The art of professional wrestling is one of the most socially active mediums of entertainment across the world. Millions watch men and women grapple for championships, financial success, accolades, celebrity status, and supposed immortality within the squared circle. The Hype Train provides a glancing review of WWE’s Tuesday night show, SmackDown Live, evaluating the show itself, and then commenting on the good, the bad, and everything else in-between. All aboard.
SmackDown Live Review: 20/09/2016
With WWE Raw in SmackDown’s shadow, a day removed from the red brand, is there any surprise that the blue brand has time to iron out the mistakes the previous night? For our latest Raw review we talked in depth about the current problems plaguing the shows quality, and when comparing, because that’s what WWE obviously want you to do, SmackDown’s final product this week furthered the point that’s been made now for weeks: It’s simply been miles better than Raw.
On the same week that the Cruiserweight Division debuts on Raw, and the red show is headlined by a Steel Cage match of all things, it’s almost crazy to believe that we (and a majority of fans) on the most part enjoyed SmackDown more. It’s not a hard question to answer. Rather than resting on the laurels that everything will be fine on Raw, its rival show is actually giving you a reason to come back and watch next week. Raw can add all the talent and stipulations it wants to its asylum run show, if there is no true direction and purpose to it all, the end result falls flat. By no means is SmackDown perfect, we are a long way from ever saying that, the stark differences made since the draft in establishing SmackDown as the premier show has been easy.
The added advantage is that SmackDown has to work with the WWE World Championship and the Intercontinental Championship – the company’s best title assets. Bryan and Shane have gone out of their way to highlight this, involving The Miz and Dolph Ziggler in a stellar IC title feud, with its latest incarnation on this week’s show proving to be another hit, whilst putting the gold belt on AJ Styles is perhaps the best move made by either brand in the last 6 months. Viewers are most likely going to tune in again when the prospect of AJ defending his belt against Ambrose is on television, and when you have lovable Tag Team Champions in Rhyno and Heath Slater. On the Women’s front, there isn’t any backwards booking like on Raw, with a clustered mess between Charlotte, Bayley and Sasha. Instead we get an inspired promo to open the show – only inspired because Becky and Alexa Bliss have been booked on par with their male counterparts in terms of storytelling.
The show had a consistent flow that was manageable in size and expectations, with Cena and Ambrose as well as Miz and Ziggler getting condensed versions of pay-per-view quality matches. Sticking out in our memory is the John Cena clean pin-fall, inflicted by Dean Ambrose. Shows are about moments that you talk about with your friends, in reviews, and leading up to big matches, and watching Cena be as dejected as when he lost to The Rock at Wrestlemania is must-see television. If the purpose of the show is to continue to develop and entice an ever-intrigued audience, SmackDown are doing a brilliant job in doing so.
As you’ll see below in our good and bad sections of the show, we actually have a few grievances with the show, but nothing that was a t-total disaster, with exception to the booking of the women’s tag team match. Randy Orton’s feud with Bray Wyatt is also proving to be a weekly low, with virtually nothing happening, but at least they have committed to one thing, and are trying to ignite a storm into the match. It’ll probably be an encounter at No Mercy, like with Ziggler and Miz, which takes our breath away.
Last week we said that we’d judge Raw on the whole, rather than individual slices of a three-hour cake, and we were left with a salty taste on our mouths. With SmackDown, it’s a smaller, more delicious cake, which will have us buy the ingredients again.
SmackDown Live Results: 20/09/2016
The Usos defeated American Alpha (#1 Contendership toSmackDown! Tag Team Championship)
Baron Corbin defeated Apollo Crews
WWE Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (c) defeated Dolph Ziggler
Randy Orton defeated Erick Rowan
Dean Ambrose defeated John Cena
Who’s on SmackDown’s Hype Train?
The Miz: Another good performance by The Miz on the blue brand, defending the IC Title against Ziggler.
AJ Styles: Didn’t really have a lot to do, but sold the angle well that AJ is just an ass as World Champion. Also helped set up the triple threat match with all 3 competitors as equals.
The Usos: A heel turn for the tag team has been well received, and the Usos have seen their draft to SmackDown revitalise a career that had been stalling for the past year.
Becky Lynch: Trying her best, and at times succeeding, to be the best woman on the roster, Becky’s promo was deliberate, was well worked on SmackDown.
Upcoming Pay-Per-View: WWE No Mercy (Sunday October 9th 2016)
AJ Styles defends the WWE World Championship against Dean Ambrose and John Cena.
Heath Slater and Rhyno defend the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championships against The Usos.
Becky Lynch defends the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship against Alexa Bliss.
