SmackDown Reactions: Cesaro steps up to main event, Aleister Black returns
By Ryan Satin
FOX Sports WWE Analyst
After years of fans clamoring for it, Cesaro is finally getting a major push on WWE TV – and he’s stepping up in a big way.
Unfortunately, Cesaro has a few obstacles in his way.
There’s Seth Rollins, who wants to stop him out of spite.
There's Jey Uso, who is looking to make the 40-year-old Swiss Superstar pay for messing with his family.
Finally, there's Reigns, who is brushing him off like he isn't worthy of being in the same ring.
WWE has seemingly started to center SmackDown around Cesaro being the top babyface coming out of WrestleMania in hopes that fans will continue rallying behind him as they’ve done in the past. To help with this, they’ve wisely paired him with Daniel Bryan in order to transfer some of the love he has from fans to Cesaro as he transitions into the wrestler of the people role that Daniel occupies.
Speaking of Bryan, next week he'll face off against Reigns in a Universal title match with a stipulation attached: If Bryan loses, he has to leave SmackDown.
This feels like it will play into the Cesaro storyline, and I’m guessing some shenanigans will once again take place with Jey Uso that will require the "Swiss Cyborg" to get some revenge for his friend being kicked off the blue brand.
Either way, as someone who has wanted to see Cesaro featured in a bigger role for what feels like an eternity, I’m happy it finally appears to be coming to fruition.
Not only was the entire opening segment focused on all his current storylines, but also a 20-minute banger of a match followed in which he, Daniel, Seth and Jey Uso elevated their stories with awesome action from bell to bell.
Cesaro and Daniel also got another segment afterward that continued to make "The Swiss Superman" look like an absolute beast as he rag-dolled Jey like nothing. I laughed out loud as Cesaro repeatedly spun him around while Bryan played hype man on the top rope, trying to lure Roman out from the back.
SmackDown has been doing a fabulous job for months now of reinvigorating characters like Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Jey Uso and Bianca Belair.
If things continue to trend in this direction for Cesaro, he’ll be the next Superstar whose career gets turned around for the better.
Two additional takeaways from SmackDown this week:
This Aleister Black return vignette was very cool.
While it may bear a close resemblance to the Tian Sha vignette from NXT recently, the production value and animations really helped elevate Black's persona to feel larger than life. To me, this was much more effective than the "knock on my door" promos he was doing on Raw.
After being off TV since the WWE Draft last year, I’m hoping this is a sign Aleister will be treated as a big deal going forward. This video certainly had that vibe.
In thinking of whom he could feud with in the near future, there aren't a ton of options since the show is heavy on heels at the moment.
The fantasy booker in me would love to see Black target Edge, though, once he re-appears following WrestleMania.
One last note I have is in regard to the lack of TV time for the Women's title feud on SmackDown the past two weeks.
Bianca Belair’s title win at WrestleMania was one of the most talked about moments of the weekend. Since then, however, not much has been done to capitalize on her momentum.
Her next feud with Bayley began with a subtle promo from "The Role Model" last week, and this week continued with a quick backstage segment, but they aren't being given enough time to make the program feel important.
In fact, their upcoming match for the SmackDown Women’s title at WrestleMania Backlash was announced via social media before the show Friday, without any reasoning behind it.
Why not carve out some time on SmackDown to have Bayley at least earn the match by beating a few other Superstars? That way it wouldn't look like the match was decided upon without any rhyme or reason.
Bianca’s momentum should be followed with a hot angle – not something that feels like it was given minimal thought.
What did you think of SmackDown this week? Hit me up on Twitter @RyanSatin, and let me know.
Ryan Satin is a WWE analyst for FOX Sports. Satin previously appeared on FS1's "WWE Backstage" and founded Pro Wrestling Sheet, where he broke countless news stories as editor-in-chief.