WWE SMACKDOWN HITS & MISSES 12/10: A beat awoken, the Sami show, Flair and Storm lack chemistry, more

BY NICK BARBATI, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Brock Lesnar (art credit Travis Beaven © PWTorch)

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

Hits

A Beast Awoken

There was much to love about the opening segment with three excellent acts in Sami Zayn, Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar. Brock, in particular, though was a revelation to watch switch from buddy rom-com mode to impassioned beast. The attack on Team Zayn was startling and appropriately chaotic. The feud with Lesnar and Roman Reigns is high-key the biggest storyline in WWE but low-key the most nuanced, well told program in years. Extra credit to the more than passable moose segment between Brock and Adam Pearce.

The Sami Show

Wow has Sami Zayn stepped up into his role as the interloper of the Universal Championship program. Sami is just brilliant in all aspects of his role – the drama, the comedy, the physical charisma. At a time when it is effectively a conga line of similar wrestlers leaving WWE, this is Zayn’s moment to shine bright and at this rate, Zayn is wearing a strobe light on his chest. Just great stuff.

The A-Show without the A-Star

WWE through out a big show here, and with the holidays arriving, we are in the closing days of effectual programming to promote Day 1. Despite in the absence of Roman Reigns, this show was wall-to-wall set with segments that mattered. Shows like this go a long way in erasing the notion that Smackdown is only great because of all things Roman Reigns.

Rising Tide

Drew McIntyre is in such a unique spot at this point – he’s a former main eventer that is too big to small and small to be big in terms of positioning. His match hard hitting with Sheamus was a good one and it feels like are bound to turn the corner soon with McIntyre making big moves during WrestleMania season. Here’s hoping the absence of the sword extends beyond tonight. Sheamus isn’t positioned nearly as well as Drew but is doing great work and is still seen as a step up from the rest.

Li-ving Up to the Hype

Was it a great debut for Xia Li? That is still to be determined based on what it is all leading to, but the fact that Smackdown women’s division has been so properly elevated with compelling storytelling instantly makes her interference matter. Sonya Deville was fantastic here and everyone involved played their parts well. Admittedly, Li’s moves didn’t blow me away, but her entrance was over-the-top in all the right ways.

Misses

Worth It?

A good triple threat match that wasn’t worth breaking the brand split for. It was a novel feeling to have Randy Orton and Matt Riddle on Smackdown, especially as a replacement for an absent Roman Reigns, but it’s these one-offs that do so much damage to brand identity and the notion that the shows are separate. I also just think that Xavier Woods has jumped the shark into being unwatchable from a character perspective. It has severely hindered my enjoyment of segments involving him.

Opportunity Lost

The chemistry just wasn’t there with Charlotte Flair and Toni Storm. It was nice to hear the crowd briefly try to get behind Storm, but by the third missed spot – seemingly of Toni being out of place- that evaporated quickly. Clearly we will see this match again, but it is clear that Toni Storm is not a threat to Flair’s throne.


CATCH-UP: 12/10 WWE SMACKDOWN RESULTS: Keller’s report on Reigns-Lesnar hype for Day One, Charlotte vs. Storm, New Day vs. Usos vs. RK-Bro, Deville vs. Naomi

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