By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Join me for live coverage of WWE Worlds Collide tonight and the WWE Royal Rumble on Sunday. Dot Net Members are listening to my audio review of Smackdown and NWA Hard Times, and will hear my audio review of Worlds Collide tonight, and the Royal Rumble audio review co-hosted by Jake Barnett and I on Sunday night. Join us on our ad-free website via PWMembership.net.
WWE Friday Night Smackdown Hits
The Fiend and Daniel Bryan contract signing: A quality segment that resulted in The Fiend attacking Bryan and then signing the contract using his own blood after stabbing himself in the hand with a pen. The Fiend’s beatdown of Bryan with the strap was vicious, and Bryan getting back to his feet and looking confident to close the show was a good final image heading into their strap match for the WWE Universal Championship.
Roman Reigns and The Usos vs. Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, and Robert Roode: A strong six-man tag match with a good injury angle that took Jimmy out of the match temporarily to leave the babyface team shorthanded. Corbin was effective in acting cocky when Reigns couldn’t tag in and then made a cowardly dive to the corner to tag out the moment that Reigns was able to tag in. The brawl between Reigns and Corbin into the crowd later was a nice preview for their falls count anywhere match. Jimmy returning late and getting the pin for his team was a nice touch that made the Usos look strong.
Lacey Evans interview: Evans came off well as she got emotional while telling her story and sharing her positive message. Still, I can’t help but feel that this would be far more effective if she abandoned the “Sassy Southern Belle” attire in favor of a look that made her seem more real and less like a GLOW character. Bayley’s attack, and the backstage brawl, and then the brawl that made its way into the tag match all made for a solid attempt to breathe some life into a Smackdown Women’s Championship feud that felt flat coming into the show.
John Morrison vs. Kofi Kingston: An entertaining match that could have packed more of a punch. There was a cool spot where Kingston went for Trouble in Paradise, but Morrison beat him to the proverbial punch with a terrific kick. It would have been so refreshing had Morrison scored a pin off that kick, but instead they had to go to the overused distraction finish to avoid having a babyface lose clean, which also prevents the heel from gaining any real momentum.
The Royal Rumble numbers video: It was nice to see this good piece of production make its way back to television rather than only being released online. I look forward to it every year and it always sets the right tone for the Rumble.
WWE Friday Night Smackdown Misses
Braun Strowman and Elias vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro: A soft Miss for a throwaway tag match that really didn’t play into the Royal Rumble hype in any meaningful way. If nothing else, the babyfaces got their revenge after dastardly heels interrupted Strowman before he could audition for his own stage show on the next Jericho Cruise (or something like that).