Faithful readers, please excuse my absence from the weekly WWE reviews. Unfortunately after MIFF I got quite sick and have had a bit of a health flare up. But fear not, I am back and so are the reviews! What better way to kick off things with a review of Smackdown’s first solo PPV with the return of BACKLASH!
Preshow Match: Baron Corbin vs. Apollo Crews
I guess they had to fit these two in there some where right? Actually not a bad match, quite surprised by how decent it turned out. Considering Crews hasn’t really been working for me since his call up, and I’ve not really liked some of the booking. At least I can see slowly but surely he is improving and the crowd is getting behind him. Corbin had the golden opportunity with the Battle Royal win at Wrestlemania but that feud with Dolph Ziggler did both men no favours. His booking hasn’t been on point either, and his skills almost feel like they have gone backwards. The brand split definitely opens up possibilities, the booking needs to be better. At the end of the day the match got them on the card and it was a good showcase for them both. I actually felt some passion being shown within them, hopefully that doesn’t stop.
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan kick off the first brand specific PPV, which made sense for them to do. They hyped up the event and announced the first match of the night would see a new Smackdown Women’s Champion crowned.
Six Pack Challenge For The SD Women’s Title: Becky Lynch vs. Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Carmella vs. Natalya vs. Nikki Bella
The great thing about these brand specific PPV’s is that the matches actually have a good amount of time and the event doesn’t feel overly loaded. The women kicked off the show and they were given a really good amount of time to build up the match and tell a story. As the characters are forming, and rivalries continuing and being made, meant the match really was entertaining. Each woman certainly had their time to shine and show us some moves, with Naomi pulling off a great spring board dive outside the ring. She did botch a move and the crowd really turned on her. I felt it made sense that Carmella was overly focused on Nikki, but perhaps at one point she was too focused and it was just a bad bit of booking.
What really worked for most of the match was that any one of the six felt like a contender, the eliminations did not start straight away and we waited a while for the first one to happen. Smackdown definitely has a strong women’s division and they are actually using the talent a lot more than Raw is. Hoping that changes on Raw, but I must say Smackdown has been impressing me with the division. I was shocked that Carmella was one of the last two standing, not shocked the other was Becky Lynch. Interesting to have Nattie and Nikki eliminated almost at the same time, with Alexa and Naomi going out a bit earlier. Becky won, and it was amazing to see the pure and raw emotions from her. She deserves to be the first Smackdown Women’s Champion and I can’t wait to see what comes next for the Irish Lass Kicker.
Second Chance Challenge: The Usos vs. The Hype Bros.
About time The Usos not only turned heel but changed their ring attire and lost the face paint, a change finally. Not a huge change but it is a change, and they don’t feel so stale now. Their attack on American Alpha was a good move, it puts huge heat on them and really left this tournament a little more unpredictable. This was actually a really decent match up, with Zack Ryder getting a lot of in ring action and Mojo wasn’t overly used and when he was it was hard hitting and not annoying. I really do like their pairing because they compliment each other well, and having them as the team for The Usos to go against after the attack made perfect sense, another face team. The action was good and hard hitting, it really helped cement the heel change for The Usos. Curious to see where things will go for the tag team division, which is on fire for the brand. It’s really flailing on Raw …
Intercontinental Title Match: The Miz (c) w/Maryse vs. Dolph Ziggler
This feud came out of no where and it has been a really entertaining one and I do believe it has turned out to be quite beneficial for them both. After the let down of a match at Summerslam for Ziggler, this was a step in the right direction. These two have great in ring chemistry, and I have no idea what has gotten into The Miz but he has been on fire. Not only have his promo’s been so much better, but his in ring work has improved and there is such a fire within him now. It happened once Maryse his real life wife showed up the night after Wrestlemania and he’s been riding that wave since. These two put on an intense and drama filled match, it certainly turned out to be a lot better than I was expecting.
