By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Hits
Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles, and Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin, Kevin Owens, and Dolph Ziggler: The match looked good on paper and delivered while also serving as a nice setup for the men’s Money in the Bank match. Corbin losing this match only reenforces my suspicion that he’s winning the MITB contract. Nakamura pulling the contract down at the end of the segment was a nice tease as well and he’s a distant second behind Corbin on my current favorites list.
Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal: Another uninspiring promo from Mahal, though at least it was Orton specific rather than on the usual themes about Americans. There’s still no sign of character development from the Singh Brothers, who could really enhance the act if positioned the right way. At this point, we don’t even know why their characters are aligned with Mahal. That said, Orton’s RKO out of nowhere popped the crowd in a big way. Orton having the momentum heading into the pay-per-view plays nicely to the casual audience who seem to view his homecoming as a likely location for a title change. I suspect they will come away disappointed, but it’s a good hook for the match either way.
Charlotte vs. Natalya: A good television match. This wasn’t as dramatic and certainly not as meaningful as their NXT Takeover match, but it was good from start to finish and a nice reminder of how good these two can be when they work together.
Naomi vs. Tamina with Lana: A minor Hit. The match was clunky, but the Hit goes for the involvement of Lana. I was actually hoping we wouldn’t see her get physical until her in-ring debut on Sunday, but at least they kept it brief. I’m genuinely intrigued to see how Lana performs on Sunday, and the title being on the line is an added hook.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Opening segment: New Day making their entrance with the jazz band was a fun start. They were over and the Usos shutting them down was good for some heel heat. Breezango came out and didn’t get much of a reaction. You can’t blame the live crowd for doing the “What?” chant to Primo and Epico, who are back to being booked as scrubs after that one week after the Superstar Shakeup when it looked like they might get a chance to be more. The surprise here was the crowd’s lack of reaction to the antics of Fandango and Tyler Breeze on the mic. The actual eight-man tag match that this segment set up was solid, though dedicating the first 30 minutes of the show to the tag division when it doesn’t feel like a major part of the pay-per-view was questionable.