By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Daniel Bryan vs. Shelton Benjamin: A minor Hit for the match itself. The story development will end up on the other side of the list. Bryan and Shelton work well together and produced a solid match, aside from the botched diving headbutt spot that scared the hell out of everyone. Bryan continues to get his groove back in the ring, and Shelton has been vastly underutilized since he started appearing on Smackdown. The finish didn’t work for me, but the rest of the match was enjoyable. I’ll have more to say on that later.
Becky Lynch Promo: This was another very entertaining promo from Lynch, who has had oozed confidence on the microphone since her heel turn. She’s comfortable and clearly a cut above anybody else in her division as a talker, and she deserves credit for making the best of a casting decision that fans clearly don’t agree with. She continues to be cheered and supported by the audience, while Charlotte has been booed everywhere since SummerSlam.
Carmella: She has found a nice groove since somewhat unceremoniously turning babyface. Her ring style seems to compliment working in this new mode as well. She hasn’t gotten as many minutes on the microphone, but I think her act needed this reboot and she’s making the most of her allotted television time.
WWE Smackdown Misses
The Rusev Day Debacle: Aiden English reveals his video evidence, which boiled down to Lana entering his hotel room and starting a conversation, only to have the tape cut off at the point where the whole story would have fallen apart. Rusev, cast here with room temperature IQ, refuses to allow his wife to explain and goes into a blind rage. Lana, for whatever reason, froze in her tracks in the ring, and didn’t even try to offer an explanation until a later backstage segment. This story went from interesting to insulting in a great big hurry, because everyone involved is behaving like a cartoon character instead of a functioning human being.
Tag Team Stagnation: The Bar interrupted New Day’s cooking segment, and despite the slight differences in setting, this was basically a repeat of what these teams have been doing for the past three weeks. New Day walks out and clowns around a bit and hurls a few insults, The Bar interrupts and castigates them, and then we have a match…or in this case a brawl. Much like the last two weeks, The Bar gained the physical advantage. I guess the big payoff was that New Day’s butler Bootyworth got covered in pancake batter, and I don’t even think it’s the first time that’s happened.
Daniel Bryan’s Flying Headbutt: There isn’t much to say here. I’m a huge Daniel Bryan fan, but I have no desire to see these anymore. It’s a low-reward/high-risk situation because the move never looks all that great when perfectly executed, and the chance is injury is so high. Bryan has done a great job of removing all the unnecessary neck bump sells and other high-risk scenarios from his act, so hopefully this is a wakeup call that this one needs to go too.
The Miz and Daniel Bryan’s Feud: Last week on commentary Daniel Bryan sat in and talked about how much he had learned over the years about Miz’s dirty tactics, and how the Miz’s tricks wouldn’t be able to stop him from reaching his goal of retaining the WWE Championship. So, what devious plot did The Miz hatch this week to prove to Bryan that he didn’t have him quite figured out yet? Well, he jumped up on the apron to cause a distraction, and Bryan slipped on that banana peel one more time. Maybe for old time’s sake? Who knows? In any case, this feud isn’t being written like the culmination of years of frustration for Bryan. It feels like leftovers being reheated in the microwave.