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Smackdown Hits & Misses
Ronda Rousey promo: The start of Smackdown was mostly a hit for me. On the positive side, I’m glad Ronda didn’t make excuses for the loss. I called for a submission match between Ronda and Charlotte Flair a few weeks before WrestleMania and it looks like we’ll get something similar for Backlash (I refuse to type out “WrestleMania Backlash each time I reference this PPV/Premium Live Event, just won’t do it). Granted, an “I Quit Match” isn’t necessarily a submission match but with both women use of submission holds as finishers, I’d imagine it’ll mostly be such. The only negative I took out of this was that Ronda smiled a bit too much for someone that basically was robbed of a title. Having said that, I am nitpicking a bit and it was mostly a solid promo and one of Ronda’s better ones since her return.
Gunther w/ Ludwig Kaiser vs. Joe Alonzo: Man, I thought Alonzo was gonna pull out the upset! But seriously, this was fine for a debut for Gunther. The renaming of Marcel Barthel is a weird one but the name isn’t too terrible. However, is he going to be reduced to an Armando Estrada/Ricardo Rodriguez role or will he also be wrestling on Smackdown? He was in wrestling gear for his announcement but I couldn’t understand why. I hope the higher ups realize that Fabian Aichner is an important part of this package though and he makes his debut on Smackdown sooner rather than later.
Raquel Gonzalez gets a new name: I mean, okay? Again, it’s not a bad name but what’s the point of this? It’s a known fact (at least to me) that Vince McMahon loves alliteration so maybe it’s just as simple as that? A simple introduction that was just fine but something tells me she is gonna end up with Los Letharios despite her shutting down their advances tonight.
Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss Happy Talk segment: This gets a hit just for my optimism that both men are moving on some from this terrible act. The crowd was genuinely behind Moss tonight. Moss is a big, athletic guy and hopefully now we can see what he can do on his own (hopefully with a repackaging of his ring gear and dropping the Madcap name for Riddick). Fingers crossed for post-Mania optimism on this right now.
Drew McIntyre vs. Sami Zayn: How this match came about backstage was funny and it made me laugh a bit. This was everything you’d expect from these two considering how each is being booked at this point. In an alternate universe these guys could tear the house down together but that’s not Zayn’s role. I don’t understand why McIntyre would potentially chase this feud unless it’s just as simple as this match was booked and he wants his pound of flesh. But, he seemed to indicate he wanted to still get his hands on Zayn when he pointed the sword at him after the count-out finish. Perhaps Zayn will be a placeholder for whatever comes next?
Lacey Evans return: In terms of returns for a talent that WWE dropped the ball during their first run I’d consider this pretty close to a home run. More often than not, real life is better than fiction when it comes to putting someone on screen and then you can get creative from there. Lacey’s legit military background should’ve been focused on more in the past and it’s good to see it being embraced now as it makes her very unique in the pro wrestling world for a female wrestler. I was never against her Southern Belle character but I much prefer where they seem to be headed with this.
Sasha Banks vs. Liv Morgan: This match was fine for what it was. It does push along the story that Liv & Rhea Ripley can win on Monday even if I still believe that Rhea turning on Liv is imminent. I believed that to be the case before tonight’s show and even more so after Ripley didn’t accompany Liv to Smackdown tonight.
Bloodline and Shinsuke Nakamura closing segment: I can’t pinpoint why but I actually loved this segment. I’m a big proponent of the Universal and World Titles being unified. I’d also love to see the Tag and Women’s World Titles unified by the end of summer also. I’m also for these titles to stay unified and have spoke on this briefly on Wrestling Night in America with Greg Parks (waiting on the next invite, pal!) a few months back. I’m for this whether the brands are split or not but I’ll wait for another platform to go into this. As for the segment itself, I look forward to The Usos match with RK-Bro and think it will be a very good match that I’d expect the Usos to win. Nakamura hasn’t been pushed as a main event talent in years so some work will have to be done to get him back to that level but there’s no reason to believe that Nakamura can’t pull that off if given the right push.
Overall Show: This was a much better showing for WWE post-Mania than the three hour albatross that was this past Monday. If anything, this was a very newsworthy show that also had a lot more entertainment value than Raw this week. I’m excited to see where the potential goes for the Unified Tag Titles and this gives me hope that more titles will be unified. If trouble is being put in to unify multiple titles then there’s no reason to split them again. But again, I’ll jump off the soapbox as I could keep going on this topic.
Xavier Woods vs Butch: Another WWE trope that I can’t stand. Why is Spike Dudley…err, Pete Dunne…err, Butch losing already? (Hey, if Pat McAfee can slip up and call him “Pete,” I can make mistakes also) I know it’s only the first chapter of this feud but I hate the character that Butch is portraying. He’s just a bratty little brother right now and Michael Cole even said he was acting like a child post-match. Sorry, I’m just not a fan. Other than that, the match was well worked. They didn’t do a lot of joint manipulation spots and I wonder if they’ll phase that more out of Butch’s arsenal as he is integrated more into the main roster. I guess time will tell.
Jinder Mahal wants an Intercontinental Title match: This was such a small part of Smackdown but I groaned and rolled my eyes when Adam Pearce told Mahal that (and I’m paraphrasing) “I can’t just hand out title opportunities to anyone.” STOP IT! Your current Women’s Tag Champs were handed the opportunity and had never even teamed up before being granted it. I could find probably 100 other instances where this has happened but it was so laughable that I had to add it to this list. Worse yet, is that Ricochet vs. Mahal was added at the end of the show for the IC Title even after Pearce denied him on camera. I know it seems like a little thing but it’s ridiculous still.
Tony Donofrio is a Contributor for PWTorch.com. You can contact Tony at TonyDonofrio@icloud.com and follow him on Twitter @TonyDonofrio.