By John Moore
I did not see Smackdown live, but these are my real-time thoughts as I watched Thursday night’s show.
– It’s a bit strange hearing Mauro Ranallo on WWE television since to me he was always the voice of Strikeforce. Yes, he was the voice of New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS but when I was in high school, Strikeforce on Showtime was on television more.
– Here’s a nice welcome change, Alberto Del Rio actually gets a chance to speak. He also looks like he subscribes to the Randy Orton way of walking around backstage in his wrestling tights while oiled up. Did Vince McMahon put an edict on guys like Randy or Alberto to not wear clothes on camera? This guy was wearing nice suits when he was beating people down in Lucha Underground.
– The “Lucha Lucha” chant doesn’t scream “Next Rey Mysterio” but at least Kalisto can carry business in the ring. John Cena sure is saying “USA” more than usual, must be from the network execs. And is John Cena calling Kalisto “Kee-Stoe” Or “Keystone”? Well, The Smackdown Titantron does look like a Keystone Light can…
– Wowzers! We’re getting a guy in Mauro Ranallo who can actually call moves on Smackdown. This is actually pretty cool to listen to. I could have done without Jerry Lawler shoehorning that “short” joke about Kalisto. Byron Saxton is talking more than usual and it’s taking away from my Mauro time!
– Ugh…. The Total Diva’s Theme. And Miz TV Folks!
– Big Show better not come out for this Miz TV segment. At least I’m watching this segment, so there’s some advice for WWE – do not announce Big Show appearances since it has that effect on more people than just me.
– Hmmmm… I’m guessing the New Day are being inspired by the 2013 Bronie movement (male “My Little Pony” fans, as if you didn’t already know!). That thing did draw a lot of heat because of how obnoxious extreme Bronies can be. Oh look, Dolph is here to show the world! Ughhh… I feel sad for Dustin Rhodes. Vince really is trying to avoid this Cody feud.
– It’s a miracle! Adrian Neville walked out without his Slammy Award. This segment is still a waste of time. Oh look! R-Truth…. Is he about to tell the same joke again about not being in a match. Yes. The joke was honestly good the first time, but WWE really likes to run things into the ground. Didn’t we get this segment on Raw when Big Show punched everyone? The hell? that was a setup for a Theodore Long classic match? King is confused as to why this is a match too. At least we get more Mauro time!
– I was intrigued for a second when Dolph Ziggler superkicked Truth at the end. I almost thought it was his much needed heel turn, but then he talked about every man for himself being the topic of the Royal Rumble. Also, he talked about main eventing WrestleMania when the Royal Rumble is now for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Has he tuned out Raw like a lot of others? At least he managed to create intrigue regarding his potential heel turn.
-Ric Flair might be the savior of the Divas Division thanks to being a heel manager for his daughter. He’s also doing a solid job in that role. He also takes away Charlotte’s awkward wooo’s with his better timed wooo’s. As for Becky Lynch, she’s on the brink of being a breakout babyface star. She just needs a breakout moment, and maybe a chance to explain why she’s dressed up in steampunk.
– Both Becky and Charlotte had their best televised match since being called up. WWE seems to be aware of how poorly they’ve booked the women of the roster and now they are taking their time telling a basic story with Charlotte. Hell, Ric Flair the manager is being built up well as a character too.
– King told one of his better jokes in recent memory when he called Mauro MR, and used that to call Byron BS.
– You know things are different commentary-wise when you hear someone call a Leg Lariat on WWE television. On the other side, is it just me or is Lawler doing a more heelish call tonight? Luckily, Byron seems to be more willing to work with Mauro (or maybe he just has more freedom).
– Nice ending to the IC Title match that keeps the feud alive while adding more heat to the Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens feud. Mauro also makes what these guys do matter. That and the fact that Kevin Owens was allowed to talk for once. The segment where he gave Renee Young one minute was awesome. This was a fresh episode of Smackdown that wasn’t groundbreaking, but Mauro’s sexy sexy call of the show by actually calling the action while telling a story takes Smackdown to another level. Hopefully Vince doesn’t take over via the headsets after about four weeks….
Jason Powell and Jake Barnett co-host the Dot Net Weekly and Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast combo show and discuss Raw Underground and other WWE concepts, The Rock's group buying the XFL, the Marty Jannetty story, AEW Dynamite and NXT TV, and more...