WWE has been firing on all cylinders lately, and the Friday 13th October season premiere episode of SmackDown saw them continue in kind. The Hollywood strike has seen John Cena return home to the company that made him a star, and the company has used his time wisely.
Instead of pushing the Doctor of Thuganomics into title contention, he has instead shone the spotlight on younger stars such as the up-and-coming LA Knight, as well as Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa.
But this episode of SmackDown was also significant as it saw the return of the reigning Undisputed WWE Universal Champion, Roman Reigns. The Tribal Chief has been on a hiatus ever since August’s SummerSlam pay-per-view, and his return was sure to boost the ratings, as well as sew the seeds for the upcoming months of WWE TV. The Head of the Table had numerous interactions on the two-hour show, and here are some potential spoilers of what may lie ahead in the coming months for Reigns and his title.
LA Knight’s Maiden World Title Shot
There can be no denying that late summer and early fall is a typically quiet season for WWE, with the return of the NFL providing plenty of competition in their key demographics. The company branched out earlier this summer when it sent a number of up-and-coming stars such as Montez Ford to star in a celebrity poker game at the ESPY Awards.
Plenty of the company’s biggest names including former WWE Champions such as John Cena and The Miz have both expressed their love for poker over the years. The former mentioned that he had “caught the “poker bug” when chatting with Bluff Magazine in the late 2000s, and it seems that his enthusiasm may have rubbed off on some of the younger stars that took part in the charity game. The crunch showdown on the tables allowed A-Listers who love playing online casino games a chance to test their mettle against fellow stars, all in the name of charity, and it proved to be a huge success.
But while the aforementioned Ford is a man whose stock is on the rise, no one’s stock has risen more than that of LA Knight in recent months. The former Impact Wrestling star has been garnering huge receptions from the live audience week after week, and it seems that the powers that be within WWE have been listening.
Upon Reigns’ return, Knight immediately came to the ring to challenge the reigning champion, and while a match between the pair hasn’t yet been made official – with the upcoming Crown Jewel event seemingly where the two will face off – the clash was all but sealed with a wicked spear delivered to Knight by Reigns.
All Rhodes Lead to WrestleMania
Last year Cody Rhodes had his main event at his first WrestleMania at SoFI Stadium in Inglewood, California. He faced off against the aforementioned Reigns with the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship on the line, and many fans and experts expected him to get the win. In the end, though, it was the champion who retained the gold in shocking fashion.
In the months since that defeat, Rhodes has had to endure plenty of stumbling blocks. He first had to handle business with Brock Lesnar, triumphing in a three-match feud between the pair. He has also battled alongside Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens against the Judgement Day.
He would trade in his two Canadian allies for Jey Uso, and the pair have since captured the Undisputed Tag Team Championships. But his real goal is taking the title away from Reigns, and this episode of SmackDown may well have proven that the long-term plan is for Reigns vs Rhodes II at WrestleMania 40.
Following a victory for the tag champs midway through the show, Reigns’ music hit while the victors made their way up the ramp. Rhodes would come face to face with his nemesis for the first time since the night after WrestleMania 39, with the camera staying on the duo as they faced off for what felt like an eternity. Is this WWE’s way of telling us that the two will be squaring off once more, and will the rematch headline a second straight WrestleMania?