By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live! emanated from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN. Last week’s show got off to a shaky start in terms of excitement, but I had hope that things would get better as SD Live! finds its identity to make it different from its red counterpart. Did the creative forces behind the blue brand rise to the occasion or did they crumble under the pressure for a second week in a row? The answer to this pressing question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado let’s dissect tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live! in no particular order.
· Daniel Bryan committed a rare faux pas when he mistakenly called Apollo Crews Apollo Creed. I guess he had Rocky on the brain.
· A Spirit Squad reference. How quaint.
· The opening segment of SmackDown Live was really good. Dean Ambrose was fantastic as he spelled out his case as to why Dolph Ziggler has never reached the pinnacle of success in WWE. Ambrose chalked it up to Ziggler complaining about everything instead of showing it in the ring. Instead of being a highlight reel who manages to steal the show with nothing to show for it, he should be focused on winning instead of a being a footnote in history. If Ziggler was on trial, he would be found guilty on all the charges The Lunatic Fringe leveled against him. It was a masterful performance that had me beaming from ear to ear.
· Ziggler managed to come up with a good rebuttal saying that he has been chasing his wrestling dream since he was five years old. He went on to become a champion on the collegiate level at Kent State which fed his hunger even more to be one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. Ziggler talked about how management undervalued his worth because he was not good enough or too damn good to break through the noise. He vowed to burn Brooklyn to the ground and defeat Ambrose to capture the WWE Title at SummerSlam. Ambrose dismissed Ziggler and said that he wasn’t good enough to beat him and left the ring.
· Afterwards, the lights went out inside the arena only for them to come back on with Bray Wyatt dropping Ziggler with Sister Abigail in the middle of the ring. Wyatt challenged Ziggler to a match with the winner moving on to SummerSlam to face Ambrose for the WWE Title.
· Ziggler approached Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon backstage and asked for the match with his title shot on the line. He wanted to prove the naysayers wrong and defeating Wyatt would go a long way towards doing just that.
· The Triple Threat Match between Apollo Crews, Kalisto, and Baron Corbin to determine the number one contender for Miz’s Intercontinental Championship was fun while it lasted. I thought all three guys managed to do some creative things to make the match stand out. The crowd was enthusiastic and I was a little disappointed that it ended so quickly. Apollo Crews rolled up Kalisto for the win and will go on to face Miz for the IC Title at a later date.
· Corbin decided to pounce on Kalisto some more. Crews made the save which allowed Miz to attack Crews from behind by laying him out with the Skull Crashing Finale. However, Miz was on Corbin’s shit list as well as he nailed him with The End of Days to cement his lone wolf status on the SmackDown roster.
· This was a surprisingly hot segment that actually could have went longer. I don’t know if it was a timing issue, but this might have been the time to loosen the reigns a bit and let the guys go crazy. Within reason, of course.
· Eva Marie “injured” herself during her ring entrance and was unable to face Becky Lynch in a one-on-one match. I smell a red rat. At least we were spared from seeing Eva wrestle live if she is not ready for primetime. If that’s the case, why was she drafted in the first place? Just saying…
· American Alpha had a very nice debut on SD Live! as they made short work of The Vaudevillians. The crowd could have been a bit livelier, but it is important to note that certain acts are over in some markets than others because all fans do not follow NXT. The causals need to be eased into things and that’s okay. The work rate and personalities will translate on the big stage in due time. It will take patience, but it can be done. As long as WWE stays the course, these new acts should get over. Fingers crossed!
· John Cena vs. AJ Styles II is officially taking place at SummerSlam. The promo exchange leading up to the announcement was pretty damn good. I have to give Styles major props for shutting down the worn-out “What?” chants by shaming the families in the audience for supporting John Cena. Cena had an awesome comeback as he talked about his love for WWE and how he will always call the company home despite achieving mainstream success over the past couple of years. When Cena is in the zone, he is one of the best talkers in the business. He hit Styles below the belt by almost chastising him for being a good wrestler who could set up shop somewhere else if things didn’t work out in WWE. I have a problem with that mentality because success can be found outside the biggest wresting organization in the world. Making WWE money is great, but it doesn’t mean a damn thing if you’re not happy. There is life outside of the machine, but I guess the company doesn’t want to clue people in on that fact.
