Things we learned this week: according to Corey Graves, Sami Zayn is not the Brad Pitt of the WWE, but instead the Seth Rogen. Kevin Owens called Tom Phillips, Tyler. James Ellsworth almost main evented SmackDown Live and could have possibly cemented his legacy as one the greatest of all time. The Ascension have new face paint but are rusty as hell. And finally Vince McMahon suffered an injury that will require surgery (no joke).
All jokes aside, another week is the books and the post-Backlash SmackDown show was met with some serious criticisms in this article. When you have one match featuring The Usos and The Hype Bros in the entire first hour, chances are the show won’t be very well received. But at least the Tuesday show added Jack Swagger to the mix, so we can look forward to his “hot wife” references every Tuesday night. Seriously Jack, never speak again, please.
Raw wasn’t as bad, as certain characters are really starting to find their footing on the show, while some appear to be taking a step back. We shall elaborate on both situations in this writing.
Let us now begin and take a look at the ups and downs from this past week in the world of the WWE! Enjoy this list of eight downs and seven ups. Like usual, let us know your thoughts on the week that was in the WWE!
15. Down: SmackDown Has One Match In First Hour
When the WWE Universe first found out about the brand split, fans were hoping that the Tuesday show would go back to its old format as “the wrestling show.” Who can forget those iconic episodes of SmackDown featuring the likes of Rey Mysterio, Batista, Eddie Guerrero, Brock Lesnar, Edge and even JBL, who was a huge hit during the show's peak run.
Those days seem to be long gone and SmackDown looks nothing like the wrestling brand of old, as Shane and Daniel Bryan first said it would be. Here’s some advice for the SmackDown writers: it’s probably not a good idea to promote yourself as that and then have one lackluster match in the first hour. The second match, featuring the five pack women's challenge, began officially in the second hour. This was just one of the many problems with this week’s edition of SmackDown.
14. Up: SmackDown’s Opening Segment
SD's night of promos began with the best one of the entire show, as AJ laid down another Kurt Angle-like heel promo. Like Kurt Angle back in the early 2000s, AJ continues to reference how great he is and even managed to come up with a terrific slogan: “the champ that runs the camp.”
The segment continued with the return of John Cena and the former WWE champion, Dean Ambrose, making it clear he was going absolutely nowhere. The dialogue between the three was brilliant and featured some heavy shots, with Cena showing a ruthless side, claiming that Austin was right about what he said when speaking about Ambrose on his podcast. The crowd was into it and cheered on Cena after he threw the verbal jab. The back and forth between the three of them was great and proved to be a minor bright spot on a night that was filled with some awful dialogue.
13. Down: New Day Slowly Losing Momentum
WWE fans were divided when it came to the future of the New Day before the brand split. Some thought the WWE should continue to milk them for merchandise and popularity reasons (which is what they did), while other fans thought the group had peaked and should have disbanded.
The fears attached to keeping them together are starting to turn into a reality, as this Monday night. the crowd reacted rather moderately to the group and it seems like now would be a good time for the trio to final drop the Tag Titles.
Don’t you dare be sour, we understand the three wrestlers are skilled, but they've been together since late 2014 and are returning out of steam. It’ll be interesting to see what the Clash of Champion PPV has in store for the group.
12. Up: Raw’s Red Hot Inshow Storylines Continue
When it comes to in-show storytelling, Raw seems to be miles ahead of SmackDown at this point. During the Stone Cold Podcast, Austin discussed the fact that in-show storytelling seemed to be a lost art in WWE, as instead the company continues to rely on PPV building every week. Well, that’s changed on Raw since the brand split took place, with some mighty fine in-show storytelling.
This past week, Raw continued with its winning formula, by kicking the show off with another great start that led to a match (which is what in-show storytelling does ideally). The angle saw Dana finally turn on Charlotte and that was followed up by a number one contender's match featuring Dana, Sasha Banks and Bayley. On the mic. and in the ring. the women brought their “A” game. kicking off Raw with another brilliantly worked angle that dominated the majority of the entire first hour.
