This episode of Smackdown had some sort of hype to it, with an interesting IC title match pitting the champion Shinsuke Nakamura vs Roman Reigns. Aside from that, it felt like nothing big was happening, which in part is resulted by WWE’s focus on building to Crown Jewel: Blood Money IV. However, the devil always hides in the details so let’s get to what transpired on this week’s episode. Note: This is my first proper review as it will be a weekly column from now on.
Intercontinental title match: Roman Reigns vs Shinsuke Nakamura (C) w/Sami Zayn
Your writer here was instantly hooked when Smackdown kicked off with this (admittedly) massive title match, which in a perfect world would have been a big time main-event worth promoting. However, when considering Nakamura’s current status in WWE, we just have to enjoy it for what it is.
And enjoy it i did, as it turned out to be a really decent TV opener. The momentum seesawed between the pair for the near 15-minutes runtime they were given including some amazing spots like Nakamura locking the armbar from a Reigns superman punch. Sami Zayn was on commentary and he did really well, putting his “business asociate” over more than the commentary did. The finish was a bit frustrating (to put it mildly), as after loads of failed interference from Zayn, Corbin appeared and clocked Roman with his sceptre causing a DQ. To be honest, it put me off completely as this match was building to a nice crescendo. Daniel Bryan came out for the save as Corbin, Zayn, and Nakamura were preparing to beatdown Reigns, but the numbers game was too much.
A good match ruined by a DQ finish isn’t new on WWE, but five more minutes couldn’t have hurt at all. Although, judging on what happened next, it kinda makes sense. One final thing, WWE should seriously think about having more serious reasons to fight, as this match was build on twitter beef between Reigns and both Nakamura and Zayn, as well as Corbin.
- Backstage segment: New Day and Heavy Machinery are hyping their 8-man tag. One interesting detail tough, when Tucker said that they are helping Kofi lift his spirit after losing the WWE championship, the latter answered with a clear grin on his face while crashing some pancakes which clearly shows that there is some tension in Kingston’s mind over that.
Chad Gable v Curtis Axel:
A nothing squash match for about 90 seconds ended with CHAD gable locking the ankle lock for the win. If this was the only thing happening, i’ll be willing to give it a pass, however WWE decided to rub salt in the wound with a video package longer than the match itself to explain why we should call him SHORY instead of Chad. What makes this even worse is that Gable cut a promo after his match, seemingly running off with the name which is really bad for a guy with such potential. It is clear as daylight that someone (caugh* Vince *caugh) is thinking that this name and gimmick in general will get him over a la “B+” player with Daniel Bryan. Clearly, it won’t work as CHAD’s biggest asset is his in-ring prowess not height. FOOLS!!
- A skype call with Hulk Hogan to confirm that Ali and CHAD GABLE are on his team and that later, his team captain will be announced.
8-man tag team match: New Day and Heavy Machinery vs The Revival, Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler
A fun and fast-paced match ensued next with both quartets having time to flourish. Although, it is an obvious extra plug for Crown Jewel and the “largest ever tag team turmoil to determine the world cup of the best tag team in the world” (Eminem Rap god sigh!), it was a good match highlighted by two things for me; first, Big E and Otis’ weird yet hilarious antics and interactions. Second, the hot tag by Otis which was truly HOT as the crowd exploded when he came out of his corner to throb and slam his way through the opponents. A frenetic ending saw New Day hit the midnight hour on Revival’s Scott Dawson for the win. Again, an inconsequential match that might yield another Revival/New Day match for the title which is fine considering the landscape of Smackdown’s tag team division.
- Corbin/Nakamura vs Reigns/Bryan is made official for the main-event.
Miz TV w/Bayley and Sasha Banks
This segment was a roller coaster, almost literally. It started off a bit lame with Bayley doing the classic “i don’t owe anyone an explanation”, then picked up when Miz brilliantly provoked her with the line “Are you Brock Lesnar all of a sudden?” which was followed by him insinuating that she is a second to Sasha Banks. This prompted Bayley to cut a very decent promo, stating that she was colorful because the fans wanted to see her that way, and that even when she became champion she wanted to remain a role model for children. However, her loss at HIAC made her “heartbroken” and caused her to think about her attitude. To be fair, this was a very decent explanation which, at least doesn’t leave the logic holes open.
Then the segment went south as Nikki Cross and Dana Brooke came out to cut some lame-ass promos, with Dana buzzing out the word “flex appeal” that certainly will have WWE retorting it every time she is wrestling (if she ever does actually). Then, Lacey Evans came out signaling a very rough transition to what was next.
6-pack cahllenge for the 1# contendership to the Smackdown women’s champonship: Lacey Evans v Dana Brooke v Nikki Cross v Carmella v Mandy Rose v Sonya Deville
This was fine. It started with Mandy and Sonya halting the action and working together for first chunk of the match. Then, action spilled everywhere in an gradually decent affair that saw all women having time to shine. A final sprint in the last two minutes saw the lasses trading big moves, with Nikki Cross capitalizing and hitting Mandy Rose with a snap neck breaker for the win.
Looking at how thin the division is on Star power (aside from Banks), this might be the most convincing choice for a title challenger. However, it is obvious that Bayley will beat her and maybe transition into something bigger like a proper feud with Banks, or a returning Ronda Rousey leading into Survivor Series.
- A recap of Braun Strowman’s feats of strength before his match with Tyson Fury
- A recap of Seth Rollins’ feud with “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt.
Braun Strowman v Drew Gulak
Braun Strowman came out to the ring next, and as soon as you see Drew Gulak, who had a banger of a match against Lio Rush for the Cruiserweight title last week on NXT, you know he is getting murdered by the “Monster Among Men”. Kudos for him though trying to convince Strowman to watch his 345-slide powerpoint presentation to no avail. He lost in around 90 seconds which is all good and promising for him (obviously sarcastic).
- A promo for WWE 2K20
Main-event: Roman Reigns/Daniel Bryan vs Shinsuke Nakamura/King Baron Corbin
This was a match that felt like it is running short on time, which is absolutely fine to me especially when Corbin is wrestling as it prevents him from reverting to his old “chinlock city” persona. This format allowed the match to be more frenetic and fast paced, particularly when Daniel Bryan is in the ring as his interactions with Nakamura were pure gold.
Sami Zayn tried to get involved a lot but to little success, while Daniel Bryan took over the match in a frenetic sequence that saw him deliver the running knee to the Intercontnental champion and pin him for the win. Although the match was a perfectly serviceable TV main-event, it has really undermined Nakamura as champion as he lost twice in one night, with Corbin being protected for no real reason. The biggest positive taken away from this match is a possible Nakamura vs Bryan feud for the IC title post Crown Jewel which i’m all for. Oh! and Reigns is Team Hogan’s captain at said PPV (wow! color me not surprised at all).
Final verdict: A run of the mill episode with little noteworthy. Nothing was bad, but it felt like WWE didn’t bother going bombastic knowing that next week show is a highly anticipated one with Velasquez/Lesnar and Flair/Hogan face offs advertised. Overall, a passable two hour watch with decent wrestling and little in terms of story development.
hey, tell us what you thought of this week’s episode in the comments below, or reach out on twitter @OGouesmiHellraiser. Till Next Week!!