Since WWE has set the stage for Fastlane, there was much story telling needed for the current feuds. Unfortunately Smackdown didn’t share this philosophy, but it was paced out well. While it looked like a repeat to Raw, it did carry a more simple style, and focused more on the in ring product.
I was looking forward to the Miz being part of this segment, but I guess him and Mizdow would be a distraction. As I mentioned on the Raw Rollup, this new cold hearted personality they gave to Reigns is working out, but in this segment his promo had no substance. The right thing would have been to let Daniel Bryan kick off the promo. Rollins involvement in this story is puzzling, because he’ll obviously need someone else to face at Fastlane, so I don’t understand their willingness to keep him in this program. The matchup between Reigns and Bryan is good enough, and inserting Rollins into the buildup is just making it feel crowded. Overall this segment was decent for setting up the main event, but it didn’t really progress anything story line wise.
Gold & Stardust vs Ryback & Dolph Ziggler
Dolph and Ryback seemed like an odd pairing, but it just might work as a short term program. They had great chemistry together, and their personalities mesh well. Not only did this match accomplish showing how likeable Ziggler and the big guy are together, but it progressed the story of the Gold and Stardust break up. WWE is slowly taking their time with the break up but it’s smart how they use any opportunity to build tension. They’re not letting the audience forget that the two have issues. Best spot of the match was easily Stardust’s sell on Ryback’s counter from his top rope attempt. The decision to have Ziggler and Ryback win was a good booking choice, because it was their debut as a team. The look on Stardust’s face showed more frustration than any temper tantrum could. Sometimes these facial expressions make for more dramatic moments.
Curtis Axel vs Dean Ambrose
That Axel promo was funny on Raw, but it’s not very funny the second time around. Instead of having him involved with Ambrose last night, why not just have him squashed by Reigns? This way they can put an end to this stale angle. The match wasn’t anything special, only good for giving Dean some momentum. The choice to have Barrett cut a promo was amazing, because I think many of the fans forgot how superb his promos were. I wonder if they’ll make the BNZ a new in ring segment, because it has the potential to replace the abysmal Miz TV. The 5 minutes was good for furthering their young feud.
The Miz vs Roman Reigns
I’m happy that Miz was angry about Roman’s actions from earlier, because it let us know we can still take the A-lister seriously. The decision to have him viciously attack Reigns reminded us, in a kayfabe sense, Miz isn’t someone to take lightly. Having Reigns squash Miz would have been ridiculous, and that’s why this back and forth action was enjoyable. I felt Roman was using this match to work on his ability to sell. Overall I enjoyed the pace of this bout, and how they let each man have his moment. I hope they continue to book Miz more like this, because he still is a fun talent to have in the upper mid-card.
Rusev vs Eric Rowan
This match actually started, and to my surprise it wasn’t as squash-esque as I’d imagine it to be. The commentators now have the task of furthering Rusev’s feud with Cena. Since there was no progression in the Rusev-Cena program, I believe they could have gone without showing Rusev on this show. That extra time could have been given to the Divas.
Paige vs Alicia Fox
I’ll admit, Fox can execute an awesome northern lights suplex. The match was kept short, but I think they could have gone much longer if they had some time. Since the Bellas were there in person, it would have made sense for them to make an appearance during this match.
Daniel Bryan vs Seth Rollins and J&J Security
I very much enjoyed the humorous start to this match. Rollins executed some great in ring heel work by mocking Lesnar’s taunt and german suplexes. I was impressed Rollins was able to talk well in the ring, because not many wrestlers can do that in character. Rollins should add the german suplex to his arsenal, it suits him well .Bryan and Rollins spent quite a bit of time together in this match, and I’m shocked WWE is so willing to have them wrestle each other twice in a week. By the time this match ended the crowd felt satisfied, and so was I. There was an urge to turn my TV off when Kane came running in, because the post match beat down could have happened without him.
This week’s edition of Smackdown took a step back into being a Raw repeat. The matches could have been mixed up more, and the promos could have had substance. The Smackdown brand was picking up steam, and I hope they don’t go back to their old way. Overall I enjoyed the simplicity of the show, it just needed some more additives to make it click. I give this episode a 6/10 or a C-.