By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair: Asuka has been a wasted talent since her WrestleMania loss to Charlotte and this match finally helped breathe some life back into her act. Asuka and Charlotte work well together and I enjoyed all of the submission attempts and the back and forth approach the match. The kendo stick finish was fine. It felt like Charlotte took the easy way out more than anything, and hopefully this means she’s going to start playing a true heel. I also liked the way Asuka stood tall in the end by delivering the big kendo stick beatdown to both of her TLC opponents.
Daniel Bryan vs. Mustafa Ali: Bryan opened the show with another strong, hilarious heel promo. Most importantly, Bryan continued to draw good heat from the live crowd despite being so damn entertaining. His verbal exchange with Ali was a gem and the actual match well worked. Bryan looked vicious at times and sold nicely for Ali’s flash offense. It was cool to see Ali get a Smackdown match and hopefully we’ll start to see more of the cruiserweights on the main shows. At this point, I’m all for doing away with 205 Live and spreading its roster throughout Raw, Smackdown, and NXT.
Rusev and Jeff Hardy vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe: A nice win for Rusev to presumably set up a U.S. Title match. Now let’s just hope it doesn’t end with the usual Nakamura nut shot finish.
New Day host a rap battle involving The Usos and The Bar: A minor Hit. Sheamus and Cesaro were humorous and the Usos showed good freestyle (maybe?) skills. It’s not my idea of the ideal way to promote a three-way match between these elite teams and this really could have been done to fill time another week, but if noting else the segment held my interest and was mildly entertaining.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Shane McMahon and The Miz vs. The Vegas Boys: Congratulations to Shane for performing the clunkiest DDT spot I have ever witnessed on a televised show. I’m just not digging what they were doing with Shane and Miz. I assume it’s leading to a match between the two, but this awkward build has been uninspiring. In fact, this is my least favorite storyline on Smackdown these days, and that’s really saying something because I’m usually entertained by Miz.
Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio: A minor Miss for the brief angle that resulted in Mysterio getting a small measure of revenge. It was a race to set up their chairs match for TLC and the program just didn’t get enough time to kick into second gear.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guests David McLane and Selina “Bambi” Majors discussing the launch of the WOW women’s wrestling promotion series on AXS TV.