By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Smackdown Hits
The Miz and Daniel Bryan video package: A top notch production that served as a terrific recap of their long history going all the way back to the dreadful NXT gameshow days. It felt like creative somehow ran out of time to deliver a traditional angle that would recapture all the magic of their saga. As such, airing such this comprehensive video package was the perfect solution.
Carmella, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch: An excellent segment. Carmella is a work in progress in the ring to put it nicely, but she continues to shine when seeking heat on the mic. Someone in WWE has been watching Impact Wrestling’s Scarlett Bordeaux, who is playing a role that I’ve labeled a modern day Diva. Carmella took the Diva approach with this promo by playing up her non-wrestling strengths while Charlotte even went out of her way to label her a Diva in a woman’s world. Meanwhile, Lynch and Charlotte tore into Carmella and then played nice with one another verbally while also exhibiting some signs of tension between them.
Charlotte and Becky Lynch vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville: A minor Hit for a mostly solid tag match and the subtle story of Lynch finishing the match on her own rather than making the tag. And just in case viewers didn’t pick up on it, they acknowledged it during the brief backstage discussion between Charlotte and Lynch afterward. It took the Smackdown creative team way too long to get to a Charlotte vs. Lynch stotryline, but they are doing a terrific job heading into their Triple Threat match at SummerSlam.
New Day vs. Sanity: Good work from everyone involved and the live crowd loved it. I’m surprised that creative hasn’t done more to make Sanity look strong with the goal of making this a lengthy feud between these trios.
Jeff Hardy vs. Shelton Benjamin: A minor Hit. The match didn’t do much for me on paper simply because Benjamin has been one of the low men on the Smackdown totem pole, but it turned out to be a quality outing and a good win for Hardy. The post match angle with Shinsuke Nakamura gave the challenger some momentum going into the U.S. Championship match. Randy Orton peeking around the corner just so Tom Phillips could say that Orton was “stalking his prey” with no followup was a letdown.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Samoa Joe and AJ Styles: Joe reading the letter that he claimed was from AJ’s wife was a flat finale to the build for what should be a terrific match. Styles just finished talking about his wife telling him not to lose his cool and to remain focused, so it’s not like it felt like there’s any real mystery in terms of whether Joe made up the letter. It’s Joe playing mind games and in this case it feels like Styles could have ended the game with a simple call home if he needed reassurance that Joe was messing with him. The idea that Joe had the audacity to take this approach just didn’t register with me, and Joe playing mind games with Styles in this manner felt fairly tame by heel manipulation standards.
Andrade Almas vs. Aiden English: A solid win for Almas, but it still feels like he and Zelina Vega are just along for the ride in this oddball storyline involving English, Rusev, and Lana.