By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown Hits
Triple Threat for the Intercontinental Championship: This was a highly entertaining match. All three men took some risk here (more on that later) and or the most part it paid off well. The quality of the action was high, there were a number of broken pins and near falls that the crowd reacted positively for, and there weren’t too many awkward Triple Threat penalty box periods where one guy sat out of the match for an inordinate amount of time to let the other two guys work through a set. The role of fighting champion suits Ambrose well and the crowd really seems to really enjoy him in this role. I’d like to see this match end up on PPV with even more time if they can find a way to make Ziggler’s character more interesting.
Tag Team Championship Match: The Lucha Dragons and New Day have an enjoyable chemistry. Their match last week on Smackdown was good, but this one was much better. New Day seemed more committed this week to coming across as heels, and the match benefitted from that a great deal. The Dragons have done well enough lately that a title change seemed plausible, so it’s no surprise that the crowd got hot for their big comeback and booed the New Day loudly after another distraction related victory. Sin Cara also continued his rich tradition of face planting, which will comfort fans who were afraid he would get through an entire match without adding to his Botchamania street cred.
Charlotte vs. Brie Bella: This match continued the story of recasting Charlotte as a narcissistic and unscrupulous. She didn’t lose focus when Becky got pranked by Team BAD, and then laughed at her after the match when she was drenched in Egg Nog. Charlotte wears this role so much better than trying to force her to be a positive role model for little girls. They definitely need a character like that in the Divas division, but it just isn’t her. Team BAD as the female New Day is soul crushing because they could be a dominant faction given proper writing. Becky is in a similar situation where they have a basic frame built for a character, but we really don’t know enough detail about her or her motivation to really connect. All of this could be tightened up with better writing.
Overall Show: This much simply a much more entertaining show than Raw, which isn’t terribly difficult with the Slammy Awards wringing the excitement out of everything. We had two very good title matches and they managed to keep the cringe worthy Holiday banter backstage to a minimum. I’d call that a success for a Christmas Week show.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Dean Ambrose gets dropped on his head: YIKES! I’m not sure if this was a case of miscommunication or just a screw up, but the suplex in the main event scared the crap out of me. Let’s hope Dean Ambrose’s health doesn’t suffer as a result and we don’t see any dangerous high angle suplexes on WWE TV for a good long time.
The Wyatt Family vs. Dudley’s/Ryback/Kane: I really don’t get where they’re going for with this other than to fill time. The Dudley’s have given all they can to the Wyatt Family in terms of credibility, and adding Kane and Ryback to the mix to plug the gap left by Rhyno and Dreamer doesn’t really add much to the equation. Kane doesn’t really feel like a big time player when he’s not standing next to his storyline brother, and Ryback hasn’t been in a key role in quite some time. I’m guessing this match was a case of WWE needing to fill time and having a limited number of wresters to fill it with.
Rusev and Alberto Del Rio vs. The Usos: I like Jimmy and Jey Uso, but they need to shake up their act in a major way. They had plenty of time to set up something meaningful for Jey’s return from injury, but thus far it’s just been a continuation of their previous act with the same music, entrance, moves, etc. They were also made to look silly by doing their normal happy go lucky entrance while the guys who pummeled them on Monday were in the ring. The match itself wasn’t bad, but the crowd wasn’t into either of these acts, and as a result they sat on their hands for the better part of the ten minute match. Roman Reigns making the save for his cousins was predictable, and did a decent job of getting the crowd back, but both The League of Nations and The Usos feel like they need more character work.