By Jason Powell
Check out my free audio review of this edition of Smackdown Live and today’s Alberto El Patron conference call with his thoughts on Paige returning to WWE at PWAudio.net.
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
Randy Orton vs. Kevin Owens in a No DQ match: A good match even though I spent most of it trying to remember why Orton was so upset with Owens that he was beating him senseless early on. Tell me this isn’t about Owens costing Team Smackdown the match at Survivor Series. It was also bizarre that the match was No DQ and yet Sami Zayn was barred from ringside. I even gave them the benefit of the doubt by assuming that the idea was that Zayn wouldn’t rock the boat since his character feared being fired by Shane McMahon, but then he ended up interfering with the idea being that he attacked Orton near the stage so he technically wasn’t at ringside. So the guy fears losing his job, yet he’s willing to risk it while clinging to a technicality? Even so, Orton and Owens worked hard and this was a quality main event despite the flaws.
AJ Styles vs. The Singh Brothers: A fun handicap match with Jinder Mahal attacking Styles before the bell, which put Styles in position to work from underneath rather than simply dominating the duo from the start. It will be interesting to see if Jinder Mahal beating up the Singh Brothers is the company’s way of writing the duo out of his storylines or if it’s simply something that Mahal will do when he loses matches.
The Riott Squad vs. Charlotte, Naomi, and Natalya: I dig the name (despite the silly extra T) and I’m actually happy that Ruby Riott (now with her own silly extra T) is the centerpiece. If the backstage promo is any indication, Ruby should handle the bulk of the promo work for the trio. Logan sounded like she inhaled helium before she spoke, though there certainly could be a way to turn her voice into a positive. Natalya walking out on the match was true to her character and put the babyface duo in peril. The attack on Naomi with the ring steps was well done, and it was a wise to use the numbers advantage to set up Ruby pinning the Smackdown Women’s Champion.
Bludgeon Brothers vs. The Hype Bros: A strong squash match win for the Bludgeon Brothers. They looked aggressive and dominant. The match also served a second purpose in terms of splitting up Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder.
New Day vs. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin: A minor Hit for a solid match and New Day is always a crowd pleasing act. It seemed like creative had plans for Gable and Benjamin as heels even though they never really turned them. The loss in this match made them seem like just another team and perhaps one that has been bumped down the card in favor of Bludgeon Brothers.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan: So Shane is still pissed about Survivor Series and has to be talked out of firing Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Shouldn’t his character attempt to trade the duo and get something in return? And why do the Owens and Zayn characters even want to be on Smackdown Live so badly? Owens even got down on his knees and begged to stay last week. And if they want to stay on Smackdown, again, why would Zayn risk his job by interfering in the main event? It would be different if Shane needed cause to fire Zayn and Sami was able to dodge it via this technicality, but Bryan is the only reason Shane hasn’t fired them. I enjoy the players in this story, but there are some gaping logic gaps.