WWE SMACKDOWN HITS & MISSES 4/15: A spirited RK-Bro promo, meaningless IC title match, more

BY TONY DONOFRIO, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Analysis on this week's Smackdown featuring tag team unification match
PHOTO CREDIT: WWE

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

Smackdown Hits

RK-Bro and Usos promo segment: This was a spirited and fun segment to kick off Smackdown, particularly from The Usos and Randy Orton. I don’t think that there was ever a doubt that this match was gonna happen once Roman Reigns proposed that Jimmy & Jey make the challenge last week but it was still a fun exchange. One thing can’t be denied and that’s that the crowds love RK-Bro. It’s easy to knock WWE booking (trust me, I do it quite a bit) but the patience they’ve shown in not splitting these guys up and letting this act evolve is to be commended. When the breakup does happen (presumably later on this summer?) it’ll make their feud all that much better because of this.

Naomi vs. Rhea Ripley: This was a decent match from two pretty good workers. The booking was also the right decision which calls more into question why Sasha Banks beat Liv Morgan on Monday? Three straight wins from the challengers going into Monday’s title match would’ve felt like significant momentum for Morgan & Ripley. I still don’t believe that Morgan & Ripley will win the titles on Monday and believe this is the means to an end where we see Morgan & Ripley split after just a few months (another WWE trope). I can only hope that WWE will start to develop its women’s tag division coming out of this. There are a good number of women wrestlers just sitting in catering right now that could be inserted into the tag division, if nothing else.

Humberto vs. Madcap Moss: Well, this is a tough one. I’ll give it a minor hit because Moss is off to a good start with a showcase win. However, he still has the same bad nickname and ring gear. I guess one step at a time and I’m hopeful that the “Madcap” name and suspenders get swapped out in the coming weeks. Perhaps as he commences in his feud with Happy Corbin he’ll start to shed the old nickname and gear (and bad jokes for that matter).

The Lacey Evans story: Last week was great and the breath of fresh air continued this week with letting Lacey tell her story in her own words. Obviously the followup Is always the key but there’s no reason to believe that Lacey won’t re-debut as a huge babyface with a strong crowd reaction. I’d like to think that it’d take a colossal failure in booking to mess this up after putting together a few great segments to help Lacey get over as she prepares for her re-debut. I’m guessing we’ll get one, maybe two, more segments like this to really put a bow on things for Lacey to tell how she overcame her rough upbringing.

Riddle vs. Jimmy Uso: This was a fun and expected choice for the main event. It’s not often you’ll see two guys as part of tag teams main event a show like Raw or Smackdown but it happened on this night. Riddle hitting the RKO out of nowhere and Orton’s reaction certainly made the finish even more exciting. I would venture to say that The Usos will be unifying the titles so it is also smart to see RK-Bro get as much momentum as possible heading into this PPV. Part of me expected Riddle to take the loss because I don’t usually trust the booking and Riddle seems to be the fall guy most of the time when Orton or Riddle have to take a loss. A solid main event in terms of action and booking.

Overall Smackdown Show: This really was a middle of the road show but considering it had a strong opening segment and main event I’ll give it a nod as a minor hit. I also can’t say I was bored at any point even if I wasn’t thrilled with where roughly 50% of the show fell on this list. We’re less than a month out from Backlash and the show doesn’t feel all that exciting at this point but there’s still a few prime weeks left to build the show up.

Misses

Drew Gulak: Why is Gulak a broadcaster now? This guy is a very good in-ring talent that has been reduced to the Josh Matthews role circa 2006. I am curious if there’s more to this though since it was made a point of emphasis by Michael Cole and Pat McAfee that Gulak was making this transition. Does this lead to something where Gulak actually does get back in the ring and it’s just a matter of me not letting the first chapter play out into the subsequent ones? If so, I’ll have no problem admitting that I’m wrong but I don’t like that Gulak has taken this role at this point in time.

Charlotte Flair interview segment: I don’t know. I guess this plays into my previous point about Gulak. Was Gulak made an announcer for just one night to sell the figure eight? Or maybe Gulak will be the one announcer that doesn’t ask the silly questions that many WWE backstage interviewers ask and that’s going to be his gimmick? Is he gonna be the guy that asks the “tough questions” but will also pay the price for it since he’s a trained wrestler and knows how to sell properly? Perhaps. Other than that, Flair’s answers were mostly fine but it felt overshadowed by the Gulak nonsense and McAfee selling all the questions audibly on commentary that Gulak asked after each question.

Sami Zayn vs. Drew McIntyre: There’s nothing I can say about this match that I didn’t say last week. It’s a mild miss if only because there’s no real stakes to this feud. This feels a lot like a holdover feud for McIntyre until after Backlash. Both guys are very valuable in their roles but having them intersect feels a bit strange right now. Much like McIntyre’s feud with Corbin felt all along, the conclusion to this already feels like it isn’t in any doubt. Hopefully the Zayn-McIntyre III will be the conclusion with the lumberjack match happening next week. This just feels like McIntyre is being defined down more than Zayn being elevated with this feud.

Jinder Mahal vs. Ricochet (Intercontinental Title): So, Mahal hasn’t won a match since October 21 of last year (thanks to Jason Powell of ProWrestling.net for that nugget) but got his IC Title match on Smackdown. Welp, Mahal still hasn’t won a match since Oct. 21 of last year. It’s also no wonder that Ricochet got mostly no reaction throughout the match considering how he’s been booked since winning the IC Title. I said this pre-WrestleMania and I’ll echo it now but the mid-card titles need to mean something now that the two major titles have been unified. Unfortunately, that should’ve started a few months back and the damage is mostly done. The uphill battle for this seems to get steeper and steeper as the days roll on.

The saga of Butch: McAfee pops when Butch spoke. Butch is “lost” after walking away 5 seconds prior to being seen on camera. I’ve joked that Butch is the new Spike Dudley. I sincerely apologize to Spike Dudley. Butch is being booked like a petulant child and it’s embarrassing. I was worried about how the former Pete Dunne debuted and it’s only gotten worse from here. Only time will tell if this can be salvaged.

Tony Donofrio is a Contributor for PWTorch.com. You can contact Tony at TonyDonofrio@icloud.com and follow him on Twitter @TonyDonofrio.


CATCH-UP: 4/15 WWE SMACKDOWN RESULTS: Keller’s report on Ricochet vs. Mahal for IC Title, McIntyre vs. Sami, plus RK-Bro visit Smackdown

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