The bar wasn’t set high by Raw, but Smackdown went above and beyond this week. This episode essentially made Raw look like an episode of Superstars.
AJ Styles was right on point in this cold opening. His words to Ziggler were hilarious, and I thought it was a brilliant way to set the tone for the rest of the show.
We were finally given new titles for the other divisions, and they looked magnificent. The women’s belt is a good counter part to the one from Raw, and I’d say the same for the tag titles. In fact, the Smackdown tag titles are more aesthetically pleasing than the copper ones, and the blue leather was a nice touch.
The difference between a tournament for these titles, and the one for the Universal title, is that these titles are new. The concept is fresh for this show, which can’t be said for the flag ship show.
While this segment had a lot thrown into it, everything flowed seamlessly. Every time something was announced, it was capped off, and the segment was able to move on. Heath, AJ, and Dolph could have been afterthoughts, but they felt just as important as the rest of segment.
Alexa Bliss vs Becky Lynch
That opening segment had me so fired up for this show, that this match couldn’t do anything wrong. With my excitement aside, Lynch and Bliss truly have great chemistry. From start to finish, all the action was fluid. It was also great to hear how over Becky was with this crowd.
My only gripe with this match was Naomi and Natty on commentary. What was the point of having them there? They didn’t contribute anything to the action, because the only spoke a few words.
The Usos vs The Ascension
I’m sure I couldn’t be the only person that thought the Usos would win within seconds. Well, I was proven wrong, because the Ascension looked great. The two were finally able to look strong, and that alone was refreshing. Even when the Usos were able to pick up momentum, it wasn’t done with ease.
Of course the Usos were going to win, and it was probably the best choice. I’m just glad this came across as a competitive match.
AJ Styles Promo
I couldn’t be more happy with how AJ was booked on this show. He had all the right to brag about his victory, and that made it feel like he had another notch on his belt. His confidence felt new, and I’m sure much of it was real.
We all knew AJ vs Dolph was going to be announced, but I didn’t expect the added stipulation. I thought it was great, and now the main event to the show has some meaning, even though the context was already there.
Carmella vs Nikki Bella
Out of all the double turns possible, this was actually the one I expected the least. It does make sense though, because Nikki was receiving a babyface ovation from the crowd, and they can afford to turn Carmella. If anybody can remember, the Princess of Staten Island started off as a heel in NXT, and she was effective in that role. This is a double turn that definitely benefits both competitors.
This has truly been a great week for the women of WWE. Including the segment from Raw, everything from the women’s division has either furthered a story line or helped with character development.
Randy Orton Promo
Based on what happened to Randy on Sunday, I thought he’d take the night off to sell the injury. At the same time, I’m sure many fans were very much interested in hearing what he had to say. I was disappointed he wasn’t given more to say about his defeat, but they had to move forward with him, and the interruption from Wyatt was done as a follow up.
These two were actually wrestling each other on house shows in early 2015, and I can confirm that they have great in ring chemistry. This is a feud fans should be very excited for.
American Alpha vs Breezango
Initially, I wasn’t a fan of this match. The first half was extremely one sided for AA, and Breezango only dominated during the commercial break. However, these two teams turned that around quite fast because the back and forth in the second half was extremely strong. There were moments where I actually thought the heel team had a chance to overcome the odds and win. That just goes to show how strong the pacing and story telling was. If every tag match is going to be as strong as this one or the one earlier in the show, we’re in for a solid tournament.
Dolph Ziggler vs AJ Styles
Believe it or not, these two haven’t met since AJ made his WWE debut back in January. That means this match was completely fresh. Usually Dolph doesn’t disappoint when it comes to working with opponents that are known for their work rate. He can actually keep up with them, and match them move for move.
Going into this match, I think it was fair to say that AJ was the heavy favourite, and that was the only way to present the flow of the action. That also told the story of how their matches went on Sunday. Styles beat Cena, so he was more confident, but Ziggler lost to Ambrose, so his confidence was slightly lower. That’s also the best formula for a successful Dolph match, as it allows for the audience to get behind him.
It’s worth noting that these two are masters of the near fall, so there were moments when this match legitimately looked like it over. The spot of the contest was easily the near fall after the Zig-Zag. After having a near perfect match, I believe the right winner was chosen. There’s no argument about it, because Styles won beat Cena clean, and he didn’t need a loss to Ziggler.
I’ve been watching Talking Smack ever since it’s premiered on the WWE Network, and to this point it’s been a very strong post show for Smackdown. This particular episode was absolutely brilliant, simply because it furthered the Nikki-Carmella feud. That ambush came out of nowhere, and it was worth marking out for. I hope they keep angles like that to a minimum though, as this felt special and surprising.
How about that promo from the Miz? In my opinion, it was easily the best one he’s ever cut. The emotion felt raw and intense. His face turning red just showcased how much energy he put into it. The fact that I’m still asking myself if that was real or not goes to show how amazing the promo was.
If you haven’t watched Talking Smack yet, I highly recommend you do.
Does the WWE care more about Smackdown than Raw? For the past few weeks, that seems to be the case. I know there’s two separate writing teams for both shows, and it couldn’t be more apparent on this show.
This week’s episode of Smackdown was better than the episode of Raw after the brand split (Finn Balor’s debut night), and that’s saying a lot. The in ring was amazing, and the promos were excellent. After this show was over, I felt as if the feuds mattered and were logical. There was no low point, but the high point was the main event. Overall, I give this episode of Smackdown a 10/10(which is a first).