SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – MISS: Roman Reigns got a good reaction from the live fans and he did a mostly good job of addressing what happened at Survivor Series. Part of the problem is that he reacted to an NXT chant by saying that Smackdown had gotten the job done, not NXT, which may have been true for his match, but it certainly wasn’t true for the PPV as a whole. The bigger problem with the opening segment was the interruption by Baron Corbin. He puts me to sleep when he starts talking. It wasn’t particularly bad, but the whole thing was uninspired. I’m not into Corbin’s new faction with Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler. None of this felt important. It didn’t get me excited for the rest of the show.
Reigns vs. Roode – HIT: This was a good match between Reigns and Roode. It was also uninspired, but it was a good 14 minutes of action. While Corbin and Ziggler kept trying to help Roode win, I kept thinking about where Reigns’ other Survivor Series teammates were. He said some nice things about them in his opening promo, but where were Mustafa Ali, Chad Gable or Braun Strowman when Reigns needed help? As it turns out, he won anyway and then easily dispatched of Corbin and Ziggler afterwards, so I guess they knew he was superman and didn’t actually need help. I would have used the opportunity to help elevate Ali and Gable in coming to his aid, as opposed to making Roode & Ziggler look weak and Reigns look unstoppable. Maybe this should have been a Miss?
Sheamus Returning – HIT: This Hit is for the hope that Sheamus breathes some life into Smackdown. The actual vignette was fine, but nothing special. It wasn’t really Hit worthy, but it wasn’t Miss worthy either. I am just looking forward to Sheamus’ return as he has been away for several months and he can freshen up the roster.
Banks, Bayley, and Evans – MISS: Sasha Banks usually plays a good heel role, but she wasn’t as good as normal here. Bayley is still finding her voice as a heel and while she was ok here, she wasn’t particularly good. Like the opening segment, it was uninspired. Lacey Evans coming out to turn babyface and interrupt them wasn’t good either. She is such a natural heel, I don’t understand turning her face. She also isn’t that good in the ring, so I’m not looking forward to a series of matches between her and Bayley or Banks. She got a strong reaction, but she was in the south where a Sassy Southern Belle is likely to get more of a “home town” reaction. WWE has such an amazing women’s roster, but it is stretched too thin over four different shows. It is telling when you have to have Evans turn face to have a top face on the brand.
Elias’s Return – MISS: I was a fan of Elias at one point, but he got super stale. Like Sheamus, he can freshen up the Smackdown roster. However, Sheamus was doing good work with Cesaro as The Bar when he left. Elias wasn’t doing anything good when he was last seen. Plus unlike with Sheamus, his actual return was Miss worthy. The scene with Dana Brooke, Drake Maverick and Elias playing a song about Maverick was terrible.
The New Day vs. Nakamura & Cesaro – HIT: This was a good Tag Team Championship match. I enjoyed Sami Zayn’s mic work when he came out to accept New Day’s open challenge on behalf of Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro. I still don’t understand why Zayn doesn’t wrestle any more, but his work as Nakamura’s mouthpiece is fun. Nakamura and Cesaro can be a good pairing who team up occasionally, but with Nakamura being the Intercontinental Champion, they shouldn’t be a regular tag team. They should be two singles wrestlers who work together. I think that’s what they are, and the fact that they lost here seems to suggest that. So, I was good with it. It will be interesting to see if Zayn recruits another wrestler to the faction. We already saw him try to recruit Bryan, so successfully recruiting someone else would make sense.
The Fiend and Bryan – MISS: So we were promised a new Firefly Funhouse character, but unless I missed something, we never got one. Seriously, what did I miss? Either way, I wasn’t a fan of what they did. If Bray Wyatt is going to have a match at the TLC PPV, then it makes sense to continue his feud with Daniel Bryan. Presuming it will have some type of T, L or C stipulation, it should be a second match, not a first, so it is good to go with Bryan instead of a new challenger. But, the rest of this wasn’t good. I don’t like The Fiend having his own WWE Title belt (I didn’t like Austin, Rock or Cena having their own versions of the belts either). Later we got another Firefly Funhouse video interrupting Bryan. That was total crap with the weird workout video. When I see that stuff from Wyatt, I start to question my sanity, because Wyatt gets so much praise from so many people, but to me this stuff is terrible. Did people watch that and say, “I have to wee Wyatt defend the Title against Bryan after watching that great video with Wyatt and some puppets doing a weird workout dance!” I really don’t get it. How is that a pro-wrestling character in 2019? The show ended with Bryan in the ring to officially bring back the Yes! Movement, I think. This felt anti-climactic, coming off of a loss at Survivor Series. The whole coming up through the ring bit is played out (see AEW Dynamite two night earlier for a prime example). Having Fiend pull Bryan under the ring and rip out his hair was an interesting visual, and it will be interesting to see where WWE goes from here with a bald Bryan, but it still wasn’t enough to save this storyline which was woven throughout the show.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JonMezzera
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