By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Opening Segment: WWE is doing a fine job of getting some real heat on The Miz and Maryse. I’m not certain if it will turn out to be a net positive or negative for Andrade Almas and Zelina Vega yet, but if nothing else being a part of a higher profile feud is certainly better than treading water in a 50/50 feud with Rusev Day. Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella have a certain likability to them as a couple, and the crowds have thus far been very interested in seeing them get their hands on Miz and Maryse. The fact that Miz and Maryse were ducking them the whole show made for a good story throughout the night leading to the final segment.
Daniel Bryan vs. Andrade Almas: The best WWE TV match of the week. Bryan and Almas tightened up their timing from the last encounter, and delivered a well paced and exciting back and forth encounter. Almas continues to impress me with the crispness of his offense, his attitude in the ring, and how well he is able to sell and make opponents look strong when called upon to do so. Bryan also did some really nice selling in this match, and crowds still really enjoy watching him work. They especially lit up for the running knee finish, and even I was pleasantly surprised to see Brie bounce back from a rough outing on Monday and light up Zelina Vega with a stiff looking knee on the ropes.
Charlotte and Becky Lynch Promo: WWE has definitely tweaked the formula on this feud. These two aren’t in a heel/face dynamic anymore, rather they were both positioned as having good reasons for acting the way they are. Fans are still very much behind Becky Lynch, but now they can do so without having to groan at her going after the fans. Charlotte is much better on promos when she is not in front of a live crowd, and Becky was up to her usual excellent standards on the microphone. Part of me wishes this match was in the cell structure, but I don’t think it suits the timeline of the feud or the style of the participants like it did with Sasha and Charlotte last year. A No DQ or maybe a weapons match of sorts might be a better fit for Evolution if these two are working another match.
Samoa Joe and AJ Styles brawl: A very effective segment that showed Styles keeping it together emotionally and getting the better of Joe. So the story going into the PPV will be whether Joe can sufficiently get in Styles head enough to throw him off his game. The physical confrontation looked good on TV, and Paige being unable to control either Styles or Joe is an interesting sidebar to this, and it will be interesting to see if it plays into the future of the feud beyond Hell in a Cell.
The Miz vs. R-Truth: A harmless match that saw Truth get a crowd pleasing upset win over The Miz. Daniel Bryan and Brie failing to get their hands on Miz and Maryse was a good thing as well. Almas and Vega were put in dueling Yes Locks, which set up a match for next week most likely, and another opportunity for some heat for Miz, Maryse, Vega, and Almas.
WWE Smackdown Misses
No U.S. Title Presence: Is this championship invisible now that Shinsuke Nakamura holds it?
Rusev Day gets a Tag Title Shot: A minor Miss for the fact that Rusev Day has been floundering in bad TV segments for months, and suddenly fall backwards into a tag title opportunity. I don’t dislike act, but I would have much rather have seen The Usos take on the Bar.
Asuka’s Return: Another minor Miss for the fact that they seem to have no idea what to do with Asuka when she isn’t a buzzsaw. She needs character development in the worst way.
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