SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Wildcard Rule – MISS: It would have been nice if WWE had clarified exactly how the Wildcard Rule works, but they didn’t. There are times when the announcers talk about a wrestler taking advantage of the rule to appear on the other show. There are other times when they talk about wrestlers being invited to be on the other show. Which is it? When A.J. Styles came out, one of the announcers actually asked if Styles was going to be the first Superstar to take advantage of the Wildcard Rule on Smackdown Live? Of course he is. You can see him with your own eyes. I guess it makes some sense to have Styles want to go back to the House that A-J-Styles Built, but having him be the first after only being gone for a few weeks wasn’t great. They don’t want to be limited to a specific number of wrestlers either. It was three, then four on Raw (but really five). Here, they said it was a limited number and we ended up with five I think. They aren’t doing enough to build up stars on either brand when they can’t do a show without stars from the other.
Opening Segment – MISS: Like on Raw, part of this Miss is for the messiness of the Wildcard Rule. Styles talking about missing the Smackdown fans didn’t ring true. He was only gone for like three weeks. Plus, they are the same fans! Having Sami Zayn in the same segment as Styles and Kofi Kingston didn’t work given the fact that he was thrown in a dumpster the night before. There was a major disconnect there. The segment did have some good mic work, but was too long.
Ali Video – HIT: Mustafa Ali did similar videos to this on his social media while on 205 Live which were sometimes shown on that show. I always liked those videos and felt like WWE needed to take advantage of them. This felt like a more professional version of those videos and it worked well. Ali connects with the audience when he talks like this in a serious, realistic way.
Ali vs. Andrade – MISS: I was really looking forward to this match. Unfortunately, we didn’t get much of a match. What we saw was good, but it only lasted 6 minutes before Randy Orton came in to cause the disqualification. Half of the match was split screen on commercial which I don’t count as actually seeing it. Having Orton stand tall here wasn’t great as the future is Ali and Andrade. They need to ultimately stand tall over Orton.
Roman Reigns Video – MISS: Production-wise and in other circumstances this could have been a Hit. But, the timing on this Roman Reigns video was not good. Reigns got a very positive reaction on Raw. That was the best babyface reaction he’s gotten in a long time. Follow up on that with him actually appearing on this show. This is his show. It makes no sense for him to have “unfinished business” on Raw, but his current business is against Elias on Smackdown. Where was he? Is he going to go to Raw again next week hoping that Elias also goes? Plus, the video was too heavy handed showing Reigns as Superman. He has sympathy for his fight against leukemia. But, he still has resentment for winning the Royal Rumble, and for beating Undertaker at WrestleMania, and for being the chosen one to finally beat Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam last year for the Universal Title. So, reminding fans about those things wasn’t smart.
Usos – HIT: Other than the issues with the Wildcard Rule, I was glad to see The Usos here. They were the key to a strong tag team division on Smackdown which also included New Day and The Bar. Those three teams made the Smackdown Tag Team Championship important. So, while I don’t like the Wildcard Rule, at least this made sense. WWE advertised that Shane McMahon would name new champions. That made it sound like he would just hand the Titles to a new team, which is what he intended to do with Daniel Bryan & Rowan. The Usos came out and made a strong plea to Shane to make them earn the titles, the way they had earned them, the way The Bar, New Day, Hardys, and Shane himself had earned them. The Usos looked so much better here than they have on Raw the last two weeks.
Usos vs. Bryan & Rowan – HIT: The match to crown new Tag Team Champions that followed that plea also was very good. The match went 12 minutes and was fun to watch from start to finish. The Usos are a great tag team. Bryan is a great wrestler. Rowan is the weak spot here, but he performed very well in this match. Bryan & Rowan as a team to anchor what looks to be a weak tag division post-Superstar Shakeup has potential. They certainly are a better choice than the other teams on Smackdown.
Hardy/Truth – Sullivan – MISS: The interview portion of this segment was ok with Matt Hardy talking about Jeff being hurt by Lars Sullivan and R-Truth interrupting to talk about the Sullivan situation as they have a common enemy. The part that didn’t work is that Kayla Braxton ran away when she saw Sullivan behind them. She could have warned them. Then, it got cheesy with Hardy turning around, seeing him and saying something like “it’s him!” and standing in a very odd looking fighting stance. It didn’t work.
Kingston vs. Styles vs. Zayn – HIT: Smackdown ended with a very good WWE Title match. They shouldn’t have WWE Title matches on tv twice a week (or even once a week), but I’m assuming this was for this week only to sell the Wildcard Rule. Either way, we got to see a very good triple threat match. WWE should have protected Zayn since returning from injury to make him seem like a viable candidate to become WWE Champion. In the end, to protect Styles who is facing Seth Rollins for the Universal Title at Money in the Bank, he was out of the ring for the final few minutes. That was a very nice sequence with the three Blue Thunder Bombs, but Zayn’s lack of credibility hurt the believability of the near falls. It is a minor complaint, because the match was great and that sequence was incredibly well done. I love the fact that Kofi keeps getting wins with his finishing move. WWE is actually protecting their Champion for a change.
Follow me on Twitter @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.
For another viewpoint, check out Jason Powell’s original “Hitlist” column on ProWrestling.net covering this episode 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.