SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Flair vs. Lynch: The first hour plus of Smackdown was terrible. The show in general has been so bad lately. Raw has been much better since the Superstar Shakeup, so it is hard to believe that they are the same company. After over an hour of crap, we finally got something good with the match between Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch. The set up for this match was lame, but the match delivered which is not surprising. These are two good wrestlers who have had many good matches against each other. Natalya was also strong on commentary, playing this character who likes to stir the pot well. I expected her to get involved and start a brawl of some sort for a no contest finish, so the clean with with Becky forcing Charlotte to tap out to the Disarmer was a pleasant surprise before the brawl came at that point.
Styles & Nakamura vs. Owens & Corbin: This is a fairly typical booking format for WWE to take two singles matches at a future PPV and turn it into a tag match on Raw or Smackdown. I was actually more intrigued by Shinsuke Nakamura telling AJ Styles earlier in the show that he would come calling for a United States Championship opportunity in the future than by the current match ups. Which isn’t to say that I don’t like the current match ups. Styles vs. Kevin Owens has been a good feud and they should have another very good to great match on Sunday. I like how they keep having Baron Corbin attack Nakamura from behind. I am a little leery of what will happen in their match, because they both need to win. Getting back to this match, it was standard and formulaic, but still fun to watch. It was well executed. It had plenty of good wrestling action. It was a good main event.
Punjabi Prison: This is a stupid gimmick match that didn’t need to come back. I understand the need to inform the fans as to the overly convoluted rules of the match, but having the Singh Brothers explaining them during an in ring promo was dull. Jinder Mahal continues his uninspired performances. When you couple his anti-USA gimmick with Rusev’s anti-USA gimmick and Kevin Owen’s more humerus Face of America gimmick, plus Ariya Daivari’s gimmick in the same night on 205 Live, it is way too much. And I would argue that Mahal is the worst of them. Randy Orton wasn’t much better. And it is still telling that what should be the top program on Smackdown is never part of the main event as this was the start of the show. I will definitely be skipping the PPV on Sunday and this is the biggest reason. I may go back and watch some of the other matches, but I have no desire to watch this at all. Smackdown is coming back to Oakland in September. That is the closest, most convenient arena for me to see wrestling. I’ve seen by far the most shows there, since San Jose (where Raw will be the night before) and Sacramento are a good 20-30 minutes further and lack the public transportation option that I have going to Oakland. Tickets just went on sale for the show, but I am not buying them. As much as I’d like to see Nakamura live, the writing for Smackdown has been so poor that I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go to a show where the top champion is Jinder Mahal.
Shane and the Women: Once again, we got another segment with Shane McMahon and a large group of women wrestlers talking where nobody gets to stand out and nobody comes out of it looking good. They are all yelling over each other and trying to get in clever lines, none of which are clever. The talent is strong in this division, but creative has largely failed them. I will repeat what I believe I wrote last week which is that they need to settle into some strong singles feuds within the division and build to a strong #1 contender to take on Naomi instead of continuing to have these multi women matches where they are all treated as a group who are all on the same level, instead of individuals who move up and down the roster.
Gable Interview: I appreciate the fact that WWE addressed what happened on Raw with Jason Jordon and Kurt Angle. It does effect Chad Gable, so it was good to see him have a sit down interview with Renee Young. However, they didn’t address how Jordon got to go to Raw which I would have liked to have seen. Gable was fine in his performance, but he painted Jordon as a heel. Jordon has been confiding in Corey Graves, but not his own tag team partner? What a jerk. This doesn’t make me want to cheer for Jordon going forward. I don’t think that’s what WWE wanted. I assume he’s a babyface. American Alpha hadn’t been on much at all recently and it has been a long time since they were the Tag Team Champions, so any aspect of this looking back on their team didn’t work. Gable has had some nice matches lately, but he’s lost them all. So, he doesn’t feel like a big enough deal to really care about him in this interview.
Kanellis vs. Zayn: This did nothing for me. Mike Kanellis didn’t show much offense during this match that was largely dominated by Sami Zayn. So in his first match, he didn’t have a chance to show off his moves. I remember some rudimentary forearms to the back of Zayn. The Kanellis gimmick is ok, but we’ve seen Maryse saving The Miz so often, that it doesn’t feel fresh. You can already tell that this is going to be the formula for all of his matches with Maria saving him every time. So nothing about this got me excited to see more of him in the ring.
Cena’s Promo: I am not into the rah rah rah USA USA USA! stuff going on right now. I already laid out how there are too many of these pro vs. anti USA feuds going in WWE, particularly on Smackdown right now. I laughed out loud when John Cena started off his promo by saying that off all the things happening at Battleground, the one thing we will remember is a flag match. I don’t think I can remember any flag match in WWE history. I mean, I know I’ve seen them before. But, they aren’t memorable in any way. And we’ve seen him vs. Rusev plenty of times, so this isn’t fresh either. And then for him to give his US history lesson about how the flag always flies even in times of adversity including on 9/11 to compare that to the flag flying after his match against Rusev was just insulting. I couldn’t believe he said that. There is nothing similar to the country coming together and standing tall after the worst terrorist attack in history and him winning a stupid gimmick match against an angry Bulgarian. This was terrible.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: WWE SMACKDOWN HITS & MISSES 5/11: Styles Victory Video, Mahal, Styles & Cena vs. Owens & Rusev, Nakamura vs. Corbin, Fashion Files
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.