As the WWE train lumbers on towards the ‘greatest party of the summer’, we made another stop at SmackDown Live. The show this week was, well, to quote Persona 5, ‘not bad, but not impressive’. It just felt like it was building stories for SummerSlam, and while some were good, others felt rushed and boring; it was the epitome of an anime filler episode. This was a shame, considering last weeks show was so good.
To elaborate our point, here are the good, the bad & the ugly from this week’s SmackDown Live.
Usually, in-ring talking segments are boring, a case in point is the “bad” this week, but, Kevin Owens, AJ Styles and Shane McMahon delivered, if not gold, then certainly silver.
Kevin Owens pointed out that a McMahon had already screwed a ‘Canadian legend’ (which received a huge pop) but that he ‘deserved it’ and that Owens won’t let that happen to him. It was a great twist on one of the most tired tropes in WWE: when in Canada, mention the screw job. It got better as well. Kevin preceded to point out that McMahons can’t be trusted and that Shane and AJ have a history. At this point, the titantron showed footage of the AJ putting Shane’s head through a car door in the lead up to this years Wrestlemania. He finished his array of good points by showing footage of Shane screwing Stone Cold Steve Austin at the 1998 Survivor Series. Which was a great callback.
All this led to a brawl, with AJ accidentally hitting Shane with a pele kick. Owens, with a huge grin, then walked away, knowing his work was done.
It was a great segment with some clever nods to the past and keeps the rivalry fresh. Also, as far as we are concerned, Kevin Owens can do no wrong at the moment.
Contrast the US title hoo-ha in the ring with the show’s opener. In a fairly mundane promo, John Cena comes down and, essentially, gives the rub to Nakamura. He points out Nakamura hits hard and is a worthy contender for the WWE.
At this point, he is interrupted by Baron Corbin, who has new entrance music. They go back and forth, with Cena calling Corbin a dumpster fire because someone in the crowd had a sign that called Corbin a dumpster fire. This public tête-à-tête is eventually interrupted by Daniel Bryan who books a match at SummerSlam between the two.
The segment was nothing new, it was boring and it was a shame because they could have done so much better. It just felt like a rushed way to get these two on the SummerSlam card and neither man felt particularly engaged. The ad-libbing from Cena was amusing, but we want to see Cena in the ring with these young guys, not running them down on the mic.
We know wrestlers aren’t actors. No, really, we do. Having said that, they should be able to string along a minute long interaction that engages the viewer. Unfortunately, Natalya, James Ellsworth and Carmella couldn’t do that. Nattie came across as particularly wooden, but, in her defence, her lines were not great. Having to use the tired chinless wonder quips was not ideal. It also doesn’t help that her character is all over the place. How can she deliver a good performance if the audience knows squat about her character?
The worst part, though, was that the segment, and the subsequent exposing of the three, wasn’t needed. Yes, Carmella is miss money in the bank, but Nattie is just a challenger, not the champion, neither should really care about the other. Have them face off in the ring, or give each other knowing looks. Anything to save us from this awful segment.