Smackdown 8/7 Review: The Road to SlumberSlam
SummerSlam is right around the corner, but given the sense of urgency WWE is showing while building hype to the biggest show of the Summer, you'd think it was 11 months from now. Aside from the Undertaker/Lesnar rematch, build to SummerSlam has moved at a snail's pace, the charge led by non other than WWE Smackdown.
For a show of this magnitude, I'm left feeling hollow. In fact, without looking it up, I couldn't tell you a single match from the card, save for the rematch. This is a problem. We're two weeks out and we don't have a title match yet. We're two weeks out and there is a very real possibility that John Cena could win said non announced match. Things are not looking good.
Smackdown has been hit or miss for sometime now, but things are getting dire if WWE wants to book a compelling show. Perhaps this week we would get a bit more info about our next pay per view. Will Cena face Rollins? Will Ryback defend his title? Will the New Day get a title shot? Will the NXT call ups get a shot at the belt? Will any of these questions get answered on Smackdown?
Of course not.
Before we get started, we are given one more chance to say good bye to one of the greats with WWE's “Rowdy” Roddy Piper memorial package. Take the opportunity. Go on the network and familiarize yourself with the work of Piper and check out the stellar work of the best of the lifetime heels.
A brief note, a sincere kudos to WWE for taking the high road and including Hulk Hogan in the Roddy Piper package. Hogan with Mr.T and Piper helped shape WWE and professional wrestling into what it is today. Dismissing Hogan's inclusion in this legendary feud because political correctness would have served nothing but to insult Piper's legacy. In the face of a tricky PR situation and honoring the life of a legend, WWE did the right thing and should be applauded.
Prime Time Players & Mark Henry vs The New Day
Roman Reigns opens our show with a pretty standard promo cut on The Wyatt Family. Reigns gives us a bit of foreshadowing for SummerSlam in referencing his “Psychotic Brother,” Dean Ambrose. Absent is reference to Ambrose's back to back losses on Smackdown. Rusev would eventually run in to interrupt Reign's time on the mic. The segment doesn't really go anywhere after his inclusion, thanks in part to Reigns making reference to Summer Rae's similarities to Rusev's ex, Lana.
I've stated in length my dislike of six man tag matches, and this match did little to change my mind. Each man is given a clear opponent of similar build and style to tangle with while nobody is given a chance to shine. A symptom of having six people in a match and needing to give them each time to earn their paycheck is that multi man matches run long. This one is no different.
After what feels like an eternity, the baby face team eventually gets the pin by way of Mark Henry and The World's Sloppiest Strongest Slam. Its hardly a victory fans can get behind, considering Henry's on again off again booking as a legitimate strong man. Not taking away anything from Henry or his storied career, but much like Big Show's constant heel turns, Henry's wonky booking has irrevocably harmed his credibility as a monster.
Charlotte and Becky Lynch vs Naomi and Sasha Banks
What began as Charlotte vs Naomi morphed into a tag match after Sasha Banks interfered in the match. The women were given a lot of time to work their craft, a nice change of pace from previous Diva contest. However, if we're are to believe that this is the type of match that Charlotte will be leading the #divasrevolution with, then we are in for a lot of trouble.
Charlotte's bad day would quickly go from bad to worse as the already sloppy match reached it's crescendo. Charlotte attempted to lock in a figure 8, but wasn't able to set in the bridge due to Naomi's dry humping. From there, things seemed to unravel pretty quick.
Charlotte and Sasha Banks would eventually find themselves in the contest. After a hard spear to Banks, Naomi entered the ring without being tagged to strike Charlotte, garnering the attention of the announce team, who also commented that Naomi wasn't the legal woman. Naomi and Charlotte hesitated and went into a small package that didn't quite work out. A second spot was attempted, but also botched, and the ladies went back into the small package. Charlotte eventually had the pin locked down, but somehow Naomi's momentum from the previous botch carried over and she rolled Charlotte on her shoulders for the pinfall.
Post match, Naomi would stomp around the ring, clearly irritated as to what had just happen. This, of course, is a parallel reaction to that a normal person would have after winning a sporting event on national television, but I digress. Whatever the finish was originally to have been, clearly it wasn't what took place in the ring. Given Smackdown is taped, its obvious that the finish wasn't reshot, and they just went with whatever had taken place, but to us smarks in the audience, its pretty clear that this was a disaster.
Stardust vs Zach Ryder
Far more entertaining than this match is Stardust's amazing mic work. For the uninformed and as a public service, its my sad duty to report that Zach Rider lost. Of course, if you've ever watched professional wrestling, you'd know that when someone involved in a storyline goes against someone who doesn't even get an entrance package, the latter simply never wins.
Rider is a decent wrestler who, sadly, doesn't get enough time or opportunity to show off his talent. Hopefully his time in NXT benefits him as it did Cesaro and not as it did Emma. Post match though is where the real magic happens, as WWE continues to do the smart thing and give Stardust as many opportunities to speak as possible.
If you haven't yet seen the amazing weekly interview between Micheal Cole and Stardust, please open a new tab and watch it right now. Amazing right? Stardust is such a unique and entertaining character that any time he gets the stick in his hands I immediately pay attention. This segment would go on to be the segment of the night, as Stardust plays deeper into heel territory by taunting the audience and continuing to call out Oliver Queen and the Green Arrow.
I for one am quite excited to see how this plays out on Raw, despite not being interested in Arrow or the actor that portrays him. Stardust has wrapped me up in his web of madness and I'm more than enjoying the ride. Hopefully this feud continues into SummerSlam and beyond. Barring that, I pray that WWE has more work ready for Stardust after this feud, as letting the Stardust character fade into obscurity is a huge mistake.
Roman Reigns vs Rusev
Roman Reigns is a shitty wrestler. His promo at the beginning of the show sucked, and his match with Rusev was just as stale and phoned in. Despite Rusev's valiant effort in interjecting some ingenuity and aggression in the match, Reigns was there to bog down the match with the Drive by Dropkick and Superman Punch.
Not to constantly bag on Reigns as a performer, but this schtick is getting old. Much like his bff Dean Ambrose, each match is the same, the difference being that Reigns always wins. Somehow, the sins of the Royal Rumble have shed themselves as the WWE universe at large has welcomed Reigns back into the main event scene with open arms. Apparently beating Big Show in a last man standing match was all he needed to get back to the top. Too bad nobody told Adam Rose, or Bray Wyatt, or Kevin Owens, or Bo Dallas...
Lana would appear at the end of the match to beat down Summer Rae, giving us the biggest pop of the night. This distraction would be enough for Reigns to hit the spear and get the victory, while Lana and Summer rolled around on the outside. Post match Bray Wyatt would appear on the Titantron in a taped message to taunt Reigns. Eagle eyed viewers will take note that Bray Wyatt apparently no longer wrestles, but merely wanders from Pay per view to pay per view as he searches out his next failed feud.
This is the Smackdown we've come to expect after years of neglect. After three weeks of shows ranging from great to meh, we come back to this... a throwaway show. This weeks Smackdown commits the ultimate sin of professional wrestling. Its simply boring. If you haven't seen it yet, save your two hours and play a video game or even better, take a nap.
Smackdown Rating: 1 out of 5 Superman Punches