By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Hits
AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose: With no stand alone pay-per-view until December and a bunch of meaningless elimination matches at Survivor Series, Smackdown is essentially killing time. And they’ve done a very good job of it with the James Ellsworth saga. Ellsworth’s matches with Styles were fun, and they made good use of him again on this show by having him cost Ambrose number one contendership by getting overly excited and hitting Styles with No Chin Music. The surprised reactions of Ambrose and the referee were great. Renee Young and Daniel Bryan did a really good job of playing up the possible beating that Ellsworth could be in for, and Ellsworth did a good job of acting distraught over making the mistake.
Alexa Bliss and Becky Lynch: Lynch’s absence due to a medical situation is being turned into a positive in that they are doing a better job of building up Bliss than they did going into their previously scheduled match. Bliss is settling in nicely on the mic after a couple of early forced promos. There’s no reason to think Lynch will be dropping the title to Bliss, but at least they have made Bliss feel like a stronger contender heading into their title match in Glasgow. Here’s hoping they don’t blow it by having Lynch get the better of her next week.
The Hype Bros vs. The Ascension: A minor Hit. The match did nothing for me, but it worked for the live crowd thanks to the cheap home team love that Mojo Rawley’s Green Bay Packers gear generated. I’m not sure how they can have more qualifying matches to earn spots on Team Smackdown at Survivor Series when they barely have enough tag teams to fill the team, but at least it give this match a little hook.
Heath Slater and Rhyno vs. Kenny and Mikey: A minor Hit. WWE got another week out of the Spirit Squad gimmick. The fun of the duo returning was good for about a week, but keeping them around gave Slater and Rhyno a television win that didn’t come at the expense of one of the regular teams. This needs to be it for the Spirit Squad. They can always repackage these guys, but the thrill is long gone.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Baron Corbin: One week after Corbin scored the biggest win of his career by dominating Jack Swagger in a glorified squash match, WWE followed up by not even having Corbin appear on Smackdown. Surely they could have found a couple minutes to have him dominate in a squash match. Meanwhile, it’s also frustrating to see the Usos and American Alpha spinning their wheels to the point that they were also left off the show. Alpha jumps out as the most underutilized act coming out of the draft. Will they finally get a moment by being the last team standing at Survivor Series?
Natalya vs. Nikki Bella: The Survivor Series stipulation backfired in this case. The idea of the winner becoming the Team Smackdown captain at Survivor Series and the loser being out of the match took away any and all suspense. The wrestlers worked hard and Nikki using the STF set up Daniel Bryan to state on Talking Smack that the way she applies the hold is the evolution of the move. I guess this means Bryan joins Steve Austin on the list of wrestlers annoyed by the way John Cena applies the hold.
Randy Orton hits Kane with the RKO: The idea of Orton joining the Wyatt Family isn’t very compelling. Fortunately, my guess is that this is simply a case of Orton playing mind games with Bray Wyatt. He said that if you can’t beat them, join them. There’s no logic in this. Everyone beats the Wyatt Family. If this is Orton playing mind games, then it will be mildly interesting to see how Kane responds given that Orton used him as a pawn. At this point, it just feels like creative is reaching to come up with ways to breathe life into a flat program.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ring of Honor's PJ Black discussing the ROH Pure Title tournament beginning on ROH Wrestling TV this weekend, ROH's COVID-19 safety precautions, his run in WWE as Justin Gabriel with The Nexus, wrestling as The Bunny, and more...