SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Styles Victory Video: When WWE does a rare Title change at a house show, it makes sense for them to make a big deal out of it on the next tv show. And they did that here with the video package that kicked off Smackdown highlighting AJ Styles’ United States Championship victory over Kevin Owens at MSG last weekend. WWE should make a bigger deal about their house shows in general, but at least they did it here to make fans want to go to these shows as they might see something big.
Rest of the Opening: I like the idea of Styles bringing back the US Open Challenge as a real challenge as juxtaposed to the fake one that Owens did a few weeks ago. John Cena answering the challenge was interesting. Obviously, this was a big tease as first Owens and then Rusev would interrupt to keep the match from happening. They shouldn’t do too many teases like this, but this one worked well to further those two feuds and set up the big tag team main event for the end of the show. The individual performances from Styles, Cena and Owens were strong which helped.
Maria, Mike and Sami: I loved it when Sami Zayn asked Mike Kanellis if he actually competes in WWE? He asked Mike and Maria what they do around here which was amusing. The slap and the attack with the vase afterwards worked well. There has to be more to their act than just being ridiculously in love and a mean streak like that is a good way to go. This furthered the build to what will eventually be a Kanellis vs. Zayn match. What I’m curious to see is if that is his in ring debut, or do they give him a few squashes first?
Styles & Cena vs. Owens & Rusev: This is a minor Hit. It was a solid to good tag team main event. It had a ton of star power and continued the progression of two feuds. It wasn’t great and given the talent involved, it certainly could have been better. It was a bit paint by numbers. It was a bit formulaic. I did enjoy it just enough to get a Hit, but it certainly didn’t blow me away.
Mahal: I didn’t do a Hits & Misses for Smackdown last week. If I had, there would have been zero Hits as it was a terrible show. One of the problems was Rusev coming back doing the same lazy anti-USA gimmick that Jinder Mahal is doing already on Smackdown and that Rusev should have evolved beyond at this point. Having two evil foreigners on the show is two too many. At least Rusev can talk some and wrestle very well. Mahal can’t do either. He should have been getting these types of strong victories for months before elevating him to being the WWE Champion. This is backwards. I guess it is good that he won a match without the help of the Singh Brothers, but this didn’t do anything for his credibility. What does it say about your top Champion when he is barely featured and never in the main event of Smackdown? And what does it say about the Title picture when your #1 contender doesn’t appear? So all we got in terms of hype for a WWE Title match was a short match that wasn’t particularly good, a lame promo and the threat that he would have the Punjabi Prison at Smackdown next week. That doesn’t make me look forward to next week’s show or the PPV at all.
Women and Shane: We’ve seen far too many of these segments on Smackdown with all the women on the roster either in the ring together, or as in this case in the back together with an authority figure. They aren’t doing enough to build individual feuds within the division. They are treated like a block and not individuals which isn’t in the spirit of the Women’s Revolution. And this wasn’t even good beyond that. It was stupid that Naomi would say that Lana better not get another Title shot, when she was the one who demanded the first two. Are all the women just hanging out spying on each other so that they are right there ready to interrupt one after another? That wasn’t believable. Charlotte feels like the female Shinsuke Nakamura at this point in terms of being treated as just another wrestler, albeit a top wrestler, but not anything special. Charlotte hasn’t felt special since the non-babyface turn shortly after arriving on Smackdown. Then we got the announcement of a five way elimination match to determine the new #1 contender for Naomi’s Title. It paints the picture that all the women in the division are on the same level. And the fact that Lana was included was a total joke. How about you build up some feuds, have some singles matches to establish a true pecking order in the division, with two clearly out ahead of the others, and then have them face?
Nakamura vs. Corbin: I said earlier that you can’t tease a big match and not deliver too often. Here, they did it twice on the same show. Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin suffered a bit from being the second time they did it on Smackdown. But, it wasn’t as good because in the first case, Styles and Cena were taken out and could not have gone on to have their US Title match at that point. Here, after a good brawl between them, Nakamura and Corbin were both capable of having their match. There didn’t seem to be a strong enough reason to cancel the match at that point. Nakamura was even in the ring doing his “come on” bit. So, why not have the match?
Fashion Files: Once again, this is a Hit or Miss bit and this week, it was a Miss. It went on too long. It felt like Breezango were really reaching with the cowboy theme. It wasn’t as amusing as some of these have been in the past. It wasn’t as bad as some have been either. Part of the problem is that it just keeps stretching out a mystery that I don’t really care about. I’m not sure if others care about it. What can the possible pay off be to justify all of this? Somebody messed up their office. Ok. Who cares? At least they can be funny, but they weren’t here.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: WWE SMACKDOWN HITS & MISSES 6/27: Women’s Money in the Bank, Naomi vs. Lana, Usos-New Day, Corbin vs. Zayn, Punjabi Prison announcement
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Act now and become my 68th Twitter follower@JonMezzera (pretty clever handle right?). Just be aware that I don’t live tweet Raw, I don’t tweet much about wrestling, and I don’t tweet much at all.
Ok Jon, we get it. PWTorch and most of it’s writers do not like Mahal. But it’s bordering a bit on racism in my mind. Orton has fought the same match for 5 years now and uses the same 5-10 moves yet he is almost never called out. Jinder is booking 101. Evil foreigner, cheats to win, has sidekicks [Singh Brothers are excellent rag dolls], Jinder escapes Punjabi, Cena steps up and takes title at SummerSlam perhaps with Randy taking out the Singh’s. There are easily another 10 ways to do this story and they all work as long as Vince doesn’t try to out-Dusty, Dusty with a stupid ending.