plate against Seth Rollins, and it feels right to have Bryan back near the top of the WWE card.
The night may not have followed through on what was promised, but it established some important lessons for the future of WWE.
Braun Strowman Deserved a Better Send-Off
Braun Strowman came out swinging against Roman Reigns, but The Tribal Chief had a plan. He managed to wear down The Monster Among Men and then lock him in a chokehold that Strowman could not break. The referee called the match before Reigns speared The Monster Among Men as Jey Uso watched.
This was an unnecessary match for Strowman. The former universal champion was quickly dismissed from SmackDown after The Tribal Chief returned, and this was further proof that he was just a stand-in until Reigns could reclaim his supremacy over the blue brand.
It is a shame because The Monster Among Men put his all into his first world title reign. It was unnecessary to make him look so inferior, especially when he will be fighting Keith Lee on Monday in what should be a competitive showdown.
Anyone could have been in this position, and the story would have been the same. Reigns just needed to beat down someone as an example to Jey. It would have been better to put someone fresh in the role who could have benefited from the spotlight.
Hopefully The Monster is treated better on Raw. He and The Limitless One could have a great feud if WWE allows it. The red brand certainly needs fresh rivalries.
WWE Is Failing to Read the Room with Ill-Conceived Lars Sullivan Push
Lars Sullivan tried to make another statement by laying out various blue brand Superstars, but Jeff Hardy got in the way. The Charismatic Enigma gave The Freak a good fight, but Sullivan put him down with the Freak Accident for a big victory.
While Sullivan is an impressive talent, he is not interesting. Moreover, his behavior has repeatedly caused issues, including a recent Reddit thread apparently showing he harassed a woman via Instagram. WWE has clearly not done enough to reprimand him for his words and actions.
Instead, the promotion has doubled down and handed The Freak a major push. Defeating a recent intercontinental champion like The Charismatic Enigma signals that he is immediately considered a title contender.
SmackDown has only two hours to tell so many stories, and it seems likely Sullivan will be a fixture on the show. This means star he laid out on this episode, like Shorty G and Apollo Crews, will be frequently left off the show.
Fans are not clamoring to see Sullivan, so there is no reason he couldn't be gradually pushed rather than thrust into a featured role. He may not even deserve that opportunity, but he could prove his worth with time.
New Day's Break Up Feels Premature
New Day got one last chance to team together before the draft breaks them up. Big E and Xavier Woods hit the Up Up Down Down for the victory. The three hugged thereafter and shared a few words in the ring before walking to the back.
While it is good to see Big E get his chance to work on his own, he could have easily run solo while Kofi Kingston and Woods worked in the tag team division. It is far too soon to break up New Day, especially with Kofi and Woods only recently returning from injury.
By putting them on separate brands, it also avoids interesting potential matchups down the line. At some point, we need to get Kofi vs. Big E vs. Woods for a singles title. It may come down the line, but WWE had more drama to wring out of this trio as a team.
Woods and Kofi bring a lot to Raw's tag team division. Though it may be tiring to watch them run with the Raw Tag Team Championship again, New Day have dominated the division for so long that it never quite feels like anyone can match up.
Big E is on a more interesting journey. He has potential to go all the way to the top and should be gradually built to a showdown for the Universal Championship.
Daniel Bryan Is Absolutely Needed on SmackDown
Daniel Bryan finally made his first appearance in The ThunderDome on Friday, and he relished the opportunity. As he talked about all the new opponents he wanted to face, Seth Rollins arrived. The Messiah tried to convince The Planet's Champion to join him, but Bryan took him down and then let the Mysterios and Murphy deal with him.
It is great to have Bryan back. Few men are as beloved as The Planet's Champion. Few are as good as him in the ring, either. He can make anything work on the mic and in action. It is just a matter of figuring out the best first story for him.
He is the sort of star WWE desperately needs right now. While Reigns' return elevated SmackDown, both that show and Raw needed shaking up. Bryan is a top star no matter where he performs.
It will be fun to see what he does next. He and Rollins could have a fun feud, but The Messiah still has a story to finish. In that time, hopefully, Bryan will be able to work with young talent. He mentioned Aleister Black and Apollo Crews, who would be new fun rivals for the former WWE champion.
What Bryan does best is elevate anything he is involved in. While Reigns and Rollins may dominate the headlines, The Planet's Champion will be wrestling the best matches every week.