By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Kofi Kingston and Randy Orton: A good brawl that played on the historic Boom Drop moment that took place in the same venue. Creative has done a very good job of putting heat on Orton throughout the build to the match, so seeing Kingston put him through the table on the go-home show wasn’t very damaging to Orton.
Undertaker and Sami Zayn: A minor Hit for a mixed bag. It was a good opening segment and yet it felt a tad underwhelming without Bray Wyatt’s “The Fiend” persona showing up. And while I got a kick out of Zayn interrupting Taker, it was also disappointing that Shinsuke Nakamura didn’t get involved. There were some intriguing possibilities and instead they took the most basic approach.
The Miz vs. Andrade: A better than expected match. It’s frustrating to see Andrade take another loss and continue to spin his wheels, but Miz going over seemed like a foregone conclusion since he’s challenging for the U.S. Championship at Clash of Champions. Nakamura attacking Miz afterward basically felt warranted given that Miz threw Andrade into him at the broadcast table during the match.
Nikki Cross vs. Mandy Rose: Rose’s pre-match promo in which she was critical of Cross’s looks was so formula that it was hard to blame Rose for sounding uninspired. If nothing else, it established Rose as the heel and gave the Cross character a reason to charge the ring and go right after Rose. I was surprised to see Cross win the match if only because you’d think they’d want the challengers to look stronger going into Sunday’s WWE Women’s Tag Title match.
Heavy Machinery squash: The usual quirky fun with Otis in a simple showcase win for him and Tucker.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Shane McMahon vs. Chad Gable in a King of the Ring semifinal match with Kevin Owens as special referee: Gable beating Shane is actually the biggest win of Gable’s singles career. But his run of tournament wins haven’t made me care more about the character, mostly because he spends so much time looking sad when people make fun of his height. Meanwhile, Owens looked like an asshole for playing along with Shane in hopes of getting the $100,000 fine erased. The fans chanted “you tapped out” at Shane when they just as easily could have chanted “you sold out” at Owens. Shane attacking Owens and firing him helps heat up their feud, but Owens has come off so poorly since he started asking Shane to rescind the fine that I can’t say I have any desire to see the feud continue. And everything with Shane and Owens overshadowed what should have been a big moment for Gable.
Roman Reigns and Erick Rowan: There were some fun visuals during the brawl, but the thing I took from it was that Reigns was dominant whenever they fought straight up. Rowan’s offense came from powerbombing a planted fan onto Reigns, hitting Reigns when producers were holding him back, and then swinging a camera at him while security was holding him back. It wasn’t the right message to send when everyone already considered Reigns to be a heavy favorite going into their match at Clash of Champions.
Bayey vs. Ember Moon in a non-title match: The purpose of the match seemed to be to have Charlotte Flair out there to set up the post match moment between her and Bayley. Did they really need to sacrifice Ember Moon to get there? Isn’t there someone with less upside who could have been fed to Bayley?
Go-home show for Clash of Champions: The entire final segment was dedicated to setting up Shane vs. Owens for a future show and Gable advancing to the tournament finals, which have been pulled from the pay-per-view and moved to Raw. There were elements of the show that provided final hype for Sunday, but none it left me more excited for Clash of Champions than I was before Smackdown.