Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live: Kevin Owens cut a fantastic worked shoot promo, Cesaro challenged Kevin Owens, and everything was building to Extreme Rules.
I’m filling in for Brandon this week, since he’s catching up after an illness, so keep in mind my views don’t always align with his. Despite what some commenters have suggested, With Spandex is not actually a hive mind.
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Anyway, here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live for July 16, 2019.
Worst: It’s Okay To Hate Your Job
I was conflicted about whether to give this segment a Best or a Worst, but I know it was one or the other (no middle ground, here). I kind of wanted to go with Best, because the “Smackdown Town Hall” that Shane McMahon hosted to get “respectful” feedback from his employees accomplished some good fun stuff. It gave Roman Reigns a chance to seem like a Babyface and a Locker Room Leader, calling out Shane simply and concisely without any of the “tater tot” nonsense they used to make him do. It reintroduced Charlotte Flair, being the exact same insincere asshole she was when she left a month and a half ago. It also reintroduced Liv Morgan, who’s been gone even longer, and she cut what’s easily the best promo of her WWE career. It featured what I think is the non-205 Live Main Roster WWE debut of Buddy Murphy, although he might have had a forgotten match at some point that I’m just forgetting about. It reminded us that Apollo Crews is here, and also gave Zelina Vega and Andrade a chance to be mean to him, and damn are those two good at being mean.
Unfortunately this was also yet another lengthy show-opening talk segment that revolved around Shane McMahon. I know we’re supposed to hate Shane, but every time he talks or wrestles I want to turn off my television, and I’m pretty sure that can’t possibly be WWE’s goal. There are things Shane is good at, like dad-dancing and stepping off the edge of tall things after crossing himself. Being the top heel across WWE is not something Shane is good at. I know Brandon has talked at great length about the Shane McMahon problem, so I’m not going to repeat all that here. They seem to be stepping the narrative that Shane is being ridiculous and power-mad and the roster’s ready to revolt, so hopefully this ends soon, but I’m already well out of patience.
Best: This Is How It Feels To Be Free
The best thing about Shane’s Town Hall is that it was a set-up for Kevin Owens, hero of the worker, to appear behind Shane and Stun him outta nowhere. At the very beginning of the show, we saw Shane and his security guys keeping Kevin out of the building and the Town Hall, so obviously we all knew he was coming back, but it was still great to see his bearded visage appear behind the puffy, sweaty face of the Best in the World.
If this is going to be a story about Shane McMahon being put in his place, and especially if it leads to him leaving TV at least for a while, I’m really glad they chose Kevin to be the hero who takes him down. I would have expected that to be Roman’s job, but he wouldn’t have been nearly as good at it. Whether he’s a face or a heel, Kevin Owens makes sense and seems like a real guy. The prizefighter who wrestles to take care of his family. The loving dad who takes his kids to the zoo every chance he gets. The friendless jerk who doesn’t trust anyone in wrestling, because he’s watched enough wrestling to know they’ll turn on you if you don’t turn on them first. All of that sets him up to be the working class hero who stands up to the latest iteration of Evil Boss, and even attacks him with a move popularized by wrestling’s all-time greatest working class hero. It’s just a shame Shane’s not better at selling that Stunner.
It’s just too bad that being that hero requires KO to have multiple matches with Dolph Ziggler, another guy I’d be more than happy to not see on TV anymore. I know some people like Dolph Ziggler, but I’ve found when you ask those people to talk about why they like him, they tend to talk about stuff that happened five years ago or more. In the present, Dolph is an inconsistent character, a real-life jerk, a guy whose promos mostly sound like whining, and a contender for the worst hair and most boring gear in wrestling. Fortunately this match ended with KO Stunning Ziggler, Stunning Shane, and running out of the arena while the bossman shook his fist. That’s what we like to see!
Best: I See The Girls Are Out
Three women’s matches on one show? Wow, this almost feels like the time before WrestleMania 35, when it seemed like the Women’s Revolution hadn’t been completely abandoned. The first match was between Charlotte Flair and Liv Morgan, building off of their exchange during the Town Hall. Obviously Charlotte was going to win with the Figure 8, there was never any doubt of that. What was cool was seeing Liv get some offense in, and not look like a total jobber. I never cared much about Liv Morgan in NXT, but she really found herself as a member of the Riott Squad, and now that she’s on her own I’d love to see her get a push.
Of course, we have no idea who she’s going to be the next time we see her, because after losing the match she grabbed Corey’s headset and declared “Charlotte was right. When I come back, I’m going to be real!” I hope that doesn’t mean she’s going to lose the pink hair and the blue tongue, because I for one fully believe that those are a part of the real her. I’m curious to see what comes next, though.
