By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
Jinder Mahal vs. Xavier Woods in a U.S. Title tournament semifinal match: Mahal bringing a serious tone to the tournament was welcome following the clunky New Day comedy that opened the show. New Day can be a riot, but this set the wrong tone for a semifinal match for a title that’s already been abused. The match was solid with the expected outcome as Mahal moved one step closer to what I mistakenly assumed would be his foreign menace U.S. Championship reign.
Riott Squad vs. Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Naomi: A minor Hit for a decent match and the heels going over. Still, it’s hard to believe the various matches between these teams are actually leading to something. Is anyone being set up as a challenger to Charlotte in any of this?
Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin attack The Usos: Simple, effective, and it prevented the Usos from awkwardly mentioning the penitentiary this week.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Bobby Roode vs. Mojo Rawley in a U.S. Title tournament semifinal match: It’s hard to care about the U.S. Title at this point when even Dolph Ziggler didn’t want it. It’s even tougher to care when a Mojo match drags on forever and seemed more focussed on getting over the loser of the match rather than building momentum for the winner heading into the finals.
Jinder Mahal vs. Bobby Roode in the U.S. Title tournament final: So perhaps they were trying to use Rawley to tell the story that Roode was banged up heading into the finals. Even so, it doesn’t justify the incredibly slow and uneventful pace Roode’s matches. The last couple of minutes were decent, yet by the time the match was over, I didn’t care who won the title, I was just happy that it was over. Let’s face it, the tournament was a joke. From the randomness of the wrestlers selected to the highly predictable match outcomes before the finals, very little felt compelling. In fact, this was a downright dull edition of Smackdown and the live crowd seemed hotter for the Mixed Match Challenge than nearly everything that occurred on Smackdown.
Royal Rumble promos: The selfie style promos from the Royal Rumble entrants made WWE look a little too desperate to appeal to the younger demographic. Yes, younger viewers use their phones too, but it doesn’t mean they like low budget production. That said, at least there’s some focus on the Rumble matches on Smackdown whereas the Raw wrestlers rarely address those matches.
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