By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
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WWE Smackdown Hits
AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin: The usual quality match from Styles, though it’s hard to feel like the non-title match really mattered. There seems to be a moratorium on having WWE Championship matches on Smackdown these days. I’m all for limiting the number of times the title is defended on the show to make the title matches feel special, but it would be helpful for this stale show to build an episode around a Styles title defense. The big negative of the match is that Corbin losing makes it even tougher to take him seriously as a threat to win the five-way.
Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler: A good match with the Sami Zayn distraction finish protecting Ziggler while presumably setting up his next opponent. Creative needs to address the mess that is the Ziggler character. He still comes out to the record scratch and moment of silence before his entrance music kicks in. It was lame when he was playing a bitter heel who was accusing the fans of essentially caring more about sizzle than substance, but now that he seems to be a babyface it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
Bobby Roode, Jinder Mahal, and Randy Orton: Once they got past the latest sad attempt to incorporate the awful Smackdown Top 10 list, this turned out to be a good segment. Roode looked strong when he stuffed the RKO and then dropped Orton with the Glorious DDT. Mahal standing tall at the end was logical given that he is the one plotting to pit Roode and Orton against one another.
Charlotte, Naomi, and Becky Lynch vs. Riott Squad: A good, fast-paced match with the heel trio going over. This doesn’t change the fact that the women’s division matches on Smackdown feel meaningless due to parity booking and the lack of quality storylines and individual feuds.
Bludgeon Brothers destroy local wrestlers: The weekly dose of Road Warriors and Samoan Swat Team style carnage on the hapless locals. Good times.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Opening segment: Styles did a good job of putting over the five-way match as being a threat to his championship while also coming across confidently without seeming arrogant. The interruptions that followed served as mostly forgettable hype for the Fastlane main event while also setting up multiple matches. It also featured the terrible Styles line about Sami Zayn being a boil on the back of Owens. Seriously, how did that clunker get through the army of writers and producers? Anyway, the segment mostly served as another reminder of how damaged the heels are on this brand. Owens no longer feels like a major threat to win the championship after he and Zayn failed to win the title in a handicap match, Corbin just lost to Styles, Zayn has been positioned is a pest heel, and I have no idea what Ziggler is at the moment, though I suspect he’s a babyface based on who he is wrestling.
New Day vs. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin for a shot at the Smackdown Tag Titles at Fastlane: A quality match, but it’s hard to get past how much the New Day act has slipped. The pancake obsession came out of nowhere and just won’t go away. I get a kick out of a lot of their silliness, but I continue to wish they would tone down the comedic antics in favor of taking a more serious approach when the situation calls for it. For instance, it would have been nice to see serious New Day heading into the match given that they were trying to earn a tag title shot.
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