By Jason Powell
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WWE Smackdown Live Hits
AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens in a non-title match: A good television main event albeit one that felt fairly meaningless going in with nothing at stake. Fortunately, the work of the wrestlers kept things interesting and the angle with Shane McMahon coming out to eject Sami Zayn, which led to Owens stealing the pin was entertaining. I continue to wonder if they are working toward Styles vs. Owens vs. Zayn in a Triple Threat for the Royal Rumble with Shane signing off on the match with the idea being that the selfishness of Owens and Zayn will be their downfall as a duo.
Rusev and Aiden English vs. New Day vs. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin: Rusev was super over with the Chicago crowd and this was a really fun match with some strong near falls. It may seem odd to not strike while the iron is hot with Rusev by giving him and English a tag title shot, but the Usos only recently started working as babyfaces again and thus it’s better to book them against a heel team. Meanwhile, I’m curious to see if they pull Rusev out of the tag division and move him into the U.S. Title tournament.
Bobby Roode vs. Baron Corbin in a U.S. Title tournament match: A quality match, but it was hard to take either man as a serious threat to win the vacated championship since they could have had either one of them win the Triple Threat match at Clash of Champions if they wanted to go in either direction.
Bludgeon Brothers vs. Tyler Breeze and Fandango: The usual carnage followed by The Ascension saving their “best friends” from Bludgeon Brothers. But just when it looked like they were setting up Bludgeon Brothers vs. The Ascension, Konnor and Viktor announced that they got their “best friends” yet another rematch. This is good undercard fun with the mystery of whether The Ascension are clueless or working against Breeze and Fandango.
Jinder Mahal vs. Tye Dillinger: The outcome was never in doubt and my favorite to win the U.S. Title tournament advanced. Meanwhile, Dillinger’s one-dimensional gimmick is anything but a perfect ten. It’s interesting that he was labeled a sociopath. Hopefully they finally make his act about more than just holding up the ten sign. Meanwhile, the presentation of the tournament left a lot to be desired in that they never bothered to show the brackets.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Ruby Riott vs. Naomi: A brief match that gave Riott a win while protecting Naomi to some extent by having the finish come after she got caught up with the other Riott Squad members. The Miss is really more about the booking of the Smackdown women’s division than the actual match. The post match attack on Charlotte by Riott Squad was solid. Their brawl with the other heels of the Smackdown division was odd in that it put Natalya, Lana, Tamina, and Carmella in the awkward position to be cheered. Was this Smackdown’s odd answer to the Raw women all beating up Absolution a few weeks ago? Is there some internal edict that they must shoehorn all of the women onto the show?
I know it’s a small thing but I always felt if the women wanted to be on equal ground as the men they should stop referring to their championship as the (Raw/Smackdown)Womens championship but simply the Raw/Smackdown Championship. They are their own division and have no reason to precede their title with “Women’s”. Like I said it’s just a little thing but something I always thought about…..On an unrelated note I agree with Shane that Baron Corbin as #1 contender should be in the title match automatically and the tournament should be to determine his opponent…One last thing: If the World title is vacated for whatever reason wouldn’t it be logical for the secondary titleholder (as the second ranked champ in the company) to be named the World Champion and a tournament be held to fill THAT championship? I just always felt that made more sense.