In this week’s SmackDown two hour show, we saw five matches. Presumably the producers were going for quality over quantity but this was met with mixed results.
The first bout, uncharacteristically, was a Women’s division match starring Becky Lynch and Charlotte. This was set up following the events on this week’s RAW, and wasn’t a bad match. Becky looked very strong; an equal to the champion. However, as WWE creative insist that Flair can’t lose clean, Dana Brooke was on hand to pull Charlotte to safety after Lynch locked in the Disarmer. The constant 2-on-1 scenario surrounding every Charlotte match is way past done. I’m sure most fans have forgot that the Women’s champ actually showed a great amount of talent and skill in her initial WWE run – something which feels very far withdrawn from what we have seen recently. The sooner this belt changes hands, the better, and Becky will make a fine standard bearer.
Everyone’s favourite team were back in action on SmackDown, this time facing The Dudley Boyz. Not only has The Goldentruth passed it’s sell-by date, but its beginning to overshadow accomplished wrestlers. Of course the duo of Goldust and R-Truth lost – they always do and certainly deserved to following their karaoke entrance. In their defense, it was a distraction from the resident heels in this stupid feud, Breezango, which allowed D-Von to roll up Goldust for the three count. Tyler Breeze said that the team had now gone three-and-out, and hopefully Creative agree. Kill this damn rivalry!
It would seem that WWE are planning on dropping the seventh man from this year’s Money in the Bank ladder match as it doesn’t fit in with their theme of putting as many big stars as possible in tag matches – seven doesn’t nicely divide by two. This week’s featured match saw Sami Zayn tag with Dean Ambrose against the team of Kevin Owens and Alberto Del Rio. The formula for these bouts has become so overdone that I wouldn’t have even needed to watch the match to know the outcome. And, of course, it was Zayn who got the final say, thumping ADR with a Helluva kick for the pinfall. One thing I have noticed recently is that Ambrose just doesn’t seem to cut it when put alongside Sami and KO. His technical ability seems to leave something to be desired, and I question why he remains so high up the card. The interesting stuff came after the match when Owens took a ladder from beneath the ring intending to grab the MitB briefcase. This spurred Cesaro to burst down to ringside, hitting Owens with a Springboard European Uppercut, and climbing the ladder himself to a mass of cheers. The Swiss Superman is the fan favourite, but I just can’t see him winning in two week’s time…
One masterstroke of keeping Rusev a hot heel is his constant antagonism of the crowd. The simple label of “true American” seriously rubs them the wrong way and keeps them booing. One man making a stand against this was Jack Swagger who faced the US Champion in the penultimate match of the night. However, before Swagger could enter the ring, Rusev charged him, throwing him against a barricade and targeting his ribs and shoulder. This theme continued into the match until the Bulgarian Brute was able to lock in a deep Accolade, forcing Swagger to tap. In classic style, Rusev refused to break the hold until Titus O’Neal came racing down to help the Real American. Sometimes less is more, and this time booking was done right. The US champ simply rolled out of the ring, held his belt aloft and walked to the back. Titus vs Rusev remains intriguing for another week more.
The main event, set up at the start of the show in a confrontation between The New Day and The Club, saw Kofi Kingston go one-on-one with AJ Styles. The two put on an exhibition in quick paced, technical wrestling, making both men look very good indeed. Aside from one or two botches, this was an excellent match between two fine competitors. However, the men on the outside would not stay quiet for long, sparking a brawl which drew in Kofi. This allowed AJ the space he needed to stun Kingston with a Pele kick, and hit the the Styles Clash for the win. I might have expected a beat down akin to the one John Cena received on RAW, or even an appearance by Cena himself, but this was just a wrestling exhibition. Not every match needs to have a huge storyline or run-in, and this was an example of such booking.