By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler vs. Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan: It was cool that Bray Wyatt didn’t just ignore last week’s loss to Dolph Ziggler. Rather, he explained it away by blaming a ring post shot as being the cause of his downfall. Wyatt’s decree that Smackdown his show was also strong. Dean Ambrose was true to his character when he came out and delivered a rebuttal, and then Dolph Ziggler came out and set up the expected tag main event. I loved the way Bray Wyatt pulled Ambrose into the superkick from Ziggler to create even more tension between the reluctant tag partners, who are also champion and challenger heading into SummerSlam. The backstage segment that featured a good showing of that tension, and Ambrose’s line that now he owed Ziggler one was a nice hook heading into the tag match. The match itself was entertaining, the right guy got the win, and Ambrose made good on his threat.
Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio: A good competitive match with Del Rio working Orton’s bad shoulder. The negative in exploiting that bad shoulder is that it makes Orton look vulnerable heading into his match with Brock Lesnar. I hope it’s not a case of foreshadowing a Lesnar win by the Kimura lock because it feels too predictable. It’s surprising that Orton isn’t plowing through undercard talent while en route to his match against Lesnar. Nevertheless, this made for an entertaining television match and it ate up a lot of time on an night when the Smackdown roster was more depleted than usual due to the overseas tour. Believe it or not, I like the DQ finish. Smackdown needs star power and Del Rio can still be rebuilt, but the last thing he needs is losses at this point.
Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch: Eva Marie’s “wardrobe malfunction” was great. I’m curious to see how creative they get with her weekly gimmick of ducking matches and to see just how long it goes. Her return to distract Lynch and set up Bliss’s win was well done. It gives Bliss a win and makes fans want to see Lynch get her hands on Eva.
American Alpha: A minor Hit for their squash win and the dominance they showed over the other tag teams. I’m actually a little skeptical of the second part of the last sentence. Part of the fun with a team like Alpha is watching them climb their way to the top. They are already being pushed as the dominant tag team on Smackdown. Here’s hoping this is setting up Jimmy and Jey Uso stepping up and laying claim to being Smackdown’s top team. Either way, this wasn’t exactly a hot main roster television debut for Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley as a unit.
The Miz and Maryse interview: The Apollo Crews highlight reel was solid, and I laughed out loud when they cut back to Miz and Maryse lying on the desk in front of Renee Young. It didn’t leave me any more or less anxious to see Miz vs. Crews, but I still got a good laugh out of it.
Overall show: Smackdown feels like the inferior brand due to a serious lack of star power that was even worse than usual with John Cena and AJ Styles overseas. Fortunately, they’ve made good use of the talent over the last two weeks and managed to fill the two hours better than Raw has done with more talent and the extra hour of death.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Heath Slater vs. Rhyno: Rhyno put on a bad acting seminar in the backstage segment. I realize they were trying to tell a story with Slater being competitive, but it took away any steam that Rhyno’s return had.
Carmella vs. Natalya: The match was fine. I just can’t get past that Carmella entrance. She comes off like a bad GLOW character, and I found myself openly cheering when Natalya came out and tried to attack her. Sadly, the fans chanting “How You Doin'” because of her previous connection to Enzo Amore and Big Cass will probably convince WWE that they are on the right path. Carmella has talent, but that entrance routine is just groan inducing.