By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
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WWE Friday Night Smackdown Hits
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Roman Reigns for the Intercontinental Championship: There was no reason for Reigns to win the Intercontinental Championship because it does nothing for him, and there was no way that Vince McMahon was going to sign off on Reigns losing to Nakamura. As such, the DQ finish was expected and fine. Sami Zayn continues to be really good as Nakamura’s mouthpiece.
Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns vs. King Corbin and Shinsuke Nakamura: The live crowd was hot for Bryan and Reigns beating the heels. There was nothing wrong with the match or even the scenario of the opening singles match setting up a tag team main event aside from the fact that we’ve seen it a million times before.
Mandy Rose vs. Dana Brooke vs. Lacey Evans vs. Sonya Deville vs. Carmella vs. Nikki Cross in a six pack challenge for a shot at the Smackdown Women’s Championship: A soft Hit for Cross winning a solid match to earn a shot at Bayley’s championship. There’s no reason to think that this match will be taking place at Crown Jewel, so I assume it will be playing out on an upcoming edition of Smackdown. I want to like Dana Brooke, but her character comes off as desperate for approval and the Flex Appeal bit is just plain hokey. And it’s never a good idea to tell viewers that you can feel that this night will mark the end of a new beginning when you’re going to lose a match.
Otis, Tucker, Big E, and Xavier Woods vs. Robert Roode, Dolph Ziggler, Scott Dawson, and Dash Wilder: A crowd pleasing eight-man tag match to spotlight the silly tag team turmoil match at Crown Jewel. Otis remains over in a big way. Kofi Kingston continues to be sadly annoying with his power of positivity schtick preventing him from showing any disappointment over losing the WWE Championship. I’d love to think that he’s eventually going to snap and give an emotional reaction, but seeing is believing. There’s just no way to invest in his character when fans seem to care about him losing the WWE Championship more than he does.
WWE Friday Night Smackdown Misses
Overall show: I was able to find a few basic Hits, but make no mistake about it, this was a safe, boring, and predictable show. We’re three weeks into the Fox run and WWE already delivered a formula show complete with a singles match that spawned a tag team main event, and a big multi-team tag match to chew up time. I was hoping for some real change when Smackdown went to Fox, but it already feels like business as usual from a creative standpoint. The viewership numbers are spiraling downward and are already sinking close to the numbers that Smackdown was drawing on USA Network. The uninspired writing of the show tells me that WWE officials believe there is nothing wrong with their product and that it just needed the Fox marketing push to thrive. If that’s the case then they are sadly delusional. Fox has gone above and beyond to make Friday Night Smackdown a success. When will WWE do the same? Shake it up. Raw and Smackdown are boring and lifeless.
Shorty G vs. Curtis Axel: The match was fine, but the Shorty G bit is the worst gimmick this company has come up with in ages. Chad Gable is a tremendously talented wrestler and deserves so much better than this nonsense.
Braun Strowman vs. Drew Gulak: Gulak just wrapped up a dominant run as cruiserweight champion and now he’s being squashed by Strowman. What’s the point of keeping 205 Live and the cruiserweight division around if the company is going to bury it through the booking of their main roster shows and offer it no advertising support? It’s not that I expected Gulak to win, it’s that the creative forces could have picked anyone else for his role in this match. And are we really moving back to the powerpoint presentation gimmick? Just what WWE needs, more silly humor.