Adam Martin reviews WWE Smackdown for 1/7/16

WWE Smackdown Review
January 9, 2016
By: Adam Martin of Wrestleview.com

With the move to the USA Network this week, Smackdown was taking another big step on cable television after having spent nearly five years on Syfy.

While the overall audience figures between Syfy (94.8 million homes as of Feb. 2015) and the USA Network (95.5 million homes as of Feb. 2015) isn’t big, the move is significant with a stronger brand and now having both RAW and Smackdown on one network.

One of the things that I was looking forward to and paying close attention to was the introduction of Mauro Ranallo on commentary. As a big fan and follower of MMA, I was thrilled to see WWE make the move to bring in Ranallo and make him the “new voice of Smackdown” to kick off 2016. While the three man team formula would remain with Jerry “The King” Lawler and Byron Saxton joining Ranallo at ringside, it worked extremely well for the first outing and showed potential for a possible future for RAW.

RANALLO BRINGS “BIG FIGHT FEEL” TO COMMENTARY AT RINGSIDE

If you missed the ending sequence between Charlotte and Becky Lynch for the WWE Divas Championship, do yourself and favor and listen to the commentary of Mauro Ranallo.

Seriously, watch it. It starts around the 2:30 mark. I’ll wait.

With the days of Jim Ross on commentary far behind us, I forgot what genuine emotion sounded like with WWE programming. Sure, Michael Cole has his moments and is unfairly criticized for the job he has to do by wrestling fans. However, what Ranallo did in just the span of a minute on commentary as Charlotte got the dirty win over Lynch is what has been sorely missing from WWE programming for a LONG time.

I’ve asked WWE many times to make us care. They found the right person in Ranallo to help us care about what is happening on television. Pairing him with Lawler and Saxton was a great call. We even got the return of “heel” Lawler on commentary including a great exchange during the same match with Ranallo dropping Lynch facts pre-WWE and Lawler quickly telling Ranallo it didn’t matter because she is in WWE now. This was a great call by WWE to shake up the commentary to kick off Smackdown in 2016.

AMBROSE AND OWENS CONTINUE THE WAR

Mauro Ranallo referred to the recent battles between WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens as “the hottest rivalry in WWE” and I’m hard pressed to disagree. Outside of the Roman Reigns rivalry with the McMahon family, I can’t really think of another program that has been able to keep the attention of fans in recent months. Both have incredibly chemistry together and I really enjoyed the double countout finish of ignoring the stakes and continuing the brawl all over the arena.

QUICK THOUGHTS

* John Cena was great on the mic hyping the crowd in Laredo for Kalisto.

* I’m still really enjoying Del Rio’s return to WWE programming months later.

* New Day might have stole the show during MizTV, but R-Truth was a close second.

* Ric Flair has added a completely different dynamic for Charlotte that was badly needed.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

Between the solid commentary and two very good title matches, this was a very good debut for Smackdown to kick off the year on the USA Network. While putting this show in a live environment would improve things even more, I’m hoping the introduction of Ranallo and the added brand awareness of USA will bring more wrestling fans to the show. It’s no secret many people view Smackdown as a show to skip, especially being taped. Here’s to hoping that stigma changes for Smackdown in 2016.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you thought of Smackdown in the comments below.

If you missed it, I have a new podcast out as part of “The Trey and Adam Show” discussing Impact Wrestling’s debut on Pop TV this week and a rant about the Internet Wrestling Community by the Trey Dawg (of Wrestling News Live fame).

Follow me on Twitter: @adamwrestleview