For those looking for that extra boost before Payback, Smackdown was the show to watch. Just about every feud was touched upon, and left the fans wanting more.
Reigns’ past few promos have sounded very much the same, but this was much different. I think he did a great job at conveying his belief in his conspiracy about Styles.
Contrary to what the Miz said, I actually thought AJ would answer Reigns. However, I’m glad we got the Miz instead, because his reference to Shawshank Redemption was brilliant. Overall, this was a short but sweet way to open the show. It also gives context to their match for later on in the show.
Kalisto, Sami Zayn, & Cesaro vs The League of Nations
The more I see Cesaro’s entrance, the more I love it. This was the perfect match to start off the night. We were given fan favourites that are usually known to excite the crowd. Had this been placed in the middle of the show, I don’t think the action would have been as entertaining.
Neither of these competitors have any connection, so I thought the commentators were awesome at making some. I especially liked how the emphasized Zayn’s win over Rusev, as that made the tension between the two more apparent. I honestly thought the League would just split without saying anything, but watching them break up on Smackdown was more satisfying. In fact, it’s probably the most entertaining angle they’ve ever been apart of. The match should have ended once Rusev left. They did linger once Sheamus was the only person in the ring.
Baron Corbin vs Damien Sandow
Sandow didn’t get his match on Raw, so he only deserves to have it on Smackdown. Now that’s what I call simple continuity. To my surprise, this match lasted longer than I anticipated. I was fine with that, as I’ve seen enough 10 second squash matches from Corbin to last a century. Watching him take his time actually makes him look more evil and threatening.
Ambrose Asylum w/Charlotte & Natalya
This promo actually killed to birds with one stone, and not in a bad way. Dean Ambrose managed to get me pumped for his feud and the women’s feud.
Natty isn’t the smoothest mic worker, but she executed her lines the way they needed to be. Thankfully she didn’t have to deliver a long winded promo. Once both women were in the ring together, I couldn’t help but realize how Dean was the perfect catalyst, as his facial reactions and comments were fitting (and hilarious). Ric Flair was overly entertaining in this promo. For anybody that watches It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, he’s starting to remind me of Danny Devito’s character, Frank Reynolds. Overall, solid edition of the Ambrose Asylum.
I wasn’t surprised that the WWE cut out Ric Flair’s outrageous comment from tapings. If you can, look up the video online. Everybody’s facial expressions were priceless.
The Social Outcasts vs Enzo Amore & Big Cass
When was the last time the New Day was on commentary? They’ve done some of their best work at the announce desk. The fact that they made Byron sit on the floor was hilarious. Luckily for us, they were allowed to call the entire match, which was actually the highlight. There was nothing special about the in ring action, as it was meant to make Enzo & Cass look good before Sunday. It’s worth noting that they botched their double team finisher. I think it’s about time that they change it, because it never looked effective to begin with.
Apollo Crews vs Stardust
I can’t believe how quickly Apollo has become stale. At one point I was excited to see him, but I wasn’t all too excited for this match. Oddly enough, this turned out to be his most intriguing match since his debut. Even though Stardust lost, he wasn’t beaten with ease like most of Crews’ opponents.
Roman Reigns vs The Miz
The latter half of this match was well worked by both men. Them seemed to have meshed well together. The Miz especially deserves credit on his selling. I was really curious to see how they’d handle this match. Obviously the Miz wasn’t going to pick up a victory of any kind, he shouldn’t be in a position where he loses cleanly. At the end of the day, he’s still the IC champion, and needs to look strong before his match against Cesaro. I don’t understand why Anderson and Gallows just didn’t interfere during the match. Apart the misstep in booking, I found the post match antics to be incredibility effective. I like how there are four others involved, but they haven’t taken away from the from the feud. In fact, they’ve added some more welcomed drama. It’s fair to say that this could be Reigns’ best built feud.
I don’t even know why I assume Raw is the go home show these days, because lately Smackdown has been much better in that role. This show moved smoothly, and polished up most feuds before Payback. The video packages were also used appropriately on this particular episode. The low point of the show was the Social Outcasts vs Enzo & Cass (just the in ring aspect), while the high point was the main event brawl. Overall, this episode receives a well deserved 8/10.