The IC Title match was once again a clinic of modern wrestling put on by Ziggler and Miz. The pair are on the top of their game, and Ziggler’s gimmick is just getting better and better right now. Match of the night.
Surprisingly, Naomi’s backstage promo about the ‘Glow’ was very well done. Naomi appeared passionate, and the reason behind all the dancing and colour is well explained. It’s not often in recent years the women have been afforded time to really speak and be so affective.
Baron Corbin’s rise is proving to be a very slow burner, almost as if they are scared of pressing the button that will escalate Corbin’s rise to the top of the SmackDown food chain. It’s not surprising though when SD Live have a great set of champions and challengers going into No Mercy.
John Cena lost clean, again. The food chain is changing, with Cena finally being pegged back by the likes of AJ and Ambrose, and deservedly so. The pop from the crown when Cena lost was very, very loud.
Speaking of Cena’s loss, he reacted identically to when he lost to The Rock at Wrestlemania. It was literally identical. Moments like this are reasons why people might be more enticed to tune into SmackDown Live.
Mauro Ranallo was strictly business this week, cutting down on pop culture references. Keep leaving the idiocy to JBL, Mauro!
As a fan and emulator of graphic design, I am very happy with the SmackDown brands promotional art for their PPVs. The match graphics and advertisements have a distinct blend of cloudy white and blue shadings, which complements the blue brand very well.
It was a shame that the Women’s tag team match never went ahead. We get the aggression of the feud, but they need to give these women a little bit more time every week.
Speaking of the women, Nikki Bella called Naomi by her real name ‘Trin’ on the broadcast in a backstage segment. Naomi’s real name is Trinity, and it is how she is addressed on Total Divas. We know where Nikki’s loyalties lie…
Naomi’s entrance was actually longer than the resulting women’s segment, with the cluster booking that was a blemish on SmackDown this week.
Why didn’t Daniel Bryan come out when The Miz cheated to win? We were kind of expecting it, given that the same stunt was pulled at Backlash.
After another loss, Apollo Crews is tittering between extinction and going back down to NXT to rediscover himself. It’s time to freshen up the character, as it’s going nowhere. Also Apollo swore live when the cameras were pointing right at him after being rammed into one of the extremely large turnbuckles.
The promo package by Curt Hawkins was cringe worthy. Just terrible. Terrible and out-dated. Just stop it, WWE.
Jack Swagger didn’t really offer anything for the blue brand for the second consecutive week. On his return he cut a dire promo that lacked ambition, directive and purpose, so what did the creative team come up with? Stick Swagger on commentary. More so, Swagger wants the World Championship! Why is Corbin the man to beat to get such a title match? Just makes little sense.
Randy Orton’s feud with Bray Wyatt is turning out to be a non-starter. Nothing has really happened. Randy predictably beat Erick Rowan. Bray cut another promo that went nowhere. No real traction is being reached with this feud, which is kind of frustrating because both men are hard hitting, legitimate talents on the blue brand.
Everything else in-between…
It’s equally a good and a bad thing that SmackDown offered 2 premium matches for this week’s viewing. The Miz defending against Ziggler and Cena facing Ambrose were as you imagined, good matches, but shouldn’t these matches be reserved for a higher calling?
Next week’s broadcast features a Wrestlemania worth main event with AJ Styles defending the WWE World Championship against Dean Ambrose… On free television. We think it’s a great match to have, but they really didn’t need to do it. SmackDown is good enough without it at the moment.
David Otunga repeatedly mentioned that he met with Rikishi on the set of a new film, and asked about the heel turn of his sons, The Usos. We never heard the end of the story as Otunga kept getting cut off.
Why doesn’t Baron Corbin want any of Jack Swagger? The man literally lost to Jinder the Jobber Mahal on RAW less than 2 weeks ago. Baron should be steamrolling the likes of Swagger.
There was a lot of good promotion for SmackDown outside of the actual show. Talking Smack was enlightening once again, with Bryan questioning why Shane has booked Dean’s title rematch for next week. Bryan also featured with The Miz on Facebook to promote the contract renegotiations of the IC Champ. They didn’t feature any of that content on SmackDown though, and casual fans (which at times we are) don’t watch a WWE live Facebook feed on a Sunday afternoon. Our weekends are usually tied up glued to the Premier League.
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The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015 specialising in the Fantasy Premier League (#FPL), and professional Wrestling, providing beautiful graphics and weekly insight for hopeful players attempting to climb ranking tables. We are also occasional media reviewers, with a keen interest to review movies, television, live music, festivals, and any relevant topic in the public eye.
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