SmackDown wasn’t the incredible blow away show that Raw was, and some of that can be attributed to the lack of depth that the roster has, but there was also a lack of any major announcements. We’re still in the dark as to what’s going to happen with the tag and women’s divisions, which is something they should definitely clear up ASAP. But SmackDown still wasn’t a bad show by any means.
I’m surprised at the choice to go with Dolph Ziggler as the number one contender. The smart money was on Bray Wyatt. I even thought of Baron Corbin as a dark horse since they seem pretty high on him. Ziggler has been made irrelevant over the last two years or so thanks to the usual 50/50 booking and throwing him into long and awful feuds that do nothing for him. I think Ziggler has the potential to be a top guy and he’s never really quite gotten his due. But I don’t think he should be a face. I’d like to see him heel it up over the next few weeks. An interesting story to tell would be Ziggler losing to Ambrose, and then going full heel after letting another opportunity slip through his fingers. We’ll see what they do though. Ambrose vs. Ziggler in a face vs. face match doesn’t do a lot for me on the surface, and Ziggler as a challenger should have been a bigger deal than it was. There was certainly the shock factor as no one expected Ziggler to win, but I’ll be curious to see how seriously audiences receive Ziggler going forward. The main event was really good itself, and like Raw, it was unpredictable. So there’s that too. I would expect that AJ ate the pinfall here so that they can give him a big win at SummerSlam, at least that’s what I’m hoping. They’ve beaten him way too much lately. A good match though and intriguing pick for the winner.
Heath Slater was entertaining as always on the mic, and they set up for Rhyno’s big return. I’m pretty happy to see Rhyno on the main roster. He’s older and certainly not in the same shape he was 10-years-ago. But he’s done some good work in NXT and it’ll be cool to see him work with the SmackDown roster.
Becky vs. Natalya
A strong women’s match, in fact, frustrating commercial breaks aside, it was probably better than their Battleground match. I’m not sure if their feud is going to continue, this felt like they were giving Becky her win back and by introducing all the other women straight after, it seems like Becky and Nattie are likely to move on to other opponents.
The battle royal was a battle royal. It really highlighted the lack of depth that the roster has though. The majority of SmackDown’s tag division had to be thrown into the ring to pad out the numbers, and the biggest stars you had in there were Alberto Del Rio and Kane. WWE did a lot of damage with their 50/50 style of booking, so now too many guys appear as midcard/lower card dweebs and they’re paying the price for it. Hopefully they can elevate some guys over the coming months so that this isn’t as big of a problem.
I’m still not sold on this new babyface Orton gimmick we’re seeing. I wasn’t a huge fan of his spot on the Highlight Reel, but he still had better lines then. This MizTV segment wasn’t great, although the live crowd did pop pretty big for him. I don’t like the idea of Randy Orton having a competitive match with The Miz to build him up for his main event with Brock Lesnar. And even though we haven’t seen Orton ages, Orton vs. Miz doesn’t exactly scream “new era”.
The Women’s Segment
So you had Becky beat Natalya in a fine match, then you had Alexa, Naomi, Carmella and Eva also make appearances and cut promos. Eva didn’t say anything, but her intro was awesome. This was the debut of Alexa Bliss and Carmella, as well as Naomi and Eva’s returns – and they were all thrown into this segment together where they had to talk over each other. This isn’t the way to launch some new stars, you need to showcase them individually. I would have preferred that they have Alexa come out and attack Becky or something so we’re focused on just one person and not six. Here’s another problem – this led to nothing, there’s no direction and these women have nothing to fight for. The brand extension has officially begun, we have a new title coming into Raw, the brands have been separated and we still don’t know what’s happening with the secondary titles. Is Sasha Banks going to be a touring champion defending on both brands? What about New Day with the tag belts? Or are they just exclusive to Raw and SmackDown is going to be completely shafted? I was really disappointed in the complete lack of announcements of what’s happening, and until we get confirmation, it’s just gonna feel like the women’s and tag divisions are spinning their wheels.
All photos via WWE.com