SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
8/2 WWE Smackdown Instant Reaction – Three-Pack Edition
In the spirit of PWTorch contributor Ben Tucker’s “Instant Reaction” series, we present the top three takeaways from Tuesday’s Smackdown from PWTorch staff, contributors, and correspondents.
Greg Parks, PWTorch columnist/Smackdown Reporter
(1) WWE wants to make Dolph Ziggler great again. So it turns out WWE is actually putting some thought and effort into this latest Dolph Ziggler push. Dean Ambrose took him to task in a fantastic opening promo exchange, basically trying to motivate Ziggler to live up to everything he thinks and says he is. Ziggler then took on Bray Wyatt, in a match where he had nothing to gain, just to prove to himself and everybody else that he was deserving of the Summerslam World Title match. He beat Wyatt and in one night, WWE did a lot to turn around Ziggler’s character.
(2) The women go 0-for-2. Two matches involving women were booked for the show, and neither got off the ground. Eva Marie feigned injury to get out of her match with Becky Lynch, and Natalya attacked Carmella from behind during her entrance to prevent that match from taking place. The women’s division on Smackdown isn’t exactly off to a great start.
(3) Newsflash: John Cena loves WWE. In other news, sun expected to rise tomorrow. John Cena gave another impassioned speech, assuring those antsy fans of his that he’s not going anywhere despite his growing list of outside commitments. It’s a song and dance we’ve heard from Cena before, so there was nothing new on that front. A.J. Styles came off a little dim expecting Cena to have been vanquished from WWE when Styles beat him in their first singles match, but this segment laid the groundwork for a rematch at Summerslam, which I welcome.
Brandon LeClair, PWTorch correspondent
(1) Trading Wins. Raw left the door wide open for Smackdown to “get its win back,” so to speak, in Week 2 of the brand split. They did just that, putting on a consistently entertaining show that helped to define Smackdown’s new look and feel just a little bit more. While far from perfect, the show benefited from settling into a groove after last week’s frantically paced, undercooked premiere.
(2) The Dolph Ziggler Experiment. Last week, I said that Dolph would have to undergo some serious rehabilitation in order to be taken seriously as a WWE Championship contender. Tonight’s show was a solid start to that project. Dean Ambrose laid out Dolph’s plight to start the show, and something about hearing it acknowledged on the product helped me believe that maybe they were going to take this whole thing seriously. Thankfully, my hunch hadn’t changed by the end of the night. While I wasn’t a fan of the Wyatt’s revenge post match (too much 50/50 for my liking – I understand that they want to keep Bray strong, but they committed to Dolph and that needs to be the priority), Dolph showed some edge when necessary and got a big main event win that should help his cause.
(3) Raising Apollo Crews (or is it Creed?). Joking aside, I liked the decision to go with Apollo as The Miz’s next challenger. Miz and Maryse have been so effective as of late, and I’d like to see them really try to draw some personality out of Apollo, who is in desperate need of something beyond a nice smile. This is a good spot for Apollo, and a nice undercard match for Summerslam.
Tyler Sabo, PWTorch correspondent
(1) Apollo Crews and the Intercontinental Championship. I am very happy to see Apollo Crews getting a title shot. He is very talented and has a big future ahead of him. I hope this goes somewhere, instead of just an instant loss to The Miz. He deserves a push and while I’m not sure he will win the IC Title, it is a nice change of pace for the belt.
(2) American Alpha & Tag Team Championships for Smackdown. American Alpha had a great debut, albeit there seemed to be a few instances of miscommunication in the ring. That aside, it made me remember there is no tag team championships on Smackdown. It leads me to wonder if and when they will introduce new belts for Smackdown, and if not, if they will compete with Raw tag teams and have it go back and forth between shows. Only time will tell.
(3) Dolph Ziggler. As much as I wanted Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose, it is good to see Dolph re-focused. While I feel like Dean will not drop the title, this gives Dolph upward movement that he desperately needed. A little thing I noticed is that a superkick ended the match against Wyatt. The superkick lately has been a move-set move rather than a true finishing move, with people kicking out from the move, sometimes at one. Hopefully (but probably not) they will start giving more credibility to the move.
Ben Tucker, Mr. Instant Reaction
Ziggler Becomes Relevant. It’s great to see Dolph Ziggler finally featured on television in a unique way. His feud with Dean Ambrose is now infinitely more interesting than Balor-Rollins at Summerslam because of the kernels of truth in what Ziggler says. It feels like a real do or die situation for him, and he played off that perfectly tonight. Ambrose serves as the perfect foil as well, the blunt individual who doesn’t mince words and calls out BS when he sees it. Amazing how interesting WWE can be when the writing is logically written!
More Change for the Better. Love seeing the new backstage interview set-up and WWE trying to do new things with the show. And at least brawls at the interview set now won’t have the oddly placed tin-metal pipes. Well, maybe.
Eva Marie Stands Out. Eva is rocking her character by doing absolutely nothing, almost similar to Chris Jericho’s 2012 return. How this will translate in the long-term is one thing, but for now I’m a fan.
American Alpha Impresses. The crowd wasn’t excited for much tonight, but they loved American Alpha. Their offense is unique and exciting and the kids ate it up. Their only problem will be dealing with a lack of roster depth, but to be fair they were just on NXT that had about four active tag teams as well.
Cena Delivers. No one delivered a stronger performance tonight that John Cena. The crowd was massively into everything he did and A.J. Styles, after a bit of a shaky start, held up his end very well. It’s amazing to hear such a quiet crowd get up for one guy. It shows that even the lamest duck crowd does have it in them to get on their feet.