SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
That’s it. That’s the hit. Paul Heyman singularly elevated the worst Smackdown in over a year to at least have one moderately important segment with top tier acting and storytelling. It is really a scary thought to think about the state WWE would be in right now without the Paul Heyman-Roman Reigns dynamic, but thankfully they are there, and Heyman’s masterful performance has made the much maligned Crown Jewel show something worth reluctantly watching for even the biggest detractors.
This is what you call a season premiere? Where exactly was the reset or the sense of freshness? The big culmination was a gimmick match that has been used and abused for decades? This was indeed a damaging show to the Smackdown brand moving forward if this is how the show, known for its high quality in recent times, is going to be. Especially with the FS1 episode coming next week, WWE needed a hot, high quality show worth of searching to find. This was not it.
Investing in the Outgoing
It’s really such an absurd notion to think that the lion’s share of performers that were given notable screen time last night are all departing for Raw in short order. Again, how is this a season premiere if the attention is going to acts that the audience allegedly won’t be seeing in a matter of weeks? It is expected that there will be an on-boarding and off-boarding of sorts for wrestlers transitioning brands, but this was downright ridiculous and left valid anxiety that the Smackdown we knew and loved is being dramatically changed, and not for the better.
The Price You Pay for Overuse
Edge vs. Seth Rollins in Hell in a Cell seems to fit sufficiently in terms of gravity of the feud and now length of time of the program. The problem is that this gimmick has been so overused that the culmination of last night’s show seemed absolutely ridiculous in treating it as a ‘happening’ when year-in and year-out we see random feuds all be placed in the cell for the simple matter that they were happening in October.
Quality of the Queen
If this show was any indication, then the Queen’s Crown will likely be the most pointless tournament that has ever existed in wrestling. There is no justification for meaning of this ‘championship’ if the matches are going to be so poorly presented, given no time, and featuring the lowest ranking roster members. At least the King of the Ring first round feature a high quality match with two defined down previous main eventers (with the use of Balor and Cesaro being it’s own miss, but that’s for another day). Can you even believe where we are with Toni Storm? What a mess.
It would be tempting to give the opening segment with Bianca Belair, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks a hit. After all, it was fine enough and was good overall for Belair in particular. It is all undercut, though, by the looming cloud of Crown Jewel being the host for the big showdown that in any other world is a dream match. As such, it all feels to be a waste and ultimately an anticipated major disrespect for the women involved. Becky is enjoying her knew role (perhaps too much), and Belair continues to shine as the babyface star. Banks, though, is getting lost in here a bit and probably is waiting patiently for Smackdown to clear out a little to get her spotlight firmly back on the Boss.