The set up to the next match was that Ember had to find a partner to face Fire & Desire. I can’t say that Bayley was the most exciting pick, because as the Women’s Champion, she was definitely going to be on the show anyway. But in an episode this women-focused, that’s not such a big deal. It does make sense, given that they’ve asked us to believe that gorgeous and fierce Ember Moon is a loser nerd with no friends, that Bayley would be the one to come to her aid and treat her with respect. Especially after Nikki Cross kind of seemed like she might be right when she talked about how Bayley never reached out to her the way Alexa did, it’s good to see Bayley reach out to another outsider, to prove she’s still the kind person she’s always sold as.
Ember getting the pin off of Eclipsing Mandy Rose was also an important character beat. Hopefully she’ll get some more solid-looking wins before facing Bayley at SummerSlam. Despite how little she’s been built on the Main Roster thus far, and also the Face Vs. Face aspect, I’m really excited for this SummerSlam title match. I kind of suspect, as I’m sure others also do, that Charlotte Flair will weasel her way into it. If Charlotte wasn’t going to be on the SummerSlam card, she wouldn’t have bothered coming back to work. I don’t think that’s necessarily a problem, though. A Triple Threat could be a lot of fun, and Ember’s presence will keep it from being something we’ve seen before.
Okay, here’s the thing: I don’t mind the IIconics letting themselves get counted out to avoid losing their belts. They’re the very epitome of cowardly heels, and that’s exactly the sort of stuff they should do. What I mind is that this Women’s Tag Division isn’t even a division, and hasn’t been since WrestleMania. WWE still seems to be too busy sulking that the Bellas couldn’t return to tell women’s tag team stories at all. This title match (except probably the version with an ending). Should have happened at Extreme Rules. Hell, it should have happened at Stomping Ground! So after they spent all this time doing nothing, they gave us a match that wasn’t even a match. Obviously the rematch needs to happen at SummerSlam, but even that’s annoying, because it means three more weeks of these two talented tag teams barely doing anything, while no other women in the company even acknowledge that there are Tag Team Titles they could be fighting for. Do better, WWE!
Worst: Turn Around And Take A Look At The Crowd
The Smackdown Town Hall was already enough of a promo parade to be annoying, and then they had a full-on promo parade halfway through the show anyway! Look, I love the New Day, and I really love seeing all three of them with belts. It’s awesome, for real. What I don’t love is seeing Daniel Bryan walk in and out like an angrier Lacey Evans with better politics, and then three heels showing up one by one, leading to a Teddy Long-ass tag team match. The only part I enjoyed was Bryan holding his hand out and making a constipated expression like he’s trying to cast a spell and just can’t get it out. Samoa Joe made sense, but I didn’t need more Elias on this show, and I literally never need to see Randy Orton.
But the tag match was what we got, and it led to Randy RKOing the WWE Champion, which clearly puts him in line to fight Kofi at SummerSlam. Real talk, this is my thing and I’m not judging anybody else for who they like, but I straight-up hate Randy Orton. He walks through WWE like he’s half asleep and can’t be bothered to fully participate, and then he gets treated like a top guy anyway, because he’s a legacy, a veteran, and the guy who feuded with John Cena for like a decade. Oh, and also because he has a cool finisher. And it is a cool finisher, don’t get me wrong. That’s his one good thing, and good willing he’ll get Trouble-In-Paradised before he has a chance to do it to Kofi at Summerslam.
Best: Do You Need A Character Witness?
Apollo Crews is around now! And he won a match! All call-ups from NXT are risky, but it seemed even worse with Apollo Crews, because NXT never managed to give him a personality in the first place. So it wasn’t that the main roster forgot what made him cool. He was never cool, he was just able to do cool things. Now, the fact that he’s been ignored for so long actually gives him the beginnings of a character (the guy who’s been ignored for so long), and hopefully they continue to build on that, because the stuff he can do in the ring is goddamned amazing.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
With all these jobbers chasing him, I thought KO won the 24/7 title
Bayley: “I want to elevate this Smackdown Women’s division.”
*place title on high shelf where Nikki and Alexa can’t reach*
The Real Birdman
Looking forward to the Wyatt-Balor-Bryan match I’ve fantasy booked in my brain, between the Fiend, the Demon, and the Dragon. Go full LU with it.
wow look at that roster . really look at it, you won’t see them all again
Ironic that Ms. Morgan has LIV on her ring gear. Why would she want to promote her 54 rating in WWE2K?
So, Cesaro used to be called the Swiss Superman. Then it was the Swiss Cyborg. Who’s next in the Swiss DC hierarchy? Swiss Hawkman? Swiss Booster Gold?
can’t wait for Black and Tony to have a best of 10 series which will lead to them forming a team called The Pub
CARMELLA: I have an idea Truth. You can hide in plain sight. You just have to wear a costume.
Nah, Kofi. The Viper will always Dodge.
That’s it for this week’s Smackdown. I’m sure Brandon will be back on the beat next week, to everyone’s relief.
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