Cody Rhodes shoots on Roman Reigns; Bobby Lashley gets a WrestleMania 39 spot.
WWE's 'go home' episode of SmackDown before WrestleMania 39 weekend properly kicked off (with the 2023 Hall Of Fame) was never going to be a world class episode.
Instead, it was a functional lead-in to coming pay-per-view greatness, but something else must be said before going any further: WWE has done an amazing job with Cody Rhodes over the past few months. Sami Zayn's rise threatened his babyface crown, but the combo of excellent booking and Cody's own heartfelt storytelling stayed the course.
He's ready to supplant Roman Reigns as the top man on telly, and SmackDown proved it. Subtly, Reigns appeared as more of a background figure than he ever has when appearing on the show - he kept his own words short but sweet, and let Rhodes do most of the talking.
Elsewhere, familiar problems in the women's division popped up, and creative might've thrown the towel in on a bout mooted as a possible night one headliner. Most fans know there's only one credible choice for that spot anyway, and those boys stole the show with another passionate, earnest and well-delivered piece of narrative-driven build.
Here's all the good and bad from the E's final stop before going Hollywood.