By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
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WWE Smackdown Hits
Bludgeon Brothers vs. New Day in a No DQ match for the Smackdown Tag Titles: A very good brawl with physicality that had the live crowd gasping repeatedly. Erick Rowan was able to work the match in such a way that viewers who didn’t know he was injured never would have picked up on it. The biceps injury necessitated the title change and it’s a real shame for Rowan and Luke Harper in that they were just getting to the point where they were starting to work good, competitive matches with their challengers. On the flip side, New Day seem to be as over as ever again. There have been a few times when it looked like their popularity was starting to fade a little, but the act clearly has staying power and I look forward to their title defenses against the The Bar, Sanity, The Usos, and Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson.
The Miz and Daniel Bryan: The mock retirement turned gloating Miz promo was fun. This didn’t feel like Miz was really attempting to make fans believe he was retiring as much as it felt like a ruse from the start where fans were waiting for the punchline. Bryan came out and the crowd was fully behind him with their coward chant directed at Miz. Were these the same fans who sat on their hands for most of the Miz vs. Bryan match at SummerSlam?!? Anyway, Bryan labeling Bryan as a wannabe Hollywood star cosplaying as a wrestler was a gem of a line. Maryse telling Bryan to change his name to “Daniel Bella” was comical. Brie rushing past her husband and then punching Miz in the face was one of the highlights of the night. I can’t say I was hoping to see a mixed tag match, but it actually has the potential to be fun and will extend the feud without giving away another singles match.
AJ Styles and Samoa Joe: AJ may have went just a tad overboard by promising to rip out Joe’s heart if he mentioned his family again. Otherwise, this was quick and very effective. Joe delivered another intense beatdown and then looked into the camera and spoke to Wendy Styles. I assume this is headed to a Hell in a Cell match. Let’s hope that Joe’s family gets a nice bonus if the match finish is AJ ripping his heart out.
Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton: Good intensity to match that fit the overall tone of the feud. Hardy needed to get a measure of revenge after taking so many beatings lately and losing to Shinsuke Nakamura at SummerSlam. The DQ finish was smart in this case because it’s too soon to give either man a clean win. And as absurd the Summer of Nut Shots has been on Smackdown, this felt like a case of turnabout being fair play for Hardy.
Peyton Royce vs. Naomi: A minor Hit even though the crowd didn’t get up for the match. I liked the end result with Royce going over. Hopefully creative will work toward establishing the in-ring credibility on the main roster that she was developing in NXT prior to her call-up.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair miscasting: Becky Lynch delivered a home run promo and continues to be one of the best talkers in the game. It’s just a shame that the company that claims to listen to its fans refused to reverse course despite the SummerSlam audience making it abundantly clear that they prefer Lynch in the babyface role. Both women are talented enough that they’ll be able to make this work. I just don’t understand why the creative forces repeatedly choose to take the hard road when the easy path is right in front of them.
Rusev and Lana vs. Andrade Almas and Zelina Vega: So Aiden English is Meechum to Rusev and Lana’s Frank and Claire Underwood?