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Rowan vs. Bryan – HIT: The mic work from Rowan which started off Smackdown was ok. He just isn’t very good on the mic yet. But, the impromptu match between him and Daniel Bryan which went 17 minutes was quite good. Overall, it got Smackdown going well from the start. Luke Harper’s involvement at the end of the match gave Bryan an out for taking the loss, which worked as Rowan needed the win more as he is still establishing himself. The save from Roman Reigns after the match, followed by Bryan’s challenge to a tag team match worked well.
Kingston Interview – MISS: This failed to get across the magnitude of Brock Lesnar challenging Kofi Kingston next week for the WWE Championship. I appreciate the fact that Kofi was confident here. But, there should have been some nervousness in the background of his confidence to set this challenge apart from the other challengers he’s faced as Champion. The guys on his list of challengers whom he has defeated is impressive, but they aren’t Lesnar. If you want Lesnar to be a special attraction, then you can’t have Kofi say he’s beaten good opponents while throwing out names like Dolph Ziggler as an example. There needed to be something more to separate (in Kofi’s own mind) Lesnar from Ziggler, Owens, Orton, etc.
Short Jokes – MISS: WWE just won’t quit with the short jokes. You have Corey Graves constantly making fun of Chad Gable. We’ve seen his opponents, most recently Baron Corbin, do it. Now you get a loser like Mike Kanellis doing it. Sure, Gable beat him quickly, but the short jokes were reinforced a moment later by Elias. Right now, Gable’s character is that he is short, gets made fun of for being short, gets sad for being short, and then has a good match. That isn’t a real character.
Ali vs. Nakamura – HIT: There were a few sloppy spots in this match and the early big dive with Mustafa Ali almost landing on his head was a scary moment. But, there was enough good wrestling action to have this get a marginal Hit. I’d like to see a longer match between these two. Ali and Shinsuke Nakamura certainly have more in them than they showed here. Sami Zayn was good in his role at ringside. It is a smart move not to go with the live mic during the match gimmick. Zayn might have been able to pull it off, but chances are it would have been too irritating.
Kabuki Warriors vs. Fire & Desire – MISS: There wasn’t really anything wrong with this match in terms of the execution. But, WWE hasn’t done much to build up a women’s tag team division. The Tag Team Champions Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross have been more involved in a feud against two singles wrestlers (yes, they are former Tag Team Champions, but Bayley and Sasha Banks are clearly more focused on their singles feuds right now), than in with a tag team opponent. We haven’t seen much of The IIconics lately. We haven’t seen much of the Kabuki Warriors lately until this match. Fire & Desire have something to them in terms of star power. It would be better to build up both teams separate from each other with wins over jobbers before going to a match against each other. Re-establish Asuka & Kairi Sane as a team while continuing to build Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville. Putting them against each other in a 4 minute match didn’t do much for either team. I still wish Asuka would turn on Sane and you could have them feud with each other in a way that elevates them both up the ladder. When Paige comes back from neck surgery, I’d like to see her in a different role. I’d rather see her manage a man whom she won’t tower over like she does the Kabuki Warriors.
Shane – Owens – MISS: This did nothing for me. At least WWE appears to be putting the storyline to bed after next week once we get this ladder match out of the way, but I’m not really looking forward to the match itself. I find it hard to give a segment involving lawyers and talk about wrongful termination suits anything but a Miss.
Show Closing Attack – MISS: This would have been perfectly fine if it has happened earlier in the show. It made sense to have an interview with Becky Lynch after she had made the save earlier on by attacking Bayley and Banks. Having her interview interrupted by an attack from behind by The Boss with the brawl that followed finally allowing Banks to come out on top was good. The problem was the awkward way the segment was placed at the very end of the show. The fact that WWE had that still to come meant that they had to rush what should have been the final segment and Shane McMahon accepting Kevin Owens’ challenge was cut off by the rush to play Owens’ music so that they could cut to the back for this interview. It is also out of the norm to have this type of interview scheduled to end a show. It felt totally out of place. It would have been a very odd place to end the show without the (unexpected) attack from Banks.
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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. Follow him on Twitter @JonMezzera
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