By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin: I enjoyed this match more than their pay-per-view encounter and it’s not solely due to the better finish. The Corbin clothesline at ringside early on was a really good way to start to the match and provided the cause for Nakamura to work from underneath. Corbin’s offense was strong and his heel antics such as mocking Nakamura’s gyrations was a nice touch. Nakamura coming back late and getting the clean win was his finest in-ring moment on Smackdown thus far.
Kevin Owens, AJ Styles, and Chris Jericho: A terrific heat seeking promo to start the show with Owens boasting that good things happen to good people and taunting the crowd by telling them that he would begin the U.S. Open Challenge next week. The Styles portion was quick with him talking about his rematch. The highlight of the opening the surprise return of Jericho along with Shane McMahon informing Owens that he had to defend the title against both men. The actual match was entertaining with some believable near falls down the stretch before Styles won back the title he apparently was not supposed to lose on Sunday. Does this free up Owens for more with Jericho or for a match with Shane McMahon coming out of their verbal exchange?
John Cena vs. Shinsuke Nakamura on next week’s Smackdown: WWE announced the match for Smackdown and fans logically began questioning whether it was wise to give this away on television. First off, let’s see if they actually follow through with the match before we get too carried away. And even if they do, at least they hyped it properly, which is more than I can say for the Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe match that will headline Monday’s Raw. The Triple Threat was given the same level of hype that the 205 Live match announcements received.
The Usos attack New Day: A quick, effective, and even violent attack (by WWE standards) by the Usos following their loss of the tag titles at Battleground.
Overall show: Smackdown finally ended the bleeding by delivering a strong bounce back show after weeks of disappointment and a lackluster WWE Battleground event. Next week’s show looks excellent on paper, so hopefully they recognized how weak the show had become and are hellbent on changing that.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
John Cena and Jinder Mahal segment: The ultimate babyface actually commended Mahal for doing whatever it took to retain the championship two nights after Mahal had three men interfere on his behalf. What?!?
Lana: What’s the point of having her wrestle? It was a nice hook when they made her first television match a title match on pay-per-view, but at this point it felt like she was more valuable in the corner of Rusev than she is as a wrestler.
Sami Zayn and Tye Dillinger vs. Mike Bennett and Aiden English: The match was fine, but I sure hope there’s a storyline reason for Bennett’s early losses. Is it better to be Bennett and losing this early in his run or Chad Gable, whose surprise plan for the future apparently includes him sitting out of the pay-per-view and this week’s television show.
I love Smackdown and it will always be my #1 WWE program but what is the deal with the talent? On RAW the tag champs dont’t wrestle every week as I feel they shouldn’t (champions should only wrestle house shows and ppv’s like they did back in the day). But their contenders have matches. On Smackdown where the hell are the Hype Bro’s v.s. The Ascension? Breezeango doesn’t have tune up matches? They have good teams but they NEVER get tv time and then wonder when they do they aren’t over. At Summerslam it HAS to be New Day v.s. Usos because they haven’t boosted the other teams.
As for the mid-card, what mid-card? When Raw was 2 hours they had 6 or 7 matches every week and storylines that built up through the show. On Smackdown you get one segment per storyline then thats it for the night. No flow. All the main eventers are stuck wrestling each other diluting ppv matchups because they have no mid-card level wrestlers to work with. There is no one around for Rusev to squash. Hard to be a monster heel when you dont have opponents to destroy. I can only imagine a lot of the paying fans are frustrated with a 4 match show with the same mix of talent every week.