Belair Makes 'Mania Choice, Bryan Challenges Reigns and More SmackDown Fallout
Friday's SmackDown hit the ground running with potential storylines to fill up the Fastlane card as WWE continues to prepare for WrestleMania 37.
After coming up short at Elimination Chamber, Daniel Bryan challenged Roman Reigns to another title match with no shenanigans. A match between Bryan and Jey Uso was made to decide whether he would get another shot.
Bianca Belair was still riding high from her women's Royal Rumble victory and finally decided to challenge Sasha Banks for the SmackDown women's title at WrestleMania.
Three men who turned heel in recent weeks picked up big wins Friday, with Otis and Chad Gable defeating the Mysterios and Apollo Crews besting Shinsuke Nakamura.
Let's look at the biggest moments from Friday's show and what they mean for the future.
Daniel Bryan Wants a Rematch at Fastlane
Reigns opened SmackDown with a promo to not only celebrate his win at Elimination Chamber but to also talk about what happened with Edge after his match with Bryan.
After a little while, The Yes Man came out and called into question Reigns' valor. He said the Head of the Table would be in the main event but knew that would give Bryan too much time to recover, implying The Tribal Chief is scared of Bryan.
The former WWE champion challenged Reigns to a fair battle at Fastlane, but instead of getting a yes, he got a swift beatdown from Jey Uso. A match was booked between Bryan and Uso, with The Yes Man receiving the title shot if he won.
Bryan didn't win, but because both men were counted out, he also didn't lose. WWE.com made sure to point this out, so there is a chance Bryan gets another shot to earn a title match.
This was a great segment to set up a short-term feud. Bryan vs. Reigns is a marquee match that will help make Fastlane feel important, even if the outcome is predictable.
Otis and Chad Gable Pick Up a Big Win
After being disqualified last time out, Otis and Gable evened the score by picking up a win over Rey and Dominik Mysterio on Friday's SmackDown.
While the new heels bent the rules, Otis managed to get a relatively clean pin on Rey, which could be considered the second-biggest win of his career behind the Money in the Bank match.
Otis and Gable are starting to gain some momentum as a team after a slow build. And with both men having successful backgrounds in amateur wrestling, they have the skills to stand out in the ring.
The next tag title match will likely be The Street Profits vs. Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler at Fastlane. If WWE wants to fast-track Otis and Gable, it could turn into a Triple Threat. If management wants to keep building them up slowly, however, they might have to wait until WrestleMania.
This is also another loss for the Mysterios, which has become a more common occurrence in recent weeks. Dom and Rey work well together, but WWE has to take it slow with the younger Mysterio. He still has a lot of growing to do as a performer before WWE puts a title on him.
Bianca Belair Makes Her WrestleMania Decision
Belair won the women's Royal Rumble at the end of January, but she played coy about whom she will challenge at WrestleMania until Friday.
While she has always had the choice between Asuka and Banks, her decision has been obvious since day one. She has spent more time on SmackDown and interacted with The Boss a lot more.
As The EST was about to make her choice, Reginald came out to reinforce his belief that she is unable to beat Banks. This led to The Boss coming out and telling him not to speak for her. A moment later, Belair officially made her choice to face Banks at WrestleMania.
We all knew this was coming, but it doesn't make the match any less exciting. Belair is a star in the making, and Banks is one of the top draws on SmackDown. This is the perfect way to build a new star at the biggest event of the year.
WWE needs to take a slow approach with this feud. They should not start fighting every week. It would be better if the first time they hit each other was at WrestleMania or the go-home episode of SmackDown. The tension needs to build before everything blows up and they tear each other apart.
Apollo Crews Is a New Man
After turning heel on the previous episode by brutally attacking Big E, Crews arrived to SmackDown on Friday with some new gear, a new attitude and a renewed drive to prove he is the best.
He spoke passionately about his family history and what his heritage means to him. He donned a green-and-white scarf as a tribute to his ancestors and as a symbol of power.
The promo and his decisive win over Shinsuke Nakamura set Crews on a new path. He has been featured a lot more in 2021, and it looks like WWE has committed to giving him a substantial push.
When Big E returns, he is going to want revenge, which will likely lead to a match at Fastlane for the Intercontinental Championship. Crews has come up short several times, but if he gets another shot, he will likely end up with the belt around his waist.
SmackDown is the A-show for WWE because of its coherent storylines, logical booking and the handful of Superstars stepping up. Crews, Big E, Reigns, Bayley, Banks, Bryan, Cesaro, Uso and The Street Profits are just some of the people who have made the blue brand WWE's show.