By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn: You’ve probably seen this match dozens of times before, but this was a unique twist with both men working as heels and even as friends. It was a bit awkward in that there was no reason for the fans to choose a side, but the fans seemed to warm up to the quality in-ring action as the match went on. The finish with Styles attacking both men led to the predictable end result of him being forced to face both men only this time in a Triple Threat match. This stipulation is far more appealing than the handicap match that they had at the Royal Rumble, but I still get the sense that fans were ready for them to move on from this storyline. Here’s hoping that the new Triple Threat dynamic will heat things up.
Bobby Roode vs. Rusev for the U.S. Championship: A quality match that raised the severely damaged prestige of the title. It still feels like Roode and Rusev are miscast so hopefully this isn’t the end of the road for these two and they eventually book a double turn. The Randy Orton attack after the match felt random, though it may be tied into his low ranking in the oddball Top 10 (more on that later).
Charlotte vs. Liv Morgan: As much as the parity booking with the Riott Squad members has been frustrating, there’s nothing wrong with showcasing the Smackdown Women’s Champion. That said, it would be nice to get some real storylines and programs involving the Smackdown women. It would also be nice if Morgan sold the Figure 8 effectively.
Bludgeon Brothers: Another week and another squash. Carnage is effective. The upcoming feud with the Usos over the tag titles should be a lot of fun.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Top 10 Ranking: The ranking system was appealing when it was first announced. The idea of wrestlers having matches with the goal of moving up in the rankings and into title contention left me excited by the storyline possibilities. Unfortunately, the announcement of the very first wrestler made this a joke when Tye Dillinger conveniently landed in the ten spot. It somehow got worse from there when the ranking system included men, women, and tag teams. The only purpose this seemed to serve was Randy Orton being ranked lower than expected given how quickly the broadcast team made note of it.
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan: The story of whether Bryan is aligned with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn has overstayed its welcome. These weekly conversations are tired and repetitive. If feels like the story never really advances and it’s hard not to wonder if it’s because creative doesn’t know where this is going. And as much as we all want to see a healthy Bryan receive medical clearance to return to the ring, I can’t say I have any desire to see him face Shane, especially when it would likely be preceded by a Shane heel turn.
Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin backstage promo: The awful Smackdown graphics that list key words and phrases ruined any chance this had. It was also hard to watch them piss and moan about Breezango and The Ascension and not wonder why they didn’t just move on after they destroyed Breezango last week. Here’s hoping they do just that now that they’ve beaten both teams in back to back weeks.
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