From the small amount of promotion that was done on Raw, I was pretty excited to watch this show. Fortunately, the WWE delivered big with this week’s episode of Smackdown. With minimal filler, they managed to keep the plot strong for most feuds.
For the second show in a row, Roman Reigns came through the main stage. The lighting for his entrance was great. Along with this, he came out with a straight face, something that is essential to his character. He carried a serious demeanor throughout the entire promo. At no point did he include any unnecessary jokes, which allowed for me to take him seriously. Not even pipped in crowd noises could hide the negative reaction he received. However, if he continues to cut promos like this, they won’t last long.
Dolph Ziggler vs The Miz
This match up feels like the go to when neither man has anything going on. I’d like to think that Mauro Ranallo gave this contest some context. During the first half he talked quite a bit about Ziggler’s match with Triple H, and how he needs to rebound. Similar thing was done with the Miz, except his match from Raw wasn’t as much of a big deal. I’m not sure if Ziggler is using the superkick as his new finisher, but I’m liking how it’s become more dangerous in his matches. Even if he still uses the Zig-Zag, it’s great to see wrestlers win with other moves.
Bubba Ray Dudley vs Goldust
I’d never imagine that there would be any connection between the Usos and Goldust, but Bubba Ray found one. Bubba’s insults in the ring were more entertaining than the match itself. That’s just a reminder of how great of a talent he really is. The post match run ins were perfect. I just wish R-Truth wasn’t taken down so easily.
I don’t know why they called this a face-to-face, although it was used well to further this triple threat feud. While Charlotte’s promo skills have always been the weakest out of the three, she definitely carried this promo. I’m not saying the other two were bad, but she was just better, as she presented her heel character so well. Becky has become the clear babyface, while Sasha is playing the role of a tweener, and that’s how it should stay. Overall, this was a solid promo.
Kofi Kingston vs Wade Barrett
Does anybody still call Wade Barrett “King Barrett” anymore? He doesn’t exactly use the gimmick, so that name is just dying a slow and painful death. It’s been so long since we’ve seen him wrestle a singles match, that I forgot how good he is in the ring. I can’t be the only one that was worried about how the New Day would transition into a babyface role. Well, they’re really pulling it off well. Clearly the New Day is still keeping their heel style of wrestling, which works well for them. Sneaky wins are needed since they’re feuding with larger opponents.
Dean Attacks the Social Outcasts
Ambrose’s vignettes were quite effective for furthering his feud with Lesnar. Whenever a street fight stipulation is announced, we never get to see the emphasis on the “street” aspect. Dean Ambrose showed the fans why his experience on the “streets” of Cincinnati will help him conquer Lesnar. I thought this was a brilliant way of promoting the stipulation itself. Also, the attack on the Social Outcasts was a nice touch.
Kevin Owens vs AJ Styles
Really? I can’t believe this match was happening on television, because it has potential for a great feud. Considering that these two are among the most talented in the world, I truly thought that the WWE would save it for sometime after Mania.
At least these two had one small interaction before wrestling this match. That allows for them to build up some kind of heat. AJ’s Phenomenal Forearm to KO outside of the ring looked majestic. He caught a ton of air, and I feel like the announce team didn’t react well enough. That was the only slip up from the commentators, as Mauro was very sharp for the rest of the match. To me, the highlight of the contest was AJ countering the pop-up powerbomb into a Pele kick. It was executed with such grace, that I marked out right away. By the end, these two had worked a clinic. Work rate wise, this was easily the best match on Smackdown within recent months. They didn’t need a clean finish, because Jericho’s interference was needed to progress his feud with AJ. That also leaves some unfinished business between Owens and Styles.
It’s difficult to promote a PPV when certain stars are absent. This show could have suffered, however the talent that was present made up for it. I believe both Reigns and Ambrose deserve credit for making their feuds relevant on last night’s show, even though their opponents weren’t there. The rest of the show was still strong, as there wasn’t much filler. The low point of this episode was Miz vs Ziggler, while the high point was the main event. Overall, I give this show an 8/10.