It will take some time for regular episodes of Smackdown to matter, but I think the company has finally hit a stride with their Thursday show. This particular edition was able cover a lot, yet not furthering too much.
It’s been a while since the New Day opened Raw or Smackdown, so it felt refreshing. The Rock may not be the New Day’s full time program, but it gives them something new to work with. Even if their program is still with the Usos, the Rock’ presence gave it a breath of fresh air, at least for this week. Overall, this was a fun promo, and I was glad to see it didn’t last very long.
The New Day & The Miz vs The Usos, Dolph Ziggler, and Titus O’Neil
One thing is for sure, the Uso dance ending with a dab does not get old. The best part about it is the reaction from the other wrestlers. Had this match been in the middle of the show, it may have flopped, but it worked well as a show opener. There was a decent amount of context, and the competitors took advantage of the crowd’s fresh energy. A few weeks ago I mentioned that the Miz was a perfect fit when teaming with the New Day, and I’m pleased the WWE recognized that as well. This turned out to be a very fun match to watch, and they were smart to book it as the first one on the show.
Kalisto vs Neville
Did anybody else catch Lawler’s comment before the match started? He said “Something about a luchador being the US champion doesn’t sit right with me” I can’t be the only one that thought it sounded a tad bit racist.
I’m shocked they didn’t save this match for a PPV, because they could truly build something from it. Their performance on this show was also evidence it deserved a spot on a bigger stage. The two wrestled a decent pace, and made every move count. The spot of the match was undoubtedly Kalisto’s super frankensteiner. We don’t normally see those kinds of moves executed regularly, but it showed how serious the two were about putting on a good show. The SDS wasn’t done smoothly, although Mauro Ranollo recovered it well.
Highlight Reel w/Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose
As most of my writers know, I’m fond of Roman, I really am. I know most things he does wrong is because of the people micro-managing him backstage. This was evident in this promo, as he didn’t seem fazed by losing his title at the Royal Rumble. Why isn’t this man arguing for his rightful rematch? I didn’t mind the banter between him and Ambrose, but Roman’s lack of anger stood out too much.
Curtis Axel vs AJ Styles
Even though Styles has competed at the Rumble and Raw, I’m still in awe of him competing in a WWE ring. This will take some time to get used to. I absolutely loved the back and forth between Mauro and King on Styles’ accomplishments. Of course Lawler was going to protest his accolades, but Ranallo knew how to counter in a way that put AJ over as a serious competitor to the WWE audience. I honestly thought they’d save the Styles Clash (since they teased a few times) instead of using it in a squash match. However, they couldn’t go too long without him not using it, so I’m glad they got it out of the way.
Charlotte vs Natalya
For those that don’t remember, these two put on a clinic at one of the first NXT Takeover specials. I didn’t expect them to showcase anything similar, but they still delivered to an extent. I think it’s safe to say that these two competitors have great chemistry with one another. Even when they’re not given much time, they can still perform. Hopefully one day the WWE audience can see them feud properly, once again.
The Wyatt family vs Chris Jericho, Dean Ambrose, & Roman Reigns
This was the much anticipated rematch from Night of Champions 2015. The only difference is that Rowan filled in for Strowman on this episode. While I wasn’t a fan of the promo that included all six of these men, I did like how it was able to set up this main event. There’s been too many Smackdown main events that were just booked without any sort of context. Also, keeping Roman and Dean in the same match is a great way to keep their program relevant. Similar to the first match on the show, this match was fun to watch. It wasn’t meant to be a technical masterpiece, but instead complete mayhem. With the Wyatts on a collision course with Lesnar, it was smart neither of them ate a pin. At first I was surprised with Big Show’s appearance, however it was done with good intentions. They’re clearly setting up a feud between Strowman and how, so the finish worked.
From start to finish, this was a very strong episode of Smackdown. There wasn’t much progress on feuds, however the show created context. Every match was able to showcase parts of a storyline, or make specific wrestlers look credible heading into next week. The low point of the show was the Highlight Reel, while the high point was Kalisto vs Neville. Overall, I give this episode an 8.6/10.