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SmackDown Roundtable: 2 divisions need help

(photo courtesy of WWE.com)

Moment of the night?

Chris Schubert: That opening promo between Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler. That sold me on this match. Based on what we were told last night, Dean doesn’t believe that Ziggler has what it takes to win the big one, and that the pressure of being champion is too big for Ziggler to succeed. Ziggler on the other hand is selling the idea that we are going to see the biggest, best fight out of him that we are going to see on Sunday. And that is something that Ambrose can’t prepare for. The passion from both guys, the venom from which they used to talk and that superkick at the end. It was the perfect way to sell a main event level match. Kudos to Smackdown Live for this one.

Brandon JacksonThe John Cena and A.J. Styles brawl after Cena’s match. It put both guys over, which is hard to do, and it builds even more excitement for SummerSlam. If I’m being honest, I want to see this match more than the WWE world championship match. These two had a classic singles match two months ago, and now with no Club, there should be a clean finish. This outcome is more interesting than the outcome of Ambrose vs. Ziggler.

Ronnie RowlandsDolph Ziggler kicking Dean Ambrose’s head off. Well, kicking his “head off his face” as the show-off somewhat bizarrely put it. This feud hasn’t so much carried SmackDown as it has airlifted it from the depths of tedium and disappointment for the best part of a month, with only Cena and Styles on hand to provide occasional support. It’s classic wrestling storytelling and a masterclass not only in elevating a feud, but in developing and growing talent, with each guy taking it in turns to get one over on the other. They had a mammoth task on their hands with Dolph Ziggler, and it seemed impossible for Dean Ambrose to get any better than he already was. Along with Reigns / Rusev, it is SummerSlam’s best developed rivalry – why the WWE is failing so miserably with 90 percent of the card remains a mystery.

John Brown: Dolph Ziggler’s superkick to Dean Ambrose was, without question, the moment of the night.  Forget the fact that Ziggler blatantly stole HBK’s superkick to Coachman from a pre-2004 Royal Rumble promo. His kick to Ambrose showed two things. One, on top of mimicking virtually every other HBK attribute, he has channeled Mr. WrestleMania’s aggressive side, the side that made it believable that he could take down massive opponents like Sid, Diesel, Vader, Yoko, etc. 

Secondly, and most importantly, the crowd has NO ISSUE with Dean Ambrose being the victim of the kick. The crowd is slowly starting to notice Dean, as Austin pointed out on his podcast, has been in cruise control since winning the WWE Championship. Ziggler may actually have a chance to take the belt at SummerSlam, and we should all be cool with that.

Adam O’BrienWhen the referee called for the bell to disqualify Randy Orton. You could see how different parts of the crowd were reacting to the result, realizing that this meant Heath Slater was going to be getting a contract for Tuesday nights, and it felt like a big moment somehow. That’s saying a lot when you put Slater’s career in perspective. The rug may have been pulled out from under him afterwards, but I get the feeling we might see a SummerSlam hijacking from Slater as a result. Plus, Orton has always been at his best when he’s on a rampage, and the beating he put on Slater, particularly the suplexes, did a really good job of sending Orton into SummerSlam as the man to watch.

At this point, what’s in more dire need of help: SmackDown’s tag division or women’s division?

CS: This is a tough one. Both divisions have a ton of talent, but they need to be booked properly in order to be elevated. That being said, it’s the women’s division. It’s clear that they lack a true star (like a Sasha Banks/Charlotte type). Maybe that will be Bayley or a returning Nikki Bella, but they need to build up a star. They have Becky Lynch, who they drafted as their first women choice. If she was their top female choice, they need to book her that way. So going forward, the tag division has enough pure talent to make themselves somewhat relevant, but right now the women’s division needs, dare I say, major revolution.

BJThe women’s division. With all respect to Becky Lynch who is probably the best women’s wrestler on the main roster, she is not a star. Fans like her, but they love Sasha Banks, and love to hate Charlotte. SmackDown Live should have at least drafted Paige to help with this division. SmackDown has American Alpha, who just need some time to get the crowd used to them, so the tag division will be fine. SmackDown has no one good enough to truly get the best out of Becky. They need a force on that show like Asuka.