11. Down: AND THE FIRST GUY TO JUMP SHIP IS..... Jack Swagger
Not sure what was worse, Jack Swagger losing to Jinder Mahal the night before or his SmackDown debut promo, which made no sense whatsoever. Let us re-visit the things Swagger told the WWE Universe during his first ever SmackDown Live appearance. One, he has a smoking hot wife. Two, he likes The Rolling Stones. Finally the quote of the night, “forget everything you know” which was followed by his infamous “we the people" quote. So he wants a fresh start and for us to forget everything we know, but he closed the segment with a quote from his old patriotic persona...
The entire promo was uncomfortable to watch and just reminded us why he's always had a manager.
Please never give him a microphone again. Signed, every sensible wrestling fan.
10. Up: SmackDown’s Women Stellar Again
It's remarkable to see how the division has grown since the show launched. SmackDown’s women once again brought their “A” game, following up their tremendous Six Pack Challenge match from WWE Backlash with another great Five Pack Challenge Match.
Every female on the show has improved leaps and bounds. Carmella looks more and more comfortable every week. Naomi has exceeded expectations by adding some tremendous high risk manoeuvres to her arsenal. Nikki looks better than ever, adding a serious edgy and aggressive style to her in-ring work. Natalya continues to be a reliable veteran presence. Finally Alexa Bliss is looking like a genuine star each week, with her new Harley Quinn-style look.
With all these factors mixed in, with Becky Lynch as the loveable champion, the division looks to be in good hands for a very long time. This gets the biggest up on the SmackDown side of things for the week.
9. Down: Raw’s Lack of Babyface Building
For weeks now, we've praised Raw for building several Superstars the correct way, by using enhancement talents to put them over. Because of this, Braun Strowman finally looks comfortable and can actually string a sequence of moves together while looking dominant, while Nia Jax received one of the biggest pops of the night for her reckless encounter with Alicia Fox and Bo Dallas is finally looking to be somewhat relevant as of late.
All this is great, but the one thing that these three have in common is the fact that they're all heels. Whatever happened to the days of a babyface defeating enhancement talents? Remember when Goldberg thrashed his opponents on his way to becoming WCW’s face of the franchise. The WWE has yet to take a page out this playbook and continuously use enhancement talents on heels.
Raw has yet to use this ideology for faces, but we certainly hope things will change once the Cruiserweights finally debut. It would be wise for Raw to ease the talents in and avoid them clashing against one another for the moment. Instead, they must showcase their skills against enhancement talents before anything else.
8. Up: Nia Jax
As we discussed in the previous entry, Raw’s heels seem to benefitting from working with enhancement talents.
Nobody is thriving more than Nia Jax at the moment, as had an insane cameo this week on Raw. The creative team was on point with Nia, as she was dominant, reckless and made to look like a million bucks. She not only destroyed Alicia Fox, but she ended the beat down with a brutal spear through the barricade, which was met with one of the loudest pops of the entire show. The crowd not only cheered her on, but they chanted her name as she made her way to the back with an arrogant and smug look on her face. Are the WWE creating a future Brock Lesnar in the women’s division?
For now, all we can do is applaud the company for properly building this future star. We hope to see more of this in the upcoming weeks.
7. Down: The Theodore Long Formula Is Back on SmackDown
Theodore Long's journey as SmackDown GM was generally successful, though his one blemish was his constant reliance on booking tag matches, week in and week out.
Well, Long will be happy to find out that SmackDown Live are using his old ideas to book their shows and main events. This week’s episode featured four matches in total are three of them were booked as tag matches, including the main event of the night featuring A.J. Styles and The Miz up against John Cena and Dean Ambrose. Last week, the show also used a tag match as the final bout of the night, when Rhyno and Heath Slater were victorious in the final match of the tag team tournament.
6. Up: Roman & Rusev Reignited
A mixture of misfortunes caused Rusev and Roman Reigns to put their brilliant feud aside for a couple of weeks. With Rusev leaving on his honeymoon and a new Universal Champion being crowned, the story was brushed aside and many feared it would not be revisited.
