SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Nakamura Video: I believe it would be a mistake to have Shinsuke Nakamura wrestle on Smackdown before he faces Dolph Ziggler at the next Smackdown PPV. That should be his main roster debut and he should seldom wrestle on Smackdown after that. So far so good with that. Nakamura wasn’t on this week, but instead we got a video package helping to introduce him to the larger WWE audience who don’t watch NXT (or New Japan for that matter). They have seen him come out twice and get a big ovation, but he hasn’t done anything. And if you aren’t going to have him wrestle until the next PPV which is the right move, you have to do something else. A video package like this was a good way to go this week.
Charlotte vs. Naomi: This is a minor Hit. Naomi looked weak here. Charlotte Flair (am I the only one who finds it odd that after months of not using her last name, WWE is going overboard now to emphasize it?) was in control for the vast majority of the match and got the clean win. That made the Women’s Champion look weak which I don’t like. I always advocate for keeping the Champions strong which is why I have pushed in the past for doing away with these non-Title matches. We’ve now seen this match. Do we need to see it again next week, just because the Title is on the line? It was a good match and was well executed. Charlotte stayed away from the moonsault which is good. Naomi should diversify her offense. She does a ton of kicks and most of her come backs in the match involved some type of kick to the head. I think her style works better in slightly shorter matches where the redundant kicks don’t stand out as much. But, she showed good fire when making those comebacks and overall it was just good enough to get the minor Hit.
Styles vs. Corbin: This was a good main event. Before it started, Kevin Owens got in a squash and joined the announce team. I have to say that it struck me as more than a coincidence that he told the ring announcer that he is terrible at his job when former ring announcer Justin Roberts has come out with a book that is critical of people in WWE bullying the ring announcer. I was disappointed that he is still doing the anti-America stuff. I didn’t give it a Miss, but wanted to at least bring it up. Owens was good doing guest commentary during this good match put on by Styles and Baron Corbin. Styles is so great and bumped big time for Corbin. They played with some of the spots from their triple threat match last week well like when Corbin avoided the running knee on the ring apron which was a big spot in last week’s match. Corbin held his own here with the great worker Styles. The ending protected Corbin a bit, but I don’t think the referee ever actually counted to 10. I could be wrong, but that seemed a bit off.
My other issue here is that USA Network had a countdown clock running in the corner of the screen to the start of their debuting competition show. I don’t watch the clock when I’m watching a show live. And I don’t check how much time is left when I’m watching a on DVR. When I’m watching a main event of Smackdown, I don’t know how much time is left. Obviously, I know it is getting close to the end. However, it could be 3 minutes left, 2 minutes left, or 30 seconds and I wouldn’t know. But with a count down clock, I knew exactly when the show was going to end, so I knew when the match was going to end. A near fall with 3 minutes left in the show would work for me because as far as I know, there might only be 30 seconds left in the show. Here, I knew there were 3 minutes left and that the match wasn’t going to end at that point. It is like when a network will put a graphic at the bottom of the screen for another show which covers up subtitles or something else in the show that can’t be read because of the logo. If they cleared it with WWE, then WWE should have told them not to do it. I didn’t want to give this a Miss, but I did want to point it out as I found it very annoying.
Opening Segment: Charlotte started off Smackdown demanding a Women’s Title match. That is fine, but her scripted line with the Fast & Furious pun was so bad that it made this segment a Miss no matter what else happened in it. That was terrible! I didn’t like how Naomi attacked Charlotte with a cheap shot. That is backwards. It wasn’t all bad, and it did set up a big match for later in the show, but the terrible scripting at the beginning and the poor decision to have the babyface cheap shot the heel landed this segment in the Miss column.
Mean Girls Club: I don’t know where WWE is going with Natalya, Tamina and Carmella teaming up to be mad at Charlotte, but I don’t really care. Natalya is a very good worker, but not the best actor in the world. Tamina isn’t good at acting or wrestling. Carmella isn’t much better. So they are teaming up three of the four heel women on the roster to be mad at the fourth. That doesn’t make sense to me. I guess we’ll see where it goes from here and maybe it will turn out to be good in the end. But so far, it is a Miss.
