Roman Reigns Spears Edge, Seth Rollins' Vision, More WWE SmackDown Fallout
Roman Reigns has no time or patience for mind games, a lesson Edge learned painfully Friday night on SmackDown when The Tribal Chief left him lying with a spear.
The first physical blow of any kind between The Head of the Table and the 2021 men's Royal Rumble winner capped off a show that also featured a brutal and violent attack by Apollo Crews on intercontinental champion Big E, a threat from Seth Rollins to the rest of the SmackDown roster and the potentially troubling overexposure of a certain sommelier.
Ahead of Sunday's Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, dive deeper into each of those topics with this recap of Friday's Fox broadcast.
Roman Reigns Sends Edge a Message
Edge started Friday's episode of SmackDown by touting his ability to play mind games with universal champion Roman Reigns. He echoed that sentiment later while on commentary for a Six-Man Tag Team match.
By the time the Fox broadcast faded to black, he had found out the hard way that Reigns has not gotten to the level that he has by playing mind games. Instead, The Head of the Table deals in physicality, something he proved by launching himself across the ring and flattening The Rated R Superstar with a spear.
It was a loud and clear message to the Hall of Famer that Reigns may speak softly and methodically but hits hard. It was an exclamation point placed emphatically on the second confrontation between The Big Dog and the 2021 men's Royal Rumble winner ahead of what many believe will be a winding road to a WrestleMania match.
If that is the direction WWE takes things, and booking trends seem to suggest as much, the battle of the spears will headline this year's marquee event. The question is whether Edge returns the favor Sunday night at Elimination Chamber, where he is scheduled to announce his WrestleMania decision on the same night Reigns defends his title against the winner of the event's namesake contest.
Apollo Crews Beats Down Big E, Evolves Character in Process
For too long, Apollo Crews accepted defeat and moved on.
No matter how many times he was beaten down, knocked out or stared at the lights as the referee's hand hit the mat for a third time, he was the same smiling Superstar just happy to be along for the ride. Sure, he won the United States Championship last summer, but his reign was upended by The Hurt Business, who saw to it that he returned to his comfy spot in midcard obscurity.
Since he's been targeting Big E's Intercontinental Championship, we have seen Crews more focused, determined and unwilling to just "get over it." Friday, frustration boiled over.
One week after Big E told him to go "back to catering," and just moments after a loss to Shinsuke Nakamura, Crews brutally and unapologetically attacked the IC champ. He blasted Big E with the steel ring steps, leaving him in need of medical attention.
It was a watershed moment for the talented Superstar. For too long, Crews had been a bland babyface with no room to evolve his character. Now a heel, he is exhibiting the emotions one expects from a professional athlete sick of collecting Ls.
That he has added in unforgiving physicality and relentless anger only helps to better serve this new persona. Rather than portraying a frustrated loser, he is expanding upon it, introducing an edginess that will only help him to finally find the traction on the main roster he has been searching for since the night after WrestleMania 32, when he made his Raw debut.
Friday's angle was fantastically executed and made Crews look like an incredible competitor. It is up to WWE to resist the urge to book others at his expense. It has something with the former U.S. champ. It owes it to itself and the performer to see what it can do with him.
Especially in this new heel role.
Is Reginald About to Become Overexposed?
Vince McMahon has a history of falling in love with bit-part players and overexposing them at the expense of the men and women around them.
We saw it most recently in 2016, when James Ellsworth jumped from one-time enhancement star to a key player in the main event rivalry between Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles.
Carmella's personal sommelier, Reginald, may be next in line for such a push.
The sidekick appeared in three television segments on Friday. Yes, three.
He appeared alongside women's tag team champions Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax, Bayley, 2021 women's Royal Rumble winner Bianca Belair and SmackDown women's champion Sasha Banks. Then he partnered with the latter two in a Six-Person Intergender Tag Team match against the heels.
From there, he was degraded and humiliated by Carmella, who was unhappy that he lied about his whereabouts and that he partnered with her main rivals.
It was a busy night for Reginald, who has shown flashes of agility, has some great comedic timing and has been in the right spot at the time for key spots in matches. But being athletic and comical does not mean he should have the proverbial rocket ship strapped to his back in the name of a monstrous push.
WWE must use him sparingly and tell his story with Carmella in a way that does not take away from her or the rest of the women's division. Otherwise he will be met with resentment by fans, not unlike Ellsworth eventually was.
Seth Rollins Begins His Personal Vendetta in the Name of His Vision
Seth Rollins addressed the WWE Universe on Friday, producing a written complaint about the disrespect shown to him by his fellow Superstars upon his recent return. From there, he vowed to destroy all those who stand between him and his "vision."
What that vision is remains to be seen, but we do know upon whom Rollins has his sights set.
During his promo, he referenced Cesaro, whom he beat down earlier in February. The Swiss Superman has been in the midst of his greatest run in years and would benefit from working alongside an established, main event Superstar like Rollins.
Add to that the fact that their matches would be nothing short of spectacular, and you have every reason to be excited about a feud between the two.
For long-term storytelling purposes, the question becomes just how long before Rollins' vision conflicts with Roman Reigns' status as The Head of the Table on Friday nights?