SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment: This was not a great start to Smackdown, but good enough to get a Hit. Dolph Ziggler and The Miz were good in addressing Ziggler’s win over Miz at No Mercy. It was a good celebration of Ziggler winning the Intercontinental Championship and thus saving his WWE career. It would be nice if Ziggler cut down on some of the yelling. They had a great match at the PPV and so seeing the feud continue to a rematch should be fun. I didn’t understand having the handicap match at that point. Miz acted like he was the one making the match, but obviously he doesn’t have that power. I read that Mauro Ranallo said that it was Ziggler’s request which Daniel Bryan approved (I missed that line watching). So I was confused, but I guess they covered it. Even with that line it doesn’t make sense how it was presented like Miz surprising Ziggler with The Spirit Squad if Ziggler knew about the match. It was an odd ending to an otherwise pretty good opening segment.
The match that followed and the aftermath was all fine. I appreciate that they set up a 6 man tag and actually had the discipline to save it for another week, instead of rushing to it right away.
Styles, Ambrose, and Ellsworth: This was a fun long stretch of the middle of the show. AJ Styles started it off with a nice promo bragging about beating Dean Ambrose and John Cena at No Mercy. Ambrose came out to interrupt since Cena is off trying to be Kelly Ripa’s co-host. This led to Styles bringing out James Ellsworth as his opponent. Ellsworth is doing a nice job as the Jobber to the Stars on Smackdown. I found it amusing how Ambrose prepared to be the special guest referee for the match by taking the referee’s shirt and then emptying his pockets by handing all the random stuff to Styles. The match itself was fun. It achieved what it was supposed to achieve, entertaining the fans while giving Ambrose a chance to one up Styles. My only issue is that Ambrose did look like an ass when he allowed Ellsworth to stay in the Calf Crusher while pretending to be on the phone.
Survivor Series Challenge: This is the type of crap that I feared when they announced they were bringing back the brand split. Wrestlers should not have an allegiance to their brand, at least not a significant one. Wrestlers should not want to team up with wrestlers whom they hate just to defend their brand in a meaningless 5 on 5 traditional Survivor Series tag match. Nikki Bella should not team up with Carmella to take on a team featuring both Charlotte and Sasha Banks. The Usos and American Alpha shouldn’t put their differences aside to team up to take on a team that includes both Anderson & Gallows and the team they just beat the crap out of on Raw, Enzo & Cass. Ambrose, Cena and Styles should not be on a team together against a team with Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho. And I don’t have a vested interest as a fan into seeing one brand defeat the other. I think this is a bad idea period, and especially so soon after the brand split. If they wanted to do this, I would at least wait until next year’s Survivor Series. That way they would have 12 more months to really build a sense of brand loyalty among the wrestler and a true rivalry between the two shows.
Gable vs. Uso: Are the Usos really fraternal twins? I would have sworn they were identical. That was my big takeaway from this match since it was so short, under 3 minutes. WWE has a chance to have a great feud that doesn’t involve the Tag Team Championship. The Usos and American Alpha are the two best teams on Smackdown (maybe all of WWE). They have one clearly set up as a babyface and the other clearly set up as a heel. They have been feuding for a good amount of time and the feud has a chance to help reestablish the Usos as a top team while doing the same for American Alpha for the first time as they only recently were called up from NXT. And then you can position either of them as a top contender to become the Smackdown Tag Team Champs and hopefully hold that title for a long time. But, this week was a major step backwards in the presentation of this feud. Having Jimmy Uso and Chad Gable in such a short match where neither got a ring entrance doesn’t make sense. The ending was a bit clever with Jay Uso helping provide leverage on the pin, but it could have come after an 8-9 minute match instead. At least take away the stupid skit afterwards with the Hype Bros and The Ascension and add that time to this match. That wouldn’t have been great, but at least better.
Wyatt Family vs. Orton & Kane: After the Styles vs. Ellsworth match, there was nothing good on Smackdown. In fact, it felt like almost nothing happened until this poor main event. When they announced this match at Raw, I was so underwhelmed I actually yelled out in the arena “I’m glad I didn’t buy tickets for that!” Kane should not be put in main event situations at this point in his career. I like Luke Harper, so I am glad to see him back, but the Wyatt Family is so stale, it means nothing to me any more. The Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton feud has been terrible. This match was boring. And again it ended with more Wyatt Family spookiness with the lights going out and Kane disappearing and Harper taking Kane’s spot on the ring apron so Orton couldn’t tag out. Yawn.
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For another view from the original Hitlist author, compare Jason Powell’s views to mine by visiting ProWrestling.net’s “Hitlist” section here.
Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw and Smackdown each week. Email him at email@example.com.