Sasha Banks Gets Supersized Win, Finn Balor and More WWE SmackDown Fallout
Whenever WWE has to move to another night, it's an opportunity to do something special to offset the change, bring in a new audience and treat it like a bigger show.
That was seemingly the intention with last night's Supersized SmackDown on FS1, which featured two tournament matches, an appearance by Brock Lesnar, the SmackDown Tag Team Championship on the line in a Street Fight, and Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks.
After checking out the elongated two-and-a-half-hour episode, here are some of the biggest takeaways and talking points to come from the show.
Paul Heyman's Allegiance to Roman Reigns or Brock Lesnar Is Still in Question
Headlining the night was the contract signing between Lesnar and Roman Reigns for their upcoming Universal Championship match at next Thursday's Crown Jewel pay-per-view.
It took longer for them to make their entrances—particularly The Tribal Chief—than anything in the segment itself. In fact, the whole final 15 minutes of the program could be summed up in one line: Lesnar said he had already looked at the contract earlier in the day with some help from his advocate, Paul Heyman.
He chuckled at obviously riling up Reigns, left the ring and walked off while the Head of the Table sneered.
This was the only reason the segment happened, other than to remind the audience the match was taking place.
Despite having already had segments where Heyman got back on the good side of the universal champion and denounced his allegiance to The Beast Incarnate, WWE has reverted back to seeding lingering doubt. As this was the go-home edition of Friday Night SmackDown before this event, that was the lasting impression WWE wanted to leave the audience with.
Bouncing around between Heyman proving his loyalty and casting suspicions will come to a head this Thursday, where he may not be able to weasel out of making a hard choice between the two. Perhaps that will lead to the finish and spawn the next story coming out of this event.
Sasha Banks Gains Much-Needed Momentum Heading into Crown Jewel
After not getting her scheduled SmackDown Women's Championship rematch at SummerSlam and taking some time off, Sasha Banks reinserted herself into the title hunt between Becky Lynch and Bianca Belair and started to feel like a third wheel.
With the way the 2021 WWE Draft played out, much more attention and speculation has surrounded The Man and The EST of WWE as potential winners for the Triple Threat at Crown Jewel.
If Lynch retains or Belair wins it back, they and Charlotte Flair will have opposite titles on Raw and SmackDown and need to do some sort of swap. That seems to be the only way to circumvent having two champions on the same brand, unless there's a surprise with Belair beating The Queen on Monday Night Raw this week.
That may actually happen, though, now that The Boss was victorious over Lynch on Smackdown. As two of the top women in WWE history, a win over one another always means something, but that's made even more worthwhile when you can pin the champion.
Maybe this is a sign Belair beats Flair and Banks wins the title at Crown Jewel and stays on SmackDown, which is how the belts could end up on their correct brands.
At the least, the win Banks scored on SmackDown gives more credibility to that theory and makes the Triple Threat more intriguing.
Finn Balor Might Be the Favorite to Win King of the Ring
It felt like a foregone conclusion Finn Balor would beat Sami Zayn in the semifinals of the King of the Ring tournament. Zayn doesn't go over to Saudi Arabia for shows for political reasons, so he simply wasn't going to be wrestling in the final at Crown Jewel.
When it was still an option technically on the table, though, that suggested there would be more of a chance Xavier Woods could be in the finals to beat him. Booking a heel like Zayn to lose to Woods would make more sense than if it came down to Zayn against Jinder Mahal with two heels in opposition.
Now that Balor has clinched one of those spots, though, that makes it a harder journey for Woods in turn. WWE may be more tempted to put Mahal over so Balor has a heel to beat, rather than taking out the sentimental favorite in Woods, which could upset fans who know how badly Woods wants to be King of the Ring.
Balor's extremely popular and will have much support to win, but it's an easier journey to keep him the full-on fan favorite if he's up against someone like The Modern Day Maharaja, who few would be cheering for in comparison.
This may mean that Balor just sealed the deal that he'll upgrade from a prince to a king next Thursday.
