WWE’s John Cena Usage Clears, Shocking Charlotte Flair Win, More Friday Takes
0 out of 5
This week’s Friday night wrestling block included the final WWE and All Elite Wrestling shows of 2022, so both companies wanted to go out with a bang.
At AEW, Jade Cargill jeopardized the TBS Championship against Kiera Hogan, and Orange Cassidy defended the All-Atlantic Championship against Trent Beretta. Swerve Strickland fought Wheeler Yuta in the Rampage Main Event.
On SmackDown, Charlotte Flair made her shock return to WWE, winning the SmackDown Women’s Championship from Ronda Rousey after her first title defense against Raquel Rodriguez. Solo Sikoa faced Sheamus in a showdown between powerhouses.
Eventually, John Cena teamed up with Kevin Owens to face off against Roman Reigns and Sami Zayn in Cena’s only match of 2022.
Let’s take a look at some of those moments from Friday’s SmackDown and Rampage.
Solo Sikoa is the future
1 out of 5
Ever since Sikoa came onto the scene in WWE, you could tell that this boy was something special.
Coming from the Anoa’i family has given him an edge in this business, but he has more than proven himself to be worth more than his name.
He’s gotten into better shape since joining the main roster and the way WWE has portrayed his character is great because he leaves a lot of room to grow.
His match with Sheamus on Friday’s SmackDown was a fun and hard-hitting affair that showed he can hold his own against one of the company’s top powerhouses. If he keeps improving and does great work, he’ll have a title on his hands in no time.
The only thing we haven’t seen much of him is his ability to cut a promo. He spoke more on NXT than SmackDown, but that’s the kind of thing WWE can work on while playing the strong, quiet guy.
Raquel Rodriguez would be better as heel
2 out of 5
Rodriguez got her shot at the SmackDown Women’s Championship in a match against Rousey this week, but despite her significant size advantage, she fell short.
Ever since she was called up by NXT, it has felt like WWE hasn’t known what to do with her. She’s taller and stronger than most of the squad, but she was never portrayed as the same dominant force she was on Tuesday.
Despite being a decent babyface, she has so much more potential for success as a heel. If she were the big powerhouse bullying everyone else on the list, she would be so easy to hate.
A great place to turn the tide would be during the Women’s Royal Rumble on January 28th. If she was the one to eliminate all fan favorites, she would have an easy way to become the villain in 2023.
Her match against Rousey was one of the longest fights she’s had and it showed how far she’s come since joining the company. She clearly has a lot of potential, but once she figures out how her character should be defined, she’ll be in a much better position to succeed.
Immediately putting the title on Charlotte was shocking in a good way
3 out of 5
Not only did Charlotte make a surprise return to WWE this week to face Rousey, but she also regained the SmackDown Women’s Title in her first match.
The crowd got behind The Queen as she challenged and quickly defeated an already tired Rousey after her match against Rodriguez. It might not have been what we expected, but it was definitely the right call for a number of reasons.
A lot of people probably assumed she wouldn’t be returning before the Royal Rumble, so her return to the final SmackDown of 2022 gave the show another memorable moment. Additionally, winning the title in an unannounced match will keep the conversation going for days.
Charlotte has been away for seven months so it will make for some interesting television viewing as she wraps up the year and starts 2023 as the new champion.
John Cena is a great part-time attraction
4 out of 5
Cena has officially played a match every year for the past 20 years following his fight on This Week’s SmackDown, but his appearances have become increasingly limited in recent years.
His star is on the rise in Hollywood following the success of The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker, so it’s understandable that he doesn’t want to put his body on the line as much as he used to.
This means that Cena will likely only play a match or two a year at most until he decides to hang up his trainers for good, meaning WWE has to be careful who gets booked for those few matches.
Having him work with Owens, Zayn and Reigns this week was smart, but if he wants to compete at WrestleMania next year, he needs an opponent with a reasonably big name.
WWE could always go the celebrity route and pair him with someone like Logan Paul, but using a rare appearance from Cena would be best to favor someone else who will be there each week to capitalize on that dynamic.
Bobby Lashley is someone who would benefit greatly from defeating the leader of the Cenation, but that’s only if Cena intends to be a part of Mania at all. This could all be pointless speculation until he’s confirmed for the event.
Swerve Strickland is better off than a heel
5 out of 5
This week’s Rampage featured a main event match between Strickland and Yuta, which further illustrated that becoming a heel was the right thing for Swerve to do.
The former WWE Superstar has been a popular babyface for the past few years, but he’s no stranger to being the villain. In fact, Hit Row started out as a heel faction.
His manners are perfect, especially in interviews. The pre-match video with Mark Henry allowed him to show that side of his personality quickly and effectively.
What’s great is that he’s able to maintain his in-ring style while playing heel. Most people using an exciting arsenal of moves will tone down these spots after heel turning to avoid cheers, but Swerve is so good that he can do all of that and still generate boos.
When he and Keith Lee finally have their big showdown, it’s going to be epic.