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    Sunday, February 14, 2021

    The SmackDown Breakdown (2/12/21): Chamber? I Don't Even Know Her

    Roman Reigns and Adam Pearce on WWE SmackDown

    If you were a top champion and you were faced with the option of defending your title inside an brutal, unforgiving steel structure, you'd find a way to stay out of it, too. It's ya boy Ro taking over for Ricky for one weekend, and this is the SmackDown Breakdown.

    This week's biggest story is exactly what the lede says it is: Adam Pearce tries to book WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns in an Elimination Chamber match for his title, but Reigns and Paul Heyman come back with a counteroffer: he'll defend the title on the show, but right after six other guys beat the hell out of each other inside the Chamber. He's no chump like that goody-two-shoes Drew McIntyre. Why would anyone want to suffer inside the Chamber anyway? As a pro wrestler, I approve of this move.

    Before anything, I just want to dive into this power dynamic real quick. Some people might complain that Roman Reigns gets a little too much leeway when it comes to demands from authority figures, specifically Adam Pearce, that it may seem absurd and nonsensical. Why does Roman get his way? Why does Adam Pearce (and whoever's really running the show) seem too eager to roll over for him?

    Simple: because he's a dick, and he's acting entitled to everything he wants. But the powers running SmackDown—or at least, those who are writing Roman's stories—have thought about this, which is why Heyman expressly mentions the potential consequences were Pearce to sanction Roman so close to WrestleMania. You wouldn't want to be down a huge draw right before the huge show, now would you? It's not the strongest thread to support Roman's entitlement, but within the spoken and unspoken rules of this game, it still makes sense. 

    Pearce, for his part, gets back at Reigns by auto-including Jey Uso and Reigns's archnemesis Kevin Owens in the chamber match, which is terrible because Reigns wants to be done with Owens. So Pearce isn't all powerless.

    So we get impromptu qualifying matches for the remaining four spots, because it makes sense that Pearce didn't exactly prepare for this development. We get a couple of good tag team matches, especially tonight's main event where Cesaro and Daniel Bryan manage to beat Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode.

    Where RAW has a Chamber match full of established stars, SmackDown proves its worth once again as the place to be building up-and-coming talent. (Well, it's got no choice anyway as most of the former WWE Champions it used to have were shipped to RAW back in the last Draft, but still!) My only gripe is Shinsuke Nakamura isn't in the match, but apparently there are only so many talents you can push at a time. As always, it's got the matchup people would rather see.

    Final Breakdown: All notes were hit in this week's episode, from its side of the Elimination Chamber, to the Intercontinental Championship scene, the Women's Championship scene, Seth Rollins's return, the SmackDown Tag Team Championship scene, and even the Women's Tag Team Championship scene! It's good to see a lot of different areas get the love, and while this happens on RAW too, it says a lot more when they get to cram all of it on SmackDown's one-and-a-half-hour runtime.

    Show Grade: A-

    BreakDown Thoughts

    • So I feel really bad for Shinsuke Nakamura. While Cesaro is deserving of this spotlight he's getting right now, his push and face turn totally stole Shinsuke's thunder by a couple of weeks. This is a nitpick more than anything, but if they were going to turn Cesaro face too, why have them break up the week before? I get that they probably wanted singles pushes and give other tag teams a shot (more on that in a bit) but it's awkward to have a friendship breakup and then suddenly find out you're on the same side of the fence all along.
    • Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks entering a program with Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler might be good for a face vs. face matchup, but we've literally seen this before when Charlotte came back to team with Asuka. The idea is good, but it shows the total lack of depth of the women's tag team division on both brands. I'd call women up from NXT just to fix this—I'd say it's a bigger need than calling up singles stars right now.
    • Glad to see they're not changing Seth Rollins, but other than the whole deal with Cesaro, what was the point of everyone coming out for the big announcement? Felt like there was a story beat missing before it; could have explained that Seth wanted to have the whole roster out to address them.
    • Looks like they're leaning into "my hole" already after initially censoring it. Ready the merch.
    • Otis and Gable are in the "losing upwards" spot where they're doing just enough to get people to buy into them while losing. It's only a matter of time, boys.
    • I know it's every man for themselves in the Chamber, but did Kevin Owens suddenly forget he was friends with Bryan? It made sense for Sami and the other heels to turn on each other, but is there no honor among babyfaces before the match? It's a nitpick but it felt off and out-of-character to me.

    Photo from WWE.com


    Romeo Moran (@roiswaris the Editor-in-Chief of Smark Henry and one of the three hosts of the Wrestling-Wrestling Podcast. He gets by in this hard knock life through working in advertising. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, and he likes taking your wrestling questions over on his Curiouscat account. 

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    Item Reviewed: The SmackDown Breakdown (2/12/21): Chamber? I Don't Even Know Her Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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