Is Queen's Crown out of Zelina Vega's Reach or Is She Actually Getting Pushed?
Speaking of heel vs. heel or babyface dynamics, it was strange WWE opted to go with Carmella against Zelina Vega in the semifinals of the Queen's Crown tournament. Even stranger was how this played out, with Vega talking trash about Liv Morgan and agreeing to a fair fight with Carmella, only to win the match thanks to help from a distraction by Morgan.
Traditional booking would have seen Morgan beat Carmella and lose to Vega by a distraction from The Most Beautiful Woman in WWE to come to the same end result of Vega on one side of the bracket's final.
Is this a sign of good things to come? Could WWE finally actually be pushing Vega by giving her the crown?
Unfortunately, she's up against two tough opponents. Doudrop has a distinct size advantage if she wins, but even she has to get past the arguable favorite to win, Shayna Baszler.
The Queen of Spades showing up on SmackDown was a three-part success. It not only helped drive home the point that that's her new home after the draft goes into effect next week and allowed her to score a victory to gain momentum for this tournament, but it put her in a position to be Sonya Deville's hired gun over Naomi.
That's a prominent spot that may lead to a bigger role in SmackDown's women's division going forward. Baszler could be Deville's handpicked Superstar she gives special treatment to in exchange for having the submission specialist do her bidding.
Vega has a better chance to beat Doudrop than Baszler, but all three could theoretically wear the crown.
The Usos and The Street Profits May Be the Two Best Tag Teams in WWE Today
Sometimes, the formula is just as easy as taking two opposing forces who are great performers, putting them in the ring together and letting them do their thing. When it comes to The Usos and The Street Profits, that's been proved to be the case.
Any time these teams lock horns, the match is great. Thus, it was no surprise to see the Street Fight was some of the most entertaining action on this episode.
Montez Ford's leap over the ring post to the outside alone was a highlight of the night. How he's able to reach these heights is unbelievable.
It's arguable they're the two best overall tag teams in the company today, able to drop a great fight at a moment's notice without becoming too repetitive. The New Day and RK-Bro can give them a run for their money, but The Usos and The Street Profits are certainly in the discussion for the top two spots.
If you missed it, go back and check it out. This should be the last time they face off for a while now that they're splitting between the brands, but this series of matches has proved that whenever they cross paths again in the future, we should be in store for a classic.
Bonus Time Means More Filler to Skip
With an extra half hour of time to spare, this Supersized SmackDown should have felt like it was packed to the brim with amazing content. Instead, it seemed those additional 30 minutes were stuffed with some of the same unnecessary filler we see every week regardless of how long the episodes are.
WWE fans have known for years that it's better to watch the shows on a delay so you can skip past all the recaps, commercials, repetitive promos, needless vignettes and other content that acts as more of a rewind than a step forward.
On this episode, per usual, it just had to start with a 10-plus minute promo from Edge. He said not much more than what has already been said about his feud with Seth Rollins, prompting Rollins to have his own rebuttal promo later where he drove home points he's already established, too. That already took up the bulk of those 30 minutes.
Combining that with a Lesnar vs. Reigns recap, the contract signing that could have been done in 20 seconds, hype videos for Sheamus, Hit Row and Flair coming to SmackDown, insert promos from Banks, Lynch and Vega with Carmella prior to their matches, and the Happy Talk segment means one could skip past those and the commercials and get this episode done in probably 40 minutes tops.
Happy Talk in particular was rather pointless. After a few of Madcap Moss' "so terrible they're great" jokes, he and Baron Corbin were interrupted by Rick Boogs and Shinsuke Nakamura, who simply played some music and transitioned to The Street Profits heading to the ring.
Watering down episodes to stretch them out leads to viewers feeling like they've wasted their time and that they should just check out the highlights on YouTube after it's all said and done.
Maybe don't supersize SmackDown if you're doing the McDonald's equivalent of putting a large order of fries in an extra-large container, as nobody needs the empty space.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.