The fear began when Roman was involved in the Universal Championship picture, as he challenged Kevin Owens for a spot in the main event at the next Raw PPV, Clash of Champions. The WWE made the right call by having Roman lose. Not only did they rekindle a great rivalry, but they made Owens come out on top once again, solidifying his draw value with another main event win under his belt.
Seeing Roman back in the mid card will work wonders for not only him, but the entire show, as he'll add more depth to the program. We look forward to seeing this feud reignited on the next episode of Raw.
5. Down: Enzo Loses Again
What’s worse than losing a tag match to Primo and Epico? If you answered losing to Epico in a singles match the very next week, you’re right.
The outcome was just as bad as the Puerto Rico brochure that was placed on the apron during the match. Primo and Epico are decent performers, but their gimmick is horrendous, as they're basically a couple of of guys promoting a trip to a country they love dearly. And the worst part of it all is that they're being put over against the hottest tag team in the entire WWE.
This entire story was another major fail for a second week in a row. Stop the madness.
4. Up: The Miz Steps Up in the Main Event
Seeing James Ellsowrth not participate in the main event was tragic, as fans all over the world waited in anticipation to see the new generation's Spike Dudley compete in the main event alongside A.J. Styles.
Although we were saddened by his beat down, we do applaud The Miz for stepping up to the plate and again continuing his reckless behavior by brutally assaulting the jobber and carrying that attitude into the main event.
You can make the argument that apart from A.J. Styles, Miz has shined the brightest since joining the blue team. From his feud with Daniel Bryan to his newly found aggressive in-ing style, Miz is blossoming into an upper tier performer.
Granted, he did get pinned, but his inclusion in the main event was merited and something most of us wouldn’t mind seeing more often if things continue like this for the current IC Champion. For yet another week, major props go out to The Miz.
3. Down: American Alpha’s SmackDown Involvement
When the SmackDown picks were announced, nobody got a bigger pop than American Alpha. When assessing the roster following the draft, AA looked to be a team that could drive viewers to the show, solidifying SmackDown as the wrestling brand.
Well, thus far, this couldn’t be further from the truth with a SmackDown show littered with promos and in ring antics. American Alpha for that matter have also been showcased poorly thus far competing in quick matches on the regular. We understand the creative team is forming a feud with AA against The Usos, but the duo still needs to be active on a weekly basis, as they're just too good to not be involved.
SmackDown could have easily booked the injury free Jason Jordan in a quick squash match, as it would not only send a message to The Usos, but it would show the audience that Jordan has a great future as a singles star. Instead, they kept both off television. The use of the duo has been extremely poor thus far.
2. Up: Seth Rollins Going Against Foley
Slowly, we are starting to see the new Seth Rollins and it's looking promising. The company is turning Rollins into a reckless hellraiser who seems to be gradually turning into an over babyface without doing anything in particular that would indicate he’s a good guy. Does this formula sound familiar? It appears to be a page from the playbook used to build Stone Cold Steve Austin, who turned out to be arguably the most over performer in pro wrestling history.
It seems like the creative team is booking Seth in a similar light with his constant disobeying of both Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley. His clashing with them has made for some great television and looks to be a promising feud leading us into the fall and way beyond, by the looks of it. If things go according to plan, Rollins will be the most over Superstar heading into 2017.
1. Down: SmackDown’s Awful Show Booking
The start and finish to the show was decent, but everything inbetween was an absolute trainwreck and the booking of it made no sense. After a red hot start to the program, SmackDown inexplicably booked a dull tag match to continue the momentum of the opening segment. As you can imagine, all the momentum was squandered at that point and, ideally, the women’s match should have kicked off the show.
The booking continued to suffer with only one match in the first hour, which was filled with meaningless promos and backstage antics. The women’s bout brought the momentum back during the second hourm but that was once again destroyed by an awkward Tag Title match, where The Ascension looked rusty as hell. They botched a double team move on Heath Slater, which was met with a series of boos from the Philly crowd. Thankfully Rhyno ended things shortly after. Again, after the match, a promo segment took place between Orton and Bray.
The main event was generally well received, but it couldn’t save the show from a terrible display inbetween which featured only a couple of bright spots.