By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Dot Net Members are listening to my weekly audio review of WWE Smackdown and John Moore’s weekly audio review of WWE 205 Live. Join us on the ad-free version of the website and unlock a decade of audio content via PWMembership.net.
WWE Smackdown Hits
New Day vs. Sheamus and Cesaro: A strong tag match between two top notch teams. I was actually hoping Sheamus and Cesaro would go over. Granted, it would have set up a heel vs. heel match at SummerSlam, but The Bar would be fresh and believable threats to the dominant Bludgeon Brothers. New Day is a nice consolation prize and hopefully the title match will be more than a lopsided Bludgeon Brothers squash. By the way, big thumbs up for Kofi Kingston’s new backstage interviewer persona.
Randy Orton promo: Another strong promo coming off his big heel turn. The lack of respect talk probably hits home more with the hardcore fans rather than casual viewers given that Orton has been a target of criticism of hardcores while beloved by the casual fans throughout his career. The best part of the promo was Orton saying he will become so violent that fans will want to turn the channel. The same line would have felt like empty words a few weeks ago, but his attacks on Jeff Hardy already lived up to that description.
AJ Styles promo: WWE wrestlers are rarely scripted to mention their families during promos, which actually works to the advantage of Styles in this case. He came off as a good, relatable family man while rebutting Samoa Joe’s previous comments. Styles also showed good fire while saying Joe would be lucky to walk out of SummerSlam. Meanwhile, Joe laughing at Styles seemed to imply that he has AJ right where he wants him. I’m not sure where this is going, but I am intrigued. The only negative is that it doesn’t feel like the match build is ready to peak on next week’s go-home show. This feud and the Miz and Bryan feud both feel like they need one more week than they have left before SummerSlam.
The Miz and Daniel Bryan: I enjoyed this segment more than Jake Barnett did given what he wrote in his live review last night: “Miz continues to assault the character of Daniel Bryan, without Bryan getting any quality digs back at him. I’m not much of a fan of the way this has been written thus far. Miz has been going for the jugular and Bryan has been cast as an obsessive psycho. It’s not a great look for a babyface character.” Jake raised an interesting point that I hadn’t given much thought to. My perspective is that the issues between Miz and Bryan have been well established enough that Bryan attacking Miz didn’t feel completely out of place. The lack of promo time for Bryan is interesting, though, and Jake’s comments left me curious to see whether this will be addressed on next week’s television show.
Becky Lynch and Charlotte vs. Peyton Royce and Billie Kay: The Iiconics past mic work on the main roster earned the loud boring chant. It’s just too bad it came during a promo that actually had did a good job of needling the babyfaces by stating that Lynch is stuck in Charlotte’s shadow. It was surprising that there wasn’t much drama between Lynch and Charlotte during the actual match, but Lynch sitting and watching Charlotte take the win with the Figure 8 was subtle and entertaining, and then the tension between them in the followup moment backstage was well done.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. R-Truth: A minor Hit for good use of R-Truth in that he gave the show a dose of solid backstage comedy before putting Nakamura over in clean and decisive fashion.
Bludgeon Brothers squash: A minor Hit. Am I the only one who thought Anthony Carelli returned to WWE as Santino Marella when they showed the enhancement trio in the small box during the split-screen commercial break? OK, so maybe I need better glasses. Anyway, it’s good to reestablish the domination of the Bludgeon Brothers from time to time without damaging main roster teams in the process.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Lana vs. Zelina Vega: A minor Miss. The oddball story involving Rusev, Lana, and Aiden English seems to be more of a priority to the creative forces than establishing Andrade Almas and Vega. Hopefully there’s a real plan for the talented duo, but it seems like they are only involved in this program because creative needed a male and female combo.