Seth Rollins and his high spots
Rollins finally felt like a babyface to me tonight. In recent weeks when he’s been on the mic, he’s just sounded like the same old snarky heel Seth Rollins, but this week he came across as more of a fan favourite babyface superstar heading into Clash of Champions. He had a weak finish against Rusev, but the post-match spot was great, and they ended the night on a high note with Rollins coming out to save Reigns with a massive dive from the top of the cage. For some reason, I’m still not all that interested in the Owens/Rollins program, even though I’m sure they’re going to have a great match. I think it’s the lack of follow through on Triple H’s part that has this feud feeling a bit cold at the moment, but hopefully things pick up on Sunday.
Becky Lynch & Alexa Bliss Contract Signing
This was great! Becky is probably the best talker in the women’s division and she’s a very naturally likeable babyface, meanwhile Alexa Bliss was great too. They gave her a lot to say and she delivered it well. I’m genuinely looking forward to their match, even though I’m still not sold on Alexa Bliss being all that ready for the main roster. But from a character and promo standpoint, she actually belongs on the main roster a lot more than almost anyone else in her division.
The Usos vs. American Alpha
I don’t really like them doing this match again since I see Alpha and The Usos as being the top two teams on SmackDown, and you don’t want to burn people out by having them work TV together constantly. But this was still pretty good. I liked the match and Chad Gable’s selling was excellent. Heel Usos are working great too. The match helped build more sympathy for Alpha, and even though they lost, it wasn’t too bad given Gable’s “injury” and The Usos continue to be built as ruthless heels.
Cesaro vs. Sheamus
Another good match in the Best of Seven series. I’m still sceptical that throwing Cesaro and Sheamus together for seven matches (or nine if you include the two they had beforehand) was ever a good idea, but they’re at least producing a lot of decent matches. Cesaro is so great and I’m actually looking forward to their final blow off match at Clash of Champions. The hopeful fanboy in me wants to see it lead to a push for Cesaro, but the realist in me doesn’t see it happening. In any case, this should be a good match.
Braun Strowman squashes Sin Cara
A minor hit as this was quite a bit better than their last squash match, and it had a much more sensible ending with Strowman getting a strong and decisive win over Sin Cara. The question is, who’s going to be the first guy to actually feud with Strowman? His weakness 100% is selling, so it’s going to be rough if they put him in there with a guy that he has to sell for. In the meantime, I dig the squash matches still.
A minor hit for a fun segment and match, albeit a brief match. They hit three birds with one stone, and I would have liked to have seen more build from Jericho and Zayn than what we got here, this was still fun. And the “List of Jericho” was pretty great too.
Dean Ambrose defeats John Cena
Everyone’s up in arms about how great this was, and sure, this is a huge win. Ambrose beating Cena clean on TV would have been a laughable notion six months ago. I know this is probably part of a greater storyline, but in all honesty, John Cena should be treated as the final boss on SmackDown. It should really mean something to beat him and it should be built up accordingly and not done in a throwaway 10-minute TV match with a rollup finish. I feel like Ambrose vs. Cena could have been a great PPV main event, and beating him there would have meant a lot. Instead, beating him on TV might mean a lot now, but in a month’s time everyone but the most hardcore smark will have forgotten about it unless they follow through on the strong booking for Ambrose. But it’s hard to see that happening given WWE’s track record. And I wouldn’t even be that shocked if Cena were to get his win back in a few weeks time. Fans have harped on about “LOLCENAWINS” booking for ten years, and there have been many times where Cena could have put a guy over rather than just win for no apparent reason – but at the same time, it’s that same headstrong booking that’s helped make him the top guy for a decade. If this is a once off then maybe it’s acceptable, but if Cena starts regularly putting guys over, it’s going to dilute him and make a win over Cena mean less and less. I would have preferred to see this on PPV, and maybe they’ll use this to try and build Ambrose up even further, but like I said, WWE doesn’t have that good of a track record when it comes to building new stars.
