Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live: The John Cena and Randy Orton of the 24/7 division, R-Truth and Drake Maverick, came to a brief emotional understanding about the difficulties of wearing the ugly crown. It didn’t last. Plus, Shane McMahon and commercial break avoision!
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Anyway, here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live for July 2, 2019.
A Quick Note About MON-day NIGHT RAW!
WWE’s weekly shows are under a microscope this week due to the big news of Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff taking over as executive directors of Raw and Smackdown, respectively, and being, at least we assume, given some expanded wiggle-room under the senile old Republican thumb of Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Raw differentiated itself on Monday by increasing the focus on chaotic action in and around the ring, and keeping the pace of the show moving forward. Smackdown differentiated itself on Tuesday by … talking a lot about Raw.
When I say, “talking a lot about Raw,” I mean talking a lot about Raw. The first thing you see when *completely different brand* Smackdown Live starts is the announcers talking about the LED board explosion incident from Monday and throwing it to a lengthy replay from Raw, in Raw colors, with Raw graphics. In the second segment, Kevin Owens talks to Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre about what happened to them on Raw two weeks ago. A match happens (hooray!) and the next three live segments are R-Truth talking about what happened to him on Raw, a talk show segment where Nikki Cross and Bayley talk about what happened with Carmella and Alexa Bliss on Raw, and Kofi Kingston arguing with Samoa Joe about how he got choked out on Raw.
Granted, I’m not against episodic storytelling, but it kills the image of both a brand split and an, “unpredictable wild card,” when you’ve got the same 10 people on every show and Tuesday only exists to recap Monday. Maybe this will change when Smackdown’s on a different network, and maybe USA Network is just focused on using their last few months of Smackdown to put 100% of the focus on Raw, but it’s not exactly engaging television.
Worst/Best: SO MANY PROMOS, You Guys
Two things I felt strongly about after watching this episode of Smackdown:
- it was nigh-obsessed with promos, as if the increased focus on fighting on Raw made them feel like “constantly talking” was the only way to feel different, and
- the promos felt better and more natural across the board, like maybe they decided to just give the characters who can talk a few bullet points to hit and let them go out there and be themselves
That’s one huge Worst (for me, at least) followed by an equally huge Best. The talking on wrestling shows should be used to get you more interested in the non-talking parts of wrestling shows, but if you’re only going to spend about 25 minutes in the ring on a two-hour show, it’s a plus that the promos are well done and don’t put you to sleep with 9th grade creative writing monotony.
As mentioned, Smackdown is like, “hey, Raw didn’t open with a 20-minute promo … what if we do? It’ll be so creative!” So the Kevin Owens Show No Longer Featuring Sami Zayn opens the broadcast with a quarter-hour of Shane McMahon and a conversation about The Undertaker, followed by a Dolph Ziggler interruption, followed by an impromptu tag team match with RIVALS AS PARTNERS being announced. It’s like they saw me get optimistic about Raw and were like, “how can we make Brandon throw himself off a bridge in one segment?” For real, though, if Kevin Owens hadn’t been out there keeping it together, this would’ve been a nightmare.
Owens is WONDERFUL, though, bringing back his “write the first half of an obvious phrase on a card, write the second half on a different card and still somehow have to switch cards” bit and going full Full Sail ether on Dolph Ziggler. No character has ever deserved a verbal beating as much as Dolph Ziggler, and Kofi Kingston’s too nice and humorously insincere to deliver the death blows. Kevin Owens was BORN to put Dolph Ziggler in the ground.
Shane McMahon — who is still the boss and can still make irrational evil general manager decisions despite the fact that evil GMs are played out and he couldn’t sell fear or compassion if you held a gun to his head — decides to randomly team up Owens and Ziggler in a match against Heavy Machinery for a chance to be in a triple threat Tag Team Championship match at Extreme Rules? The fuck? Sami Zayn’s in such a bad place right now his partner’s getting booked into tag title opportunities without him.
The match that results ends in the only way you could’ve possibly predicted it would: with Ziggler accidentally hitting Owens (or vice versa) and Heavy Machinery winning. Who knew that the guys with no relationship with each other who opened the show randomly arguing about how they hate each other would make bad tag team partners? I hope the corporate structure that employs them both messes with them for several more weeks! I don’t think there’s a better illustration of the failure of the American middle class right now than WWE wrestlers just hanging out and letting comically wicked bosses jerk them around without comeuppance for 20 years. KO hitting Ziggler with a Stunner was fun, though!
You’re Tuned In To Crossfire!
Similarly, an adorable bit with Nikki Cross getting put in charge of A Moment Of Bliss and politely explaining her Scottish accent to the crowd quickly turns into another “Bayley’s a WWE hard-ass now,” segment. The women’s division is dead set on making sure Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross aren’t friends, to the point that it feels like they’re trying to double turn Bliss and everybody else.
If Bayley and Naomi and Natalya didn’t care enough to talk to Nikki Cross for the first month she was there, why should she let them shit-talk the one person who did? Again, I know WWE can only end this with Bliss betraying her and proving them all right, but I really hope they don’t, and that SOMEBODY gives the women’s division a Grinch heart-growing-three-sizes-that-day moment.
