Hey Blue Team,
This week’s Smackdown Live was pretty good, considering they phoned it in all the way from the U.K. These Euro RAW and Smackdowns are always a little weird and very uneventful, but this episode ended up being slightly better than what we usually get when they go tape TV across the pond. It starts off very slow but once it gets going, it’s a good show. Not a lot of wrestling, but some of the outside-the-ring segments are good enough to make up for it. Luke Harper is back. Tye Dillinger has disappeared again, and Lana is still coming soon.
We’re getting into that time of year where WWE is really fun and interesting for a while, so why not take a moment to give The Best and Worst of Smackdown Live a share on your favorite social media platform. While you’re at it, follow With Spandex on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
And now without further ado, here is The Best and Worst of Smackdown Live for May 9th, 2017.
Worst: Necessary Evil?
This week’s Smackdown Live opens up with one of those segments that’s not necessarily entertaining but is necessary to do from time to time. It’s a reset segment where all of the top guys show up one at a time and state what their current storyline is so you know who is beefing with who and about what on the way to a pay-per-view … and at the same time it sets up this week’s main event.
As far as these segments go, this one wasn’t too bad. It was well-written most of the time and the performances were solid, but the whole time I was watching it I kept thinking that there has to be another way to do this. Not even a better way necessarily, just a different one. We have seen this segment open so many shows. One person comes to the ring to cut a promo, and then another person comes out and cuts a promo, and then another person, and so on.
There must be another way to do this. Can one brave WWE writer step outside the box and figure out a new way to do these? Maybe it’s not possible. Who knows? I just want reassurance that someone is working on a new way to do this so in twenty years I’m not watching a Smackdown opening where Owen Owens comes out to interrupt RKO Jr.’s promo to then be interrupted by a promo from a middle-aged Tyler Bate.
One more thing about this segment that I unfortunately have to address: During his promo, Randy Orton made a cute little jokey reference to the House of Horrors match. Too soon. The WWE needs to learn right now that that was not bad like the Shockmaster was bad; the House of Horrors was legitimately bad and should never be spoken of again. I don’t even like to bring it up here.
Worst: There Will Be Wrestling At Some Point
The first match of the evening was Natalya vs. Becky Lynch, but before it could start, James Ellsworth and Carmella are in the ring to get a little cheap heat off of the U.K. and introduce Natalya. Once Natalya is in the ring it’s time for Becky Lynch to … No … Wait … Naomi’s music is now playing as she glows on out and gets on the mic to introduce Lynch. Becky makes her way out and now that we have both participants at ringside it’s time for the first match of the night …
Okay now they are playing a replay of the aftermath of last week’s women’s match. Okay sure, you need some context for why this week’s match is happening. You can’t just have wrestling for the sake of wrestling. Okay the video replay is over and we have both Natalya and Becky in the ring. NOW it is time for the first match on this week’s Smackdown Live, Natalya Vs. Becky… wait why is Charlotte’s music playing now? Charlotte is now out there and she has a mic and she says she doesn’t need anyone to introduce her because she needs no introduction and she woooos.
Okay, now we have the entire Smackdown Women’s Division out there. Time to start the first match of this week’s Smackdown Live twenty-four minutes into the show.
Nope! Now it’s time for a commercial break.
Twenty-eight minutes into this week’s show, we get our first look at wrestling when the bell for Natalya vs. Becky Lynch finally rings. It was a good match once it eventually got started. Better than most of the matches I can recall from the last time they feuded. It’s just too bad it took so long to get to it. Twenty eight minutes. What is this, RAW? Smackdown is not three hours. The writers don’t have that much time to kill. When they fill the first half hour of RAW with talking there is still almost a whole pay-per-view length of time left for wrestling. When they do that on Smackdown it eats up a quarter of the show.
Best: Luke Harpers Back Tho
Boy is it good to see Luke Harper. It always is. I also liked this match. What was the first of what I’m sure will be many times, Erick Rowan took on Luke Harper on Smackdown live this week. It was a short match but a good one. Luke Harper brings out the best in Rowan. He did when they were a tag team, and he does it again now that they are against each other. A couple of months of feuding with each other could be a good thing for both men. Especially if it keeps Harper on television.
I also liked that Rowan got the victory here. The live crowd seemed genuinely surprised and a bit upset by it. He does a lot more for this feud than if Harper had simply shown back up and won. Maybe if they work hard together over the next few months, they can restore the family name.
Best: Better Late Than Never
This week’s Ziggler/Nakamura segment was way better than the last time these two guys were in the ring together — but that’s not saying much. It starts off with Dolph cutting a promo that sounded like it was coming from a different character than the one who cut the Michael Jackson promo a few weeks back. Not only was it better written, but Ziggler did a better job performing this. Probably because he could understand what he was saying this time.
It’s hard to get over gibberish, no matter how good of a performer you are. They did a much better job with Nakamura this time around too, keeping the talking to a minimum and showing that he is a man of action. It doesn’t take long before his jacket is off and he is ready to fight Ziggler in the middle of the ring right here and now. Ziggler refuses, he wants to wait for Backlash, but the two end up coming to blows and Nakamura looked great in the process. Short and simple. Everything about this segment got straight to the point.
