We’re soon reaching the semifinals of the WWE King of the Ring tournament already. Wow, how time flies! Like I’ve mentioned a few times before, the tournament has been nothing short of amazing. It’s given fans really exciting matches with unforgettable moments. And this week on Smackdown, things just keep getting better.
But before we get into that, let’s talk about the show ending first. As expected (I was half right), Rowan did turn out to be Roman Reigns’ mystery attacker. I know they revealed it last week but I was kind of hoping it was just someone who looked like him or something to that effect. But nah, Rowan did attack Reigns and was not even sorry about it. He then went on to viciously take out him and Bryan with the Iron Claw because he’s “nobody’s puppet”. It was an interesting twist as we get to see Rowan finally becoming his own person, complete with his own mic time too. But a Rowan vs Reigns match at Clash of Champions? Err… What exactly will they be fighting for then?
Speaking of shaky storylines, Aleister Black’s “I’ll wait for a challenger to approach me” gimmick has a lot of potential but WWE just wasted it all. I don’t know why they never gave him a challenger that could actually be a decent angle at the very least, but they let it die off so quietly on the side that I completely forgot it was even a thing.
Yet, the match that Black finally got saved it from the rough landing. Black decided to bring the fight to someone else and he found Shelton Benjamin. It was a very good fight, despite it clearly being a showcase for Black. But Benjamin got some good shots in especially that explosive knee strike that threw Black right off the apron and onto the outside floor, his back hitting the barricade. Though Benjamin got a decent showing, Black definitely outshone with his perfectly timed lethal strikes.
Another interesting moment on the show is the segment with Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley, Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair. Bayley first came out to explain why she attacked Becky Lynch with the steel chair on Raw (to the never-ending cheers from the crowd for some reason) before it all became another chair shot fest, this time with Flair at the expense (also totally called Flair’s involvement). It seems like the best friends are gearing up to be champions on each brand soon, which on paper sounds very intriguing and kind of like Laycool 2.0.
Previously, I wasn’t convinced that Bayley could pull this off but after her speech about the kind of champion she wanted to be, I’m starting to think that maybe, just maybe, she could be this kind of champion. And I think this is where her character is starting to evolve. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Banks who hasn’t done anything significant since her return.
As for the other women on the roster, they fared better in their tag team match. The Women’s Tag Team Champions Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross gave their new challengers Fire & Desire, aka Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, a pretty tough fight.
Cross has been super impressive week after week (check out that crazy dive on both Rose and Deville!) and it looked like everyone followed her lead in this one because the match was pretty on point. It sucked that the champs had to lose here but they’ve done solid work so far so this shouldn’t hurt them in the long run. And it’s good to see Fire & Desire improving.
Overall, the show was an entertaining show. Really, what’s not to like about Sami Zayn, the world’s best hype man ever, doing commentary for Intercontinental champion Shinsuke Nakamura’s match with a local wrestler? Or the ever amusing 24/7 title segments featuring the hottest rivalry between R-Truth and Drake Maverick? Good stuff.
Here are my favourite moments from this week’s Smackdown!
Chad Gable vs Andrade (King of the Ring Quarterfinals)
There’s nothing quite like shutting up your naysayers by staying winning at life. Ask Chad Gable! It seemed like everyone had betted against him in the King of the Ring tournament, even though he did beat Benjamin last week. Samoa Joe, a fellow participant, called out Gable’s weakness and insulted his chances in the competition. Zelina Vega, Andrade’s manager, also mocked him.
This was such a great underdog story with an even greater match to boot. Gable went from being a nobody to a competitor that had the entire arena vigorously chanting for. From the suplex battle and near falls to more innovative offense, this was one fight you cannot miss this week. And Vega’s face of pure shock at the end says it all.
Check out some of the match highlights:
Ali vs Elias (King of the Ring Quarterfinals)
At first this was an uneven fight because of how powerful Elias was, just manhandling Ali all around the right. At one point, Elias even threw Ali into the ringside crew section for no other reason than to inflict more lasting damage and possibly flex a little at the same time.
But Ali truly had a lot of heart and it showed in the way he fought back, even when he hurt his leg. He even scored some effective high-risk moves that caught Elias off-guard, including an astounding superkick counter. The storytelling was quite similar to Ricochet vs Samoa Joe on Raw, but Ali and Elias each displayed their strengths very well at opportune times.
So now it looks like Elias will be advancing to the semifinals where he’ll face off against Gable. This was definitely a match I did not expect when the tournament first began. It will be an interesting fight for sure, considering the differences in their in-ring styles and physical sizes.
See some of what went down during Ali vs Elias:
Randy Orton and The Revival Laid Waste to Kofi Kingston Yet Again
The torment by Randy Orton continues, with the help of The Revival. The story is really heating up now as WWE Champion Kofi Kingston is now truly alone in this fight without his New Day brothers Xavier Woods and Big E to even the numbers. Despite his best efforts, Kingston kept falling victim to Orton’s orchestrated attacks. To which of course Orton calls “stupid”.
But is it really? Time and time again, Orton baited Kingston into his traps and would successfully walk away looking like the better wrestler. And to be honest, his methods never changed so why does Kingston keep falling for it?
From one angle, it does seem “stupid”, but from another, it shows heart. Kingston is the WWE champion and what kind of champ would he be if he doesn’t go after Orton each time, despite knowing the risks? As champ, he’ll do anything to help and protect, be it his New Day brothers or his son. And that makes Kingston a damn good champion, despite the consequences. Plus, how amazing would he look when he finally rises above still champion in the end at Clash of Champions?
Watch the merciless assault: