By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Opening Promo: A minor Hit for Kofi doing a nice job of setting up his new opponent Samoa Joe as someone whom he has good reason to fear. Joe hasn’t been treated well as a potential challenger through his recent booking, so Kofi is going to have to do some considerable heavy lifting to sell for Joe both on the microphone and in the ring heading into their match at Extreme Rules to lend him some credibility.
The Miz vs. Elias in a best of three falls match: Shane McMahon vs. The Miz has been one of the better WWE feuds going back to WrestleMania, and I have to believe they are keeping this alive for SummerSlam by continuing to feature matches like this. The Miz has done a better job than anyone could have expected of getting over as a babyface, and he’s earned the right to be the one to finally put Shane in his place. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Miz give Elias his comeuppance soon, possibly at Extreme Rules, to setup an eventual PPV return match with Shane McMahon.
Bayley vs. Nikki Cross: The somewhat clumsy finish aside, this was a good outing for both women. Bayley took some big bumps, and Cross continues to show off some infectious charisma, even if she is the last person to figure out how she’s being manipulated. Nikki getting the win sets up another title shot for Alexa, and once Nikki realizes she’s being bamboozled, I’m wondering if she’ll adopt some of the traits of her previously wild character to exact her revenge. This is the best women’s program in WWE right now.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Smackdown Tag Division: We got double 50/50 booking tonight, with the Champions Daniel Bryan and Rowan, and Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens taking losses shortly after picking up victories on Sunday. I can only assume this means we get some kind of Fatal Four-Way tag match at Extreme Rules. In any case, it felt like all the character progress that could have been made after Stomping Grounds was quickly erased and set back to even steven.
The New Commercial Edict: No one can wrestle during commercials unless it’s one of the picture in picture commercials they do on Smackdown, so WWE has taken to having elimination matches and best of three falls matches to allow for resets during the commercial breaks. I’ve heard some argue that it has improved the pacing of the show, but for my taste it has just meant seldom used match stipulations are suddenly all over the show. As a result, it has created some awkward match pacing, and wrestlers taking pin falls that reduce their credibility.
Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler in a non-title, best of three falls match: The perils of the best of three falls stipulation was never more evident in this match, where Kingston took his first pinfall since some time in March less than four minutes into this match. Previously, he had shown an almost supernatural toughness, taking three Blue Thunder Bombs in a row, and lasting through some incredible abuse in those gauntlet matches. He still ended up winning the final fall, but why have him take a pinfall here at all? Wouldn’t it be more beneficial for Samoa Joe to be the one to expose the gap in his armor somehow?
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