Going into this week I was looking more forward to Smackdown than I was Raw. We did receive a stronger show on Monday night, however Smackdown still delivered a different and hopeful product.
Right off the bat, I can’t say I liked the new Smackdown theme song. The last one they had was very strong, and I thought it was one thing that didn’t need to change. On the other hand, I did enjoy how their opening presentation was different from Raw’s. Instead of having the superstars on the ramp, they put them on the ring apron. Also, instead of opening the show in the ring, the authority figures started from the guerilla area backstage doing their best to excite the crowd. Everything about their presentation felt more intimate, however, that’s not a knock on Raw.
It wasn’t until this match I truly realized how thin the Smackdown roster was in terms of mid card talent. However, the point of this match was to put momentum behind some else that hasn’t had any.
The actual match wasn’t anything extraordinary. For the most part, I felt as if I was watching a bunch of rest spots at the exact same time. I truly wish they had showcased the dominance of the final four throughout the rest of the match. Apart from my negative criticism, I thought the final four were a great choice. Kane could have been replaced with Del Rio, but that didn’t bother me so much. It’s worth noting that Ryder was not on his game during this contest, as he botched several moves. In my opinion, Kalisto would have been the right pick to win this match. I like Apollo, but Kalisto would have been a better fit as the six pack underdog.
If we’re comparing opening matches of the two shows, the fatal four way on Raw was much better in all aspects.
Becky Lynch vs Natalya
We just saw this match on Sunday, and personally, I didn’t care to see it again. Unfortunately, this turned out to be much weaker than their match at Battleground. It moved to slow, and there was nothing the two did that caught my attention. My only take away from this match was that Smackdown is indeed using a few different camera angles than Raw.
Becky was obviously going to win, but that wasn’t the highlight. I absolutely loved how all the rest of the women’s division interrupted Lynch after her win. I thought this segment was perfect for setting the tone for this division. I wasn’t sure how Bliss and Carmella would do on the mic in their first appearance, but they were both smooth. Lastly, Eva Marie’s entrance was brilliant, and I liked voice over that introduced her, because it suits her personality. These set of intros definitely made up for the lackluster match, and I now have an optimistic view on the Smackdown women’s division.
Miz TV w/Randy Orton
Initially I expected this to be an exact duplicate of the Highlight Reel from Battleground, but thankfully it wasn’t. Randy was much more toned down, as he should be. Apart from their opening words, this edition of Miz TV was rather weak. It was more of a set up for Orton vs Miz, than it was about Orton vs Lesnar.
Randy Orton vs The Miz
I was happy to see Orton compete after nine months because there’s not many who have the type of in ring charisma that he does. The two RKO spots were just great, and were an easy way to get the fans excited about Randy’s return. At first the length of the contest bothered me as well, then I realized that Orton needs to be built to the level of Brock, or close to. So having him pick up a quick win against the IC champ isn’t a bad idea.
Heath Slater Promo
This promo was amazing! I had forgot that Slater was considered a free agent, but this was the best way to keep that program going. Everything he said to Shane was brilliant, and it also demonstrated how highly he thinks of himself. Rhyno isn’t exactly the hottest free agent, although his surprise return to the main roster good for a small pop.
Six Pack Challenge (AJ Styles vs Baron Corbin vs Apollo Crews vs Bray Wyatt vs John Cena vs Dolph Ziggler)
I noticed many of the new camera angles on Raw, but it’s worth noting how much of difference it truly makes. It allows for the product to feel more modern, which is something the WWE’s needed for a while. Apollo gets a ton of flack for his inability to have a character, but don’t forget that he’s extremely talented in the ring. His run in with AJ reminded me of his overall skill and they had the best back and forth in this match. Also, I loved how there was no one wrestler that was dominating this match. Everybody involved worked an equal amount of offence, and that helps with keeping matters interesting.
Going into this match, there were only three people I thought had a chance of winning. I’m sure I don’t have to explain why those three were Styles, Cena, and Wyatt. Well maybe I had the wrong mindset, because my jaw dropped when Dolph picked up the win. Like I mentioned earlier, Smackdown may have the weaker roster, but that gives them a chance to reignite and create new top end competitors.
In comparison to Raw, this show wasn’t as nearly as strong, but it wasn’t terrible. They did an awesome job at showcasing the entire women’s division (apart from the actual match), and also showed the fans that this brand is all about giving chances. Smackdown will need a few more weeks to develop some more credible wrestlers, and once they do I’m sure it’ll be on par with Raw. This episode still felt different from Monday’s show, which was important. The low point of the show was Becky vs Natalya, while the high point was the main event. Overall, I give this episode a 6.5/10.