WWE Smackdown Live Review
August 31, 2016
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com
Coming off the “Talking Smack” segment with The Miz and Daniel Bryan last week, this episode of Smackdown had some buzz going into it. Of course, after one of the more shocking angles WWE has run this year on RAW, that buzz was certainly negated going into the show. So how did Smackdown do? Let’s review it.
A little too much comedy for a main event angle
I get that the Dean Ambrose character is a whacky, zany guy, but can’t he be a little serious every now and then? This show was chockfull of comedy (as you’ll soon see in the rest of my review), so doing comedy for the World Title program was just too much comedy for me. Ambrose was having an ok match against Baron Corbin in the main event with AJ Styles on commentary. Corbin, in my opinion, still has a long way to go. He’s got a unique look, but any extended time spent in the ring is time the viewers lose. Corbin just isn’t seasoned enough (or cut out) to be in the ring for long. His selling is extremely suspect as well. One night after the ring post was used in the finish of Sheamus vs. Cesaro, Corbin goes into the ring post and no sells it moments later. Like, come on. The final moments of the match were pretty good and Corbin winning by disqualification does let him get another shot at Ambrose at some point, so we’ll see what happens there. With Alberto Del Rio not coming back, they need to create another star. They love big guys, so he’d be a fit.
The moments after the match were hit and miss. The brawl with Ambrose and Styles had some good intensity. Then Styles went for the Phenomenal Forearm and Ambrose crotched him on the top rope. Styles held onto the top rope and made some over the top facials as that seemingly destroyed his manhood. Ambrose leaned next to him and playfully gave him some advice before leaving the ring with Styles still hooked on the top rope. That’s cute for an Intercontinental Championship program, but when the WWE World Championship is on the line in a feud with a guy who just beat John Cena clean at SummerSlam I just think it should be taken a bit more seriously. We had Heath Slater and Rhyno eating Cheese Whiz in a trailer with some large woman, we had some guy named “The Milkman” strip to his underwear, and Apollo Crews spelling words. We had our fill of comedy. This just wasn’t the right direction to go with this feud.
Breathing new life into an old feud
No doubt a lot of the hype coming into this Smackdown stemmed from last week’s edition of “Talking Smack” when Daniel Bryan and The Miz had a very memorable verbal confrontation that was a worked shoot. The show opened up with a replaying of the exchange before going backstage to see Shane McMahon admonish Daniel Bryan for goading the talent, which allowed Bryan to get a shot in about Brock Lesnar. After that, The Miz stormed out to the ring before his music started (another nice touch to make it seem like he’s legitimately angry), and he admonished the crowd for thinking he’s a coward. It was another good performance from him, though he did trip on his words at certain points. Still, there was a lot of fire there and this is the most interested in The Miz I’ve been in a while.
Out next came not Daniel Bryan, but Dolph Ziggler to give a retort to The Miz. Ziggler was pretty good here. Ziggler has definitely upped his promo game in recent weeks, but sometimes he comes off as someone trying too hard to make it a great promo. He seems to think that the faster and louder he talks, the better and more passionate the promo is. That’s simply not the case all the time. Every now and then he gets dangerously close to Mick Foley’s promos in recent years where he starts off normal and then starts incessantly screaming for no reason. Irrespective of all that, the crowd was really responding to both men. Miz was loudly booed, and Ziggler was loudly cheered. They built nicely to Ziggler challenging Miz to a fight, only for him to cowardly walk away. A simple angle, but highly effective.
The only disappointing thing about this was there wasn’t much more follow-up with Daniel Bryan. Maybe that segment was just a vehicle to get Miz heat and that’s it. It’s not like Bryan can wrestle him anyway, so might as well pass it on to an active wrestler. Still, it would have been nice to at least have a backstage follow-up.
The Hype Bros and The Vaudevillains had a decent match for two teams I don’t really care about. I’m not sold on Mojo Rawley at all, though. The gimmick will get old really quickly. It was old in NXT when he got drafted. He’ll probably wind up a lot like The Vaudevillains have.
I really enjoyed the interaction between AJ Styles and Apollo Crews this week. Styles has been simply wonderful since turning heel. His backstage segment walking around telling people he’s the face that runs the place was hilarious and his confrontation with Crews was great. Crews interrupting Styles’ promo moments later definitely helped him, but he still needs a character other than just spelling his name every so often. Styles gave him a lot of offense in their match and it was very fun to watch. Styles is very giving in the matches before coming out on top.
It seems like people either loved the Heath Slater trailer park segment or vehemently hated it. Personally, I didn’t think it was all bad. If anything, it featured more character development for the character than WWE has given him… ever. It was a moment for Slater to showcase his creative and comedic side. It wasn’t a homerun by any stretch, but I was happy for him and it was harmless fun.
Speaking of Slater, he and Rhyno are definitely my favorites to win the Smackdown Tag Team Championships. They’re really making a big deal about his quest for a Smackdown Live contract. Their match against the returning Headbangers was fine, and Slater and Rhyno picked up a good win. I think this will wind up being a one-off appearance for The Headbangers. They were pretty easily beaten and in a short match, they managed to bust open both Slater and Rhyno. Not good for them.
The Randy Orton/Bray Wyatt confrontation was ok, but it ended so abruptly and with no follow-up. Orton was going to hit the ring to beat up Wyatt after accepting his challenge for a match, but the lights went out. They never went back on and we never knew what happened. There wasn’t even a shot of Orton looking confused. It was strange.
You can tell the Women’s Division on Smackdown is really thin. Even though this is the first time this tag team combination was tried, it feels like these women have been perpetually fighting in some capacity every week. In the case of Becky Lynch and Natalya, they’ve been at it on nearly every episode of Smackdown since the brand split. There just aren’t enough women to justify two divisions in the company.
That segment with Gary “The Milkman” Millman being Chokeslammed by the Demon Kane was equal parts funny and completely bizarre.
Coming off what Adam Martin called “one of the best endings for a WWE television show in eons,” Smackdown couldn’t hope to compete with that. You can’t do major angles and title changes on both shows every week, so this week definitely skewed toward RAW being the better show, which it rightfully was. Still, on a normal week this episode of Smackdown would have stood out as a solid effort, but for this week, this show didn’t live up to any of the hype and isn’t one you need to desperately see if you missed it. The one really good thing I can say about Smackdown is they utilize every bit of their two-hour timeframe and really put together a nice show that flows well. Everything makes sense and characters from all different tiers in the roster interact in some way. That’s a huge plus.
Bump of the Night: Crews’ moonsault off the apron
Match of the Night: Styles/Crews and Ambrose/Corbin tied **
Final Rating: ** 3/4
Well those are my thoughts. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know by commenting or using one of the other two options to get in contact with me.
Please check out my live recap of RAW every Monday at 8 PM EST.
Thanks for reading!
Mike Tedesco is the official recapper of WWE Monday Night RAW for Wrestleview.com.