Six-Pack Challenge: I don’t know where to begin. I think WWE changed their minds about having Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton in a House of Horrors match at Payback be for the WWE Championship. I’m pretty sure it was originally announced as a Title match, but it isn’t any more. If I’m right about that, then they changed their mind, but why? Was Wyatt supposed to win to take the Title to Raw and then somehow get Brock Lesnar to ultimately bring the Universal Title to Smackdown? That makes some sense. Raw is the longer more important show, so having a part time top Champion doesn’t make sense on Raw. It would make more sense to have the WWE Champion there and the part time Universal Champion on Smackdown. If that was the idea, then elevating the US Championship on Smackdown last week made sense, because it would be the #1 title on that brand when Lesnar is away. So elevate Owens as the US Champion and put Styles as his top challenger to elevate the Title also. Now, maybe none of this was in the works, but it does make sense to me if it was. If it was and they changed their minds, suddenly they needed a new challenger for Orton and they decided to go with a totally surprise direction for a short time (hopefully?) until they have time to establish something better.
Back to the actual challenge. Most of those six wrestlers did not have any business being in the 6 Pack Challenge especially Jindar Mahal who won the match! Has he ever won a match? Yes, but hardly ever. Why did he deserve to be in the match? You can argue that Dolph Ziggler is a former World Champion so he can be in it, but he hasn’t been a winner in a long time. He didn’t deserve it either. Erick Rowan was recently defeated pretty easily by the Champion Orton, so why did he deserve it? He didn’t. I guess you can make a case for Luke Harper deserving it. Sami Zayn loses more often than he wins and he took the loss in the US Title #1 contender’s match last week. If he can’t become the #1 contender for the US Title, then why does he deserve a chance to become the #1 contender for the WWE Title? And if he was worthy, why not Corbin who didn’t take the pin last week in that same match? I guess Mojo Rawley is the only one truly deserving based on winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. So, this made no sense to begin with based on most of the wrestlers in the match not deserving to be in it.
The match itself was ok. It wasn’t bad, but it was so hectic and scatter brained that it didn’t really get me into it. I also was trying to figure out which of these losers was going to win the match that I wasn’t engaged in the action. The action was fine, but nothing stands out as being strong enough to save it based on its ridiculous premise. Plus, a #1 contender match for the WWE Title should be the main event, not the first match of the show.
And then you get to Mahal as the winner which is so stupid. The fans were booing, not because they are engaged with Mahal as a heel, but because they were upset that this jobber to the stars is suddenly the #1 contender for what is supposed to be the top Title in the company. Last week, I said it was a mistake to have Owens doing the lazy anti-American gimmick. I said to leave it to lesser talents. Mahal is one of those talents and sure enough, he went to that bag of tricks in his post-match tirade. And because he is Indian, he has now teamed up with an Indian tag team. The Bollywood Boys have been presented in the CWC and NXT as babyfaces. They have an endearing quality to them in their fun loving attitude which doesn’t match up with Mahal other than their skin color and country of origin. I am not interested in this stable. And, Mahal is only being put in this position because of Vince McMahon’s body builder fetish and the fact that since returning to WWE, he has gotten ridiculously jacked and looks like a ‘roided up freak.
American Alpha Loses to the Colons: American Alpha is special. At least they should be. They aren’t. And the problem has been how WWE has used them since they debuted last year. The Colons as The Shining Stars were defined down as a total loser team on Raw. Just because they have shifted shows doesn’t mean they should suddenly be pushed, especially at the expense of Alpha. I don’t like how Tom Phillips was praising them for attacking Alpha from behind last week by saying that he liked how they made a statement on their first night on Smackdown. He should be angry at their heel tactics. The match itself was ok, but at 5 minutes wasn’t long enough to protect Alpha in the loss and the ending was very sloppy. WWE should have waited and built to this match and then had Alpha win their one match at a PPV before moving on to the next team in their rebuild to eventually get another Title shot against The Usos.
Tye Dillinger: The Perfect 10 gimmick is fun and is over with a certain portion of the fans. However, there is so much more to Tye Dillinger as a character that connected with the NXT audience. The fans wanted to cheer him, but not just because they liked to chant 10-10-10! His earnest style questioning himself late last year at his inability to win the big one was strong. The fans didn’t want him to join Sanity, and I don’t think it was just the 10 gimmick. The video that he awkwardly introduced in his back stage interview only focused on the 10 gimmick. It didn’t focus on anything else that makes him special. He also acted very cocky about it. To me, he came across more like a heel here and I’m sure that wasn’t the intent.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: WWE SMACKDOWN HITS & MISSES 4/11: Shinsuke, Alpha-Usos, Shane McMahon, Sami-Corbin-Styles, Owens, Orton-Rowan
OR CHECK OUT JASON POWELL’S LATEST HITLIST ARTICLES AT PROWRESTLING.NET 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.