Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live: “Best Of The World” Shane McMahon finally got beaten up enough to miss a week of television. Also, Kofi Kingston challenged Randy Orton for SummerSlam, and Dolph Ziggler kicked Shawn Michaels in the face.
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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live for July 30, 2019.
Let’s start off this week’s column by casually mentioning that Shane McMahon, Trish Stratus, and probably Bill Goldberg are all gonna have matches at SummerSlam this year, but the current Women’s Tag Team Champions and their top two contenders can’t even get a segment on Smackdown. Just throwing that out there in case anybody needs to update their WCW.txt.
The good news from this week’s Smackdown is that Shane McMahon is absent, and only appears in selfie video package footage at the top of the show. The bad news is that 6-foot-5, 265 pound physical marvel Drew McIntyre, who can wrestle and talk and is still only 34 years old, is still stuck in the role of “Shane McMahon’s loser henchman.” I’ve written about it a lot, but I seriously don’t understand the thought process of having a guy like Drew protect someone like Shane only to have Drew lose all the time and Shane constantly win. Doesn’t it seem like the dynamic should be that DREW is really hard to beat, which is why nobody can get their hands on Shane? Instead, everybody beats the shit out of Drew, sometimes multiple times in the same week, and then have their hands full with the non-wrestling old man in sneakers and windbreaker pants. No fuckin’ clue.
Drew can go, though, and as a result the McIntyre vs. Kevin Owens confrontation and match that open the show are both good. It’s always a good idea to do five minutes of match set-up followed by 13+ minutes of actual in-ring action instead of 18 minutes of match set-up. Plus the crowd was really into it, chanting, “this is awesome,” at one point. With the “this is awesome” chant becoming so ubiquitous, you should probably be disappointed if you’ve put out two or more hours of wrestling in front of like 6-8,000 people who excitedly paid to come see the show and they don’t think something they see is awesome.
Owens getting a strong win is good news too, even at the expense of Drew, as long as the SummerSlam match with Shane doesn’t end with Drew cheating so Shane can win. Or Shane winning clean, which has also happened. Multiple times. If Owens gets through Drew and then trounces McMahon, good game. If Owens gets through Drew and gets trounced by McMahon, we’re in the same story gutter we’ve been stuck in since Fastlane.
Long story short, I just want what Owens is saying to matter and have consequences, and for the Year of Shane to be over before we (presumably) reboot everything ahead of the Fox move.
Worst: Neither Women’s Division Currently Makes Much Sense
The Raw women’s division is currently telling a story wherein the challenger to the Raw Women’s Championship’s major talking point is, “you must be a bad lover,” and the bad-ass Raw Women’s Champion is super upset because that opponent is doing her homework and asking her pro wrestling co-workers to help her learn counters to a submission hold. That shit is Austin vs. McMahon compared to what’s going on on Smackdown.
On last week’s Smackdown, Bayley (the Smackdown Women’s Champion) caused a distraction allowing Ember Moon (Bayley’s opponent at SummerSlam) to pin Charlotte Flair in like 30 seconds. Ember then hit the Eclipse on both of them, because reasons, including “making an impact” or whatever.
Charlotte Flair’s response to this was to announce herself, the woman who we just watched lose in 30 seconds to a distraction roll-up, as the greatest women’s wrestler ever. This week, a random great women’s wrestler from the past showed up for unrelated reasons and got bullied into wrestling Charlotte about it at SummerSlam. It wasn’t great, because it asked Charlotte Flair to carry the story with mic work, which has never been the strongest aspect of her game. Charlotte beating someone to death with a stick = yes. Charlotte beating us to death ON the stick = no.
While that’s going on, Ember Moon (who defeated the greatest women’s wrestler of all time last week in 30 seconds) gets pinned clean as a sheet by Alexa Bliss, who’s on Raw. Maybe the plan is to add Bliss to the championship match at SummerSlam, which at best is something we’ve seen way too many times before. Especially considering Bliss just faked an ankle injury on Raw to get out of having to wrestle a match against a champion, and ended up essentially losing a 2-on-1 handicap match.
So now Charlotte doesn’t have any momentum because she lost like a goober, Ember Moon doesn’t have any momentum because she just got skunked on Smackdown by someone not even currently on her roster — not to mention Bayley randomly suplexing her after the match as revenge for last week’s Eclipse, which somehow she didn’t see coming — and we’re heading into three women’s matches at SummerSlam with everyone looking kinda lame. For all the talk about “building momentum,” you’d think SOMEBODY in this octet of wrestlers would be heading into the show with it. The only person you could even argue is doing well here is Bayley, and she’s succeeding by doing that late 2000s WWE babyface thing where they just heel out on everybody constantly.
Not to mention that the Women’s Tag Team Champions and their top two contenders can’t get a spot at SummerSlam. Hell, they can’t even get a spot on Smackdown when it’s announced ahead of time.
Speaking Of Building Momentum
Ali has pinned the Intercontinental Champion! Can the guy we just watched pin the champion in two minutes and 40 seconds pin the champion? Tune into the SummerSlam Kickoff Show to find out, I’m assuming!
Best: This Randy Orton Video Package
My favorite part of this entire Smackdown might’ve been this “inside the mind of The Viper®” Randy Orton video package. It uses history and footage to rationalize Orton’s point from last week, explaining in detail how and why he feels superior to Kofi and how it was his boot to Ali’s eyeball that started the entire “KofiMania” movement. If he hadn’t injured Ali, Ali would’ve gotten that Elimination Chamber spot, and Kofi’s rise to the WWE Championship wouldn’t have happened. So it inadvertently lends credence to the idea that Orton controls the destiny of the people around him, whether it’s on purpose or not, because of WWE’s equivalent of Divine Right.
