The Best And Worst Of WWE Smackdown Live 5/16/17: No Diving

Hey Blue Team,

Not a bad show this week, but completely uneventful. This pay per view cycle didn’t just feel long, it was long. Smackdown Live had a lot of time to fill between WrestleMania and Backlash and that has lead to a lot of time killers on these shows. Outside of Kevin Owens’ performance in the first five minutes of the show and Breezango’s fantastic Fashion Files nothing really stuck out. Nothing was exceptionally bad either. It’s just one of those episodes that come next week I’ll have a hard time remembering.

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 16th, 2017.

Best: A Good Way To Do The Same Thing

This week’s Smackdown Live started the same way most WWE TV shows start, with a long in-ring talking segment where multiple wrestlers show up one after another. The difference this time is it was framed as being the Highlight Reel. But not with Chris Jericho. Kevin Owens has hijacked the Highlight Reel and made it his own now that he has sent the Fozzy lead singer packing. It starts with Kevin alone in the ring with the Highlight Reel set. He cuts a great promo about putting Jericho out, then transitions into talking about his opponent at this Sunday’s Backlash, AJ Styles. That of course bring out AJ and after he says a few things out comes Jinder Mahal, who AJ is facing later in the night.

Once Styles and Mahal get out there, the segment becomes pretty paint-by-numbers, feeling like any other opening talking segment. They make sure to mention the pay per view a lot and say things like “we don’t have to wait until Sunday, we can do it right now”, you know how these segments go. But the fist few minutes before the circus came to town was awesome. The way Kevin performed this was serial-killeresque. He hosted the Highlight Reel like he had murdered Jericho and was wearing his skin. I would have loved to have seen a full Kevin Owens Highlight Reel without the interruption from Styles.

Overall this segment wasn’t great. AJ and Jinder had nothing to say of any substance and bringing them out derailed what had started out great, but I’m so happy that they did something slightly different by having this revolve around Owens stealing Jericho’s show. Now, I know the Highlight Reel is just a television and a piece of blue carpet, but sometimes that’s all it takes to make the same old-same old opening segment feel like I didn’t just see this same thing last week. Owens’ performance didn’t hurt either.

Best: Clash of the Contenders

I wasn’t expecting much from Jinder Mahal vs. AJ Styles but the match ended up really delivering. It was a well-paced nice back and forth match that did a very good job of making Mahal look like he can hang with the top dogs. This worked out way better than if he had just squashed Sin Cara.

The end of the match played out exactly how I, and probably you, expected it to. Owens, who was on commentary, nailed AJ’ s knee with the belt while the ref was distracted by the former Bollywood Boyz allowing Jinder to capitalize and get the pin. Shane needs to stop letting Kevin Owens sit in on commentary. The man can’t control himself. I don’t have exact statistics in front of me but it seems like every time Owens is behind the broadcast booth, he ends up interfering in the match.

Each week the Fashion Files have gotten better. This week they hit perfection. I’m not going to recap it because you should all click the link and watch it if you haven’t already. The WWE being legitimately funny happens about as frequently as Halley’s Comet comes around so enjoy it while we have it.

They followed up the Fashion Files with a match that was the exact same as last week, right down to the USOs coming out and cutting a promo when it was over. The only difference is this week Breeze and Fandango’s opponents were the Colons instead of The Ascension. Frankly I could have done without the match. The Fashion Files did a better job of getting me excited to see Breezango fight for the belts on Sundaythan the match did.

Worst: Signing Your Life Away

This week the Smackdown Women’s Division got a contract signing and a match to help lead them into Backlash. In a reverse of my feelings on Breezango, here I felt like the match did way more to help them build to the pay per view than the talking did. The contract signing did nothing for me. It seemed especially like a real time filler on a show where a lot of stuff already felt unnecessary. Nothing was said that wasn’t a rehash of things we’ve heard before in the past few weeks. I don’t know why they keep doing contract signings if they can’t come up with a unique take.

The match between Naomi and Carmella was good and on it’s own would have been a good way to keep the story going to Backlash, but by the time I got through the contract signing I was over it.

Best: Thanks For Listening

Thank you WWE for not doing another in-ring segment between Ziggler and Nakamura. This was all they needed to do at this point. Short and sweet with a good performance by Dolph.

Worst: The Beatdown From The Underground

This felt like WWE forgot that Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin were scheduled to face each other at the pay per view and quickly threw something together so they would have a thing to replay before their match on Sunday. I know Sami and Baron have been feuding for over a month but it hasn’t felt like much of a feud at all. I’m imagining a video package on the Backlash pre-show that’s just this 90-second clip cut up and played over and over again.

I guess Sami and Baron should consider themselves lucky that their match got any promotion whatsoever on Smackdown proper. Promotion for the Luke Harper/Erick Rowan match was relegated to Talking Smack. And speaking of that, if you didn’t watch Talking Smack you should check this out.

I don’t understand why so much of Smackdown was so boring, but they put something weird and interesting on the post show. That was way more entertaining than another contract
signing, and less predictable than the outcomes of any of this week’s matches.

Worst: Smackdown Takes A Dive

Your main event this week was Randy Orton vs. Baron Corbin. Orton and Corbin both hate independent wrestling so much, I’m surprised when the bell rang they didn’t hug each other then pinky-swear not to do any dives. I’m not surprised Randy Orton hates indie matches that are nothing but spot fests. He doesn’t seem like a guy who likes things that are fun.

Speaking of fun, that’s exactly what this match wasn’t. After a pretty boring Smackdown it would have been nice to have a match that was a little higher energy. Maybe it needed more superkicks. The match felt pointless. Kind of like a match that’s just a bunch of spots with no real meaning behind them, except instead of doing fun spots they did boring ones. Unless you love watching Baron Corbin constantly do that thing where he baseball slides out of the ring, goes around the ring post, then slides back into the ring. If that’s your favorite move right now than this is the match for you. The post-match attack on Orton by Jinder Mahal and the Boyz was uninspired as well.

Backlash is a very interesting card. It’s a shame this week’s Smackdown Live didn’t really do much to make it feel interesting.

We have a lot to say about Backlash, so join us on Friday for all of our predictions and analysis. Until then, I’m Justin Donaldson and I guess Rusev is all talk.