SmackDown Recap and Reactions (Jan 13, 2023): The Pawn of the Bloodline

Sami Zayn was tasked with taking out Kevin Owens on this week’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown, an order straight from Roman Reigns himself. Shortly after the show, he found out from none other than Paul Heyman that he would go it alone since the rest of The Bloodline weren’t even in the building.

And so he went it alone, and he certainly seemed to give it his all, and everything looked like it was going to be a win. But right as he was gearing up for the Helluva Kick, the dogs were unleashed, with Jimmy, Jey, and Solo Sikoa hitting the ring to force a disqualification after Owens.

Zayn seemed confused and a little disgruntled. Again, it felt very much like he was eager to prove himself.

I read on this that this was just another example of The Bloodline not really accepting Zayn the way he wants to. They could have trusted him to get things done himself, but they didn’t. Instead, he feels like more of a pawn here, the guy they sent to get beaten up to weaken Owens so they can run in and fiddle with the leftovers at the end.

There is no triumph here for Sami.

They lift him up, and then they break him down so they can lift him up again. He’s in the cycle of manipulation and maybe this was the night he finally started to see it for himself, after hearing Owens try to explain it to him several times now.

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

I’m damn sure I’ll stay tuned.


I give this its own space because sometimes I really enjoy it when Bray Wyatt gets a chance to just get in the ring and speak like only Bray Wyatt can.

The throwback to the Wyatt we used to know really touched me, for reasons I’m not even entirely sure or able to explain. I miss the time when Wyatt twisted stories with his tongue and told us to “RUN” before blowing out electric lanterns. That man felt so special, like a transcendent talent whose potential just needed to be unlocked.

Perhaps part of our fascination with Wyatt is that we’ve long felt its potential unrealized. There’s just something about this man, and I want to experience it to the fullest. This felt like I somehow got back to that.

Here’s to hoping the future likes more of this kind.


The rest
  • This show started with Braun Strowman challenging GUNTHER for the Intercontinental Championship. They had a decent competition, but it was pretty standard considering the contestants and it certainly didn’t feel like they were giving it their all. GUNTHER defeated Strowman clean – there was some Imperium interference during the match, but it didn’t seem to affect the outcome – leaving little room for a rematch. Maybe this is already over? It definitely doesn’t feel like they have to go back to it.
  • Rey Mysterio is good and fed up with Dominik’s shit, but instead of getting turned on by his own son, he moves on by taking part in the Royal Rumble and trying to make it big and win the damn thing. Naturally, Karrion Kross interrupted to call him a bad father and then strangled him when Rey responded with violence. This does a fantastic job of making me feel really sorry for poor Rey. The man is a legend, he deserves better than this, right?!?
  • Liv Morgan knocked the taste out of Raquel Rodriguez’s mouth. Like, holy shit, dude! That was cruel! But it was also great because it showed us a new side of Rodriguez, who left behind the smiling happy happy attitude to get good and pissed off and eager to remind everyone that she’s the biggest and baddest woman on the roster. She showed that by beating Morgan in a singles match later in the night, though she was right back to cheeseing afterwards. Yet they have shown that it is there and that is progress.
  • Tegan Nox defeated Xia Li in a standard singles match. Li has 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 that). Sheamus & Drew McIntyre get The Viking Raiders in the first round, based on the last bout on the first after last week’s show. They do a lot of cinematic work to make Erik & Ivar cool, but even with Valhalla I just don’t feel it. Your mileage may vary.
  • Sonya Deville wants her rematch with Charlotte Flair, so she campaigned for it to Adam Pearce – who stated she needs to win the Royal Rumble to do it – and when that didn’t work, she just went straight with her backstage. It was a pretty damn good take apart. We’ll see if Deville eventually gets another chance or if she does indeed have tow in the Rumble.

This was a solid show.

Grade: C+

Your turn.

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