SmackDown Recap & Reactions (January 13, 2023): The Bloodline Pawn

Sami Zayn was tasked with eliminating Kevin Owens on this week’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown, an order given directly by Roman Reigns himself. He found out shortly after the show, from none other than Paul Heyman, that he would be going it alone, as the rest of The Bloodline weren’t even in the building.

And so he went there alone, and he certainly seemed to give his all, and his all seemed sure that he was going to deliver a win. But just as he was preparing for the Helluva Kick, the dogs went wild, with Jimmy, Jey and Solo Sikoa hitting the ring to force a disqualification against Owens.

Zayn looked confused and a bit unhappy. Again, he really felt like he was eager to prove himself.

My reading on this is that it was just another example of The Bloodline not actually accepting Zayn as he wants. They could have trusted him to do things himself, and they didn’t. Instead, he feels more like a pawn here, the guy they sent to get beat up to weaken Owens so they can run and pick up the scraps in the end.

There is no triumph for Sami here.

They lift it up, then they take it down just so they can lift it up again. He’s in the cycle of manipulation and this may be the night he finally started to see it for himself, having heard Owens trying to explain it to him many times now.

There’s still room to move, though, and it seems clear that they’re not quite ready for the breakup just yet. But it was another good story.

I’m sure to stay tuned.

I give him his own space because sometimes I really appreciate when Bray Wyatt gets the chance to step into the ring and speak like only Bray Wyatt can.

The throwbacks to the Wyatt we were experiencing really struck me, for reasons I’m not even entirely sure or couldn’t explain. I miss when Wyatt would twist stories with his tongue and tell us to “RUN” before blowing out electric lanterns. This guy felt so special, like a transcendent talent whose potential just needed to be unlocked.

Perhaps part of our fascination with Wyatt is that the potential was long thought to be unrealized. There’s just something about this guy, and I want to experience it fully. It was like going back to that in a way.

Here’s hoping the future holds more like this.

Everything else
  • This show opened with Braun Strowman challenging GUNTHER for the Intercontinental Championship. They had a decent game but it was pretty standard considering the participants and they certainly didn’t feel like they gave it their all. GUNTHER beat Strowman flawlessly – there was Imperium interference during the match, but it didn’t seem to affect the outcome – and left little room for a rematch. Maybe it’s already over? They certainly don’t feel like they need to go back.
  • Rey Mysterio is good and fed up with Dominik’s shit but instead of letting his own son goad him, he moves on by entering the Royal Rumble and trying to get big and win this fucking thing. Naturally, Karrion Kross cut him off to call him a bad dad, then smothered him when Rey violently responded. It does a fantastic job of making me feel really bad for poor Rey. The guy is a legend, he deserves better than that, right?!?
  • Liv Morgan slapped the taste out of Raquel Rodriguez’s mouth. Like, damn it, man! It was rough! But it was also great because it showed us a new side to Rodriguez, who ditched the smiley, happy-luck attitude in favor of becoming good and pissed off and eager to remind everyone that she’s the biggest and baddest woman on the list. She showed it by defeating Morgan in a singles match later that night, although she was back to cheesy after doing so. Yet they showed that it was there and that it was progress.
  • Tegan Nox defeated Xia Li in a standard singles match. Li’s been on TV a bit more lately, but they’re doing absolutely nothing with her.
  • They announced that a tag team tournament will begin next week to determine the next top contenders for The Usos’ SmackDown Tag Team Titles (yes, they specified). Sheamus and Drew McIntyre will get The Viking Raiders in the first round, based on the latter attacking first after last week’s show. They do a lot of cinematic work to make Erik and Ivar look cool, but even with Valhalla, I just don’t feel it. Your mileage may vary.
  • Sonya Deville wants revenge with Charlotte Flair, so she campaigned for it with Adam Pearce – who indicated she’ll have to win the Royal Rumble for all of it – and when that didn’t work out, she got away with it. just tussled with her backstage. It was a damn good split. We’ll see if that results in Deville getting another hit or if she actually has a tow in the Rumble.

It was a solid show.

Grade: C+

Your turn.

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