WWE SMACKDOWN HITS & MISSES 10/18: The spread eagle Big E extinguishes hope he can get serious enough to be a top act, Lars misses, Season Premiere nonsense, Bianca rising, Banks shines

By Nick Barbati, PWTorch contributor

Braun Strowman (artist Travis Beaven © PWTorch)

SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

HITS

•Eye on the New Roster

Smackdown has been in desperate need of a strong upper midcard, and the infusion of Seth Rollins, Murphy, the Mysterios and a returning Daniel Bryan are just what the doctor ordered.  As refreshing as the segment featuring them all was, there are still problems.  The breakup of Seth Rollins and Murphy was fast tracked at too quick of a pace, and Rollins is in desperate need of new followers to give his character any credibility.  Daniel Bryan remains the most likable wrestler in the world, and it is always a joy to have him back in the mix.   Its a sad day when Rey Mysterio not shaking the hand of one of the men responsible for his missing eye is a continuity win.  Steps are going to need to be taken to not have this program just feel like a Raw transplant, but in general, this was a high point for me.

•Counter Signed  

Bayley and Sasha Banks both typically fluctuate freely between impassioned promos and stiff line reading.  In general when either one of them grabs a mic, it is a ‘hope for the best’ moment.  Through their entire current program, though, we are seeing the best of both rise up, and Sasha in particular is making it a clear point to present herself as a star.  From new wardrobe choices to a really focused glare, Banks continues to excel and is showing the best version of herself.  Bayley had one of her best segments as a heel ever and has found her “Karen” character at just the right time.

•Big Fight Feel, Mixed Bag Ending

For the very first time, I was excited for a Roman Reigns/Braun Strowman match.  Chalk it up to the visual transformation of Strowman paired with the next level work of Roman Reigns and this finally felt like a fresh enough match for which to look forward.  Much of that good will evaporated as WWE worked overtime to spread the match out over the course of a half hour and made Reigns look too vulnerable than he should – even if it was a feeder for the low-blow.  Jey hardly looked like a hero by not stopping the attack on Braun Strowman, but his visceral attack on Reigns was a brief moment of beauty. Overall a solid continuation.

•Bianca Rising

Even on the darkest days, the WWE video production team always pulls through.  The Bianca Belair promo in particular this week was fantastic in giving her a star style launch bad for her Smackdown debut.  I hope she is not paired with Street Profits despite sharing the same brand.  Belair simply has too high of an upside and would be a brilliant opposition to Sasha Banks if introduced correctly.

MISSES

•New Season, New Problems

What exactly was the purpose of branding this as a season premiere? Everything about the intro to the show that was within this theme was corny from the cheesy acting of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon to the full roster being on the stage leading to the usual chaotic brawl that makes everyone look weak.  Smackdown has been at its best without all the frills that has weakened most WWE shows.  Here’s hoping that now that the draft and this ‘premiere’ are past us, that the feeling normalcy that was trending towards greatness returns.

•Lazy Lars Booking

Last week I thought Lars Sullivan was being given his best chance for success with his return in the Thunderdome.  This week he got off to exactly the start I would not want for him. By going against Jeff Hardy, there is too obvious of an intent of recapturing the magic of the debuting Brock Lesnar, but Lars Sullivan is no Brock Lesnar.  While as a performer Sullivan looked tough enough, his name and trucks are lame, and missing high flying moves is unnecessary for his debut.  Hardy also has been on an upswing, so this all felt like a waste when there are plenty of others that could have served as first-win fodder for Lars Sullivan.

•End of Days

All hope for Big E was DOA the moment he was spread eagle in the opening segment.  This would’ve been a perfect opportunity to reintroduce Big E with the seriousness that he deserves and quite frankly requires for this singles run to take off.  New Day always works as a trio, and having been apart recently made this time together more exciting than it probably should’ve if the next chapter is ready to begin.  Combine that with the nostalgia of The Bar teaming up again and merging for one night with Nakamura in the Cesaro tag teams, and the Big E fresh start is further away from where it should be than imaginable.


RECOMMENDED: LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 10/16: Alt perspective, detailed coverage of Reigns vs. Strowman, Hardy vs. Sullivan, New Day’s farewell, more

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