By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Kofi Kingston responds to Randy Orton: The WWE production team and the wrestlers did great work with these video packages over the last two weeks. The promos effectively showed the contrast between the characters. If there’s one critique of the Kingston video it’s that the focus was on him seeking vindication more than it felt like he was concerned by Orton being strong threat to take his championship. The build to this match has been strong though, and I’m genuinely looking forward to the match.
Big E and Xavier Woods vs. Daniel Bryan and Rowan in a non-title match: A strong match to close show. Rowan hitting Woods with the ring steps and the post match beatdown by the heels made them look ruthless, which played in nicely to the show closing angle.
Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon: It was strange that Owens waited until the go-home show to ask Shane match the stipulation that he will leave WWE if he loses on Sunday. Owens tried to make Shane out to be a coward for declining, but Shane actually seemed logical since there was no reason for him to agree to the stipulation. The brawl that resulted in Owens being left lying thanks in part to Elias running interference was well done. The angle put heat on Shane going into SummerSlam and ideally left viewers anxious to see Owens get revenge on Sunday.
Charlotte Flair and Trish Stratus: The verbal segment left me looking forward to the match more than I was going into Smackdown. Mission accomplished.
Aleister Black vs. Sami Zayn: Why didn’t Sami say no and just leave when Black told him that their match was taking place on Smackdown instead of SummerSlam? Anyway, it was another good and decisive win for Black. This match taking place on Smackdown and the women’s tag title match occurring on Raw left me hopeful that WWE is actually showing discipline rather than turning SummerSlam into a marathon show just so the executives can boast about the average number of hours consumed by WWE Network subscribers.
Dolph Ziggler’s Goldberg entrance: There was nothing witty or creative about it. So why did this make the Hit section? Because I didn’t have to hear Ziggler’s godforsaken entrance music. Ziggler’s match with Ali was quick and gave Ziggler a win going into the match with Goldberg. It’s too bad it came at the expense of Ali, but it’s nothing that Ali can’t come back from. By the way, why did they have Ali cut a promo during a split-screen commercial break when the viewing audience couldn’t hear him?
Bray Wyatt’s Firefly Funhouse: It’s great that these segments are continuing past the reintroduction of the Wyatt character. I like that Wyatt didn’t just morph into The Fiend permanently, as the sweater-wearing puppeteer persona makes this a multi-layered character.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Roman Reigns crash video package: Why in the world would they include footage from inside the mystery driver’s car as it slammed into Roman’s car on Monday? If they really thought this enhanced the footage then they easily could have had Tom Phillips set it up by saying that the attacker is so deranged that he/she actually filmed it and then anonymously sent the footage to the production staff. But WWE doesn’t think it matters. Based on the social media reaction, there is clearly an audience that finds their way of doing things to be an absurd turnoff that makes it impossible for them to suspend their disbelief. Some viewers are content to turn off their brains off or to rationalize that this is the way WWE does things, but is there even a single viewer out there who actually thinks this awful approach actually makes the show better? Finally, the show closing moment with Daniel Bryan and Rowan being accused felt so uneventful and Buddy Murphy’s accusation came so easily that I was left hoping this was all a swerve.
Natalya vs. Ember Moon: More of a Hit for Natalya and a Miss for Moon. Natalya looks ruthless with back to back disqualification losses for refusing to release the Sharpshooter. At the same time, Moon is going into her title match with a loss in a tag team match last week and after crying out in pain while locked in a Sharpshooter this week. How inspiring. The post match angle with Bayley saving Moon was flat, and Bayley looked silly trying to break up the Sharpshooter with one hand while holding onto her title belt with the other.