By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
Randy Orton vs. Erick Rowan in a No DQ match: A well worked match with the wrestlers doing a good job of building to Rowan being knocked off the apron and through a table at ringside before the commercial break. The match was given a lot of time and these guys seemed inspired to fill it with a strong outing. This may have been the best televised singles outing of Rowan’s career.
AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin: The crowd seemed apathetic toward Corbin during his entrance, but they got into the action as the match went on. The involvement of Kevin Owens would have been an easy way to let Corbin go over. After all, he needs wins to be elevated given that he’s one of the top heels on the brand. However, it looks like the idea was to wrap up the Styles vs. Corbin feud for now to move on to Owens vs. Styles, so Styles going over was logical. Meanwhile, it looks like Corbin will feud with Sami Zayn, who is guaranteed to make him look like great.
Naomi vs. Charlotte for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: A minor Hit with the positive being that the quality match had the crowd and it felt like it belonged in the main event segment. The interference of Natalya, Tamina, and Carmella was just too easy to see coming, and the heel trio does not feel strong enough to work opposite Naomi, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch, assuming that’s the plan.
Rusev wants a championship match: The first glimpse of Rusev on the Smackdown brand was encouraging in that he played it straight rather than going for laughs. As funny as Rusev is, he’s more valuable as a top heel. It will be interesting to see which championship he ends up challenging for at Money in the Bank.
Breezango vs. The Ascension: It’s nice to see WWE finally do something with Tyler Breeze and Fandango beyond using them to put over other teams. Let’s see if this is a real push or just a case of the duo being set up for a quick television loss.
Jinder Mahal: A minor Hit for the small step forward in the evolution of character. Now that the shock value of Jinder winning last week has worn off (well, at least for the most part) we are left with a throwback ’80s styles foreign heel stealing the title belt. His promos have yet to click with me. It also felt like his win last week should have been a bigger talking point throughout the night. I’m still curious to see where this goes and whether creative can get a bottom of the card wrestler over after all these years.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Shinsuke Nakamura and Dolph Ziggler: It was cool to see Nakamura promoted as opening the show, and his entrance is always special. The fun ended there. Dolph Ziggler mocking Nakamura by labeling him Michael Jackson was as dated and corny as Ziggler’s lost in the ’80s attire. As much as I am anxious to see Nakamura wrestle on Smackdown for the first time, this segment has nothing to do with it.
American Alpha vs. Primo and Epico: A minor Miss. It was surprising to see these teams meet rather than being kept apart in the Beat the Clock format. They easily could have been in matches against other opponents or simply had the second match and fought beyond the time limit. It felt like some of the momentum the Colons gained over the last couple weeks was mostly halted in favor of parity booking.