SmackDown Live Falls Short, Ziggler Triumphs


Let’s get this straight.  In a vacuum, only comparing it to the previously taped Smackdown shows, this is actually pretty decent.  Sure, it had it’s problems but it was a flawed B-level show.  The problem is that it followed the exceptional re-launch of RAW and a pretty decent PPV.  There were a number of fundamental problems that can be fixed.  We’ll cover all of these over the course of this recap.

Tonight’s show came from Buffalo, New York.  That’s coincidentally where Matt and I are going to fly to go to Survivor Series in November.  Again, no particular order.

Live from (Buffalo) New York, it’s Smackdown Live!

Is it just me or did Daniel’s and Shane’s opening remind you of the cold open for Saturday Night Live.

Also, it’s about you…but we’re going to play Daniel Bryan’s theme while your roster stands awkwardly on the apron.  Yeah, it’s about the people.  I’m not accusing D-Bry of being vain, it’s just an unfortunate contrast of what they said to what was shown on screen.

Battle Royale with Cheese

Shane and Daniel announced that there will be a “6-Pack challenge” (seriously, what?) for the #1 contender position for Dean’s WWE Championship.  They chose 5 participants for the match with the 6th to be determined by a battle royale.  These are rarely done right and unfortunately this one disappointed.  Kane (remember that new guy from the New Era) dominated most of the match.  Apollo Crews gets the win here by dodging Kane’s charge.

I think it’s fine that Apollo won.  I’m not his biggest fan but I see the logic in the booking.  If Apollo had just been a bit more dominant, I would have been happier here.  Not a great way to start the new episode of Raw.

Shane is a Jerk

 or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Heath Slater…Baby.

Heath Slater is criminally underrated.  And Shane was kind of a jerk.  Heath came out, took out a jobber waiting for a match, and demanded to know why he wasn’t drafted to Raw or Smackdown.

Shane, in response, was kind of a jerk.  He was suggesting that Heath send in his resume, even though all his work is on the network.

I like this fire with Heath and I hope this storyline pays off.

But that leads to…

Yes, that’s right.

Divisions without a Prize

Many, including me, hoped that we would get a second Women’s Title for SDL (and tag titles) or at least a mechanism to have the show’s challenge each other for those titles fairly regularly.  It seems, at least for now, that this is not the case.

Becky Lynch Vs. Natayla

Another 50/50 match so you can guess that Becky Lynch won this.  I did particularly love the top rope leg drop that the Lass Kicker unleashed.  Becky wins with the Disarmher.

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Afterwords, we saw the parade of the women’s devision with no mention of a new title.  I love a lot of these competitors but they need something to fight for or this is all pointless.

This is easily fixed.  Give them a title to fight for or some kind of mechanism to challenge the Women’s Champ on Raw.

Miz Vs. Randy Orton

Randy interrupts Miz TV with a pegging joke (seriously) we have a match to knock the ring rust off of Randy.  There’s some great work in this match.  Mike focuses on the recently repaired shoulder of Orton’s.  But a couple of great RKOs seals the deal here.

It was so nice they did it twice!

– Mauro

6 Pack Challenge

Bray Wyatt Vs. Apollo Crews Vs. Baron Corbin Vs. AJ Styles Vs. Dolph Ziggler Vs. John Cena

It’s not unlike Smackdown to have a multi-man match to close out the show.  That hasn’t changed.  What is different about this match is the work is pretty stellar.

AJ dished out and received some hellacious bumps.

And the Towers of Doom was pretty sweet.

Cena went on an AA streak after the first failed to put AJ away.  And then we got this finish!

My only problem with this is that Ziggler wins with a Superkick, not the Zig Zag.  No one won with one of those in a long time.  But I loved the result.  Not everyone was.  Some were willing to take back what they said just an hour before:

If you weren’t happy with it, then his de-push worked.  If you look at one of the hardest workers in the company and see a jobber, all those storylines worked to make you lose faith in him.

Either way, the Summerslam match is going to be great.  It has the potential to be a top ten.

Final Thoughts

Smackdown has potential, for sure.  Raw was a tough act to follow.  It’s a challenge that Smackdown fell a little short of this week.  I think it has a great potential to rise higher as I think it has some of the best workers on the entire WWE roster.  After watching that last match, I’m sold on the show and will be sad to hand over the reigns to Matt at the end of this summer.

Here’s what they got right:

  • It really does feel like the wrestling show.  There seems to be a higher level of work than even the night before (which was pretty stellar).
  • I loved the direct-to-camera interviews for all the 6 pack challenge competitors.  Nice touch.  I think this is the result of the experimenting they’ve been doing the last 6 weeks.
  • They’ve got a great roster and they’re adding more.  Rhyno got signed this week and Shelton Benjamin will be here next week.  Also next week marks the return of American Alpha.

Here’s what needs to be fixed:

  • Please give us Smackdown Tag and Women’s belts.  What’s the point if they have nothing to fight for?
  • Can we bring back Jerry “The King” Lawler to replace JBL?  Mauro, Otunga, and JBL have little chemistry.

    John seemed to be particularly bad tonight.  It’s very possible that it will get better over time, but there really wasn’t a reason to get rid of King.
  • Stop it with the non-stop 50/50 match booking!

I’ll be back next week!