Moore’s Blog: Real-Time Thoughts on WWE Smackdown – Alberto Del Rio regains the U.S. Title, Byron Saxton’s growth into a solid announcer

By John Moore

I did not see Smackdown live, but these are my real-time thoughts as I watched the January 14 edition.

– For the second week in a row, I am looking forward to Smackdown again, not because of the format of the show mind you. It’s all due to that one change. I probably already know who my pick for 2016 Pro Wrestling Broadcaster of the year is going to be and we are just two weeks in.

– Renee Young is still doing great work as an interviewer as she usually is. Nice shot with her catching Dean Ambrose approaching the arena in his car (I do wonder who was driving the car, It would have been cool to see Paul Heyman peak out like an absolute G, like that one time he did it to Cena). Byron Saxton and Mauro Ranallo are coming together as two parts of one solid announcing entity. Byron brings the babyface sympathy of the fans, while Mauro brings the professionalism and intelligent words like “incendiary” or “volatile”.

– Hmmmm… Triple Main Event? I sometimes think they are pushing it with a “Double Main Event”. Hell, one’s a traditional Smackdown Tag match. Also, Ambrose seems to be in zany mode this week, better than most of his zany segments, but the guy could utilize more of an edge. And a Last Man Standing match, that’s definitely a potential show stealer at the Rumble. It also has me wondering if after being in such a physically intensive match, Ambrose and Owens might now be extricated from the Rumble.

– Oh! That’s what Ambrose was in, a Cajun Uber, according to Sheamus. Sheamus is actually still a solid promo guy and showed it here, albeit with an unfocused character and no real place on the card. Someone who is in a better place is the man behind him, Kevin Owens, who can tell anyone “you suck” and start a solid feud with them, including terrible announcers like Alex Riley.

– Triple Main Event, and the first main event is in the opening match. It must be like when the winner of the Royal Rumble earns the right to main event WrestleMania and their main event is in the opening match of the card. I also like how the Wyatt Family still has the ability to use Goku’s Instant Transmission. Now if only Ronda Rousey can fire a big bang attack based on her Vegeta attire at last year’s ‘Mania.

– Bubba Ray Dudley is getting a chance to show a bit of power here. It’s also sad that we never got to see that feud over the 3D that was brewing between the Dudleys and the Wyatts before Rowan got injured because Harper and Rowan might have had a chance to rebuild themselves.

– Oh no! Why is Braun Strowman waving a Kendo stick around while smiling? He’s not a rosebud anymore, right? On a serious note, WWE’s building the guy correctly but he isn’t holding up his end. As for the win, it was a bit lame, but it was out of nowhere and not all matches need to end at after a crescendo. Not bad! I also hope that Bubba’s singles showing and win here will eventually lead to a Heel and Bully turn. I know, I’m stretching, but one can dream.

– Well look at that, it’s the entire roster of WWE Main Event. Swagger and Goldust could be in better places though. At least it looks like WWE is putting at least a little effort in the Social Outcast guys, even though the only one that matters now is Heath Slater. You could tell there was a some effort put in due to them not using the theme that still says “we’re a three man band”.

– Even though Del Rio says he personally loves playing rudo rather than be a technico, he was a technico most of his wrestling career as Dos Caras. He proved in 2015 that he’s a franchise technico that can carry your promotion. He’s just like Randy Orton, who loves to play heel as well yet was the boring dude of 2013 as the Authority’s heel.

– Way to go Byron Saxton! As well as Mauro Ranallo following up. Professional wrestling has really longed for a babyface voice of the fans and Byron is doing a good job here. On the other side of the coin, last year, Jerry Lawler found the fountain of youth, adding more energy to his commentary. He also added his wise wrestling psychology to the mix and is showing viewers why he can play a great heel while also enhancing what’s happening in the ring. JBL, take notes!

– When Del Rio started going after the mask, I was hoping Kalisto didn’t trip like that one time where Del Rio accidentally took it off. I also like El Patron’s systematic attack on Kalisto’s arms to show that he has a goal in this match and that is to utilize his finishing maneuver the cross armbreaker. Mauro is great in adding that this plays into Del Rio’s MMA background.

– Suddenly!!! A wild Wade Barrett appears! Your opponent’s weak! Go get em’ Kalisto!

– Wade Barrett looks like he’s still not medically cleared, because he still stayed as far away from the action as he could.

– I am going to give WWE the benefit of the doubt on this one. Kalisto didn’t perform that great, but this was one of Del Rio’s better showings from his end since his return. Hopefully the title change means they have a story planned for Kalisto and Del Rio. My dream scenario from this is Kalisto eventually getting the title back after a quest and Del Rio turning techinco afterwards to make him the secondary Hispanic babyface in WWE making Kalisto and Del Rio the modern day Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero.

– The failure of the “Divas Revolution” really benefited Becky Lynch and Charlotte in the long run. After all of the pieces fell in place, a bit of that natural story development that we usually see in NXT seeped its way into WWE’s main roster. I’m crossing my fingers that we might get a one-on-one women’s match on the WrestleMania card involving these two. Hopefully they keep Paige aside in another program since this program is getting time to stew into an awesome concoction.

-Felllllaaaaaaaaaaaaa! That always cracks me up.

– Props to WWE for doing a good job keeping Dean Ambrose at a main event level. If only they could replicate such a push with Kevin Owens, or even the Wyatt Family.

– Back to the announce team, Byron Saxton is really, really doing a great job here. He’s reminding me of the time when he did play-by-play alongside Wade Barrett on Florida Championship Wrestling. They were an exceptional broadcast team. Mauro’s calling the plays while Saxton is proving to be a great foil to the smart heel Lawler. Saxton: “What relevancy does that have to this match, King?”… Brilliant! All of these pieces put together, WWE might have found the perfect three man booth.

– As for the match, I don’t see why this was the main event of the “triple main event” as all it was, was a Teddy Long classic, “you know it’s the MacMillitant, ready to get it on” tag team match. Last week’s show delivered a bit more with the two title matches, but I’m still hooked due to the good commentary, as it enhances the stories they are trying to tell in the WWE world. Smackdown is also starting to be the petri dish where the lower main event and mid card acts can develop.

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