This week’s SmackDown came to us from the home of the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and the fans in attendance saw a couple of good matches bookend the program.
It was also the rare edition of the show that didn’t feature Universal Champion Roman Reigns (he did take part in the dark match main event), and since “The Tribal Chief” is one of the very few wrestlers WWE actually pushes as a big-time attraction, the lack of star power was felt on the broadcast.
Still, that doesn’t mean that the show was devoid of quality moments, and that’s where this piece comes in. It’s time to take a look at the positives from this past Friday’s offering courtesy of the blue brand.
These are two of the things that went right on the Oct. 29 episode of SmackDown.
Shotzi’s Friday night showing
SmackDown started with the usual talking segment, but this time, it was SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair delivering the soliloquy. Aside from her unintentionally exposing herself as a compiler, WWE’s resident Curtis Martin was expectedly interrupted by Sasha Banks, who asked for a title shot.
What wasn’t expected, though, was an interruption by Shotzi, who answered Flair’s plea for fresh competition. What followed was an 11-and-a-half-minute showcase for the main roster upstart against the champion, even if the strong outing ended with a lame accidental distraction by Banks — who oddly cheered Shotzi on at ringside — followed by Flair hitting Natural Selection to score the pin.
Apparently, though, there was a method to WWE’s madness, as the closing sequence served as the impetus for Shotzi turning heel on Banks. Turning Shotzi baffled plenty of fans given her seamless fit in a babyface role and her executing the turn on a character that hasn’t been portrayed as particularly likeable over the last few months was just as perplexing.
That said, WWE likely felt the SmackDown Women’s division needed some heels outside of Flair, Natalya, and Shayna Baszler. Plus, for as good as Shotzi can be as a babyface, there are times when she becomes a bit too much of a try-hard, so perhaps a persona that requires her to tone things down will be good for her in the long run.
Of course, there’s always the chance (a very good one, at that) that she’ll be forgotten about once her impending feud with Banks runs its course, so we’ll have to see where this goes.
Drew McIntyre’s open challenge
In his second week as part of the SmackDown roster, Drew McIntyre issued another open challenge. This time, Mustafa Ali answered the call, but he, unfortunately, suffered a similar fate to Sami Zayn.
Still, having McIntyre come out for these open challenges is a good use of “The Scottish Warrior” early in his SmackDown run. These scenarios allow the SmackDown audience (assuming some aren’t also watching Raw) a chance to familiarize themselves with McIntyre’s moveset. Also, sometimes it’s nice to see a guy who the fans want to see win, you know, win.
Having McIntyre win with the Kimura was another nice touch, as it sets up another move that fans could believably buy into as a match clincher for the former WWE Champion.