By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Shane McMahon’s Town Hall: A minor Hit, if only because it had more variety than the usual 20 minute dialogue barf that has become the norm for most WWE TV show openings. It also reminded us of a few characters we haven’t seen on TV in a while, namely Charlotte and Buddy Murphy. Kevin Owens making an appearance and giving another Stunner continues his evolution as a new anti-authority figure, but it was tempered by the result of Shane somehow forgetting how to sell the move.
Aleister Black vs. Cesaro: The split screen commercial break may have diminished the action somewhat, but this was another good match to follow up their performance at Extreme Rules. I was hoping to see Cesaro turn this into a competitive feud, but Black is clearly the priority here, and he’ll be a fresh and dangerous opponent for whichever title he chooses to seek first.
Liv Morgan: Her match with Charlotte was brief, but Morgan showed some fire after the bell be declaring that Charlotte was right, and she needed to come back and “be real”. Smackdown needs an underdog babyface in the Women’s division, and Morgan could fill that role if she adopts a character that takes things more seriously. Setting up defeating Charlotte as a goal she can work towards was smart as well.
New Day vs. Samoa Joe, Randy Orton, and Elias: Given that New Day acquired more gold on Sunday, it was important to establish a new threat here. Randy Orton pinning Kofi Kingston is exactly what his championship reign needs right now. It’s been several months of Kofi facing weak challenges that didn’t land as legitimate threats, and Randy Orton is the opposite of that. Orton and Kofi also have a shared history that could be played upon more heavily to cement the personal nature of the feud.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Daniel Bryan Tease: WWE advertised Bryan making a career altering announcement, only to have him drop the mic without saying a word. It came across as the television equivalent of internet click bait. Maybe the payoff will be worth it, but you risk losing portions of the audience when advertised events never transpire.
Bayley and Ember Moon vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville: Weeks of Ember Moon’s torment lead to a two-minute match, and then Bayley simply chooses Moon as her next opponent? Becky Lynch had to sit through a 17-hour snoozer of a fatal four-way on Monday to find out who her next challenger was, so this felt radically inconsistent.
The IIconics vs. The Kabuki Warriors for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles: Another less than two-minute match decided by a count out after the IIconics decided they didn’t want to wrestle anymore. I’m absolutely dreading the string of matches to follow where the IIconics find cheap ways to win before being cornered by some kind of stipulation at SummerSlam.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens: After his 17-second defeat on Sunday, Shane decides that Dolph is the guy who can take down his new nemesis Owens. This felt very formula, as Owens ends up hitting a Stunner on Ziggler and Shane before escaping unscathed from Shane’s band of cronies. I was hoping Owens would add his own flavor to the anti-hero recipe, but thus far this feels like reading out of a well-worn cookbook.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Will Pruett on the Roman Reigns whodunnit angle, WWE heading into SummerSlam, AEW's October 2 premiere on TNT, the New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Climax Tournament through Day 11, and more (77:45)...