Barnett’s WWE Smackdown Hit List: A medicore edition of Smackdown overall, but AJ Styles, Kalisto, Neville, Reigns, and Ambrose shine through

WWE Smackdown Hits

AJ Styles: A solid debut on Smackdown for Styles, and we got to see the first Styles Clash in WWE. It’s a bit odd that WWE didn’t hype the appearance ahead of time, but the crowd seemed thrilled to see him regardless. I’m a big believer in AJ’s potential in WWE, and it’s nice that creative seems to be doing him a favor by having him wrestle and show off what he can do in the ring prior to having him involved in a dramatic confrontation on the microphone. He is much better in the ring than he is in the microphone, and placing him in a long form story right away would have placed the wrong foot forward.

Kalisto vs. Neville: These two had an enjoyable US Championship match. I’ll echo the complaint from Jason Powell’s live coverage of this show and say that WWE seems to have no idea what they are doing with Kalisto the Champion as of yet. This match wasn’t announced prior to the show and had no promo time for Kalisto, which is notable since he has multiple opportunities to speak during his feud with Alberto Del Rio. The match itself was good and offered a lot in the form of acrobatics as you would expect. If WWE can find a direction for the US Championship, even if it’s open challenges to give some structure, it would add quite a lot to Kalisto and the title picture.

Highlight Reel: I enjoyed the Reigns and Ambrose interactions during the Highlight Reel. They have a great chemistry together that draws better performances out of Reigns that we’ve seen from any other opponent.

WWE Smackdown Misses

The Wyatt Family: The Wyatt portion of the Highlight Reel segment was a bust for me. How many times do we have to hear Bray Wyatt make some threat that will never be carried out? Why does he insist on insinuating that he’s going to take over the world and make people disappear forever? I have a feeling that WWE’s excuse for this is that he’s crazy and delusion, but other “crazy” characters don’t aren’t booked this way and it’s to the point where his opponents rarely treat him as anything but a poorly told joke. The most capable Wyatt ever felt was immediately after he defeated Daniel Bryan at the Royal Rumble 2014. He’s had some up’s and downs in between then and now, but for the most part the state of his credibility has been steadily declining. I’m not sure how you make him feel like anything but a paper tiger heading into a matchup with Lesnar.

Opening Segment: Nobody in particular performed poorly in the opening segment, but how boring is it to have every Smackdown start with New Day or whoever their opponent for the night is talking themselves into a 6 or 8 man tag match for later in the show?

Natalya vs. Charlotte: Their encounter in NXT is one of the matches that ignited people’s interest in the women’s division, and they didn’t get a chance to show off much of that here. The finish was inexcusable, with Ric Flair simply wooing in Natalya’s face and causing a distraction that led to the submission. Does Koko B. Ware have a daughter? I think with a little bit of effort from the birdman they could lock down the Divas division with distraction roll-ups.

Multi-Man Matches: Every week, it seems like we get at least two matches with six or more competitors on Smackdown, and the formula for the matches are practically identical. It’s a crutch that WWE relies on far too heavily to kill time on their broadcasts and it has run much of the fun of those matches right into the ground.


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