By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
Shane McMahon joins Team Smackdown: Yes, it’s absurd that the best Team Smackdown could find is a 46 year-old non-wrestler, but the simple truth is that this is more appealing than Baron Corbin, Luke Harper, or anyone else they realistically could have placed in that role. The Survivor Series format of Raw vs. Smackdown matches is unappealing. The brands haven’t been split long enough for any of the potential matchups to feel fresh, and the only people who care about brand supremacy seem to be the authority figures and the broadcast teams. Shane gives the match a dose of whatever star power his possesses at this point, and his in-ring moments with the Raw talent will be the only thing that feels unique. Furthermore, it gives Team Smackdown another babyface beyond just Dean Ambrose.
Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: A good match with a well executed finish. And I’m all for the finish stretching out the program longer. I assumed this was headed toward a one and done match prior to Lynch’s medical hiatus. Bliss delivered on the mic during Lynch’s time away and may have turned a one-off into an actual program by doing so.
Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Randy Orton vs. Dean Ambrose, Kane, and James Ellsworth: A fun main event match thanks to Ellsworth. I enjoyed the way he played to the crowd before tagging himself into the match, and then laughed out loud as he “Ellsworthed up” before going for No Chin Music, only to have Bray Wyatt put him down with Sister Abigail. WWE is overexposing Ellsworth, yet the live crowds are still with him and they continue to get good use out of him.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Tyler Breeze and Fandango vs. The Vaudevillains: This match was presented with all the fanfare of a back of the ballot unopposed contest for a district court judge position (only political reference, I promise). Granted, neither team has been doing anything lately, but you’d think they would have made a bigger deal out of it since it was for the final spot on Team Smackdown at Survivor Series. I continue to believe that there’s a really good heel tag team if you take away silliness of the Breezeango name, cop costumes, and Zoolander impersonations. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to suggest that WWE feels the same way.
Four-man broadcast team: Tom Phillips does a fine job and I have no problem with him being on the Smackdown broadcast team. However, the idea of going with a four-man broadcast team is WWE in a nutshell. More is better! Seven hours of WrestleMania. Three hours of Raw. More pay-per-view events. The addition of 205 Live.
Naomi vs. Natalya: This was more about Naomi’s entrance and establishing Natalya’s coach role (complete with a whistle) than the actual match.
Curt Hawkins vs. Apollo Crews: Smackdown is doing such a good job of showcasing most of their talent. The exceptions at this point are Crews and American Alpha. I’m hopeful that Survivor Series will be Alpha’s main roster breakout party, but there’s no such light at the end of the tunnel for Crews right now.