Photo Credit- WWE
Before I get into the review, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge someone that deserves to be recognized. Earlier today, it was announced that Bayley has suffered an unfortunate injury that will keep her out of the ring for up to 9 months. When looking back on the thunderdome era of WWE, one of the stars that will be remembered as the backbone of the company during this difficult time will absolutely be Bayley. Bayley proved to be one of the highlights of the PC era as well as the Thunderdome Era and seeing her go down with such an unfortunate injury right before the WWE returns to fans is absolutely heartbreaking. Bayley, I want you to know that every one of us respects everything you’ve done to entertain us over the last year and a half and I wish you a speedy recovery. Get back soon to doing what you love.
Well ladies and gentlemen. We did it. Tonight is the final episode of Friday Night Smackdown to take place inside the thunderdome. It’s been a wild ride but I’m sure many of us, myself included, are happy to see it end. With that being said, tonight’s episode is sure to be…. interesting to say the least. With massive bombshells dropped this week concerning personal problems with Jimmy Uso and Bayley’s heartbreaking injury, how will WWE attempt to alter their plans going into a new era? Let’s find out!
AVERAGE: The show opens with Jimmy Uso and Paul Heyman backstage. Jimmy wants to speak to Roman but Heyman stops him and says that Roman is busy, but will address him later tonight. A short segment but a nice way to establish the story for the night.
MUST WATCH: Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman make their way to the ring. Roman says that there were a lot of things last week that irked him, one being that Edge is a liar. Reigns says that Edge is lying when he says that he fears him. However, Roman does admit that while he was in the hold, he did feel a sense of fear and doubt, but he persevered all the same. He also says that the only reason Edge got the better of him is because he was focused on the tension with Jimmy and Jey rather than the possibility of Edge. Jimmy Uso then comes out to address Roman. He says that what he did last week was for the family while Roman was on “vacation.” Roman questions why Jimmy is making these impulsive decisions and says that he wasn’t on vacation at all. Jey Uso then returns and says that Roman’s right hand man has returned. He then turns to Jimmy and says that they should focus on becoming tag team champions. Roman says that this is what he wants, for everyone to be on the same page. He says they can be successful as long as they do things his way. Jimmy and Jey accept, hugging Roman. What a great segment to establish the bloodline as being a unit that’s on the same page. I can’t wait for this trio to run roughshod over Smackdown in front of fans. With that being said, I will address the elephant in the room. There was little to no mention of Jimmy’s “incident” earlier this week. It almost seemed like a non factor. I don’t think this is something that should be swept under the rug and pretend like it never happened and I’m disappointed in WWE for that. However, excluding all of that and grading the segment for what it was, this was an excellent opener to the show to further the bloodline storyline.
GOOD: Baron Corbin is interviewed about his upcoming money in the bank qualifying match against King Nakamura. Corbin says that his life is an absolute wreck, having lost his crown, money, car and even his house. He says that winning money in the bank is his only chance to turn his life around and will not squander this opportunity. I really enjoy this Baron Corbin character. A lot. Corbin has genuine emotion in his promos now that actually makes me feel sympathetic for him.
GOOD: Up next is our first match of the evening, Baron Corbin vs King Nakamura in a money in the bank qualifying match. Corbin coming out to no music is a nice touch, it really adds a lot to the gimmick. Big E comes out wearing a Bayley shirt which was a sweet touch and sits at ringside to watch the match. He then shows footage of Nakamura and Rick Boogs showing up to the arena in a new jeep, Corbin’s jeep to be exact. Corbin is enraged and attacks Nakamura before the bell, but is subsequently attacked by Boogs. A very fun match to open the show with, easily the best outing between these two since they started feuding. Nakamura winning is the absolute right choice and Corbin losing only adds to his ongoing story. Good stuff here.
Result: Nakamura defeats Corbin via pinfall.
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 3.25 stars
GOOD: The Usos are backstage and Jimmy apologizes to Jey for everything. Jey says it’s alright and now they should focus their attention on Edge. Jey says that they should do something about Edge and tells Jimmy to think about it. I’m interested to see how they decide to run with the Usos now that they’re on the same page and them going after Edge as a cohesive unit once again should be a good new dynamic.
AVERAGE: Up next is a tag team match with the women’s tag team champions Natalya and Tamina taking on a mystery team debuting on Smackdown. Natalya and Tamina cut honestly a mediocre promo clarifying this match is not for the titles. The team happens to be the team of Tegan Nox and Shotzi Blackheart! What a nice surprise! Very surprising to see Tegan on the main roster so soon after coming back. After being hyped up as the NXT battery teaser and confronting Candice LeRae, I expected them to feud but I guess not. Still these two are a much needed addition to the Smackdown women’s division. I got really scared for a second thinking that WWE shortened their names to just Shotzi and Nox, but thankfully Cole called Tegan by her first name so hopefully that’s not the case. A lot of good tag moves from Nox and Shotzi and them beating the tag champs is a big win for them in their main roster debut. A decent match but a good showing for them overall. Not crazy about the potential name changes to them though that’s absolutely unneeded if that’s the case.
Result: Shotzi and Tegan win via pinfall after Shotzi pinned Natalya.
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 2.75 stars
AVERAGE: Edge is interviewed backstage and says that he will call out Roman Reigns by the end of the night. A very short segment that served its purpose. That’s all I can really say about it.
