WWE’s John Cena Usage Becoming Clear, Shocking Charlotte Flair Win, More Friday Takes
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This week’s Friday night block of wrestling featured the final WWE and All Elite Wrestling shows of 2022, so both companies wanted to go out with a bang.
In AEW, Jade Cargill put the TBS Championship on the line against Kiera Hogan, and Orange Cassidy defended the All-Atlantic Championship against Trent Beretta. Swerve Strickland battled Wheeler Utah in the main event of Rampage.
Over on SmackDown, Charlotte Flair made her shocking return to WWE and won the SmackDown Women’s Championship from Ronda Rousey following her first title defense against Raquel Rodriguez. Solo Sikoa faced Sheamus in a showdown between powerhouses.
Finally, John Cena teamed up with Kevin Owens to take on Roman Reigns and Sami Zayn in what was Cena’s only match in all of 2022.
Let’s take a look at some of these moments from Friday’s SmackDown and Rampage.
Solo Sikoa Is the Future
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Ever since Sikoa arrived on the scene in WWE, you could tell there was something special about this kid.
Coming from the Anoa’i family gave him a leg up in this business, but he has more than proven that he offers more value than just his name.
He has gotten in better shape since he came to the main roster, and the way WWE has portrayed his character is great because it leaves a lot of room to grow.
His match with Sheamus on Friday’s SmackDown was an entertaining and hard-hitting affair that showed he can hold his own against one of the best powerhouses in the company. If he keeps improving while putting on great performances, he is going to have a title around his waist in no time.
The one thing we haven’t seen much of from him is his ability to cut a promo. He spoke more in NXT than he has on SmackDown, but that is the kind of thing WWE can work on while he plays the strong, silent type.
Raquel Rodriguez Would Be Better as a Heel
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Rodriguez got her shot at the SmackDown Women’s Championship this week in a match against Rousey, but despite her significant height advantage, she came up short.
Ever since she was called up from NXT, it has felt like WWE has not known what to do with her. She is bigger and stronger than most of the roster, but she has never been portrayed as the same dominant force she was on Tuesdays.
While she is a decent babyface, she has so much more potential for success as a heel. Having her be the big powerhouse who bullies everyone else on the roster would make her so easy to hate.
A great place to make the turn would be during the women’s Royal Rumble on Jan. 28. Having her be the one to eliminate all of the fan favorites would give her an easy path to becoming a villain in 2023.
Her match against Rousey was one of the longest bouts she had, and it showed how far she has come since joining the company. She clearly has a lot of potential, but once she figures out how her character should be defined, she will be in a much better position for success.
Putting the Title on Charlotte Right Away Was Shocking in a Good Way
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Charlotte not only made her surprise return to WWE this week to face Rousey, but she ended up winning the SmackDown women’s title in her first match back.
The crowd was fully behind The Queen as she challenged and quickly defeated an already-tired Rousey following her match against Rodriguez. It may not have been what we were expecting, but it was definitely the right call for a few reasons.
Many people likely assumed she wouldn’t return until the Royal Rumble, so having her come back on the final SmackDown of 2022 gave the show another memorable moment. On top of that, winning the title in an unannounced match is going to have people talking for days.
Charlotte has been gone for seven months, so having her back to close out the year and kick off 2023 as the new champion is going to make for some interesting television.
John Cena Is a Great Part-Time Attraction
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Cena has officially wrestled a match every single year for the past 20 years after his bout on this week’s SmackDown, but his appearances have become more and more 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 wouldn’t want to put his body at risk as often as he used to.
This means Cena is likely going to be a one- or two-match-per-year performer at the most until he decides to hang his sneakers up for good, so that means WWE needs to be careful about who is booked for those few matches .
Having him work with Owens, Zayn and Reigns this week was smart, but if he is going to work a bout at WrestleMania next year, he needs an appropriately big-name opponent.
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 used to put somebody else over who is going to be there every week to capitalize on that momentum.
Bobby Lashley is someone who would benefit greatly from defeating The Leader of the Nation, but that is only if Cena even plans on being part of Mania. This could all be pointless speculation until it is confirmed for the event.
Swerve Strickland Is Better Off as a Heel
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This week’s Rampage featured a main event match between Strickland and Yuta that further illustrated Swerve becoming a heel was the right call.
The former WWE Superstar has been a beloved babyface for a couple of years, but he is no stranger to being the bad guy. In fact, Hit Row began as a heel faction.
His mannerisms are perfect, especially during interviews. The pre-match video with Mark Henry allowed him to show that side of his personality quickly and effectively.
What’s great is he is able to maintain his in-ring style while playing the heel. Most people who use an exciting arsenal of moves will tone down those spots after turning heel to avoid getting 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.