Rob’s What mattered
1. Main Event Feud
Everything about the storyline is perfect. Every week, the backstage segment with Roman Reigns and the Usos delivers. Reigns is perfect in his conviction that he is the best. Jimmy Uso is right to come back and question Jey Uso’s allegiance to Reigns. Jey is playing the middle man perfectly. It’s frustrating to be between two of your family members in a conflict like this. This storyline is nuanced, there is attention to detail, and new developments every week.
The decision to make Reigns’ Hell in a Cell opponent Rey Mysterio makes this even better. It plays into the tag team feud with the Usos and the Mysterios. The whole feud is a family affair. On top of that, Rey will absolutely deliver in this match, thinking about his recent marquee singles matches like his match against Brock Lesnar. This will be much the same. Rey is still the ultimate underdog, and Reigns has been built as unbeatable in this reign. The segment at the end of the night was chaotic and brutal. Rey with a kendo stick is a fiery combo I’m surprised we didn’t see more of it in his early career. Reigns’ powerbomb to Dominik Mysterio outside of the ring was the sort of awesome spot that I will miss when the Thunderdome is gone. It looked lethal but was likely safe due to the camera angles and magic of no live crowd.
2. Midcard Scene
The Intercontinental Championship has been consistently entertaining since Big E won it, leading into Apollo Crews’ current reign. I want to complain about seeing the same four guys in the ring every week. I want to complain about the archaic idea that the teams in this match were paired because they were babyfaces and heels. The in-ring product was too good to complain about any of that.
In my opinion, they tackled some of the nuances of the problems between Big E/Kevin Owens and Crews/Sami Zayn. Commander Azeez is frustrating, constantly breaking up these great matches, but that’s how we’re supposed to feel. It will be exciting to see if he can carry any of that momentum into his in-ring debut next week. After that, I just want to see these guys get a half-hour on a PPV stage in front of live fans.
3. Laughing out loud
I have my favorites, and I don’t try to hide it. Bayley and Seth Rollins are two of my favorite wrestlers, and they had amazing, insufferable chemistry as annoying heels in my favorite segment, Ding Dong Hello! Rollins complimented Bayley on the egotistical updates to the talk show’s set. They laughed together watching clips of them verbally and physically attacking in their respective feuds against Bianca Belair and Cesaro. Their acting was on, having the camera find them slowly smirking and building to an uncontrollable laugh.
An unexpected doorbell ring interrupted them. Luckily, Cesaro got the memo that you always come through the front door on Ding Dong Hello! We always knew Cesaro was a man of culture. Cesaro had an awesome attack on Rollins, sending him through parts of the set. At the end of the segment, Belair came out and turned the tables on Bayley, laughing at the demise of her beloved talk show set. On top of loving the acting and action of this segment, I thought it did an amazing job continuing two feuds in a creative way. I would love to see WWE leverage these talk shows more often to promote multiple feuds at once or use their best talkers to lift the stories of some of the best wrestlers. In this segment, they completely used everyone's strengths to make the two feuds better.
4. Chad Gable vs. Montez Ford
This was a great match between two wrestlers who may be up there with some of the best on SmackDown when given time to shine. They used it to promote their tag team feud, and it built everyone. Montez Ford looked awe-inspiring and passionate in his offense, and Chad Gable looked smart and tough. Otis’s new look and attitude matches the tag team with Gable more, and he looked vicious in his beatdown of Angelo Dawkins backstage and in-ring. This is exactly what I thought the tag division was missing before. They have so many talented teams. Now, the teams are all entangled in meaningful feuds that will make their great in-ring work even more impactful.
5. Carmella vs. Liv Morgan
I thought this was a good match and gave time to two underutilized women on the roster. Liv Morgan had a new look and new attitude, leading to a win over the former Women’s champion. Carmella got her new character over as the “most beautiful woman in WWE” an interesting ego-driven persona that was used to minimize her loss.
6. Michael Cole and Pat McAfee
Their commentary added a lot to the action throughout this SmackDown. Pat McAfee has found his stride fast. You can tell he is a fan, and he brings the energy to the commentary table. He’s the perfect person to play off Michael Cole’s play-by-play style. Fox’s presentation of SmackDown has paid off huge. Multiple times this week, I found myself listening to Cole focus on the moves in the match and getting excited when McAfee popped.
