By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Hits
Miz TV with AJ Styles: A good segment that played up the ongoing mystery of whether Styles is working with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. We didn’t get any answers, nor should we have at this point in the story. Rather, we got Miz and Maryse hamming it up. Their humor is hit or miss and it’s rarely the right fit in the third hour of a marathon Raw, but it worked well here and gave viewers the satisfying payoff of Styles roughing up Miz.
Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn and Dean Ambrose: A minor Hit. I must admit that I was hoping for a longer and stronger main event than we got. They didn’t have much television time to work with and thus the match never had a chance to be as good as it looked on paper. Still, it’s a good main event for Smackdown with the usual formula of combining a couple of feuds for a tag team main event. Overall, Smackdown was a good show. It peaked with this opening segment, but the segments felt relevant and it never came off like they were just trying to fill two hours of television.
Enzo Amore, Big Cass, and The Vaudevillains: An effective segment that accomplished its goal of creating a beef between the team to generate interest in the match. We know Enzo can talk and talk and talk. It’s no secret that he’s phenomenal on the mic. The Vaudevillains were a pleasant surprise. I’m still not sold on their gimmick clicking long term, but I do believe Aiden English and Simon Gotch can be successful long term if the company is willing to overhaul the gimmick if there are signs that it’s not working. This verbal segment made me look forward to the finals of the tournament more than any of the quarterfinals or semifinals matches did.
Baron Corbin attacks Dolph Ziggler: I really like what they are doing with Corbin. The first match with Ziggler had some creative flaws, but his squash wins and now this violent attack on Ziggler have been very good. I just hope they can resist any temptation they may have to make Corbin yet another one of Dolph’s 50/50 booking opponents. I would keep Corbin unbeaten as long as possible.
Natalya and Paige vs. Naomi and Tamina: A nice showcase of number one contender Natalya and hometown girl Paige. I liked the simultaneous submission finisher as it made both women look good and satisfied the crowd.
WWE Smackdown Misses
AJ Styles vs. The Miz: A Hit for the match quality. I have applauded the ongoing effort to give Miz more in-ring credibility, but I must question whether he should have had such a competitive match with Styles at this time. AJ is challenging for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Payback. The casual viewers don’t take Miz seriously as an in-ring force at this point, so what type of message does that send about Styles? The finish was solid in that it continued the story of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson’s involvement in AJ’s matches.
Kalisto vs. Ryback: The match quality was fine. The problem continues to be that Kalisto comes off like an undercard wrestler who happens to have the U.S. Title. It felt like he lost as many televised matches as he won during his feud with Alberto Del Rio, he loses tag matches on a regular basis, and now he lost a non-title match to Ryback. I’m not sure what they are going for with Kalisto, but I hope they get it right soon.