Daniel Bryan Banished After Roman Reigns Match and More WWE SmackDown Fallout
Friday's episode of WWE SmackDown only included four matches, but the main event's length had a lot to do with that.
The show opened with a focus on the women's division, as Bianca Belair delivered a promo from the ring. It didn't take long for The Street Profits, Bayley, Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode to show up and turn it into a six-person tag match.
The women's tag team champions were also in action, with Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax fighting the two Superstars who have been a constant nuisance in recent weeks, Natalya and Tamina.
Big E got a rematch for the Intercontinental Championship against Apollo Crews, but he had to contend with Commander Azeez at ringside, so he was at an immediate disadvantage.
Lastly, Daniel Bryan challenged Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship with the added stipulation that if he lost, he would leave SmackDown forever.
Let's take a look at what happened on Friday's show.
Tamina and Natalya Are 1 Step Closer to a Title Shot
After scoring separate wins against the women's tag team champions in singles competition in recent weeks, Natalya and Tamina defeated Jax and Baszler in a non-title tag bout on Friday's show.
At this point, WWE has done everything it needs to do to justify giving the two multi-generational challengers another shot at the belts. Management just needs to book the match.
With WrestleMania Backlash coming up May 16, the pay-per-view would be the perfect setting for that contest. There are two more episodes of SmackDown between now and the PPV, so the title match will likely be booked next week by Adam Pearce or Sonya Deville.
These teams have decent chemistry, but it would be best if this feud ended after the title bout. That way, The Riott Squad might have a chance to get back in the hunt for gold.
Apollo Crews Barely Holds On to the IC Title
The first of two title matches from Friday's show saw Crews defend the Intercontinental Championship against the man he beat for the belt at WrestleMania, Big E.
The bitter rivals had a physical exchange that saw both men use everything from their bags of tricks. Even though it didn't have the same stipulation as their 'Mania encounter, it had the same level of energy.
Commander Azeez spent most of the match with a scowl. When it looked like Big E was about to win back the title, the big man pulled him out of the ring and threw him into the barricade to cause a disqualification.
Kevin Owens came out to even the odds and help drive Crews and Azeez out of the ring, but Sami Zayn came out of nowhere with a Helluva Kick to KO. Unfortunately for Zayn, Azeez did not see him as an ally and hit him with a Nigerian Nail.
The finish to this contest indicates Big E and Zayn will both remain in the title picture, so a Triple Threat at Backlash seems like the most probable outcome.
A Couple of Small Developments
Friday's SmackDown was light on matches and storyline developments, but we did see a couple of feuds addressed and got another cryptic promo from a returning Superstar.
The show opened with Belair and The Street Profits teaming up against Bayley, Ziggler and Roode in a six-person tag match.
Belair, Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins picked up the win, which makes sense given the situation. Bayley already has her shot at the SmackDown Women's Championship locked up, but The Street Profits have not yet earned a tag title match against the champs. This win should give them the ammo they need to request it.
We also saw another video from Aleister Black as he continued to read selections from his book of creepy stories. It wasn't much different from the first video in the presentation, but Black had a bit more intensity this time.
The Dutch Destroyer doesn't have a target yet, but if WWE wants to pick up where it left off, he will likely go after Owens when he returns to action.
Daniel Bryan Is Banished from SmackDown
The main event of the night was built up throughout the show with various Superstars sharing their predictions. The locker room appeared to be split between Bryan and Reigns.
The champ received a new entrance theme and video. It's completely different than the song he shared with The Shield, but the jury is still out on whether it's an improvement.
WWE gave them more than 30 minutes to tell the story they wanted to tell, and it allowed the two future Hall of Famers to steal the show with a fantastic match.
Predictably, The Tribal Chief won, which means The Yes Man is banned from SmackDown for the rest of his career.
While it stinks to lose such a strong presence on the blue brand, there was nothing in the stipulation about Raw or NXT. Odds are good that within a few weeks, Bryan finds himself a new brand to call home.
He can certainly help the red brand, but having Bryan go to NXT might be the best decision when it comes to potential opponents. There are tons of guys on the black-and-gold brand who would be able to create magic with him in the ring.
Pete Dunne, Adam Cole, Kyle O'Reilly, Isaiah "Swerve" Scott, Santos Escobar, Karrion Kross, Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa and Kushida are just some of the stars who could have so-called dream matches with The Yes Man. Make it happen, WWE.