By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Goldberg and Undertaker: A good segment with Goldberg delivering a solid promo before Taker made his surprise appearance. I like that Goldberg didn’t show any signs of being intimidated by Taker’s disappearing act. And while the Saudi Arabian senior’s tour matches don’t do much for me, Goldberg is a badass character and this is being positioned as a showdown match, so Goldberg showing any sign of fear of Taker’s parlor tricks would have been a mistake.
Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler opening: A minor Hit. Kingston’s promo was more of the same with the ongoing celebration of his title win at WrestleMania, but the footage of his trip to Ghana was terrific and I hope we see more of it in the form of a WWE Network special. Ziggler continued with his “it should have been me” approach and Kingston’s rebuttal was solid. The back and forth with the video packages went on one video too long in that it started to feel unrealistic that these guys just happened to have so many video packages waiting to air.
Charlotte Flair vs. Carmella vs. Alexa Bliss: Who are three people who won’t be wrestling in Saudi Arabia on Friday? Anyway, the wrestlers worked hard and it was nice to see someone other than Flair earn a title shot. That said, it is bizarre that a Raw wrestler earned a shot at a Smackdown championship. Worse yet, the match result left me feeling even more concerned that they are working toward Becky Lynch vs. Lacey Evans vs. Charlotte Flair in a Triple Threat when they should be keeping Lynch and Flair away from one another after overexposing their feud. Even so, the match was entertaining and Bliss winning surprised me.
Shane McMahon and Roman Reigns: As little as I care about the actual Shane vs. Reigns match, creative has done a nice job of putting heat on Shane heading into the match. In fact, it’s a shame that the company doesn’t take this type of care of their full-time heels.
Lars Sullivan promo: A strong debut promo with Sullivan showing good poise and coming off both angry and demented. I was surprised that WWE took a risk by having him deliver the promo live in the ring rather than having him work with a safety net in a pre-tape setting. While some of the wording was awkward, he did a good job with his delivery.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn: A minor Miss. It was a good tag match and all, but a DQ finish with Dolph Ziggler laying out Kingston and Woods would have spared Owens and Zayn from taking yet another loss. Instead, they gave Kingston the win and then had Ziggler deliver the superkicks afterward. I was genuinely excited when Owens returned as a babyface, but they turned him heel prematurely (due to Daniel Bryan being sidelined) and he’s lost all momentum due to taking so many losses. Meanwhile, Zayn is a really good pest heel, but they take the fun out of it by having him be put in his place by losing matches once or twice a week on television.
WWE 24/7 Title: The lighthearted R-Truth comedy works. He’s legitimately funny and the fans like him. My issue with the title is how stupid all of the men chasing are portrayed. And did we really go from Truth complaining about the title ruining his life to him scrambling to win the title back after Elias pinned him?
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and new MLW National Openweight Champion Alexander Hammerstone, who discusses his background, how the underdog story has been overplayed in pro wrestling, the Dynasty faction, and more.