RRThe women’s division. Daniel Bryan has at least acknowledged that the tag team division is going to have something to get out of bed for soon. Although matters weren’t helped yesterday when you had the entire division in the ring at the same time and only one team got over. The women’s division is centered entirely around this Eva Marie nonsense at the moment. ‘Nuff said.

JBThis is going to sound somewhat sexist, but it’s true. With Charlotte and Sasha Banks being on Monday Night Raw, and with Becky Lynch not being very dynamic beyond being “Becky Balboa” (Rocky needed WRITERS to be compelling, mind you), the SmackDown Live women’s division is irrelevant. However, the entire division is about to be built around someone giving the fans what they want to see, which is toppling Eva Marie. It may be irrelevant at the moment, but at least the women’s division has purpose.

Smackdown’s tag team division absolutely blows at the moment. The talent is there. For example, the Vaudevillains and Breezango (still should be Fabreeze, but whatever) needed to be written as being threats to American Alpha. However, American Alpha is the only tag team receiving any kind of  attention.  Without no worthy opponent and no belts to win, their legs are being cut out from under them. 

AOThe tag division. I honestly think SmackDown has been handling their women quite well recently, all things considered. Everybody’s getting equal exposure. The NXT call-ups have been catching big wins, but not at the expense of established stars like Becky and Natalya. Even Eva Marie is starting to get entertaining (say it ain’t so), and Naomi’s new gimmick is strangely riveting.

On the other hand, the tag-team division just isn’t doing it for me. After last week, American Alpha is essentially the only team on the roster worth watching. There seems to be something brewing with the Usos, so if they were to turn heel and challenge AA, it might actually be a feud worthy of Alpha’s hype. But it goes without saying that the WWE needs to do something more to spark interest before they can expect to introduce new tag-team titles on the blue brand.

WWE’s decision to potentially split up what remains of The Wyatt Family is _________.

CS: Smart. Not to say that they couldn’t book Bray Wyatt and Eric Rowan successfully together as a unit. WWE can book people as well and as successful as they want to, but that’s on them. Not on Wyatt or Rowan. It will probably be better for both of their careers to go their separate ways for now, while opening the door for a return down the road. Bray needs to move on to bigger and better things (and they teased that a bit last night). He’s viewed as a main event level guy on this show, and then will need to start transition him to that. He needs to be booked that way. This may be the first step for them doing that.

BJWise for Bray, unfortunate for Erick Rowan. Braun Strowman already looks better on his own, but the last time we saw Rowan as a singles wrestler, the results weren’t good. Everyone wants Bray Wyatt to be the dominant top heel of the future, but it never comes to fruition. The Wyatt Family was never booked as a dominant force together, so maybe Bray Wyatt will get a chance to become the main-eventer he’s meant to be now. This will also be good for Luke Harper upon returning, because he can either form a tag team with Rowan, or become a singles wrestler himself. And he has already won the Intercontinental title, so he would be a contender immediately.

RRConcerning. Bray Wyatt is supposed to be a cult leader, and if he isn’t actually leading anybody, then he’s only going to turn into another ‘lone wolf’ type figure. Erick Rowan, meanwhile… he’s never set the world on fire with his singles work, and since his singles matches have always been at the behest of Bray, it’s difficult to know how he’ll fare on his own. But, it’s too early to tell — let’s see what happens.

JB…irrelevant, and a much better opportunity for Bray. The Wyatt Family never, not once, won a high-profile feud outside of NXT. Bray Wyatt’s smoky gospel has been portrayed as fake hype, as he was also being portrayed as needed members of The Wyatt Family to win. He is talented enough to be showcased on his own, and now has a chance to be perceived as a legitimate threat.  

AOTerrible for Erick Rowan. I spoke last week about how keeping the alliance alive was a good idea, because it makes Bray Wyatt far more alluring when he has somebody under his spell, but it’s mainly because Erick Rowan is redundant without his master. We’ve seen Rowan go it alone before and it just didn’t work. Wyatt himself is going to be fine — he’s gearing up to be the top heel on Tuesdays regardless, but in the interest of keeping everyone on the roster relevant, this isn’t the best move. If Rowan’s lucky, he’ll actually get a chance to strike back at Wyatt and make a name for himself that way if they do continue down this route, but he really doesn’t stand a chance on his own either way.

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