· That quibble aside, I really enjoyed the segment. Styles and Cena should tear the house down at SummerSlam in a few weeks.
· Brock Lesnar cashed in his receipt on Randy Orton as he dropped The Viper with a F5. The inter-promotional feud continues to heat up as both men are crossing enemy territory in order to make a statement. I don’t know if this game of tit for tat is going to last until SummerSlam, but it should be fun to see how it all plays out.
· Rhyno has a thing for Goring Heath Slater. And he gets to do it again next week in an actual match. Poor Slater…
· Dolph Ziggler is still the number one contender for Dean Ambrose’s WWE Championship as he defeated Bray Wyatt with a Superkick after he rammed Wyatt’s head into the exposed turnbuckle. Wyatt was trying to take the same short cut, but Ziggler beat him at his own game. The match was good and had a nice amount of heat as the crowd was split down the middle in favor of both men.
· However, Ziggler’s celebration didn’t last long as Erick Rowan attacked him from behind. Ambrose tried to make the save, but he was taken out of the equation quickly. Wyatt nailed Ziggler with Sister Abigail and did his signature pose and “Follow the Buzzards” catchphrase as SD Live! went off the air.
· We can assume that next week’s main event will feature Wyatt and Rowan vs. Ambrose and Ziggler with the latter butting heads. Call it intuition or WWE Booking 101.
· I thought that Ziggler showed good fire throughout the show by trying to prove his haters wrong. He has a chip on his shoulder and it’s going to be interesting to see if he’s going to continue to bitch and moan his way through life or let his actions speak louder than words.
· Wyatt is a wild card as he is someone who wants to be in the WWE Title picture. He’s a menace and will continue to play spoiler until it’s his turn at bat. Rowan serving as his backup makes sense because they have a long history together. Add in the imminent return of Luke Harper and we could have a full-on Wyatt Family reunion on our hands. SD Live! needs a little mayhem in order to make it stand out from Raw. A re-energized Wyatt Family might do the trick.
· As for Ziggler and Ambrose, their feud is already heating up and I am pleasantly surprised to see how it is playing out. Both men were given juicy material to work with which made me care about their match at SummerSlam. There is still room to grow, but progress has been made in making Ziggler look like an actual threat even though Ambrose doesn’t view him as such. We still have a few weeks to go, but the first chapter of their story was highly entertaining.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live! was solid. This was a much better show than last week. The promos carried the broadcast more so than the actual in-ring action, but the show had a clear sense of purpose which gave fans a reason to care from start to finish.
· The pacing of the show could use a little tweaking. The broadcast still feels a bit rushed as WWE is trying to cram two hours of content without running out of time. The show never dragged, but some matches that had room to build to a meaningful conclusion were hurt by commercials. SD Live! has one less hour to worry about, but it’s vital that they maximize the two hours they do have by making sure everything runs smoothly. It’s still a work in progress, but I can give them some leeway because going from taped to live is not easy. Hopefully, the production crew will work out the kinks and make the viewing experience from home fully enjoyable in the weeks to come.
· The promos from Ambrose, Ziggler, Styles and Cena definitely carried the show this week. Everyone had a chance to shine on the mic and storylines were forwarded in a way that had me anticipating their respective matches at SummerSlam in a few weeks.
· The mid-card scene still needs some help in the depth department, but that will come once the Women and Tag Team Titles for SD are introduced. Let’s hope that the people holding the new belts are over with the crowd and that those titles are seen as equal to the ones on Raw. Some parity on both shows would be nice.
On that note, this wraps up another installment of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next week with a brand new edition of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!