OPENING PROMOS- Sasha, Bayley, AJ Styles, Lacey Evans, and Nikki Cross were very good. Gran Metalik sounded good, but I don’t speak Spanish so I can’t render judgement.
Big E. was fine. Miz and Morrison were far too goofy. Naomi would have been great if she hadn’t closed it out with that idiotic catchphrase.
FIREFLY FUNHOUSE- dull
Bray raises the possibility that Braun Strowman might have been eaten by alligators. He also says that part of Braun’s soul is trapped in the swamp forever. Considering that Bray once claimed that he are Kane and Taker’s souls and neither of them seem to suffer any ill effects from that, I’m really not worried for Braun.
Also, Bray says that until The Fiend gets what he wants from Braun (presumably the Universal Title), “no one is safe.” Whatever. I’m sure he’s said this ten times before.
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH: AJ Styles(c) vs. Gran Metalik (w/Lincé Dorado)- 7/10
AJ worked the leg. This had a great, urgent feel to it. AJ won clean
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- good
AJ attacked Lincé Dorado and came off as quite vicious.
BARON CORBIN AND CHAD GABLE BACKSTAGE- meh
Does Baron Corbin have actual booking power? Because he seems to think he does, implying that if Gable were to buddy up with him, Gable would get an IC Title shot. Corbin also tried to convince Gable to take out Matt Riddle and collect his bounty. They still haven’t made any effort to explain what it means to “prove that Matt Riddle doesn’t belong here on Smackdown.
JEFF HARDY IS CONGRATULATED BY PEOPLE BACKSTAGE- didn’t like it
First they showed us a recap of the Bar Fight, then they had Jeff walking backstage while the announcers talked about how he “overcame his bully” and wondered what was next for Jeff… not even acknowledging the weird magical bullsh*t that they just saw in the video package. How does anyone see this and the first question out of their mouth is “what was that weird sh*t with the magical face paint?”
Then they showed Jeff backstage, being congratulated by a throng of people, but it felt very forced because it’s really and outsized reaction to what was basically just a gimmick match that happened to take place elsewhere, and yet it’s being treated like some big, glorious return of a conquering hero.
JEFF HARDY & BARON CORBIN SEGMENT- averages out to being okay
Jeff comes out and cuts a great babyface promo. He is interrupted by Baron Corbin, who gets a more intense heel reaction from these plants than any reaction I can remember seeing on any wrestling TV show in a long time- even before COVID. He buries Jeff for going to AA meetings. Drew Gulak comes out and attacks Corbin from behind. That’s a not a very babyface way to do things.
DREW GULAK vs. BARON CORBIN- 5.5/10
Holy sh*t! I never thought I’d hear Michael Cole make a veiled reference to Catchpoint!
Gulak did the best he could with Corbin. Corbin overcame a distraction by Matt Riddle and won the match.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- interesting
Riddle attacked Corbin, but Chad Gable turned heel by coming out and saving Corbin. I guess he thought Corbin had a solid point that taking Riddle out would mean he wouldn’t get overlooked anymore.
BIG E. vs. THE MIZ (w/John Morrison)- 3.75/10
Big E. won a match that went a while but wasn’t very good, mostly because of Miz. That figure four he locked on was the worst of it, but certainly not the only thing he did in this match that looked really bad. The story was JoMo interfering to help Miz out, with the referee eventually ejecting him from ringside and Big E. being able to win soon after. I actually liked the idea of him losing via interference being a way to show that things actually are different for him now that he doesn’t have Kofi and Xavier to watch his back on the outside, but I guess they’re just going with the big push instead.
LUCHA HOUSE PARTY CRASHES CERASO & NAKAMURA’S “CHAMPIONS ONLY PARTY” BACKSTAGE- painful
Lucha House Party came off as unlikeable, inviting themselves into someone else’s party, and most of Cesaro and Nakamura’s dialogue was terrible. I did laugh at the “you blew it” gag with the party-blower though.
SHEAMUS PROMO- mixed
The general idea here of a heel making an excuse for his loss and pivoting away from the feud was good, but the idea that Jeff Hardy’s power increases based on his proximity to alcohol was way too cartoonish, even for a heel making an excuse.
