By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Hits
Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles: A stronger match than their first encounter, which is to be expected. Booking the rematch for Smackdown made the show feel more important than it has in a long time. It was refreshing to see WWE announce the match a week ahead of time and to dedicate some time on Raw to promoting it. Jericho going over clean was a bit of a surprise and I’m sure that will lead to all sorts of fan paranoia about what this means for Styles. My guess is that it means he will win the rubber match and then we’ll see where things go from there.
AJ Styles and Chris Jericho vs. Axel Rose: First off, congrats to WWE for finally figuring out that the combined last names of their undercard tag team is the same as the Guns N’ Roses frontman. Second, this match was also a nice way to fill television time to make up for having a depleted roster due to a good portion of the crew traveling to Germany for a live events tour.
The Dudley Boyz: It brought a smile to my face to see the duo in street clothes rather than their throwback attire including the Hanson Brother glasses. Bubba Ray Dudley has been ridiculously underutilized since he returned to WWE. Bubba was tremendous as Bully Ray and it was criminal to see him featured as a nostalgia act. The Dudley Boyz should have breathed new life into the tag division, but they were positioned a tired nostalgia act that never stood a chance of getting over in a meaningful way. I would still prefer to see Bubba spotlighted as a top singles heel given how desperate the company in is in that area, but hopefully the Dudley Boyz will finally be given a chance to succeed now that they are a heels and are feuding with the talented Uso Brothers. They are off to a strong start. The fans love tables and the Dudleyz were synonymous with tables. Thus, the duo claiming they will never use tables again was simple and one hundred percent effective. The turn needs to be about more than their refusal to use tables, but this was a fun start to their next chapter.
Sasha Banks vs. Naomi: Sasha is great. We all know it. Let’s not nerd out over Sasha so much that we ignore the great week that Naomi had. She stood out on Monday with a violent attack on Sasha that was topped in intensity by only Brock Lesnar’s attack on Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns. She followed it up with another good outing in this match even though the goal was to spotlight Sasha. I missed it, but Jake Barnett noted in his live review that that the look on Becky Lynch’s face afterward suggested jealousy, which is an interesting development for the reluctant tag partners.
Neville and The Lucha Dragons vs Stardust and The Ascension: A minor Hit for good action combined with The Ascension getting a makeover.
WWE Smackdown Misses
The Wyatt Family: Our Smackdown correspondent Lawrence was correct in writing that Wyatt “tried” to roll his eyes back Undertaker style. He failed. And that’s one of the few negative things I can say about Wyatt as a performer. He’s still the same guy that captivated NXT viewers and had fans so excited when he, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan arrived in WWE. Remember how great the Wyatt Family compound was? Wyatt is a gifted talker and and a spectacular character. All of the issues with Wyatt and his family over the last coupe years are the product of poor booking. This isn’t something that a great promo from Wyatt can fix. Bray has delivered on the mic time and time again, but he’s also lost big match after big match. He’s all bark and no bite. Vince McMahon might be enamored with Braun Strowman’s size, but he’s wasting his time. Wyatt is still the answer. It’s just going to take the meaningful wins he should have been given from the start to make viewers see him as a main eventer. I harp on this a lot because I hate seeing such a unique character played by such a gifted performer go to waste.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Jim Ross on his role in AEW, Tony Khan as a leader, whether Ross knew Shawn Spears was going to hit Cody with a chair shot to the head, working with Excalibur and Alex Marvez, his new book and speaking engagement deal, and much more... Search "Pro Wrestling Boom" in Apple Podcasts or any podcast app to subscribe.