Pruett’s Pause: WWE Smackdown – Naomi vs. Charlotte Flair main events, Randy Orton suffers the shame of Championship Theft perpetrated by Jinder Mahal, Shinsuke speaks, and more!

By Will Pruett

This is an all random thoughts edition of the Smackdown Pause, because not every show deserves a 500 word essay.

– Shinsuke Nakamura’s entrance opening Smackdown was very welcome. Dolph Ziggler’s entrance following it was not as welcome. I know WWE wants to build up Shinsuke as a charismatic artist. They seem to be trying to make him Japanese Jeff Hardy (circa 2009). It’s a fair strategy. I wish Shinsuke would have had a chance to talk prior to Dolph’s introduction and without the mouthguard in.

– Dolph Ziggler has poor comedic timing.

– AJ Styles and Baron Corbin had another decent match with Kevin Owens’ commentary effort making it fun to watch. Baron Corbin seems to be horrible at defending against surprise roll ups. He should work on that aspect of his game.

– Sami Zayn saving AJ Styles assures AJ is a good guy (and the top good guy) on Smackdown now. I am all about a Baron Corbin and Sami Zayn program going forward. It seems like a fun way to pass some time.

– I am fundamentally opposed to the Beat The Clock concept and Beat The Clock matches. Both are illogical. Of course a team wants to win quickly. Why wouldn’t they? WWE has done away with time limits because they seem too old school, but they regularly bring back a weird system where the team with the weakest competition wins a title match.

– The Colons vs. American Alpha surprised me, both by occurring and with American Alpha getting a win. It didn’t feel like the right moment in the program of either.

– Rusev’s demand for a championship match at Money in the Bank was interesting. I am fine with Rusev getting a shot at Randy Orton after Jinder Mahal. It helps to keep Orton occupied for a month and it keeps a massive amount of talent in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match.

– Rusev certainly seemed sad while asking for a title match.

– Randy Orton and Erick Rowan had a fine garbage brawl. It might have been a career highlight for Rowan.

– Jinder Mahal absconding (I love how often the word “abscond” was used on this show) with the WWE Championship served a couple purposes: It kept the title from being in the weird House of Horrors thing on Sunday and it gave Orton a reason to be mad at Jinder.

– I didn’t love Jinder Mahal’s work on this show. His promo style was simply shouting and more shouting. It didn’t work. I also can’t say I bought into the content, as for the second week in a row, WWE used Jinder Mahal to make diversity the heel in their own story. I don’t need Smackdown to become the Alt-Right brand (unless Raw plans to become massively progressive).

– To echo this excellent piece Stella at Cageside Seats wrote a couple weeks ago, Lana’s dancing is truly embarrassing. Lana has defended herself saying there was no music playing while she was recording, but this is a major WWE production flaw. It looks like garbage to have Lana lacking rhythm just kind of snapping and moving on a chair. It says nothing about her personality unless her revamped character is going to be “poor dancer” when she eventually debuts. It’s a weird series of vignettes and I haven’t found them particularly effective.

– I’m glad Tyler Breeze and Fandango are getting a chance to shine. I am a little confused about whether they are good or bad people, but I’m glad two talented and hardworking wrestlers will get an opportunity. They should have a very good match with The Usos.

– Naomi vs. Charlotte Flair in the main event was fun. The end of the match was predictable and heavily hinted at throughout the night. The body of the match did a lot to build Naomi and Charlotte up as evenly matched foes. I appreciated the effort there. I do eventually expect Naomi to lose to Charlotte in a Women’s Championship match, but I’m glad it didn’t happen on this show.

– Where was Becky Lynch at the end of Smackdown? Fans were expecting her and WWE did show us Becky in the building earlier in the night. This was odd. Why wouldn’t Becky run out to help (or at least to beat up James Ellsworth)? Maybe the eventual idea is Becky being asked by Charlotte to help? That wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Overall, this was an okay show. Nothing stood out as awful, aside from Lana’s offbeat dancing, but nothing was exceptional either. It was a maintenance show with a lot of time to go until Backlash (and a few Raw stories that need to conclude before true Backlash build can begin).

Got thoughts on this show or my review of it? Hit me up with them! Check the Twitter @wilpruett, leave a comment, or email me at



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