Pruett’s Pause: WWE Smackdown – Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, and the right place for endings, Jinder Mahal vs. Sami Zayn, and JBL gets back to being terrible

By Will Pruett

Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens ended the program they began just before SummerSlam 2016 when they were a random tag team to face Enzo and Cass on this show. It ended with the final defeat of Jericho at the hands of Owens and a major injury angle to finally write Jericho off of WWE television. I left this very good match and delightful performance from Jericho and Owens wondering about the nature of endings in professional wrestling.

Wrestling is built around endings. The “blow-off” match for a feud is usually the biggest match after all of the other options in a feud have been exhausted. With any luck, it’s promoted and becomes the main story on a show it is on. Professional wrestling can offer what no actual sport can: a guaranteed ending with a satisfying conclusion. This is a huge advantage to the scripted medium and one of the biggest reasons to enjoy a scripted medium over a real one.

The timing of endings is often questionable to me. Some stories end at WrestleMania (like The Rock vs. John Cena after two and a half long years), but some seem to end (like this one) on a random episode of Smackdown. I don’t mind taking an ending away from the WWE Network, but it seems like a strange strategy. If I’m supposed to have the Network and never want to miss an important ending, shouldn’t I be given endings there? What’s the point of an ending happening on television?

I know more people see WWE television than see the WWE Network, but this has always been true, especially in the era of major pay-per-views.

I didn’t always find myself enjoying this feud between Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens. Most of what they did as a team didn’t appeal to me, especially while trying to handle the weight of the Universal Championship and carrying the bulk of Raw through the summer. I loved the turn, but not necessarily the timing of it. I haven’t clicked with Jericho’s babyface schtick. Despite all of this, the ending here made sense.

Owens and Jericho are a couple good performers who gave us a conclusion worth watching. I’m happy about this and glad this run could occur for Jericho.

And now for some random thoughts:

– JBL returned to his insufferable self on this episode of Smackdown and it severely decreased my enjoyment of the overall show. He was overbearing, far too loud, and altogether obnoxious. He detracted from Smackdown itself making me wish I could pay Hulu an extra $4.00/month to get rid of JBL’s commentary like I can for commercials.

– Maybe I’m in a good mood this week, but I really enjoyed the silly Fashion Police segment with Tyler Breeze and Fandango. It’s not what I’d do with them, but this segment was a fun promo about The Usos. It did something to establish these two as characters, while also giving us some fun easter eggs (especially on the bulletin board behind them). I will give the Fashion Police a thumbs up for now.

– Working AJ Styles into the show early on to keep him out of the Jericho vs. Owens rematch was a nice device. I’m excited for Owens vs. Styles at the top program on Smackdown.

– It’s interesting to see WWE really emphasize the secondary championships on Raw and Smackdown this week. Both shows were without their top champions and they chose to make the Intercontinental Championship and United States Championship feel important. Endowed props are only worth the worth their endowed with. This was a great week for secondary titles.

– Now that Jinder Mahal is in a key role in WWE, I am waiting for him to prove he deserves it. He had a thoroughly unexciting match with Sami Zayn where he looked clumsy and slow. He still yells every word he says instead of speaking like a normal human. Giving Mahal an opportunity to shine is fantastic for WWE and Smackdown. Jinder Mahal now needs to prove he belongs where he is.

– Without Randy Orton on this show, I was left to wonder if he is still trapped in a weird house in San Jose, in the ring at the SAP Center in San Jose, or in some sort of post-match hell Bray Wyatt has created. Wyatt said Randy could never leave; what if he was right?

– Becky Lynch sure did take awhile to run out and help Charlotte and Naomi. The setup for the attack was obvious, as was the solution. The idea of conflicted Becky Lynch hasn’t struck a chord with me. What is making her feel conflicted? She’s been fighting Natalya and Carmella for a long time. This should be a cut and dry position for the clearly morally superior character Lynch has been. Adding weird conflict feels like overwrought mystery for the sake of mystery.

– Charlotte Flair is being portrayed as the new top protagonist in Smackdown’s Women’s Division and, in a way, the top protagonist on all of Smackdown. She’s been painted as the biggest star on the show and is being put in segments normally reserved for major stars (top of the show, top of the second hour, and end of the show). I’m hoping WWE doesn’t go too quickly to Flair winning the Women’s Championship. If they build it up, it could (and should) be a major main event moment on pay-per-view. Honestly, I’d look at putting Charlotte’s eventual fair title shot on last at SummerSlam.

– With Carmella pinning Naomi, I wonder if that’s a future Women’s Championship match. It would be a way to delay Charlotte getting a shot for a little longer.

– Shane McMahon is still an enjoyable professional wrestling character. It’s difficult not to delight in him being on screen.

– The “Let’s Go” on Smai Zayn’s video wall shows up before Sami’s music shouts “Let’s Go” and this annoys me.

– Tye Dillinger was essentially the mascot for NXT fans to get behind for years (Like Captain New Japan). I wonder if this will click for Smackdown. Dillinger is pretty talented and is early in his main roster run. I hope he is able to become something compelling for Smackdown.

– Aiden English is funnier than we all give him credit for.

– Dolph Ziggler is very bad at being a naturalistic arrogant bad guy. He’s overdoing everything by about 34% and it’s not fun. Ziggler getting upset about Shinsuke Nakamura is getting exhausting. Their match at Backlash couldn’t come soon enough.

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 itswilltime@gmail.com.


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