It’s the second week of Smackdown being back on Thursdays, and I couldn’t be more happy. Last week they showed the fans that this show can build story lines and feuds. The only match that was promoted was Daniel Bryan vs Kane, but that is all they needed to pull me in.
The opening segment was a feel good moment, and the fans appreciated what they were watching. Daniel Bryan cuts a decent promo, and his few words and gave the crowd something to be happy about. To bring back Dolph Ziggler, Eric Rowan, and Ryback on Smackdown made it evident the WWE is trying to make Smackdown meaningful. This segment just made me smile for this reason, and because I missed these 3 wrestlers (mainly Dolph and Ryback). Dolph knows how to get a rise from the fans, or in this sense shock them, as he made a reference to the Punk podcast, which was clever. I was hoping somebody would subtly acknowledge this on television . Once Rollins made his way out, there was no hiding the Triple H and Stephanie McMahon workout DVD plugins. Rollins and Ziggy had an enjoyable back and forth, and even Big Show was decent. Overall, great way to kick-off the night, until the first match was scheduled.
Dolph Ziggler vs Wade Barrett
Kane announced Ziggler would face Barrett, but not for the title, it would be for spot in the Royal Rumble match. I didn’t think this was a good idea, because obviously Ziggler needed to qualify, but Barrett doesn’t need the loss. Was there absolutely nobody else for Ziggler to wrestle? The match itself was fine. Dolph picked up the inevitable win, and this left Barrett looking like someone who should be wrestling on Superstars. I don’t understand why he was given the Intercontinental championship if he would go on to lose 3 of his next 4 matches. Needless to say, this just came across as lazy and unintelligent booking.
Roman Reigns Promo
Reigns did a great job on Raw at going back to his strong but silent character. Last night his promo was solid, and he’s showing a vast improvement. He delivered with confidence, and looked natural. If he keeps most of his promos to this length, I think he’ll be fine. With his mic ability in check, he moves one step closer to being the favorite for the Rumble.
Rusev vs Ryback
This was another match that had me scratching my head. Ryback had to win this match to be in the Rumble, but Rusev was not going to lose. I forgot these two even had a feud before the big guy was fired. They had some decent chemistry together, and that’s not common for larger wrestlers. It was quite enjoyable watching the two exchange power moves. Ryback really came off as a threat, and arguably the biggest threat to Rusev since his debut. As much as I was marking out for Ryback, I knew this match was about to end in DQ. After a horrendous opening match, these two made up for everything by showcasing a balanced match with a fair outcome. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy clean finishes, but sometimes the DQ win is a logical decision. I honestly hope creative sets these two for a program at Fast Lane, because I’d love to see this feud done properly.
Brie Bella vs Naomi
What exactly is the plan for Naomi? She seems to be stuck in Diva purgatory. The Bellas cut a decent taped promo, they did a good job at showing their “mean girl” characters. Although this match was short, it was bearable to watch. What didn’t make sense was having Paige and Natalya on commentary if they weren’t going to have solid post match confrontation. Seemed as if someone backstage inserted this segment into the script before they went on air.
Luke Harper vs Eric Rowan
This is about the third time these two have faced each other, which is a waste, because they could have a great feud for any upcoming PPV. In theory, most of us would think Rowan would win, because he needed it to qualify for the Rumble, but WWE swerved us. I felt bad for Rowan, but I liked how the Authority’s decisions were making a difference. With that being said there’s no doubt in me that he’ll make his way into the match to possibly cost Harper.
Miz and Mizdow Promo
This has been a great breakup process for these two, and it’s been teased for a couple of weeks. I think creative knows that Philadelphia will go crazy the second Mizdow eliminates the Miz in the Rumble match. The segment showed a side of Sandow we haven’t seen before, a man that was torn inside. He sold this very well, and I believe that his character is stressed.
Daniel Bryan vs Kane
I hope this is the last match for their feud. It has gotten stale, and hasn’t been entertaining since April 2014 (even that’s debatable). While I hope this confrontation is the last, I knew it was going to be a fun match considering the stipulations. I’m glad to see Bryan wrestling again, but from how bad his injuries were, it doesn’t look like he as plans to slow down. In my mind I thought he’d compete in limited matches, but its impressive that within two weeks he wrestled three times. At no point did I think Bryan was going to lose, the fans would be outraged if he didn’t qualify for the Rumble. After the match was finished we had our traditional pre-Rumble roster brawl. It came as a shock to me that they let several wrestlers stand tall, but I guess that was their idea of showing ambiguity for the Rumble match.
Other than two segments in this show, I actually had fun watching this week’s Smackdown. It’s clear WWE wants this show to become relevant. I also enjoyed how Smackdown has become the “Daniel Bryan Show”. With this new resurgence on Thursdays, I expect better utilization out of certain roster members. Overall I give this show a solid 7/10 or a B-.
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