The Three Count: SmackDown’s Top Two WrestleMania Feuds Could Be Gold Mines
Photo Credit: WWE
Edge is back on SmackDown and all is right with the world, at least when it comes to WWE. While “The Rated R Superstar” hasn’t officially declared which champion he’ll challenge at WrestleMania (and he says he’s waiting for the Elimination Chamber fallout on RAW), it seems fairly obvious that he’ll be facing Roman Reigns at “The Showcase of the Immortals.” Given the options that are on the table, a feud between Edge and Reigns sounds like it would be the most compelling path WWE could follow. (Check out our Royal Rumble review to hear our thoughts on this potential story.)
Now that Reigns and Edge have actually shared the ring in non-wrestling segments, the anticipation for their eventual clash is already taking off. Edge made it clear that he’s not going to let Reigns intimidate him. Instead, he criticized the champion’s need to bring some backup to the ring. One of the best aspects of Reigns’ exemplary character work is the depth he often displays, and that skill always stands out when a rival gets under his skin. Kevin Owens has already done that a few times in recent months, as he has poked the bear and unleashed Reigns’ inner fury. That rage is tied to the champion’s insecurities, which were evident as soon as he repeatedly demanded Jey Uso to acknowledge him as “The Tribal Chief.” Likewise, on Friday night, “The Head of the Table” ordered Edge to validate his status as WWE’s premier champion, and he was infuriated by Edge’s reluctance to do just that. Fans have already seen some intriguing elements of what this rivalry has to offer, and it’s fair to expect this story to get better and better as WrestleMania nears.
Photo by Dennis Jerome Acosta/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
The Roman Reigns/Kevin Owens Feud Just Won’t End
There are two truths in wrestling. Matt Hardy will not die, and Kevin Owens will not go away. For a few weeks now, we’ve argued that the feud between Reigns and Owens has gotten stale, and many fans probably hoped that the Last Man Standing Match between the two stars at WWE Royal Rumble would be the final chapter. Instead, Owens blindsided Reigns with a Stunner when he was confronting Edge at the end of the show. You’ll be forgiven if you audibly groaned at this progression; you’re not alone.
This feud needs to end, but it seems like Owens will get yet another shot at Reigns’ title. The lack of narrative logic here is appalling. Owens has done nothing, aside from coming back after three consecutive defeats, to deserve another title match. WWE has given the fans no reason to believe that Owens can dethrone Reigns. That was true at TLC, it was even more accurate at WWE Royal Rumble, and it’s frustratingly obvious now. Owens will not take the gold from Reigns if they clash in a fourth title match. With these storytelling shortcomings in mind, what’s the point of all this?
Surely, WWE could give someone like Shinsuke Nakamura a one-off program at Elimination Chamber to do something different. At the very least, that would be a match that we haven’t seen four times in the past two months. Instead, with the company’s next pay-per-view just two weeks away, it looks like WWE will continue to drag Reigns’ tired rivalry with Owens out to this show. With any luck, the story will actually end there. It’s hard to complain too much, as Reigns and Owens are both incredible wrestlers who are great at telling engaging stories. But this redundant booking has reached the point where the storyline as a whole has “go away heat.”
Photo Credit: WWE
Shut Up And Take My Money
At least for this writer, a potential feud between Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks is the embodiment of the “Shut up and take my money” meme. In the aforementioned Royal Rumble review, we explained why this feud needs to happen. To reiterate, WWE must go through with this rivalry because it’s the most dynamic story (at least in the women’s division) it can tell heading into WWE WrestleMania 37. Plus, the cultural significance of this match potentially main eventing one of the nights can’t be understated.
Like Edge’s confrontation’s with Reigns, Belair’s exchange with Banks on Friday night left us begging for more. From “The EST” dancing to Banks’ theme to “The Boss” laughing at Belair’s claim that she’s the best, WWE might have a gold mine on its hands if it books this storyline right. Belair is so good as a confident face and Banks, who displayed some heelish tendencies in this segment, is so incredible as an arrogant heel that WWE (seemingly) won’t have to try to hard with this story. As WrestleZone’s own Robert DeFelice pointed out on this past week’s SmackDown Double Down podcast, Banks never really turned face when Bayley betrayed her last fall. Instead, she was simply the less villainous of the two. So WWE doesn’t even have to do a lot of work to set up a program between a face Belair and a heel Banks.
Please, WWE. Do this feud right. Bar none, it could be the best rivalry in recent memory if WWE plays its cards right, and WrestleMania 37 needs that type of story to make an already special show even more remarkable.
Of course, there’s so much more to talk about. We haven’t even discussed Cesaro’s newfound hot streak or Billie Kay’s underrated brilliance. To hear an extensive breakdown of the show, please check out the SmackDown Double Down podcast. The show airs every Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. EST on the WrestleZone Facebook page.
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