By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown Hits
Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez: A good angle with Paul Heyman and Rey Mysterio doing the heavy lifting on the mic. It’s no secret that Heyman is one of the great talkers in pro wrestling history, but kudos to Mysterio for stepping up his promo game during the twilight of his career. The still shots from their UFC fight were fantastic. I watched that fight live back in the day and thought that WWE needed to show the fight footage to really sell this match, but the still shot images that showed a bloodied and beaten Lesnar were completely effective.
Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins for the first pick: A minor Hit for a well worked match until the confusing finish. Bray Wyatt’s interference causing a disqualification turned out to be logical once it was announced, but viewers had to sit through a commercial break wondering if this a no-contest similar to the Rollins vs. Wyatt match at Hell in a Cell. Michael Cole playing up the idea that this could be the last time Reigns and Rollins face one another was ridiculous. WWE fans know that barring some type of tragedy or early retirement, there’s no way they’ve seen the last of this match despite the likelihood that both men will end up on opposite brands. By the way, I can’t believe Wyatt is already taking plays out of the Undertaker and Kane playbook by tearing through the ring and pulling someone to “hell”.
Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: New look Bayley is a step in the right direction. Never let it be forgotten that Vince McMahon completely botched a wonderful babyface character that should have resulted in his company printing money due to her strong appeal with children and adults alike. But the character was so mishandled on the main roster that change was needed, and the soft heel change we had before last night wasn’t cutting it. I assume Flair losing her title in Sasha Banks style means she will be moving to the Raw brand.
WWE Friday Night Smackdown Misses
WWE Draft: An uneventful mess. WWE officials should be completely embarrassed that their draft played out in the same order as their draft pool listing for as long as it did. And it’s absurd that tag teams could be drafted as a unit, yet the Raw brand drafted Alexa Bliss separately and then waited a round to draft her tag team partner Nikki Cross (perhaps they can have some fun with Bliss boasting about being a higher pick). But the biggest problem with this draft was everything that led up to it. The wild card rule was absurd as the company completely ignored the brand split rules and they started paying the price for it last night. I couldn’t even remember which brand most of the wrestlers actually belonged to, so it meant nothing when they assigned the wrestlers to one brand or the other. And because they ignored the rules of the brand split for so long, there was no reason to be excited about this draft because it didn’t create any new matchup possibilities, it actually took them away.
New Day vs. The OC: I get the whole power of positivity bit, but it was absurd that Kofi Kingston was happy go lucky and chucking pancakes one week after he lost the WWE Championship to Brock Lesnar in just a matter of seconds. Many of Kingston’s fans were upset by this move, yet the Kingston character acted like nothing even happened. The match was fine, but the consolation of Kingston pinning the U.S. Champion didn’t feel like much of a prize. Does this mean Kingston ends up on Raw and chases Styles?
Becky Lynch first overall: Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for Lynch being selected with the first overall pick. It sends the right message on multiple levels. The issue is that we never even heard from her. Being first pick should be meaningful and yet they just moved on and had Stephanie McMahon read the rest of the first round picks. This was a missed opportunity.
Shorty Gable vs. King Corbin: Who does Vince McMahon think this “Shorty Gable” nonsense actually appeals to? Please tell me Gable and Corbin are going to end up on opposite brands. The feud has completely run its course and I have no desire to see them work together ever again.
Overall show: WWE’s cutesy tongue in cheek approach to damn near everything they do on the main roster is not what the vast majority of their audience is looking for. I’ve mentioned many times over the years that it’s not a coincidence that a lot of fans come back for WrestleMania season because they know it’s the one time of year that the company is most likely to take itself seriously. I was hopeful that the Fox executives would demand a serious and more sports-like product as opposed to Vince McMahon’s tired sports entertainment approach, but it was apparent in week one and cemented in week two that nothing is changing. Hell, Fox had their sports personalities and their stupid robot mascot take part in cornball WWE skits. The new network, new set, new music, new graphics, new roster, and new celebrity cameo appearances will all be trumped over the long haul if the same bad booking approach continues.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features referee Rob Page discussing the difficulty of reffing tag matches in the modern era, making three counts if a wrestler's shoulders are down even if it wasn't the planned finish, the growth of F1rst Wrestling, and more...