The first SmackDown Live exclusive pay-per-view just took place, and we ended up with three new champions! Overall, it was a fairly crowd pleasing show with Becky Lynch, Slater & Rhyno and AJ Styles all coming out on top. The biggest thing I can nitpick (aside from the Kane/Bray Wyatt nonsense) is the absolute shallowness of the SmackDown roster. This show ran short and you could tell they were trying to stretch everything out for more time – and that’s with a tag team working double duty. That to me is a sign that brand exclusive pay-per-views aren’t the way to go yet. But that aside, we got some decent matches and SmackDown looks it’ll be an interesting show on Tuesday. And to be fair, I’d rather a show finish half an hour early than run half an hour over.
WWE World Championship
A solid main event with the right man leaving as champion. It started slow and it wasn’t the crazy blow away match I was expecting, but it ended up being a decent match with some good psychology and a good finish. I actually liked the low blow finish since it plays into the story they’re telling and it gives Ambrose more motivation to chase Styles. As much as I’ve liked Ambrose’s promos recently, his last two pay-per-view performances have been pretty lacking. It felt a lot like Styles carried him for the most part. I’m guessing we’ll get a pretty decent rematch next month though.
Women’s Championship Six-Pack Challenge
A surprisingly really good match. I was expecting a mess, but everyone got a chance to shine, including Alexa and Carmella. Naomi was really impressive out there as well. While part of me thinks that Natalya could have maybe won the title being the top heel, I really thought Nikki was the smart bet to win. Glad to see Becky Lynch finally win a title in WWE and in a lot of ways, she’s the right choice. She was in need of a big win, everyone likes Becky and she can not only put on good matches with Natalya, Naomi etc. but she can help Carmella and Alexa a lot as well. There’s enough heel talent to keep Becky busy for a while, and I’m still crossing my fingers that we get an Asuka call up to SmackDown by the end of the year.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship
It felt like a TV match, it wasn’t anything special, but I still liked it more than the Hype Bros match. I think that’s because the fans were totally buying into the whole Slater storyline. I love that everyone’s so invested in Heath Slater getting a SmackDown contract despite the fact he’s been working SmackDown every week. Personally, I would have preferred a more legit team like American Alpha to win the titles. But I can get behind this. I don’t see Slater & Rhyno holding the belts for long, I imagine the Usos will get the titles pretty quickly, but this was a nice moment for both Slater and Rhyno.
For a bit of fun, watch the first 30-seconds of this match side by side with the Punk/Gall fight. I really had no interest in this match given that I’ve seen Ziggler vs. Miz about a thousand times before, but this turned out to be a really decent match, and it was genuinely unpredictable. I’m liking whatever story they’re going with Miz antagonising Daniel Bryan, by using Bryan’s moves. I liked the selling in this match a lot as well, Ziggler sells like a champ. I’m not so keen on the gimmicky finish with Maryse using the spray bottle on Ziggler. It’s a bit tacky and it makes it seem like we’re going to get a rematch. I liked this match but I don’t need to see this program go for another month. I don’t know what they’re going to do with Bryan, I highly doubt that he’s going to compete. But this might lead to him bringing a new challenger for The Miz maybe? Meanwhile, Ziggler could not be any more dead in the water. They might as well trade him to Raw as fodder for Braun Strowman at this rate.
Kane vs. Bray Wyatt
We got a decent table spot and both guys tried hard to give the fans a show, despite the disappointment of Orton’s injury, but this just wasn’t what people wanted to see. The ending saw Randy Orton limp out with his leg taped up, hit an RKO and walk off, then Kane won. I can’t even fathom why they gave Kane the win. I’m sure the geniuses in the creative department are thinking that this will make Bray more motivated to go after Orton, but all it does is hurt him. And it’s not as if Kane is doing anything important to could merit needing a win here. Why is the near-50-year-old beating the #2 heel on the show who’s desperate for any win he can get? This was absurdly stupid.
The Hype Bros vs. The Usos
They worked a very basic, simple TV match. The Usos were just sort of there. Zack Ryder worked hard, but this match never really took off. I can’t really blame them given that The Usos were working double duty, and I did like the finish with the modified single leg Boston Crab, but the rest of this match was completely forgettable.
All photos via WWE.com