By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown Hits
Jinder Mahal, Kevin Owens, and Baron Corbin vs. Randy Orton, AJ Styles, and Sami Zayn: WWE usually manages to keep these six man tags interesting no matter who the competitors are, and this was no exception. The Singh Brothers once again paved the way for a very necessary Jinder Mahal pin on Randy Orton, and the rest of the match was highly entertaining on the way to getting there. This match was a solid close to the show after a very shaky open, which I’ll discuss later.
Charlotte: There is a lot to like about the Charlotte character right now. Her performances in the ring have been top notch, and she has managed to involve herself with babyface characters while maintaining the traits that everyone loves to hate. They seem to be setting up a major plot twist in the story between Charlotte and Becky Lynch, and I’m hopeful that the outcome sets them both on a memorable course as characters.
The Usos Promo: The Usos continue to inject a lot of personality into the Tag Division with their promos. I’m not completely convinced they are mean enough yet to be top heels, but they are certainly the most verbally talented team on Smackdown right now.
Shinsuke Nakamura and Dolph Ziggler encounter: Dolph impressed me with his intensity here, even though I don’t particularly enjoy his constant self pitying. I think if he was just a mean SOB that didn’t prattle on about how fans had abandoned him, and he didn’t need them anymore, his delivery becomes a lot less complicated. That being said, once they got past that, this segment did a very good job of setting up Nak’s first televised match as a part of the Smackdown Brand. Ziggler demanding that Nakamura put up or shut up, only to bail when he anted up was effective at ratcheting up the anticipation.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Opening Segment: Mediocre all around. Jinder Mahal once again failed to make the case on the microphone that he is ready to ascend beyond his former station working in the mid-card. Orton and AJ were mediocre as well, with neither of them being given any lines that amped up the intensity of their particular feuds. Owens was the best of the bunch, but his limited shtick wasn’t enough to save a segment that was lesser than the sum of it’s parts.
Sami Zayn: The annoying, neurotic Sami Zayn is a bad character, especially when there is so much potential for him to be an uplifting and positive babyface. I hope this runs it’s course soon, because they are missing the boat on one of the company’s best in-ring performers.
Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan: Two men stuck in the land of the lost. This match was fine, but these characters are dead as a doornail. Both men have shown the capacity for charisma in the past. Some kind of tag team mercenary or heroes for hire gimmick seems tailor made for characters that probably aren’t even sure of who they are yet, given that they both just left a cult. It would at least give them an excuse to get some new gear and take on new personalities.