The match, like every match on this episode, is short, fine, and uneventful. Bayley quickly gets her win back, which probably didn’t need to happen right away, and Alexa Bliss has nothing to do with it. It’s almost like they taped the Bliss/Cross backstage conversation during Raw! So, what did this prove? That Bayley can win if nothing’s on the line? That Cross is better when she’s motivated by her loved ones? Is Nikki Cross a shōnen anime protagonist?
Joe-makin’ Me Crazy, Kofi!
Kofi Kingston and Samoa Joe have a very good, very heated, censored PG-13 promo battle to help set up their match at Extreme Rules. It ends with Kofi Kingston giving Joe the finger, which is hidden from WWE television by the back of Joe’s head and a spontaneous black screen. This is the kind of thing you book when you want to bring back the teenage audience, but don’t want to make the company that makes your toys for babies mad.
As I mentioned earlier, this is better than normal because it feels more like Kofi and Joe (especially Joe) are saying things their characters actually believe, instead of having a pre-written snaps battle about bad breath and fat mamas, or whatever. Joe promising to not murder Kofi’s entire Great American Family as long as she shakes his hand, but sneaking in some fine-print addendums about Kofi admitting he’s going to lose the WWE Championship was great. Kofi’s incredible confidence as champion has been earned, too, as he wrestles on like every single episode of WWE TV and has only lost a time or two since WrestleMania. I half expected the brawl at the end of this to involve Sami Zayn showing up and letting both guys pin him.
Throwaway Promo Lightning Round
Cool Cat Learns About Pranks
Shelton Benjamin Tries To Figure Out How He Got On The Show
Seriously, what the hell is with these filler-ass promos? “Lashley, do a selfie promo from a hospital about how you’re gonna kill a guy because he attacked you and got hurt worse than you because of it. I realize you should both be injured.” “Aleister, we advanced your story last week but we didn’t have any ideas, just do what you were doing before.” “Shelton, we have literally no ideas, just sit there and move your eyes around like a ventriloquist dummy.”
Dan Conner’s Id And Ego As Men
- How long have Heavy Machinery been brothers?
- Is that why they got rid of their last names?
- Are they Otis and Tucky Machinery?
- Heavy Machinery is gonna “get smack?” Are Otis and Tucky Machinery addicted to heroin? Is that why Otis is so weird?
- How many times can I use the Roddy Piper Is Coming meme for a single team?
What’s with Ali’s voice in this promo? He’s from Chicago. Why does he sound like Nicolas Cage doing a southern accent? Did his ability to cure people of drug abuse and alcoholism by staring at them disapprovingly change his accent? It’d be a really good promo if he wasn’t affecting a WWE “promo voice.”
Truth Has No Idea What To Promo About
(Seriously, nothing but interviews and promos for two hours.)
Also, In Rare Actual Wrestling Match News
The best match of the night was, unsurprisingly, Daniel Bryan vs. Big E. They only give them about eight minutes, end it predictably with Rowan interfering, and bring them back later to get ejected from ringside during a commercial break (that sets up ANOTHER Dolph Ziggler promo … another one), but even 30 seconds of Bryan vs. Big E is better than nothing.
It’s also probably important to make former heroic WWE Champion Daniel Bryan look like a guy who can win a match every now and then, especially considering how many non-title matches you have to lose when you’re a champion in WWE. I know 2019 Bryan doesn’t have as high an overall as 2013-2014 Bryan, but it’s not that much lower. We’re talking a 94 down to a 90 here. 89, maybe. That’s still higher than most people on Smackdown. He should kick your ass on a level playing field seven or eight times out of 10, and somewhere between eight and nine out of 10 with outside help from a murderous vintner.
Finally, the 2:58 of Bayley vs. Nikki Cross is followed by 2:20 of Ember Moon vs. Mandy Rose. Sadly there’s no romance development this week, which is probably a good idea if Eric Bischoff’s hanging around. You don’t want him finding out you’ve been working on a lesbian love story. I wouldn’t trust him with even three minutes of queer programming.
Did somebody say … three minutes?
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Kevin Owens: why don’t we try, what’s the worst that could happen?
*fifteen minutes later*
Dolph lies in agony after his back is broken due to a post match Pop up PB to the apron.
Kevin Owens: Well, that wasn’t so bad after all. More of a Best than a Worst, you Uproxx smarks. Yeah I read your thread.
San Antonio, of course, was named after the patron saint of the giant swing.
“Kofi from one fake islander to another…”
Man, Xavier is really selling that chokeslam…
… selling like hotcakes.
Aleister: there was a knock on the door and then I opened the door and they were making babies and I saw one of the babies and the baby looked at me.
I’m not saying Drew’s being hindered in his current program, but he’s gone from the least-important member of the Three Man Band to the least-consequential member of the Mean Street Posse.
who cares about Lashley I want to know more about The Kanellises descent into the kink lifestyle
Ali oughta make his move before Smackdown moves to Fox. Sonya Deville too
Dave M J
A SDL TAG CHAMP HAS PINNED SOMEBODY WHAT IS THIS?!
The Real Birdman
Smark Lorax Kevin Owens is possibly my favorite wrestler ever
Hold on, I’m still trying to figure out why they wrote this episode.
That’s it for this week’s Best and Worst of Smackdown. Thanks for reading, as always. We’re back to a crazy world where Raw is better than Smackdown, at least for a week. Drop a comment down below to let us know what you thought of the episode, and give us a share on social to help keep us in business.
See you next Tuesday for more talking about Monday!