By Jason Powell
Check out my audio review of this edition of WWE Smackdown Live for free at PWAudio.net.
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
Shane McMahon, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, and Daniel Bryan opening: Shane did a nice job of delivering the upbeat message coming out of the Survivor Series loss. Granted, his claim that Smackdown is the show to watch despite losing really didn’t make any sense, but they put a quick positive spin on the situation and simply moved on. Meanwhile, the heel antics of Owens and Zayn were a lot of fun. Bryan stepping in and saving their jobs is interesting, and it’s also worth noting that he never got to have that talk with Shane that he mentioned last week because Shane left the show early. The look on Bryan’s face during that backstage segment said he wasn’t pleased with Shane. It was also very interesting that he said “no comment” regarding the NXT trio attacking the Smackdown women. Bryan booking Owens to face Randy Orton next week felt a little flat, but let’s see if it leads to Owens being saved somehow in a way that could eventually be traced back to Bryan. I don’t want to see a Bryan turn, but something is going on with his character.
New Day vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in a lumberjack match: An entertaining match with the lumberjacks out to get Owens and Zayn while giving New Day a pass. Owens and Zayn escaping with the win was a nice touch. It will be interesting to see if some of the pairings in the big brawl that broke out are indicators of future programs. The most notable of the bunch was Baron Corbin and Bobby Roode squaring off, which is probably a sign of them starting a feud over the U.S. Championship.
Bludgeon Brothers vs. The Hype Bros: There was a whole lot of bro’ing going on. Luke Harper and Eric Rowan’s new gear looks like something that was designed for the Kane character and rejected for good reason. It’s like they changed the color from red to maroon and passed off the gear to Bray Wyatt’s former minions. Despite the shaky look and the corny team name, I’m trying to be optimistic for these two by giving this a minor hit for the violent beatdown they gave the Hype Bros.
Jimmy Uso vs. Shelton Benjamin: A quality match gives this the nod for a minor Hit. At the same time, it felt like this should have been a celebratory night for the Usos, who could lay claim to being the top team in WWE based on their win over Sheamus and Cesaro at Survivor Series. Perhaps a heel team could have crashed the party, but it still would have been nice to see Jimmy and Jey have a real moment on the mic to put over their win in a meaningful manner.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Ruby Riot, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan debut: Yes, it’s always exciting when NXT wrestlers debut on the main roster. Once you get past that, you’re left with three women who worked really well as babyfaces apparently being positioned as heels on the main roster. Well, maybe, since they were equal opportunity beatdown artists just as Paige’s crew was on Raw. Riot especially struck me as having tremendous babyface upside potential, so it was odd to see her debut as a heel out of nowhere. I am curious to see where this goes and what the story is behind the attacks. And it’s not like the women can’t work as heels. It’s just that my initial reaction was not positive despite the beatdown coming off well and Becky Lynch doing a great job of selling the first attack backstage.