By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Ali vs. Buddy Murphy in a King of the Ring tournament match: Another week, another strong match involving Murphy. For that matter, the same can be said of Ali when he’s actually booked to appear on television consistently. The outcome truly surprised me in that I didn’t expect to see Murphy follow up his big win over Daniel Bryan with a first round tournament loss.
Kofi Kingston and Randy Orton opening segment: A strong segment that put more heat on Orton for threatening to pay a visit to Kingston’s son, then doubled down on the heat by having Orton get the better of Kingston in a backstage brawl.
Shinsuke Nakamura, Sami Zayn, and The Miz: A minor Hit. If you missed the angle last week, they essentially repeated it for you in this segment. Zayn is great at generating heat and I’m very optimistic about him being paired with Nakamura.
Randy Orton vs. Big E: A logical match to increase the heat on Orton heading into his next title match with Kingston. The Revival interfering keeps their alliance with Orton alive and continues the build to their match against Big E and Xavier Woods for the Smackdown Tag Titles.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, and Rowan: A week after introducing a Rowan lookalike, they magically come up the perfect video angle that shows a hooded man with a red beard walking away from the scene of the near miss involving the backstage scaffolding. For some reason, everyone involved just accepts that the bearded man was Rowan even though we just met his lookalike last week. To borrow a line from Randy Orton, this was stupid, stupid, stupid. This story is getting worse by the week. Putting that aside, they could at least have a good payoff. While I assume Bryan and Rowan are the culprits, what if the Bryan character is telling the truth about someone else putting Rowan up to this? After all, Rowan has a long storyline history following a certain cult figure who is appearing sporadically as The Fiend these days.
Bayley vs. Lacey Evans in a non-title match: We haven’t seen much of Evans on television since her feud with Becky Lynch concluded. Her performance was so rough that if I didn’t know better, I’d wonder if she hadn’t been in the ring since then.
Chad Gable vs. Shelton Benjamin in a King of the Ring tournament match: A brief yet solid match that was built on short jokes. Another issue is that WWE going with babyface vs. heel matchups in the tournament made the outcome feel predictable.