Smackdown Thoughts- The 3 C's: Cena, Corbin & CJ Lunde
Since the brand split, I've been completely Team Blue. The storylines make sense, the wrestlers are portrayed as stars and the wrestling action has been top notch on Smackdown. Unfortunately, this episode put in a dent in that great reputation.
-Nothing bad about the opening segment. Ambrose plays his aloof talk shot host role really well, and the use of the Miz participation award was a nice call-back to a segment that actually happened last year! Raw is lucky to keep their stories straight hour to hour. The lack of follow up on Miz losing his mind on Talking Smack was a little disappointing, but hey, maybe we'll get something on this week's Talking Smack.
-Nikki and Natalya are bringing the aggression. It makes me mildly look forward to when their one on one match takes place.
-Speaking of aggression, Ziggler seemed somewhat subdued in his match with Kalisto. I noticed him using a bit more mat wrestling than I'm used to seeing from him, so maybe that'll be his heel tactic going forward, taking away the Show-Off aspects of his persona. Not the best match either Ziggler or Kalisto has had.
-John Cena slipped a little loose rhyming into his promo. "The Lone Wolf is on the prowl, but recognise I'm John Cena and my time is now!" Ah, what I would give to have the Doctor of Thuganomics version of Cena back.
-American Alpha looked largely like an afterthought in their tag title defense against the Wyatt Family. Wyatts controlled the match, only lost due to another miscommunication, and the post match focus was on the Wyatt's dissension. A more even, dynamic match would have made the finish and post match fine. NXT's The Revival call themselves "top guys", well, Alpha are looking like "just another couple of guys". That should never be the case for the tag champs.
-Very excited about the Becky vs. Alexa steel cage match for next week. I think the last women's steel cage match was Lita vs Victoria in 2003?
-CJ Lunde was a bad jobber for Carmella. Not going to mock her appearance as JBL did, because I'm a big fan of the retro/pin up style (I miss Cherry). What I will say is that her movements were awkward and slow, and she didn't know how to take Carmella's finish. In my opinion, one of the most basic requirements of being an enhancement talent is knowing how to take the Superstar's signature moves. It was bad for Carmella to be involved in such a train wreck of a match.
-Normally, I'd groan at the "32 year old virgin" angle, but if anyone could make it work, it's James Ellsworth. I'll let you decide whether that's a compliment to his acting ability or a sick burn on his appearance/social life.
-Cena vs. Corbin! Main event time. Now, this was disappointing. Cena won pretty quickly for a main event slot, while Corbin was made to slow his offense and lose to a single finisher, which is pretty damn rare for a main event match of any kind in 2016/2017. I guess the powers that be thought it was more important to rehabilitate the image of a part-timer who is a 15 time world champion rather than protect the newest monster heel. The main points that seemed to come out of this, "Cena's still got it, and Corbin's not ready yet." Not points that I think should have been made.
Overall, this was a bump in the road for the great momentum Smackdown has had over the past few months. It wasn't terrible, but considering how it all looked on paper, we got the most "paint by numbers" version of it possible.
-Shane's character since he came back has been an odd one, and it's even more apparent in the Talking Smack setting. I feel like he tries to portray himself as cool and aloof, but he comes across more detached. Renee starts all excited and Shane answers in a completely business like tone.
-Alexa Bliss is so great. Becky cuts a promo saying that she's the best, Alexa looks at the camera like, "WTF is she talking about?" and shoots a sideways look at the belt on her own shoulder. Perfect.
-Mojo wasn't hyped. Spoke like a normal dude, and said he was putting down the Zubaz, hinting at a change in character. He did show a flash of greatness a few months back on NXT- a short, hard-hitting match with Samoa Joe. If we could take that blueprint and apply it to SD, Mojo could be a good mid-level star.
-Love how Ziggler reps the Monday Night Wars with a nWo shirt. The promo was just there, like the whole SD episode and most of Talking Smack, but he announced his inclusion in the Rumble match, so that was something. I think this Rumble has a genuine shot at being considered "the most star-studded" of all time. Of course, you have the mega-legends in Undertaker/Brock/Goldberg, the GOAT Chris Jericho, and former world champs like Ziggler, Ambrose and Miz. Not even counting all the potential surprises.
Not a great offering from the blue brand in any capacity, and not a fantastic Raw either. Let's see if 205 Live can deliver some good original content for WWE this week.
Until next time, take care,