By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
Kevin Owens vs. Shinsuke Nakamura: A good match and a compelling exchange on commentary between Daniel Bryan and Byron Saxton. Bryan replacing the injured referee seemed like a nice touch, but Bryan simply counting the pin was not as controversial as the broadcast team made it out to be. Saxton’s conspiracy theory claim that Bryan was out to screw Orton and Nakamura just wasn’t supported by the way the match played out and the minor hesitation he pointed to. That said, the only real hook for Clash of Champions is the drama surrounding Shane and Bryan and how the finish of the tag match will play out.
AJ Styles, Jinder Mahal, and The Singh Brothers: A minor Hit for the entertainment value of the opening segment. Styles hugging the Singh Brothers was good for a chuckle and it was nice to see the babyface not be duped by the heels. The negative of the segment is that it failed to sell Styles vs. Mahal as a must see match, and Jinder’s half-assed attack on Styles later in the show didn’t help the cause in any way. In fact, this show felt like it was written by writers who were looking for laughs more than putting heat on the heels and making the Clash of Champions matches feel important.
The Bludgeon Brothers: Another Road Warriors style squash match win. I just wish the duo had the charisma and promo ability that Hawk and Animal did back in the day.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Yep Movement with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn: The tone felt too lighthearted for two heels who are risk of being fired in five days. Owens and Zayn were entertaining and I would have enjoyed this more if it had taken place on more of a filler show, but they failed to convincingly sell the serious stipulation of the Clash of Champions match. I like the idea of making Bryan a second referee as awkward as it seems on paper. Had they gone with Shane McMahon as the only referee then there would have been a good chance the live crowd would realize that nothing really matters until Bryan makes his entrance.
Charlotte vs. Ruby Riott: This should have been positioned as a showdown match and saved for a later date. The cheap finish was the right call in that it saved a real finish for a future match. The post match angle played up the lumberjack part of the pay-per-view match between Charlotte and Natalya, and Naomi was oddly pushed stronger against the three heel newcomers than she has been in months. I’d like to see more from Charlotte and Riott, but I still believe both women are miscast in their current babyface/heel roles. I also agree with Jake Barnett’s live review take in that Riott Squad lacks any sense of storyline motivation.
Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler: I get the idea was that Roode was pulling a Ziggler by hitting his finisher on both men just as Dolph did when Roode faced Corbin last week. However, it was the second match in a row that ended with outside interference and it didn’t move me in any way in terms of selling their Triple Threat match.
The Usos vs. Rusev and Aiden English: More comedy with English and Rusev, The Usos doing insult comedy, Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin doing an awful New Day spoof, and New Day yucking it up with their pancakes at the broadcast table. Are all the tag teams more concerned with being funny than the tag titles?
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features ProWrestling.net staffer John Moore returning for an in-depth discussion on NXT, AEW, Impact Wrestling, MLW, and the NWA, and more...