1.Chad Gable vs Montez Ford
This match gets the number one spot because these two really went for it. They had the most entertaining match on Smackdown, even if it ended in a Dq. I even like the DQ finish because it was done as part of the story, and it had its intended effect. Gable showed he was more than capable of hanging in the ring by himself. Also Otis showed that he was a serious threat by taking out Dawkins and Ford and injuring Ford.
Bayley and Seth Rollins did a great job at being absolutely intolerable on Ding Dong Hello. Then Cesaro returned and literally beat the pants off of Seth, and he ran away in his underwear, and I thought it was hilarious. Cesaro destroyed the set, and then Bianca came out to laugh in Bayley's face. You could see Bayley was affected by having the tables turned on her. Bayley acts so well you would actually feel bad for her if you had just started watching at that moment.
3. Some of The Roman Story
I like the tension between Jimmy and Roman, and I like that Jimmy called him out for costing them the titles. I also liked that Rey attacked Roman to get revenge, and I thought the spot where Roman launched Dominik outside of the ring was phenomenal. Those are the parts of the story that I thought were positives.
Rob’s What didn’t matter
1. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. King Corbin
I was so close to calling this a perfect SmackDown. This was another straight-up rematch, and the segment was way too short. Rick Boogs was there again. Shinsuke Nakamura and King Corbin traded the crown back and forth. It was all the same things again. I guess WWE doesn’t trust we will remember this feud if we don’t see these two in the ring every week. WWE announced the match for the crown next week, but at this point, I’m not even excited to see this: we’ve seen Nakamura and Corbin in the ring about four weeks in a row now.
Reverse Hipster What Didn't Matter
Nakamura vs. Corbin
This feud is maddening. Corbin is the rightful King, and Nakamura is just stealing what isn't his. I don't even particularly love Corbin, but I feel for the guy. He is being ganged up on two on one. He has had his property stolen from him. The most infuriating part is that when he went to management, they sided with the thief! Why does Corbin have to fight to regain something that is rightfully his that he already fought for and won? This feud is repetitive and poorly planned, and now I'm rooting for the heel.
2. The Ic Title picture
Speaking of repetitive, it's starting to feel like nothing matters in the IC title scene. You never expect to see a fair fight because of Aziz. Also, nothing has been advanced. The same four guys keep hovering around the title. Black seemed like he was going to change things, then he got fired. This tag match, while entertaining, certainly didn't matter. We are just running it back next week and switching out Zayn and adding in Aziz. Just like a snake eating its tail, we arrive back at the beginning. I don't expect a fair match or for it to matter.
3. Liv vs. Carmella
I am happy that Liv won, and I like both of these women. However, I don't like the 50/50 booking. They both get a win, but ultimately nobody looks any better. An even bigger problem is there is next to no story. Why do we have a rematch? Who requested it? Why is it necessary from a story perspective? What is each woman hoping to accomplish in this match? These are the important questions left unanswered that made it hard to buy-in.
4. Some parts of the Roman Story
I didn't like the confrontation between Jimmy and Roman. It was anti-climatic after everything Jimmy said and everything Roman has done to him. It makes zero sense that Jimmy would not only keep his hands to himself but actually listen to Roman and get manipulated by him.
Also in the Rey attack, Roman was booked way too strong. He shrugs off Rey's kendo stick strikes which is ridiculous. Rey had the element of surprise and a weapon and the numbers advantage and still lost. That's making Roman look way too strong, in my opinion. It wouldn't have even made Roman look weak if he lost that encounter. Also, why is Rey saying even if I lose? He is the biggest little man, and this man attacked his son. Why is he talking about losing?
I would have rathered Dominik and Rey not say a word all night; then, when Roman and Jimmy were having their verbal altercation, the lights go out, and Rey and Dominik just beat Jimmy and Roman down prison-style with weapons. We hear them getting beat up, and when the light comes on, we see Rey and Dominik standing tall. Then next week, Jey can take out Rey, and then Dominik can try to defend his father, and then Roman can throw him out of the ring to end the show and supercharge the feud on the go home.
JEY USO SINGLES TITLE STORY
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