These two really told a story here, with a must win situation for both, I felt it. There was so much going on, and it wasn’t easy to tell who could possibly win. Honestly it could have gone either way with the story being told, The Miz has held the title for months and Ziggler hasn’t won on PPV recently. Ziggler needed a win but The Miz is in a position he can’t lose that title, so the suspense was certainly high through out. The ending for the situation made sense, Maryse helped The Miz win. It isn’t a clean win, which means the feud continues and that folks is the best outcome. I don’t like a dirty win, but it does make sense.
No Holds Barred Match: Bray Wyatt vs. Kane
The scheduled match of Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton was called off due to Orton apparently not being cleared to wrestle after the Summerslam incident with Brock Lesnar. They ran an angle backstage with Wyatt hurting Orton’s leg, and instead they decided to run with a random match up. Easily this was the weakest part of a pretty strong event so far, missing out on a big match up but with no build up there was nothing here to get excited about. Kane is a throw away character now, and Bray Wyatt should be the monster that he used to be but creative keep messing it up. The match itself was okay, nothing special honestly. A few good little moments, and Orton made an appearance and hit the RKO outta nowhere. That cost Bray the match and Kane won, why? Not good story telling, why does Bray continue to lose?
Smackdown Tag Team Title Match: The Usos vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno
Now this has been a great story, having Heath Slater basically be forgotten about in the recent draft, him showing up on both shows trying to get a contract and coming close but not getting there. Then he found a way in, to win the new Smackdown Tag Team Titles, but he had to find a partner. Rhyno was the answer, even though Rhyno had gored Slater and cost him a contract. Adding in Slater having a wife, a trailer and a bunch of kids, the story was great and entertaining. For years I have wanted to see Slater really take off and have the crowd 100% behind him, and now they are. The match itself was fantastic, of course The Usos dominated for the most part and really took it to Slater. Classic tag team tactic of isolating the one guy and the other waiting for that hot tag, which did happen and the crowd erupted. When Slater got back in, it was great to see him get in some good moves on The Usos, at one point it looked like he could get the pin. After an unseen gore from Rhyno, Slater got the 1, 2, 3 pin and we now have our first ever WWE Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
The winning moment was fantastic and the emotion from both men felt pure, Slater has deserved this for so long. Rhyno has been doing solid work with a lot of talent, and I have no complaints that he was the partner and he’s a Tag Champion now. I loved the winning speech and celebration, it was so well done. If these two lose the titles straight away, I am not going to be happy
WWE World Championship Match: Dean Ambrose (c) vs. AJ Styles
I have actually been digging this feud quite a bit, it’s something different for Ambrose but also AJ Styles has been killing it. He is riding the wave of defeating John Cena cleanly and now being ‘The Face That Runs The Place’. The ego of Styles has been well phenomenal, and Ambrose being so unhinged and random actually really works for the back and forth rivalry. The match itself was really good, and this was perhaps one of Ambrose’s best outings on PPV. Perhaps it was the fact he was up against Styles, he had someone good to work off of. His move set is certainly getting stale but it didn’t feel too bad during the match, because the action was really good and they played off each other extremely well.
AJ Styles has really been an incredible asset to the company this year, the faith they have placed in him shows just how highly they think of him. I am glad he got the clean win against Cena and now this big push in a feud with Ambrose. His matches are always exciting and he adapts to each opponent, which is really what Ambrose needed. I do believe he needs to get some new moves in, and change things up a little but at least this match was a step in the right direction. Honestly this match was hard to call, I could see either one winning and the feud possibly continuing. After an intense and exciting match, AJ Styles got the pin on Ambrose. Absolutely a great moment, AJ Styles winning a World Title in the WWE! This means, as of right now we have AJ Styles is the WWE World Champion, Kevin Owens is the WWE Universal Champion and Shinsuke Nakamura is the NXT Champion! Would any of us have thought this possible a year ago?
Overall this was an impressive Smackdown PPV, if Bray Wyatt would have owned his match and won the PPV would have been fantastic. I am curious to see where things go from here, but I have to say I enjoyed a brand split event. More time for matches and it wasn’t over stacked.