It's the second week with crowds back in WWE, which means it hasn't yet lost its luster and viewers are less likely to recognize that, aside from the return of John Cena, it's still the same old boring WWE Smackdown. But we aren't fooled, and we'll tell you which of these segments are filler so you can reclaim your time on Friday nights and watch only the relevant highlights on YouTube.
Smackdown opened with a John Cena promo, and there's no way I'm ever going to get used to seeing a WWE show open with a long and drawn-out John Cena promo and the crowd eating it up. Of course, it hasn't really sunk in with anyone yet that this whole "Summer of Cena" live tour advertising Cena for a bunch of WWE shows up to and including SummerSlam is essentially telling us Cena will definitely lose that match with Roman. After all, he isn't booked for any appearances after SummerSlam, is he? Cena wanted an answer from Roman Reigns about his SummerSlam challenge, but instead he got Paul Heyman singing his theme song. And in retrospect, that was what we all wanted anyway. Watch it.
Finn Balor, now a white meat babyface again, faced and defeated Sami Zayn in a match. Watch it, because it won't be long before Balor loses his NXT luster and goes back to being a midcarder again.
Big E tried to cut a promo about his Money in the Bank win, but he was interrupted by Apollo Crews and Commander Azeez, who were interrupted by Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode, who were interrupted by Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs, who were interrupted by a brawl breaking out. The point of all this? Big E can't be getting involved in the WWE Universal Championship picture just yet because they've got that whole Cena thing to deal with, so he'll be feuding for the Intercontinental Championship for a while again. Skip it and save yourself having to listen to Rick Boogs' out-of-tune guitar.
Wale introduced the Street Profits as Angelo Dawkins faced Chad Gable at the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami. Embarrassingly, literally no one in the audience cared about this crap. And it's hard to blame them. Dawkins won. Skip it.
In a second match at the festival, Bianca Belair defended against Carmella in a rematch from last week. Belair won again. The crowd still didn't care. Let's call this experiment a failure. Maybe if they tried a Nu Metal festival instead? Skip it.
Back at the arena and backstage, Baron Corbin apologized for insulting Kevin Owens last week and said he understands his behavior is bad habit and he needs to stop being a dick. KO felt sympathy for him and gave him some twenties from his wallet. Unfortunately, Shotzi and Nox (ugh, that name shortening still sucks) shot him in the balls with the t-shirt cannon on Shotzi's tank, and as he laid on the ground, the Dirty Dawgs stole his money. What the hell? Why am I feeling sympathy for Baron Corbin? Who asked for this Baron Corbin face turn?! It was Chad McMahon, wasn't it? Watch it.
Edge cut a promo to blame Seth Rollins for costing him the match against Roman Reigns at Money in the Bank (it was actually Cena's fault, Edge). Rollins came out and they brawled. Edge came out on top. They will eventually fight at SummerSlam. And that match will be good. So watch this.
Toni Storm debuted on Smackdown by beating Zelina Vega. Watch it, if only for the novelty of seeing two women in WWE who actually have last names.
Jimmy Uso defeated Dominik Mysterio in a sloppy match that you shouldn't waste your time watching.
Finally, Roman Reigns came out to answer John Cena's challenge. Reigns cut a pretty good promo on Cena, basically calling him a nostalgia act. Reigns said he doesn't like to have sex in the missionary position every night and so he won't wrestle Cena at SummerSlam. Since Reigns rejected Cena's challenge, Finn Balor came out and issued one of his own. The crowd chanted "Roman's scared," prompting Reigns to accept the challenge. Presumably, this will happen on Smackdown, because WWE isn't fooling anybody and we know Reigns vs. Cena will definitely happen at SummerSlam. Watch it. The promo was great.
WWE Smackdown has long been the superior show to Raw, though that's not necessarily saying much. The fans being back does improve the show, though WWE sweetening the crowd noise reduces some of that impact. The Rolling Loud Festival was a misstep, as WWE clearly overestimated their popularity. But the Reigns/Cena stuff is good, and, god help me, the Baron Corbin/Kevin Owens pairing actually has a lot of potential (and I expect it will lead to a match between the two when Corbin eventually turns on KO). Overall, the middle of Smackdown was largely forgettable but bookended by two fantastic promos by some of the best in the business at it. At the very least, I can say this: it was better than getting shot in the nuts… by a little bit.