Worse than that, though, was that Sheamus was wearing that f*cking hat again. You know… the one that gave Jeff Hardy magical face-paint? If I were him, after last week, I’d never touch that thing again. And if I did, it would be an ill-advised attempt to give myself the super-powers, which would be a bad idea because I’d be messing with forces I didn’t understand, and would probably wind up possessed by a demon.
So yeah. That magical bullsh*t will never come up again, and they didn’t put any thought into how it works, so the guy who lost because his hat gave his opponent magical powers is just strolling around wearing the hat again.
LACEY EVANS PROMO- fine, if a little cartoonish
LACEY EVANS vs. NAOMI- 2.5/10
This was rather short. Lacey gave Naomi a powerbomb that reminded me of Benoit and Guerrero from that early Nitro. They also did a spot that looked like they were going for Naomi sliding out of the ring into a Canadian Destroyer but wound up as a sunset flip powerbomb that looked wacky and scary. The finish was Naomi winning with a very deep backslide, which I liked. The woman who can do the crazy split should have a more effective backslide than the average wrestler. She should use it more, and they should make it almost like a finisher for her, like Danielson’s small package or the Goto Shiki.
MANDY ROSE & OTIS BACKSTAGE- bad
Otis is f*cking cartoon goofball. He comes across like the world’s fattest mole-person trying way to hard to be Chris Farley. Anyway, they’re going to a restaurant and Otis talks about all of the food he wants to eat. He does not seem to understand that the “dessert” Mandy was offering him was intended to be eaten off of her naked body. They left, and Sonya Deville came around the corner, apparently stalking them. I totally forgot this feud was going on. Has there been any update on the identity of the mysterious hacker yet? It’s been fourth months now.
SONYA DEVILLE ATTACKS MANDY ROSE WHILE SHE’S DOING HER MAKEUP- TREMENDOUS!
Sonya attacked Mandy, smeared makeup on her face, and then cut her hair, all while kicking her around. I thought Sonya came off like an absolute psychopath here. When this first started I thought they were going to do the Flair/Steamboat “ruin your pretty face” angle, but this was much better than doing that would have been because it let Sonya look completely unhinged, standing there with those scissors.
MIZ & MORRISON INTERRUPT KAYLA’S REPORTING ON THIS TO MAKE FUN OF MANDY GETTING HER HAIR CUT- Tucker Knight chased them away
WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH: Bayley(c) (w/Sasha Banks) vs. Nikki Cross (w/Alexa Bliss!)- 6/10
The reason that Sasha vs. Asuka had a “if anyone interferes on your behalf, the other person gets the title” stipulation was that Bayley and Asuka’s buddy Kairi kept interfering at the PPV, right? So shouldn’t this match have those same stipulations, considering the set-up is pretty much the same (Bayley’s friend Sasha and Nikki’s friend Alexa keep getting involved)?
HOW DID NO ONE CATCH THIS? You’ve got two heels who are part of the same act both doing f*ck finishes in title matches on the PPV, both leading to a rematch two weeks later, and one of them gets a big “no interferences allowed, or else!” stipulation and the other doesn’t! COME ON!
I love the SAnitY music, but it just does not work for babyface Nikki Cross.
Bayley won a disappointing main event.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- didn’t like it
Alexa tried to console Nikki but Nikki got angry, shoved her, and left.
Then The Fiend magicked his way into the ring and terrified Alexa, then put her in the Mandible Claw. Why? If the answer is just to be evil then that’s fine but dull. If the answer is because it’s supposed to be a shot towards Braun Strowman, then that’s Bray making a HUGE assumption. They were slightly flirty with each other a few times three years ago and thus Bray thinks Braun has feelings for Alexa? That’s pretty stupid if you ask me.
This was a mixed bag episode of Smackdown. It’s five AM on Monday, so I don’t really feel like trying to come up with a better concluding paragraph than that. Watch the Sonya Deville attack on Mandy if you have the time.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES:
1. Graves referred to Big E. transitioning from being a tag team wrestler to being a singles wrestler as “a very unique situation.”
Unique? It’s not even f*cking RARE. And Graves gets double stupidity points because Cole’s question to him the prompted this idiotic answer was framed with Cole mentioning that it was something Graves himself had done during his career, so that right there should make it clear that it doesn’t qualify as “unique.”
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