By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin and Kevin Owens: I loved the opening with Corbin trying to blindside Nakamura during his entrance again, which led to the teams fighting on the the ramp before the bell. We get plenty of tag main events on Smackdown and these guys have all been in their share of those matches. The brawl sent the message that this was more than just a throwaway television tag match, and they maintained a good level of intensity throughout. Owens getting the win over Styles following a blind tag was a nice touch as he heads into his U.S. Title rematch.
Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch: Why was this match not advertised going into the show? Why did it take place on Smackdown rather than being saved for pay-per-view? Putting that aside, this was definitely an entertaining television match. It left me wondering if the plan is for Charlotte to win the elimination match on Sunday, take the title from Naomi at SummerSlam, and then they can come back to this match while pointing out that Lynch beat Charlotte via submission.
Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal: The duo delivered a decent final push for the Punjabi Prison. I still can’t say that I have anything more than a perverse curiosity when it comes to seeing the return of this nonsensical match. If nothing else, the previous matches were so bad that Orton and Mahal are virtually guaranteed to have the best Punjabi Prison match ever, which is the equivalent of being the best actor on cable access television. The rules of the match are silly, but at least the structure looks good on television. Too bad it also looks like the least fan friendly cage that WWE uses in terms of providing the live crowd with a good view of the action.
Mike Kanellis vs. Sami Zayn: The match played into Mike’s role as the henpecked husband. Zayn dominated Mike, who took a good beating, before Maria’s distraction allowed him to catch Zayn with a sucker punch. I’m not blown away by the Mike & Maria act thus far in that it feels more mid-card than expected. It’s fine for now, but hopefully they can be more than that.
Jimmy Uso vs. Kofi Kingston: A good singles match. I assumed the plan was to give the challengers some momentum heading into their pay-per-view match, but instead they opted to tell the story of the teams being equals.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Shane McMahon and the women: Why the need for a weekly segment with Shane in the middle with all the ladies cramming into the camera shot around him? WWE can do better than these weekly exchanges with the women all lumped in together and getting catty with one another. Hopefully this formula is put to rest once the elimination match concludes.
John Cena promo: God bless Cena for trying, but there’s only so much excitement even he can muster up for a freaking flag match in 2017. The odd thing about Battleground is that WWE is going all in on the American vs. foreign menace theme by using the formula in not one, not two, but in all three of the show’s top matches.
Chad Gable interview: A minor Miss in that Gable seemed a bit out of place in the sit-down interview setting. Rather than scripting him to make a real statement, he just came off as a nice guy who was understanding of his tag partner Jason Jordon leaving him in the dark (while apparently sharing the details with Corey Graves). I still have high hopes for Gable as a singles wrestler and I hope that creative has a real plan for him.