By Jake Barnett, Prowrestling.net Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Team Hell No on MizTV: This segment offered a lot of entertainment value and accomplished a lot of goals from a story perspective that continued existing plot threads. It also picked up one story that had been dropped a few months ago. Performances were good across the board, with The Miz being the standout for being an incredible foil for the ever-popular Daniel Bryan character. Kane, to his credit, had great timing here as well while revealing a previously unknown knowledge of boy band NSYNC. This segment was the highlight of the show, and it showcased the benefits of veteran characters with on screen chemistry. The attack from Sanity and the Bludgeon Brothers was well received by me, as there are too few segments on WWE TV where you feel like babyface characters are truly in peril.
Andrade Almas vs. Sin Cara: A fine television match, which had me wishing I could see more of this feud. Almas has flown very under the radar since joining Smackdown, but it seems like he could be a good candidate for some additional creative attention post Extreme Rules. If they don’t pull the trigger on Shinsuke Nakamura winning the U.S. Championship on Sunday, Almas would fit right into that mix going after Jeff Hardy.
Team Hell No and New Day vs. Sanity and The Bludgeon Brothers: While I wasn’t thrilled with Sanity taking yet another loss, this was an entertaining match with a nice breakdown leading to the finish. The style was typical if you’ve seen WWE tag team main events before, but there was enough star power here to keep things interesting. It appears WWE views Sanity as a mid-card act, and that’s a bit of a shame when you look at their output in NXT, but logistically speaking it was either New Day or Sanity taking the loss here and they made the call to send the crowd home happy.
Asuka vs. James Ellsworth: A bit of harmless fun, with some good heat on Asuka and Carmella in the end. I didn’t like the bit where the all-female lumberjacks started brawling for no apparent reason, but I guess that’s a level of attention detail that WWE is just incapable of these days.
Overall Show: I was very pleased with the pacing and overall output of Smackdown the past few weeks. I’ve found myself staring at the clock watching Raw a lot lately, and that just hasn’t been the case on Tuesday nights.
WWE Smackdown Misses
The WWE and U.S. Championship Feuds: None of this really worked for me. They haven’t told particularly good stories along the way for these feuds, and we got another boilerplate script for tonight as well. Rusev didn’t do nearly enough to make his feud with AJ Styles feel personal or raise the profile of his character heading into the show. The same could be said for both Nakamura and Hardy. They had the disadvantage of Shinsuke being gone for a few weeks, but no ingenuity was deployed during that time to try and bridge the gap. These championships should feel like major draws for this Sunday’s show and, from a story perspective, they might be the weakest contributions from Smackdown.
Check below for Jason Powell’s free audio review of this edition of WWE Smackdown and join us for live coverage of WWE Extreme Rules on Sunday.