American Alpha vs. The Usos: This was a good, but too short Tag Team Championship match. American Alpha and The Usos are two very talented tag teams and I enjoy watching them wrestle. This match only went about 10 minutes with a chunk taken out for a commercial break. So we didn’t get to see enough of these two good teams. But, it was still a good match. I just wonder where The Usos go from here. With The Shinning Stars jumping to Smackdown and attacking American Alpha after the match, the Usos will need a new challenger and I guess the newly acquired New Day will be it. It is a bit silly to treat The Shinning Stars as a big deal, but I guess they have to. I hope that this will be the start of a great journey for American Alpha to once again down the line win the Tag Team Titles. They need to go on that journey to reconnect with the fans, or connect with fans they never connected with. They need more chances to show off their skills in the ring with a variety of opponents making the fans want to see more of them in the ring. They need to show more of their personality and get time to talk on the mic to help connect with the fans the way they did in NXT. So, I am hopeful that this loss will be the first step in elevating them to being top stars in the future so their next Title victory is a huge deal.
Shinsuke Nakamura: I was looking forward seeing Shinsuke Nakamura introduced to the larger WWE Universe with a match against The Miz. With Miz going to Raw, he needed a new first opponent and that turns out to be Dolph Ziggler. I have mixed feelings about that. Right now, Miz is so much higher on the card than Ziggler that this feels like a step down for Nakamura’s first opponent. However, Miz probably deserves to be protected against Nakamura, but Ziggler doesn’t. So, I am hopeful that this means that when they have their match, it will be a strong win for Nakamura. He shouldn’t be wrestling on tv every week. I thought it was odd last year after his big debut against Sami Zayn at Takeover Dallas to see him wrestling lower card wrestlers in short matches on NXT’s weekly show. I don’t want to see the same thing on Smackdown. He should be treated like a bigger deal. I don’t want to see him wrestle until Smackdown’s next PPV against Ziggler. Ziggler can have a great match with Nakamura and get beat in the end allowing Nakamura to go on to something bigger without a protracted feud.
Zayn vs. Corbin vs. Styles: The triple threat main event #1 contender for the United States Championship was a very good match. You have two great wrestlers in Sami Zayn and AJ Styles plus Baron Corbin who has been improving every week. He more than held his own here with these two world class workers. The match felt important. It was effectively set up in the opening segment. All three wrestlers in the match were given a video package earlier in the show. Corbin’s in particular was very good. So, this match felt like a big deal before it started and then it delivered. It was well booked. It was well executed. It was fun to watch. It went a good length at 18 minutes. The right man won with Styles going over to set up an eventual US Title match against Kevin Owens. It was a good ending to an up and down show.
Opening Segment: I didn’t like how Raw started off this week and the message that it sent right up front about the Superstar Shakeup. I felt the same about Smackdown too. Owens was obviously coming to Smackdown to balance out losing the Intercontinental Champion. Owens is a great pic up for Smackdown, but I don’t like him going for the cheap anti-American heat. He is so far above that. He is so much better than that. Leave that to heels who need it. I was intrigued by Corbin coming out to interrupt. He was solid on the mic making a strong case for himself deserving a United States Championship match. I was disappointed to see Zayn come out at that point. I agreed with Owens when he said “no, no, no, no…” I really hoped that Zayn and Owens would be separated. It sent the message that we are likely to get more of the same with this Superstar Shakeup. I do hope that Zayn gets a better chance on Smackdown, but will he pass Randy Orton, Styles or Nakamura on the babyface side of the roster? I am hopeful that he has dropped the annoying neurotic character he’s been playing on Raw. Anyway, Styles came out and it was ok. This all set up the big triple threat main event #1 contender main event which worked well. But, there was too much bad in the opening despite some of the good.
Orton vs. Rowan: This show felt like it was getting Smackdown fans ready for the fact that Orton is going to lose the WWE Championship to Bray Wyatt at Payback and the brand is losing the top Title. This show positioned the newly obtained US Title as the top Title on the show. Owens was put in a more prominent position than Orton who came out for this opening match with no build or hype. It felt inconsequential when it started. The match was ok. It was really just a squash with Orton dominating Erick Rowan. I do like the idea that Wyatt would keep having a member of his Wyatt Family on Smackdown even though he is on Raw. But, I do have to wonder why the Smackdown authority figures would allow a Raw wrestler to interrupt their Champion’s match on the big screen. That makes no sense.
Shane and the Women: This was bad. I didn’t care for the idea of Shane McMahon coming out and introducing the entire Women’s Division. Six women doesn’t seem like enough of a division. This is nothing against the women themselves. It just isn’t deep enough and this underscored that. The joke from Shane being overly clever making the fans think that he was going to announce Charlotte was coming to Smackdown only to have it be Tamina instead was lame. It was a slap to Tamina as far as I’m concerned. She hasn’t been on tv in so long, I didn’t even know she was still in the company. If you had told me she’d been hurt and asked me which brand she was drafted to last year, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. So this didn’t feel like a big deal. Then the fans in Boston wanted Sasha Banks which I found humorous. Shane’s trick was supposed to get the fans wanting to see Charlotte, but they were chanting for Banks instead. Then we actually got Charlotte coming out and after she stood on the stage, I was expecting something to happen. Instead, it went to commercial. I thought it would come back from the break and we would get a tag match or something. But, we got nothing. It was so anti-climactic.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: WWE SMACKDOWN HITS & MISSES 4/6: Nakamura’s debut, Naomi and Bliss, Shane McMahon and A.J. Styles, Corbin vs. Ambrose
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Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw and Smackdown each week. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.