The Cruiserweights Debut
I’ll say this much, the cruiserweights had a great fatal four-way. It was probably the best TV match this week and Cedric Alexander was really impressive. But seriously, this is how you debut the cruiserweights? You have Mick Foley go out there and read a bunch of names off of a piece of paper like he can’t even remember them? If he can’t remember four names, then why should the fans remember them? None of the cruiserweights got any mic time. And, most mindboggling of all, the Cruiserweight Champion TJ Perkins wasn’t even there! You mean he couldn’t come out and cut a promo, have an interview, do a pre-taped segment even, or even just come out and shake the winner’s hand or something? I can’t even comprehend their train of thought here. Surely if you’re debuting a new division on your show, the one thing you make sure to get over is the champion right? Instead he was nowhere to be seen. And while I like Brian Kendrick and I’m sure they’ll have a good match, the whole thing that got Kendrick over during the Cruiserweight Classic was his storyline – he’s an ex-WWE guy trying to get his last big break. That’s a great story and it can translate to the main roster so easily. But him getting a title shot straight away just kind of kills that story dead in the water. There were so many different ways that they could have done this, and they perhaps chose the worst way. The only saving grace is that we got a good match out of it.
Raw Women’s Tag Match
This was kind of a really average match and the crowd just wasn’t into it for some reason. Bayley was great, but everyone else seemed to be on cruise control. Charlotte pinning Bayley is kind of really confusing to me as it really makes me scared that Bayley’s going to win the title now. It’s too soon for Bayley to win, I honestly think Sasha should win the title and go heel. As a babyface, she’s like the #2 woman on Raw, but as a heel, I could see her surpassing Charlotte. And in the mean time, Charlotte can continue this weird storyline she’s having with Dana Brooke. Paige and Emma should also hopefully be back soon, they could breathe some new life into the division. This match just didn’t do much for me and Dana Brooke could still use at least another six months in developmental.
It was fine, but the cage seemed unnecessary. It was just there. So are they going to make a cage match every time a match ends because of interference now? If so we’ll be seeing weekly cage matches. The PG era cage match is just kind of bland to watch, even though they did work hard. And the finish was typical, with WWE trying to protect both Owens and Reigns, rather than giving either of them a win going into their respective title matches. Honestly I feel like Owens could have just escaped the cage and won and it probably wouldn’t have hurt Reigns all that much. The post-match was great though.
He’s still doing nothing for me at all. The fans have been trained to see him as a comedy jobber, and aside from the sign he brings to the ring and the bad poetry, there’s nothing all that new about Bo Dallas. If you want to repackage him, let him grow a shitty beard, move him to SmackDown and call him Bo Wyatt. Bo Dallas squashing jobbers is kind of just nothing on TV right now.
Baron Corbin vs. Apollo Crews
It boggles my mind that out of Baron Corbin and Apollo Crews, Corbin is the guy getting pushed. I get that he’s tall and has some cool moves, but Apollo Crews is so much more impressive to me. The only thing he doesn’t have is height and his promos are weak. But so are Corbin’s. And they’re building Corbin up for Jack Swagger? Jack Swagger just lost to Jinder Mahal like a week ago – why are they trying to put him over as some kind of threat now? He should be right at the bottom of the ladder for losing to Jinder.
Every week I keep expecting Ziggler to turn heel, and he doesn’t do it. He cuts a promo about how he’s in a slump, but he’s really optimistic, everyone talks about how Ziggler is a loser now, and then Ziggler goes out to the ring and loses. His gimmick is that he is a giant loser. So my take is that one of three things is happening – he’s going heel (which probably should have happened after SummerSlam), he’s leaving the company so they’re burying him as hard as they can before then or he’s pissed someone off behind the scenes and now he’s paying for it. I can’t comprehend why, on a show with such a thin roster, you would book one of your uppercard guys like this. They aren’t building sympathy for him, they’re just making him look like more and more of a joke every week.
Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton
SmackDown Women’s Tag
This was short and awkward. You could tell they were pressed for time, obviously, so they just rushed to the finish but it was just really awkward. It’d be nice to get a bit of character development or explanation from Carmella about her grudge with Nikki Bella, so far I don’t think we’ve had one, but I might be wrong. This was just there and it came off as really sloppy.
All photos via WWE.com