How exactly is the same company producing both Raw and Smackdown? We go from one show that struggles to tell cohesive stories, to one that knows how to keep it simple and leave the fans smiling. As of now, I’m more excited for next week’s episode of Smackdown than I am Clash of Champions, and that’s a testament to how strong this show was.
This segment was a great opportunity to further Alexa’s character. The writers and Bliss herself have already done a magnificent job with her character, but it doesn’t help to use these moments to build something. Once again, her facial expressions were on point, and so was her general attitude towards Becky’s story. Apart from their one singles match, these two haven’t interacted that much, but their chemistry was instant in this contract signing.
The Usos vs American Alpha
I’m shocked that they didn’t give this more promotion. It wasn’t until this show started that I knew these two teams were set to compete. I didn’t want to complain about this too much though, because it was a hot way to start off this episode of Smackdown.
The last time these two had competed, they were involved in a three second squash match, which didn’t give us an idea of how well they’d work together in the ring. Well, I’m glad they got a chance to showcase their chemistry, because it was quite strong. American Alpha’s quick and technical style was a perfect match with the Usos high flying pace. The finish told a great story, and it was open for a rematch. It didn’t make American Alpha look weak or stupid, but more like stubborn rookies.
Apollo Crews vs Baron Corbin (Jack Swagger on commentary)
Does anybody remember when Crews vs Corbin was a fresh match at Takeover:London? Gone or those days, and we now view this as one of the more stale aspects of Smackdown. It also leaves me questioning on who Corbin is truly feuding with. Is it Apollo? Or is it Jack Swagger? I guess it could be both, but that means there would have to be a more well built connection between Crews and Swagger.
I was genuinely surprised Corbin won in such a convincing way. Not only does that show us what the WWE thinks of him, but also what they currently think of Crews.
Dolph Ziggler vs The Miz
For any of those that watched the Smackdown pre-show, this match was a great example of one of their talking points. The panel was discussing how Bryan and Shane may be looking to book some big matches on this episode simply to counter the upcoming Raw PPV. That can also be seen in the opening tag match, and the main event.
I found this match to be very similar to their prior one, however Miz was more open to using Daniel Bryan’s moves. This is an excellent addition to his repertoire. Since Maryse has been with the Miz, this was the first match she was ejected from. In that moment, this contest had a genuine sense of unpredictability. I honestly thought once she left, and Ziggler hit the Zig Zag, we were going to see a title switch. In the end, it was wise for them to keep the title on the Miz. Overall, these two worked a great match and set the bar pretty high for the rest of the show.
Randy Orton vs Eric Rowan
In terms of building up momentum for Randy, this quick match was effective. I also like how Bray’s promo wasn’t too long this week. There was a lot going on during this show, and this program could afford to take the back seat. Hopefully on the next episode they’ll have more time to build their feud.
Nikki Bella & Naomi vs Natalya & Carmella
This wasn’t much of a match, but it was highly entertaining and allowed for the Nikki/Carmella feud to grow. Carmella has beaten down Nikki several times at this point, and she deserves a ton of credit for making each beat down more intense then the one before. Also, Natalya’s displeasure with Carmella going into business for herself was a great example of how heels are not always mindlessly on the same page.
John Cena vs Dean Ambrose
I thought it would have been great if we had heard from Ambrose or Cena before this match. The context was already there, but some extra trash talk wouldn’t have hurt.
If I can recall correctly, these two have only squared off twice. Once back in 2014, and once during a US open challenge (possibly Raw after WM31). Since all of these matches are spread apart, it allowed for this main event to feel fresh. The back and forth between them was pretty solid as well. However, there weren’t any over the top highlights that made me mark out, at least not until the finish. It’s interesting that Dean was able to get a quick pin on Cena, and I’m sure nobody else predicted that to happen.
For a while, Ambrose started to feel stale as the top babyface of this brand, and it didn’t help that he eventually lost his title. Well, kudos WWE, within two episodes of Smackdown, you’ve managed to rehab Dean and make him feel important. Not only did they reestablish one of their top guys, the announcement for next week’s title match means continuity wasn’t hurt in the main event scene. While the triple threat is a “big money match”, in kayfabe it only makes sense that Ambrose gets his one on one rematch against AJ.
Just about everything we witnessed on this episode of Smackdown meant something and gave back to the overall story. When a show can be executed like that, the great in ring work is a bonus for the viewer. The low point of the show was Corbin vs Crews, while the high point was Miz vs Ziggler. Overall, I give this episode a 9/10.