SATISFACTORY: Up next, Sonya Deville comes out to announce who will replace Bayley in the Smackdown Women’s championship match at Money in the Bank. Sonya says that this is a situation she hoped to never be in and says Bayley has a few words for the WWE universe. Bayley says that she busted her ass for the fans so ultimately it’s the fans’ fault that she’s injured. Bayley staying in complete kayfabe is tremendous. Sonya flubs her way through her promo and says that Bianca will no longer defend the championship at Money in the Bank and instead will defend the championship next week against…..Carmella. That’s pretty underwhelming to be honest. Carmella comes out and says that the fans should stay mad and that she’s been deserving of this opportunity for a while. Liv Morgan comes out and says that Sonya is showing clear favoritism towards Carmella. Sonya then says that Liv will be Carmella’s replacement in the ladder match. Liv then says she hopes Carmella wins the title so she can cash in on her. Liv was easily the best part of this whole segment. She’s really come into her own recently and her face off with Bianca actually has me hyped for a potential match. Bianca then comes out and says that she questions the legitimacy of Bayley’s injury, but says if it’s real that she respects Bayley as a competitor and looks forward to finishing their feud soon. She finishes by saying she’ll beat Carmella next week. They really packed a lot into this one segment. The Liv portion, while good, could’ve easily been put in a separate backstage segment. It wasn’t necessarily needed for this. However, with that being said Liv’s portion is the only thing that keeps this segment from being poor. Carmella being Bayley’s replacement is honestly very disappointing but if that is the match they decided, then I’m kind of happy it’s on Smackdown and not at the PPV with no build.
GOOD: Heyman goes to Roman and informs him that Edge has vowed to call him out tonight. Paul also says that Edge challenged Roman’s manhood, which makes Roman visibly incensed with rage. Heyman’s timidity in delivering the news was great, it really added to the bossness that Roman possesses. This should be good.
GREAT: Up next is the final money in the bank qualifying match as Seth Rollins takes on Cesaro. Kevin Owens is also on commentary for this match. Rollins’ story of sheer desperation to beat Cesaro is absolutely great. Cesaro also getting busted open added a lot of extra drama to this match. Seth winning was also genuinely surprising, I thoroughly expected Cesaro to win. So now the lineup for the men’s MITB match is set and it looks absolutely stacked. Should be a great match.
Result: Rollins defeated Cesaro via pinfall.
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 3.75 stars
AVERAGE: The Usos try getting the jump on Edge by going into his locker room, but Edge is nowhere to be found. A short segment once again but I’m intrigued to see where this goes.
GREAT: Seth Rollins is being interviewed and is ecstatic that he’s qualified for the ladder match. He says that Cesaro isn’t on his level and that history could repeat itself and he could cash in on Roman once again. He says that he could even do it at Money in the Bank. Edge interrupts him and says that it appears that Seth hasn’t changed since 2014 and says he hasn’t forgotten about what Seth did to him all those years ago. Edge says that Rollins continues to bitch and moan and he’s gonna go out there and do what Seth couldn’t and that’s call out Roman. A good segment to set up the eventual Seth Rollins and Edge match.
GOOD: Alpha Academy is backstage and talk about Otis’ metamorphosis. Chad Gable says that he’s proud of his star pupil and says that Otis will continue to run through the Smackdown roster whether it be someone like Montez Ford or even Roman Reigns himself. Otis finishes by saying he will destroy everyone. A short but really good segment putting over how much of a beast Otis has become. I’m such a fan of the Alpha Academy right now and I can’t wait for them to get a much deserved push soon.
MUST WATCH: Edge comes out to call out Roman Reigns and “congratulates” Roman and the Usos for reuniting the family but attributed himself to being the reason that the cracks in the table formed in the first place. Edge says that he will not rest until he beats Roman for the universal title and calls Roman out to the ring. Roman tells Heyman and the Usos that he’ll handle this himself. This should be very interesting. However, the Usos ultimately choose to disobey Roman and come out anyway. Roman tells them that he’ll handle this and he doesn’t need them, but the Usos stay out regardless. Edge and Roman finally come to blows until the Mysterios return! Dominik and Rey attack the Usos with chairs while Edge gains the upper hand on Roman. Edge goes for the spear but is stopped by the Usos. The Mysterios intervene and Dominik hits a double 619 on Jimmy and Roman, while Edge spears Jey. Roman scampers up the ramp while Edge takes the piece of the chair off once again to recreate the submission from last week, this time on Jey. Edge doing the same spot to all three members of the bloodline is a fantastic touch for the feud, showcasing the main theme of fear. Edge continues to try and bait Roman to come to the ring by continuing the submission on both Jey and Jimmy repeatedly. I also love the subtlety of Jey passing out to the submission, whereas Jimmy taps immediately. This segment absolutely ruled. A highly entertaining ending to the show with a fun, high octane brawl and a surprise return of the tag champs. A great way to end the final Smackdown of the thunderdome era.
Overall, this episode served as a great send off to the Thunderdome Era for the blue brand. The Roman and Edge storyline continues to be all around fantastic television and, while a lack of great in-ring action on this show outside of Cesaro and Seth certainly hurt it a bit for me, the matches we did get were entertaining. The women’s division also now has three new additions, adding much needed depth to a lifeless division. The weakest part of the show was probably the Sonya segment mainly due to the underwhelming announcement. However, Liv Morgan came off as an absolute future star in that segment.
Show Theme and Presentation: 6/10
Crowd Reaction: 7/10
Overall story progression: 9/10
Overall Show Rating: 7.4/10