We still have one more Smackdown before the pay-per-view. They’re going to have to do another Ziggler/Nakamura segment next week. The smart move would be to keep them apart. I don’t want to see a contract signing between them or anything like that. Just run another strong video package hyping Nakamura, and have Ziggler squash somebody, probably Sin Cara again — who else is there? The next time these guys are in the ring together should be for a match.
Best: Remember The Fandango?
The WWE continues to do a great job building up Breezango. Earlier in the show the boys are back with another episode of Fashion Files. This week’s installment is even better than last week’s. Breeze and Fandango find face paint smeared all over a hallway in the O2 arena. They assume it belongs to the Usos, but instead the facepaint trail leads them to the Ascension in what may be the best use of the Ascension since they came to the main roster.
Breezango’s match against the Ascension later in the night was good too. The U.K. hasn’t forgotten how fun it is point your fingers in the air and shake your hips back and forth to Fandango’s music, so Breezango was immediately more over with this crowd than they have been anywhere else. It was the pretty standard Ascension-puts-the-other-team-over match but it did exactly what it needed to do.
After the match, the Usos came out and cut a promo that seemed to have more passion than substance. That’s a shame, because the Usos’ mic work has been excellent since they turned. Still, it didn’t do much to distract from another good night for Breezango and the Smackdown tag team division as a whole.
Best: I Don’t Just Give Tours, I Stay Giving Tours
Mojo Rawley is in a tough spot. Now that Jinder Mahal is no longer a jobber, the only person on the roster he can defeat is Aiden English, but English is busy putting over Tye Dillinger, so Mojo Rawley has nobody to wrestle. Since they’re paying him anyway, WWE has decided to use Mojo for a different job instead. Mojo Rawley is now a tour guide giving backstage tours to children. He’s good at it, too. He may be a better tour guide than wrestler.
We saw one stop of the tour play out on this week’s Smackdown. Mojo was walking backstage with a group of kids when the tv cameras happen to catch him during what he says is his favorite part of the tour. Mojo takes a seat and tells the kids a little story about Andre the Giant. All about how Andre was bullied when he was a kid for being different, but Andre took being different and used it to his advantage. It was nice.
Mojo then shows the kids the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal trophy that he won at this year’s WrestleMania. I just kept thinking about how he got that through customs. The segment wasn’t great, but you know what? It wasn’t bad either. At least they’re trying different things. They could have easily had Mojo tell that same story about Andre in a backstage interview with Renee, or as an in-ring promo, and it would have been the lamest thing since Ziggler spoke of the gloved one. By putting Mojo with the kids, they gave him telling this story justification.
For my members of the IWC out there, Hogan name check did not go unnoticed. Any minute now you will start seeing people on the internet speculate that this means he will be back before SummerSlam.
Best: Always Return Rusev’s Messages
Rusev Skypes back into Smackdown this week all the way from Russia. Or Bulgaria? Possibly Nashville. I’m not sure where Rusev is supposed to be located anymore.
Anyway, Rusev has a pretty legitimate gripe. Two weeks ago he demanded that Shane McMahon give him a title shot at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, and fourteen days later he hasn’t heard anything from Shane. How rude, what does Shane have going on that he doesn’t have the time to return a video call from one of his top stars? Probably the same reason Shane didn’t have time to book a main event for this week’s Smackdown until the show had already started. Whatever the reason, I side with Rusev on this, like I do on most things.
Rusev says that he’s coming to Smackdown Live next week to talk to Shane in person. My guess is Shane’s not going to give him a title shot because he’s going to want Rusev to earn it. Shane’s big on that. But he’s also big on Smackdown being “The Land Of Opportunity” so I think Shane will announce Rusev as the first entrant into the Money in the Bank match.
Best: Wrestling Happens Now
Your main event this week is the big six-man tag pitting Randy Orton, Sami Zayn, and AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens, Jinder Mahal, and Baron Corbin. It’s the perfect match for one of these U.K. shows. It was fun, meaningless, uneventful, well-wrestled, and the live audience at the O2 arena got to see all the superstars that they came to see.
There’s not a whole lot to say about most of the match (other than how well Kevin Owens takes an RKO), but I do want to talk about the ending. We throw a lot of shade on what has become one of WWE’s worst tropes: the challenger pinning the champion in a non-title one-on-one match, or in a tag team match as a way to build to their title match at the next pay-per-view. It’s the worst. This week’s main event ends with that very thing. Jinder Mahal pins Randy Orton just twelve days before they face off with the title on the line at Payback.
I think it was the right move. At least, it would have been if they didn’t do that ending so much. This is one of the rare times where the challenger pinning the champ is a smart idea. Jinder came out of nowhere to become the number one contender and so many people don’t buy him in that role. A pin on Randy could help that.
The problem is the WWE does that ending so often that it means absolutely nothing. If that wasn’t a thing we see practically every week it would be really cool. Imagine a world where we went a whole year without a match with one of these finishes and then Mahal pins Randy in this match. That would have been extremely impactful.
But hey it’s one of those weird U.K. episodes, so who cares? Fun match.
Until next time I’m Justin Donaldson and I want a backstage tour from Mojo Rawley.