One of the takeaways I came with from last week’s Smackdown Live is that we need to talk about the rap battle between the New Day and The Usos.
When it was first advertised, it was more of a collective groan of “oh no, this will be a disaster”. It was between that and something to push both teams down the drain in terms of sabotage booking. On the surface, WWE’s PG standards and rap battles don’t mix. Rap battles get to the core and hit where it hurts. It wasn’t going to work. Everything about it spelled out trainwreck.
But, the rap battle was anything but that. It was a really good surprise. I was late in watching it because, life. Prior to getting to the segment, I knew many fans talked about the segment and with good reason. There was plenty of reaction from it as The Usos blurred the lines between storyline and reality with Xavier Woods. Woods sex tape scandal with Paige and Brad Maddox was shocking news recently, and it was a major thing for it to be acknowledged on WWE programming in that matter.
I was surprised too because with fans wanting edgier programming, they got a big dose of it in the rap battle. It reminded me of Shawn Michaels’ famous “Sunny Days” line aimed at Bret Hart back in the 90s. Of course it is an entirely different era back then, but scandal is scandal. And Eric Bischoff said it best – controversy creates cash. WWE knows this and it was a grand opportunity that The Usos took full advantage of.
To his credit, Woods was able to fire back at the twins with shots at Jimmy’s wife Naomi and their real-life cousin Roman Reigns. With this rap battle, things got personal quick and this is what the feud needed. Now it’s a personal matter and fans know it makes feuds that much better. Was the segment iconic? It’s too early to make that assumption but it was definitely a standout moment.
The Usos’ defining moment last Tuesday was indeed a long time coming. They have shined since their heel turn last summer. Their personality has come through and fans are getting a glimpse into the Samoan twins. The rap battle could have very well been their coming out party. Going back to the 90s, their father Rikishi was a part of the Attitude Era. So it is a nice touch with that connection in pushing the envelope in today’s WWE.
Simply put, while the rap battle was controversial at best, at the end of the day it was entertaining. It was well done with The New Day adding in their catchphrases between their disses and The Usos’ savagery. Having a genuine WWE celebrity fan in Wale made it even more special. The reactions from everyone involved were great, and I enjoyed it immensely. I’m wrong when it comes to WWE many times, and I don’t mind being proven wrong. The rap battle was one of those times, and here’s to hoping that Smackdown continues to reap its rewards.