By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
AJ Styles, John Cena, and Dean Ambrose: The hottest opening to Smackdown Live thus far. Even though both shows are live, Raw still possesses more of an “anything can happen” feel than Smackdown. While Smackdown may not have the fire power to create that vibe on a regular basis, the surprise Cena return certainly qualified. Cena returning was a cool surprise, but the bigger surprise was the hard hitting verbal exchange between Cena and Ambrose. Shane McMahon’s announcement of the Triple Threat main event for No Mercy already sold me on the next Smackdown pay-per-view.
John Cena and Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles and The Miz: James Ellsworth Mania was running wild until that damn Miz killed the dream. I would pay good money to see Ellsworth pin The Miz to win the Intercontinental Title. That said, the match was fast paced and entertaining, and I like that all wasn’t forgiven when Ambrose took out Cena with Dirty Deeds afterward. I didn’t see this as a heel turn for Ambrose, but the booing live crowd seemed to. Keep in mind, Ambrose once hit his buddy Roman Reigns with the same move and remained a babyface. In this case, I see this as Ambrose ditching the quirky comedy and developing more of an edge.
The Usos vs. The Hype Bros: A good showcase of the new heel Uso characters. Here’s hoping the Usos are waiting on some new gear because those white and red numbers looked indy-riffic.
The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, and Daniel Bryan: The announcement of yet another Miz vs. Ziggler match did about as much for me as the commercials for FOX’s remake of Lethal Weapon. However, I like the way Miz rejected the match while stating that he wants his contract to restructured. If they play this right, they might be able to make the fans want to see Ziggler get his hands on Miz again.
Jack Swagger jumps to Smackdown: Forget Jumping Jack Flash, If this were the Attitude Era, WWE would be hyping that Smackdown is Jacking It. Now that I have that out of my system, Swagger’s promo was lousy and a big Miss, but I like the basic concept of Swagger being a “country boy.” WWE covers a lot of demographics, but they tend to mock anything rural or southern. Swagger has been wasted for a long time, but I am hopeful that he can get a real push on the Smackdown side.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Nikki Bella vs. Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Natalya vs. Carmella: Forget the match quality, I’ve had my fill of six-woman tags, five-way matches, and six-pack challenges. I guess the most encouraging thing about the match is that they established the number one contender, so perhaps we will finally get some singles matches. WWE’s answer to Harley Quinn winning the match was fine, but it’s hard not to look at her as the fall girl given that Becky Lynch just won the championship.
Heath Slater and Rhyno vs. The Ascension: The Miss is on The Ascension. They had new makeup and this was good use of the lowest team on the Smackdown totem pole facing a team that feels like it could drop the tag titles at any time. Unfortunately, they blew the double team spot so badly that the live crowd booed them. I don’t know if WWE officials had any intention of doing more with them coming out of this match, but this could not have helped their cause.
Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt: They didn’t even have a match at the pay-per-view, yet the feud already feels stale. Is it because Wyatt’s pre-tapes all start to sound the same unless he can insert a new name every month? Hopefully, Erick Rowan helping out Wyatt despite their recent split is a prelude to Luke Harper returning and WWE putting the band back together again.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Kenny Herzog discussing his journalism career, his new Outside Interference podcast, doing a feature story on CM Punk, pro wrestling in the pandemic, WWE talk on Retribution, The Hurt Business, Roman Reigns as a heel, and much more...