Orton has been an ace (pardon the pun) on the microphone this year, and I swear that if his big money matches were better he’d be rightfully deified as one of the greatest of all time. He’s still one of the greats just by proxy, but you can count the number of truly great Randy Orton matches that weren’t just cool RKO spots on two hands. Maybe one. He needs a John Cena U.S. Open Challenge run where he puts on great matches with everybody for a while just for fun to round him out, I think.
That’s just my opinion as a fan, though. It’s hard to remember that the point of every wrestler isn’t to have great wrestling matches.
Worst: Back In Black
Best-ish: You’ve Got A Fiend In Me
I really love The Fiend’s entrance. That slow warping of the production setting up the tiered darkness surrounding his opponent is super cool. I do wish that he’d, you know, done something instead of just providing a distraction we couldn’t even really see the scope of because they were zoomed in so tight. Where was he? Was he on the stage? The ramp? In the ring? They could’ve just edited in footage without him even being there and it would’ve looked the same.
Still, Finn Bálor’s about to get got™, and Dolph Ziggler continues to be the luckiest man in the world. Either that, or he’s got a “run-in” Payback skill from WWE 2K19 and just figured out how to use it this week. On Monday he got Brock Lesnar. On Tuesday, he got Bray Wyatt.
Speaking of Dolph …
… he’s officially shoehorned in Bill Goldberg’s name too many times for it to be an impromptu burn. He’s totally going to show up to SummerSlam expecting to fight The Miz only to get killed by Goldberg, so Goldberg can “erase the feeling” of that Undertaker match, isn’t he?
Best: The Main Event
There’s not much to say about the main event other than that it was pretty good (and the camera work seemed to have no idea what to focus on, even during the finish), but I appreciate them not going the obvious disqualification route. They could’ve easily had New Day and The O.C. (don’t call them that) piling into the ring to ruin things and/or make it a six-man tag team match after a commercial break, but they just had two good wrestlers wrestle until one won. Kofi managed to steal a win using Styles’ greatest weakness: an inability to adjust once he’s started the Phenomenal Forearm animation. He can stop it if it’s still in the springboard, but once he’s airborne, he’s Supermanning that ho.
Like a lot of the other divisions on Smackdown, I question the logic of booking a champion vs. champion match this close to SummerSlam when both champions need to look strong. Kingston’s going into a big match against Randy Orton. Styles has a new heel faction that’s supposed to be tough and is defending the United States Championship against the winner of a gauntlet match featuring pretty much the five best wrestlers on Raw. You could just give each of them strong wins instead of running them into each other, where one of them losing or the bad non-finish are your only options. If you wanted to tie the faction wars together you could’ve just run Kofi vs. Anderson or Gallows, and Styles vs. Woods or Big E. The matches wouldn’t have suffered too much, and you could at least rationalize that the tag guys lost because they focus on being tag guys instead of singles stars. Again, I dunno. Sorry to armchair book so much, I just don’t get the back and forth of it all.
Mr. Reigns’ Million Dollar Mania Ends In Tragedy
Finally, the episode ends with … something. I honestly don’t know what this was supposed to be.
In case you missed it, Roman Reigns shows up to challenge someone for SummerSlam with like 15 seconds left in the program and is suddenly stopped by a bunch of production equipment falling onto him, Braun Strowman grappling hook-style. It doesn’t hurt him, though, because …. reasons. I’m not sure who to blame for the accident, but we should start by asking whoever set up seven cameras in that spot to catch it from every imaginable angle. This is cut like Liam Neeson jumping over the fence in Taken 3.
Alternate theory: Kayla wasn’t warning Roman, she was using her telekinetic powers to bring down the equipment. That’s why she sticks her hand out like that.
The actual going theory is that it’s Buddy Murphy’s doing, as he’s seen wandering around while Roman’s leaving. That’s him in the white sleeves in this shot:
But if NXT’s parking lot attack taught us anything, Lars Sullivan isn’t the culprit just because you see Lars creeping in the background. Sometimes they’re just lurking. My theory: If you’d panned slightly to the left, you’d have seen Brock Lesnar throwing Seth Rollins into the equipment with an F-5, as he’s been doing non-stop since Monday evening. Roman was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
The Real Birdman
Orton taking credit for Kofi’s reign is some A+ heeling.
That’s something I didn’t think I’d type tonight but here we are
“The only club that matters’ is something you’d say if you weren’t allowed in a better club
I hope for the inevitable Fox Smackdown makeover, they go full-on with the “sports” aspect and talk more about the match and the wrestlers and cut out the bullshit arguing among the commentators.
see what happens when you pay attention to your own continuity WWE (even with unplanned shoot ad-libs)
DO THIS MORE OFTEN PLEASE
Dave M J
“That match…is NOW”
“Kevin Owens and Drew McIntyre is happening next! ::commercial::”
It’s been 3 years since I became Mr Bliss and I am so tired of seeing Alexa…so yea, it’s just like a real marriage
Roman this is like calling a meeting right before quitting time for something you can release in an email. What’s next? Teambuilding exercises on a Saturday?
Ember is just Bayley’s rebound chick
Roman needed to look strong versus the scaffolding, I see.
“Hey Charlotte! Trish is going to think about it!!”
— WWE (@WWE) July 31, 2019
At this rate Daniel Bryan's never going to become Emmalina.
— Elle Collins 🏳️🌈🦖 (@AnotherElle) July 31, 2019
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