By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Daniel Bryan vs. Drew Gulak in an Intercontinental Title tournament match: Another strong match from Bryan and Gulak. I continue to hope that the long term plan is for Gulak to turn on Bryan, and perhaps Bryan winning this match is a step toward Gulak becoming jealous of Bryan and eventually snapping. As much as I enjoyed this match, I’d be curious to see the minute-by-minute ratings to gauge whether it held the interest of viewers or if Bryan facing a guy who has been booked as his bland and directionless sidekick was too dry from the masses.
The Miz TV with Otis: A solid segment that provided a nice hook for the main event tag match in the form of Otis being told to find a partner to face the heels. The Miz and John Morrison carried the segment by being good d-bags while running down Otis, whose childhood and family photos were endearing. This wasn’t one of Otis’s better personal outings, but Miz, Morrison, and the photos made it work for me. The actual match with Braun Strowman teaming with Otis to beat Miz and Morrison was pretty basic. Otis teasing a sneak attack and then pulling back once Strowman spotted him was fine, though I can’t say that Otis cashing in his Money in the Bank contract excites me.
Sonya Deville: Another strong promo from Deville, who has thrived since her split with Mandy Rose. She’s making the most of her television minutes and hopefully the right creative forces are taking notice and won’t just forget about her once her feud with Rose runs its course.
Dana Brooke vs. Naomi: A soft Hit for a rare upset win on the typically formulaic Smackdown. I respect that Brooke has worked hard to improve and I want to like her, but her Pollyanna approach to her promos is a turnoff.
WWE Smackdown Misses
King Corbin vs. Elias in an Intercontinental Title tournament match: Both men worked hard, but the match overstayed its welcome a bit in the empty venue setting. The truth is that the more they try to heat up this feud, the less interested I am. On a positive note, it was a pleasant surprise to see WWE book some compelling first-round tournament matches.
Charlotte Flair, Bayley, and Sasha Banks: Michael Cole announced that the rules of the brand to brand invitations are that wrestlers can appear on another brand up to four times each year. So in a storyline sense, Flair was invited to use one of her appearances to cut her usual superiority promo? Of course, Bayley and Banks came out and heeled on her to set up WWE’s latest in a tired series of non-title champion vs. champion matches. In this case, there’s no one to root for since both women are heels. Obviously, the goal of the segment was to use Flair to drive a wedge between Bayley and Banks. We all know the split is coming and while the payoff might be great, it’s making Bayley’s title matches feel predictable because it feels like all roads lead to her against Banks.
The Forgotten Sons: The repeated comment about not being welcomed home with open arms when they returned home from the military continues to feel like a holdover from the Vietnam era. Given the timing of their military service, the complaint just doesn’t ring true. While it’s still early, I’m not sure what the company can do creatively to make it seem like there’s even heel logic to prop up their currently empty complaint.