Reigns and the Usos
Image Credit: WWE

The Three Count: Roman Reigns’ Excellence Is Unmatched, But SmackDown Needs A Shake-Up

Everything Roman Reigns does is gold. Saying that last fall, when he first returned and introduced fans to “The Tribal Chief Character,” might have been an exaggeration. Not anymore. Over six months into Reigns’ heel run, it seems like he somehow gets better each passing week. He makes even the smallest details, like the way he looks at either one of The Usos, crucial parts of the story on any given night. “The Head of the Table” has blown us away before, but this past week, he might have turned in his most exemplary performance.

For weeks, the reigning WWE Universal Champion has gradually been turning The Usos against each other; it’s been easy to assume that he secretly wants Jey to “take care” of Jimmy, much like a dastardly mob boss would tell one of his lietenants to solve a problem for him. But this Friday night, when the tension between The Usos and “The Tribal Chief” practically reached a boiling point, Reigns played innocent and, at the same time, twisted the knife even deeper. When Jey walked out on an argument between Reigns and Jimmy, the champion turned the blame around and put it on Jimmy’s shoulders. Rather than accepting Jimmy’s dare to fight him, Reigns accused him of harming the family business. He manipulated Jimmy by focusing on Jey’s emotional turmoil as the man who has been stuck in the middle of this situation. Now, instead of what felt like an inevitable clash between Reigns and Jimmy, “The Tribal Chief” might pull the strings and reunite The Bloodline after all.

Rey Mysterio and Roman Reigns in WWE
Image Credit: WWE

Rey’s Fatherly Fury

It’s easy to joke about how WWE SmackDown has become “The Roman Reigns Show.” (It has, and for good reason.) After all, the man is currently involved in the blue brand’s top two storylines. While the drama with The Usos continues to play out, Reigns has fired up Rey Mysterio and ignited a feud with the furious father. After “The Head of the Table” brutally attacked Rey’s son, Dominik last week, the legendary luchador called the champion out this week and challenged him to a match.

He didn’t just throw down the gauntlet for a normal bout, though; instead, Rey dared Reigns to face him in a Hell in a Cell contest. At first, Reigns seemed amused by Mysterio’s defiance of his dominance, but the champion quickly tired of the legend’s disrespect. “The Head of the Table” withstood an attack from Rey and beat him down. When Dominik tried to intervene, Reigns took the feud to a new level when he shockingly powerbombed the young Mysterio out of the ring.

Reigns’ harsh violence quickly heated up what will likely be a transitional feud with Rey; while the outcome of this clash is fairly obvious, the two stars should still produce a remarkable match at WWE Hell in a Cell. With Reigns’ constant brilliance and Mysterio’s status as an all-time great, this title bout should be one of the highlights of the pay-per-view next weekend.

apollo crews wwe 1

Recurring Rivalries Keep Spinning

While everything Reigns is involved with has been excellent, the rest of SmackDown is a mixed bag. The show’s undercard feels like it’s stuck in neutral, as the main storylines are continuations of programs that were either on the WrestleMania card or the subsequent pay-per-view.

Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn and Big E vs. Apollo Crews are all feuds that could have (and possibly should have) continued in their heated matches at WWE WrestleMania 37. Instead, they just keep spinning on, week after week. The Cesaro and Rollins feud is an exception, as at least this storyline is evolving with injury angles and other noteworthy progressions. But Big E’s return to his conflict with Crews is a step back after his supposed rivalry with Aleister Black abruptly ended. (Black was released less than two weeks after it started.)

Plus, Bianca Belair’s rivalry with Bayley resumed the feud they had this past December and January, and now it continues to drag on. This feud is based on Belair’s dislike of Bayley’s laugh, and rather than having “The Role Model” win some matches to look like a legitimate contender, she has received another title match solely because she annoys the champion.

Every week, we have to hope that SmackDown will deliver some fresh stories soon, but these lasting feuds continue to drag. If the WWE Draft truly is coming at the end of August, that could help by bringing new faces to the show. But in the meantime, it’s a good thing Reigns’ parts of the show continue to be so good.

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