By Jake Barnett, Prowrestling.net Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
The Iconic Duo Debut: These women made a big splash, causing Charlotte to lose her Smackdown Women’s Championship after a beatdown in and outside the ring. Debut jitters were there as there were a few clumsy moments, but overall this was a success and I’m thrilled to see two bright spots from NXT make their way to Smackdown. It remains to be seen if they stay, but these two possess heaps of potential for a number of babyface opponents.
Carmella wins the Smackdown Women’s Championship: I believe this will end up being short lived, but I like this move if only for the fact that it makes the draft much more interesting. Almost all of WWE’s female heavy hitters are without Championship Gold, and thus open to move between brands. Carmella had held onto that briefcase seemingly forever, so they accomplished multiple story directives in one night. Carmella is suddenly relevant again, The Iconic Duo establish themselves with major consequences, and Charlotte now has multiple people to seek revenge against eventually.
Paige as Smackdown GM: WWE made the right call in keeping Paige around. She’ll get to flex her considerable personality on weekly TV in a way that won’t put her health in any risk. If Smackdown is to have prominent heels in the women’s division, having a female general manager will hopefully offer additional layers than the frustrated Dad experience we’ve seen from Kurt Angle, Shane McMahon, and Daniel Bryan when interacting with their women’s divisions.
New Day vs. The Usos: A minor Hit for a fun match that seems like the blow off to this feud for now. I must assume New Day is primed to move back to Raw, as they have very little left to do on Smackdown. Maybe I’ll be surprised and they’ll split them up in the draft.
Shinsuke Nakamura as a heel: I won’t spend ages on this, but Nakamura was immediately better on night one as a heel. We have yet to see if he will show some additional energy in the ring, but as a personality it was immediately evident that the bad attitude is an improvement.
AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan: I’d love to believe that they gave away this match in TV because they plan on setting up a feud between the trio of Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, and Shinsuke Nakamura. Rather, my gut tells me it’s because Bryan is moving to Raw and they won’t have much of a reason to have this match for a while.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Randy Orton vs. Bobby Roode vs. Rusev: Not a bad match per se, but the idea of another Orton vs. Mahal feud has me reaching for a spork to gouge my eyes out. Roode desperately needs a heel turn and babyface Rusev needs a change of scenery.
Naomi vs. Natalya: A slight miss for that giant Uterus Trophy at ringside, as well as another match that had absolutely zero stakes and didn’t seem aimed at establishing any for the future. This was a Naomi showcase match, which makes me wonder if she’ll be feuding with Carmella after the shake-up.
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