SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – HIT: Smackdown got off to a good start with Kofi Kingston cutting a promo about Randy Orton. Actually, before that we got a long video package of the Roman Reigns mystery, followed by a short interview with Reigns promising to address Daniel Bryan and Rowan later in the show, and then another video on the Kingston vs. Orton feud. So, it took awhile to get to that good promo from Kingston. Orton interrupted by reading a letter supposedly from Kingston’s son which led to Kingston going back to attack Orton. Their brawl was good, leading to Orton doing the spike DDT onto Kingston off a table. That was brutal. This built well to the Kingston vs. Orton WWE Championship match and set up Big E to try to get revenge on Orton later in the show. It was nice to see him in a more serious manner after the commercial break in challenging Orton.
Ali vs. Murphy – HIT: I was eagerly anticipating this first round match up in the King of the Ring tournament. And while I wish the match had been longer than 8 minutes, the quality of the match did not disappoint. Mustafa Ali and Buddy Murphy are very talented wrestlers. It is interesting that Murphy has gone full babyface as we got a face vs. face matchup here. Given his huge win over Bryan last week, I was expecting Murphy to get the win here. Ali does deserve a push, but given Murphy’s momentum, it seems like a mistake to have Ali win. But, it may make sense in the larger picture depending on where WWE goes from here with the rest of KOTR.
Zayn & Nakamura – HIT: Sami Zayn jumping around while obnoxiously yelling his support for Shinsuke Nakamura while he beat up The Miz is one of my favorite things to happen in WWE this year. Zayn is too talented in the ring to just be a mouthpiece for anyone. But, this pairing has worked so far. I hope that Zayn will still be a full time wrestler at the same time.
Evans vs. Bayley – MISS: Lacey Evans hasn’t been on TV for a few months and it felt too random that she was brought back claiming to be the face of Smackdown, a show she wasn’t even on before since she was on Raw. Nikki Cross is half of the Women’s Tag Team Champions, but was not protected on Raw when she lost quickly to Bayley. Here, WWE protected Evans far more by featuring her in a much longer match against Bayley. Bayley needed a stronger win here like she got the night before. The match itself was ok at best. It wasn’t terrible, but not nearly good enough to make up for Bayley needing 12 minutes to win.
Big E vs. Orton – HIT: This was a pretty good match which was a nice follow up to the opening segment. With The Revival getting involved, it underscored their new relationship with Orton. It pointed out how their trio has clearly gotten the best of The New Day to this point, by previously injuring Xavier Wood’s knee and by taking out both Kingston and Big E on this show. That makes the fans want to see New Day get their revenge in two different matches, presumably at Clash of Champions.
Owens and Elias – MISS: After the poor way WWE has used Kevin Owens the last few weeks, the idea that he would be able to get his revenge on Elias only because Shane McMahon wasn’t in the building points to how weak Owens is right now. Shane has all the power. Owens can only be a man when Shane isn’t there. That was the message I took from this. It also showed how inconsequential the 24/7 title is since Owens could have easily pinned Elias to become the new champion after stunning him, but the thought never occurred to him. Even if he didn’t care about the title, taking the title away from Elias should be seen as another level of revenge since Elias does care about it, but obviously he wasn’t going to win a title which is so far beneath him.
Shorty Gable – MISS: Chad Gable vs. Shelton Benjamin was a perfectly fine 4 minute match. But, these two are so talented in the ring that a much better KOTR match could have been built around their skill and their similar amateur background. It could have been built around their great athleticism. It could have been built around the idea that whoever won would give a strong challenge to Andrade in round 2. Instead, it was built around Benjamin making fun of Gable for being short. These two both needed to be rebuilt for the fans to care about this match in a much bigger way which didn’t happen, so the fans were silent for it.
Reigns Apology – MISS: WWE built this show largely around the idea that Reigns would potentially apologize to Rowan for thinking that he had tried to kill him. Reigns said he would address Bryan and Rowan at the very beginning of the show. We got a promo from Bryan talking about it. We got video packages on the situation with Bryan producing a Rowan lookalike last week as a potential suspect. This was the main event of this show. As it turns out, that WWE had footage the entire time showing that it was Rowan. Why hadn’t we seen that weeks ago? It makes no sense. The footage was blurry. It looked as much like the Rowan lookalike as it did the real Rowan. So, if Bryan thought it was the Rowan lookalike, why would this footage convince him that it was the real Rowan? None of this made sense. This story has been so bad from the start, it is crazy that people writing and producing this TV show could possibly think this is good.
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 me on Twitter @jonmezzera