With more than half of the roster in Australia, the WWE had their work cut out for them when booking this show. I actually liked how there were 4 feuds on this episode; they were all given a solid amount of time to grow. The main problem was just how they used their time, because this wasn’t nearly as good as last week’s show.
Opening Segment – Roman Reigns/Rusev
I was fully expecting Rollins to open this show, because he’s been the main attraction of Smackdown within the past few weeks. In reality, it would have been better for Seth because he’s carrying his feud on his own. This promo didn’t sound as heavily scripted as Roman’s past few backstage segments, and it came across much better. He sounded very natural. The content in his promo was simple and explained his dislike for Wyatt & co. Lately his feud with Wyatt hasn’t had much direction, but Roman easily explained it in a matter of 5 minutes. Rusev’s back and forth with Reigns was amusing and it was done well enough to set the tone for their match. When they first announced it I was worried they were just throwing this match together, but I’m glad it was given some well thought out context.
The New Day vs The Primetime Players & Mark Henry
This exact same match occurred a few weeks ago, before Battleground. It was a fun match then, but since Henry has been used as enhancement talent, it’s tough to believe he’s a threat. With all of that being true, the New Day still did an amazing job at selling their fear of the world’s strongest man. The opening bit with Darren and Xavier moved quickly and it was highly exciting. I hate commercial breaks and how they transition to them, but the one for this contest was priceless. It was humorous and left me laughing before cutting to break, but it’s a testament of how the New Day can make the simplest spots funny. The spot of the match happened shortly and it was the kick combo with a follow up splash from the New Day. After this, I found the contest began to drag. As much as I enjoy Titus’ hot tags, it just didn’t do it for me last night. The New Day were the stand outs, and were the reason this match was remotely entertaining.
Once the match was over, they gave us an incredible backstage promo with the New Day. After seeing this, I thought creative should just give them a 10 minute block on every show just to be themselves. They’re at the point where their comedy and chemistry is extremely natural.
Charlotte vs Naomi
Let’s just say I’m glad they switched to a tag match, because this didn’t look like it was going well, even though it lasted no longer than 2 minutes.
Charlotte & Becky Lynch vs Naomi & Sasha Banks
I don’t understand why they didn’t just announce this match to begin with. The surprise tag match didn’t feel spontaneous, it just felt unorganized. Charlotte made up for her sloppy submission as her and Sasha showcased their incredible chemistry. Sasha was the clear stand out of this contest. Her character is translating well in the ring, and anybody can tell she’s the clear heel in the match. I’m not just talking about using cheap moves, but her mannerisms and speech. While she is the smallest out of the newer divas, her feistiness hides that. Maybe this wasn’t the Submission Sorority’s night, because Team BAD looked like the superior team, in terms of in ring and character chemistry. Even Charlotte’s hot tag didn’t get me excited, probably because the match started to drag. The finish felt sloppy, but I noticed that Naomi and Charlotte do not mesh well. Their short singles match was disappointing, and so was their finishing sequence.
Stardust vs Zack Ryder
Zack Ryder has now been on 3 different WWE shows in one week. Are we in 2011? Either way, it was a good sign for the Broski. It’s also an even better sign for Stardust, as he is now being fed jobbers. This means they want him to look strong. I enjoyed how this wasn’t a squash match though. If they wanted to go the route of a squash match, I wouldn’t have been too bothered, as long as we were given that great promo from Stardust. His mic abilities continue to impress me as his character grows.
Roman Reigns vs Rusev
There was absolutely nothing at stake here, but I’m glad they formed some sort of mini feud, and that’s what Smackdown does best. It helped with my interest in the bout. To their credit, I thought they did a decent job at keeping at working this match. Roman has a simple yet explosive style, and Rusev has enough styles to adapt to his opponent. Even though simple matches can get boring after a while, this one didn’t suffer because the crowd was heavily in favor of Reigns. The spot the match was the powerbomb given by Reigns. That move could have easily been botched, but both men showed patience and made it look smooth. What didn’t make any sense was Lana interfering. If she’s going to interfere, why not have her distract Rusev and cost him the match? I like Roman just as much as the next guy, but there’s no need to have him beat Rusev clean on a filler episode of Smackdown.
With the last 3 weeks delivering awesome episodes, we were bound to get something below average. This edition of Smackdown wasn’t terrible, but it simply wasn’t good. The holes in the roster were evident, and there was probably not much they could do. The low point was the start of Charlotte vs Naomi, and the high point was everything involving the New Day. Overall, this episode receives a 5.5/10.