Liam Hoofe takes a look back at this week’s SmackDown Live…
The Qualification Matches
This week’s SmackDown opened with the previously announced match between Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler. The match never got started, however, because Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens attacked Corbin backstage, before coming to the ring to beat down Ziggler. This set up two matches for the night, one between Owens and Corbin and another between Zayn and Ziggler.
Both of these matches, especially the match between Zayn and Ziggler, which went on last, were great. For once, matches involving Zayn and Owens didn’t feature any sort of shenanigans and it was a nice reminder that they are two of the most talented performers on SmackDown and that they deserve better than this ongoing mess which is dominating Tuesday nights. Zayn and Ziggler stole the show in the night’s main event and while the outcomes of the matches felt predictable, the wrestlers did a great job of convincing us otherwise.
Corbin’s match with Owens, while not as good as the main event, was still The Lone Wolf’s best outing on SmackDown in recent months. Corbin is a good performer, he just needs to add some variety to his matches to really push him up to that next level.
I have a sneaky feeling one more person will find their way into the championship match at Fastlane, and the company will add a gimmick to the bout. I’ve nothing to base this on, I just think SmackDown has developed a habit of over-complicating everything.
Randy Orton Makes His Intentions Clear
Bobby Roode laid out a US open challenge this week and the call was answered by Randy Orton. Orton came to the ring but was interrupted by Jinder Mahal, who then laid out both Randy and Bobby after Randy delivered an RKO to one of the Singhs. While many fans may take issue with Jinder Mahal’s presence here, I like the idea of saving a one on one bout between Roode and Orton until WrestleMania, and having Jinder chasing the US title makes a lot of sense. Both Jinder and Randy are former WWE champions, both within the past 12 months, so having them in and around the mid-card title scene only benefits the mid-card and ultimately, Bobby Roode.
Women Biding Time
WrestleMania is just around the corner, and if rumours are to be believed, then the SmackDown Women’s Title match should be one of the biggest matches on the card, with Royal Rumble winner Asuka set to make the jump to Tuesday nights. A match between Charlotte and Asuka is a super exciting prospect, but the company clearly are just biding time for that, and as a result, Charlotte’s feud with The Riott Squad feels bland and predictable.
This week, Charlotte defeated Liv Morgan in a match that was painfully average, and while it will be nice to see Ruby Riott inevitably face Flair at Fastlane, the whole match just lacks any tension. This whole thing reminds me of the old days when the WWE would just have a flavour of the month style challenger with no build whatsoever. Next week’s 6 women tag match will just be more of the same.
The company could at least address the fact that Asuka hasn’t announced her opponent yet, and have Charlotte build things a little by proclaiming her dominance over SmackDown.
Ahhh, this was so bad. The New Day, and the team of Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin and two are of the most talented tag teams in the WWE, so what are they doing at the moment? Having a match because of pancakes. Yeah, I get it, The New Day like pancakes, and it’s Pancake Tuesday, so they’re having a celebration, but these guys all deserve better than this. Gable and Benjamin were having a silly, but at least enjoyable feud with Breezango, that was giving them a few victories after the Royal Rumble, but their defeat here just made them look weak once again. The team have not managed to sustain any momentum whatsoever since they were put together, and this was just another blow for them.
No Answers from Dolph
Dolph Ziggler had a great match on SmackDown, and it’s nice to see him going after the WWE title once again but are we just supposed to forget about him dropping the US title and leaving in December?. Ok, so he mentioned it very briefly backstage but we’ve had no explanation for what he did, and it now looks as though we are just supposed to forget about it? Why go through all that trouble, when they could have just given Roode the title and had Ziggler disappear off TV for a few weeks. Just seems likes a huge waste of time to me.
Also, is Ziggler turning face again? His actions this week certainly seemed to point towards that. I’m fine with that, though, his heel run has been pretty disastrous, to say the least.
Verdict: While Raw is marching full steam ahead on the road to WrestleMania, SmackDown has been limping along ever since WrestleMania. Elimination Chamber, Raw’s upcoming PPV feels like a show worth watching, Fastlane, SmackDown’s PPV, feels like a mere bump in the road. SmackDown needs some fresh storylines. This week’s show has some good wrestling on it, but Tuesday nights are lacking in punch right now.