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Opening Segment – HIT: This was a nice celebration for Kofi Kingston and the rest of the New Day. Xavier Woods and Big E did a nice job of congratulating Kofi on becoming the WWE Champion. It was a nice moment. The Bar’s interruption was to be expected. I wasn’t sure who would come out with them, but Drew McIntyre made sense. Having him as Kofi’s first challenger has a lot of potential. The ending of Raw was so bad with The Bar interrupting Kofi’s match against Seth Rollins, that it needed a better explanation than Sheamus & Cesaro saying that they were protecting Kofi from himself. So, that part of this wasn’t good, but otherwise it was a good start to Smackdown.
Six-Man Tag – HIT: This felt like a very random match. You had two teams which are made up of two singles wrestlers who were put together to make a team for no strong reason, teaming with a random singles wrestler. There was no storyline here. Perhaps it is setting up a singles feud between Andrade (not Almas) and (not Mustafa) Ali. I would be all for that feud. Perhaps this random match was a result of WWE spinning its wheels some on this episode waiting for the Superstar Shakeup next week. All that being said, the wrestling action was good here. These are all talented wrestlers so of course you should expect a good match. The RKO out of nowhere followed by the KO Stunner out of nowhere was a nice bit after the match.
Usos Interview – HIT: I wish WWE had done something more to hype the Tag Team Title match with The Usos defending against The Hardys. That match should have happened at WrestleMania with a proper build, making a big deal about how this was the best of a previous era vs. the best of the current era. This interview with the Usos at least touched on that. They were good. It was a sign of how good this could have been with a longer build.
When Did the Brand Split End? – MISS: WWE made it pretty clear that the Superstar Shake Up comes next week. They made it clear that Becky Lynch is on both shows this week because she is both the Raw and Smackdown Women’s Champion. They sort of explained why Kofi was on Raw the night before and why McIntyre was on Smackdown. But, why was Braun Strowman on? Was he just waiting around backstage for an opportunity to come out and attack someone? Was he specifically waiting for Samoa Joe? I don’t like these teases of what might happen in the Shakeup because if Joe and Strowman end up being on the same show, it will seem too convenient that they happened to be fighting on this show. If you want to make the Shakeup special, then keep the split as strong as possible (with maybe one exception in the WM season, in this case Becky Lynch).
IIconics – HIT: This is a marginal Hit. This gimmick with the IIconics facing local jobbers while building them up as great opponents has some potential. This was a fun bit. If done well, it could lead to a surprise win for a new team down the line. This can be hard to do with NXT, because fans who watch NXT will recognize the team. But, they might be able to pull it off. The reason I’m only giving it a marginal Hit is that the IIconics still aren’t coming across like a big league act to me. The performance wasn’t strong enough, but it was ok. I am intrigued by what Paige has in the works for next week.
Shane McMahon – MISS: This felt pointless to me. Shane McMahon is an egomaniacal asshole. That was the entire point. But, we knew that already. Watching him berate the poor ring announcer over and over again for the poor way he announces Best In the World… just doesn’t make for good television. If it had led somewhere in the end, things might have been different. But, in the end nothing happened.
Hardys vs. Usos – HIT: Another marginal Hit. 11 minutes didn’t feel long enough for this match, especially when you take into account the time we missed on the commercial (even if it was shown split screen). The action was good with the Hardys getting the win to become the new Smackdown Tag Team Champions. If this had been at WM, without a break, and given a few more minutes, this would have been a very good WM moment. Here, it felt rushed, like they had to get the Titles off of the Usos before the Shakeup next week. I wasn’t a fan of Lars Sullivan coming out at that point to beat up the Hardys. The new Champions should have been protected. It won’t lead to anything. They presumably aren’t going to have a handicap match against him.
Becky Lynch – HIT: Another marginal Hit. The Hit is for the strong promo that Becky Lynch gave. It was similar to the one from Raw, but that was ok as she was talking about how she has to pull double duty as long as she has both Title belts. She is fun to watch no matter what she is doing. The marginal part is for her turning her back to the entrance as she left the ring. She had just talked about how she had two big targets on her back. So, why would she turn her back at that point? Then it was disappointing she didn’t go after Lacey Evans the way she did the night before.
Main Event – HIT: The final in a line of marginal Hits. The wrestling action in the main event was good. There was nothing wrong with it. It gave Kofi a chance to stand tall and get a win after hitting his finishing move. Too often, WWE makes their new Champions look weak with losses in these types of matches. The fact that Kofi was kept strong here is a big reason why this got a Hit, despite it feeling flat. We’ve seen New Day vs. The Bar so many times that despite the good chemistry that the teams have, their matches feel unimportant at this point. The fact that McIntyre mysteriously disappeared so he couldn’t add to it certainly didn’t help the situation.
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. Follow him on Twitter @JonMezzera