SmackDown Live appeared to be in a bit of a holding pattern on Tuesday night. With many of the brand’s last Network Special’s feuds still playing out, it would make sense for it to be that way too, as there’s not that much progression to be had at this point.
That’s part of the problem, however. As SmackDown has become more filler and less action, the show is suffering because of that. Oh, and not to mention far too many segments dedicated to helping to get James Ellsworth — a legitimate jobber with unknown potential — over with the crowd.
Oddly, he is already over. The WWE utilizing so much of its limited time to him is counterproductive. Instead of three-to-five Ellsworth related segments each week, how about featuring Apollo Crews, Baron Corbin, or anyone else with an earnest future with the company a little bit more, eh?
Bray Wyatt defeats Kane with all the interference
What actually happened
In what we assumed to be a holdover match until the inevitable Wyatt Family vs. Kane and Randy Orton bout in the near future turned out to be a stunning twist in developments.
Starting out as a No-DQ match as it was, which meant we knew funny business was coming anyway, Luke Harper would interrupt the bout to help Bray regain some momentum after Kane had him on the ropes.
It didn’t end there, however, as Randy Orton’s music would hit after a double-clothesline.
“The Viper” would hit the ring. Harper would then get in the ring as well, but Orton stared him down and Harper leaves because staring at the emotionless face of Randy is apparently too much for a cult-follower to handle.
What followed was the twist: Kane and Orton get ready to attack Bray as he gets back up to his feet, but instead Orton and hits the RKO on Kane. Orton walks to the back, and a stunned Bray Wyatt pins Kane for the win.
To be clear, this wasn’t horrible. At least not yet, as all we know — thanks to later in the show — is that Orton is claiming he is going the “if you can’t beat them, join’em” route.
But if that were to be the case, did Kane really need the rub of having to be interfered with two different times in order for Bray to go over? Or, really, did Wyatt need to be booked so weak that it took not only the help of one’s of his cronies, but also Orton to go over the aging veteran?
Instead of having Luke Harper come out for the first distraction, the creative team just should have done the one interference angle. Yes, having Harper out there did help set up the “shock” of Orton turning on Kane, though I’d argue those two were never buddies to begin with, which makes it a non-turn moment anyway.
In an effort to keep Bray looking at least somewhat tough, Harper should have came down at the end as Orton actually did, then “The Viper” should have followed right behind him, culminating with the ending we received.
The main difference here in this change is Bray doesn’t look as weak, or reliant upon multiple guys to beat Kane, and the same endgame is accomplished. Also, it doesn’t bury what should be a bigger lede for The Wyatt Family, which is that Harper should be considered credible enough that the stable doesn’t necessarily “need” backup.
As it was booked, The Wyatt Family, as a whole, looked relatively weak in a spot against a wrestler most feel indifference towards.
Heath Slater and Rhyno defeat The Spirit Squad
What Actually Happened
After a promo from The Miz, Dolph Ziggler came out to respond. Then Slater and Rhyno came out to yell other things. Then we got a a tag team match.
For some mysterious reason, the tag team championships were on the line… because, uh, The Spirit Squad was deserving of a title shot or something.
As the bout progresses, The Spirit Squad take turns working on Slater. This goes on for several minutes, primarily to start the match. Eventually, Rhyno received the hot tag and began working over Kenny.
Long story short: Mikey (the member of the Spirit Squad who looks like a washed bouncer) tags in and they double team the master of the gore. Slater would enter the ring, kick Kenny to the outside, then knock him into The Miz at ringside. Rhyno hits a belly to belly suplex on Mikey then the gore for the win.
The match itself wasn’t very long.
With all due respect to them, The Spirit Squad not only fail to have any business being in any angles at this point, but to give them a title shot is disrespectful to the other tag teams on SmackDown.
Honestly, logically speaking, how are we explaining their presence on TV at this point? Does The Miz have more power than Daniel Bryan?
Clearly, the WWE wants Slater and Rhyno to survive with the titles for a little bit longer, but does not want them to go over the other tag teams the company is attempting to make relevant. So, yeah, we all get the supposed need of Kenny and Mikey, but still.
The fix here is probably a little blunt, but it feels correct: Get The Spirit Squad off television. That is it. Allow the Ziggler-Miz feud to carry on outside of this weird space, as they don’t need this comedy stuff happening around them (they’ve already proven this), and let Slater and Rhyno go over The Ascension or something.
Seriously. Highlighting The Spirit Squad over the course of the same episodes as a jobber is being placed in the main event scene is horrific. What is this, WCW?
The Main Event/Jobber Is A Hero Thing
What Actually Happened
James Ellsworth is at ringside because he begged Dean Ambrose to be. The latter is set to do battle with AJ Styles, who has had issues with both men for some time now.
Let’s make this one quick, as the match itself was lengthy, but it is the very end of it that is troublesome.
As yet another typical back-and-forth bout goes on, Ellsworth would randomly get walloped by Styles. It was the running gag of the match. Near the very end of it, however, after Ambrose was able to reverse a move on the champion, forcing him to the outside, Ellsworth would superkick “The Phenomenal One” out of rage, costing Ambrose the match.
This would result in AJ smiling, Dean looking more furious, and Ellsworth sadly realizing he cost his “friend” the match.
All of this was unassumingly done to create a rift between — now, wait for it — Ambrose and Ellsworth.
The WWE clearly wants Ellsworth involved in this for reason. My guess is that it is because Ambrose’s character has grown a bit stale, and the Chinless Wonder (patent pending) helps add value to him. But now that it looks like the two will be separating, this love-fest lasted all of three weeks.
My fix would be to not have Ellsworth in this angle whatsoever. Sure, maybe the one time was fine, but at this point it is ridiculous that the WWE is allowing a comedy act to take center stage in the main event scene.
Still, attempting to play alongside WWE’s process, the company could have let Ellsworth do what he did, but without the ref knowing it, which would allow Ambrose to win.
It would accomplish a few more things than the original ending. That rift can still be there, as Ambrose could be “angry” he received helped from Ellsworth. The former champ could have received a much-needed win. No harm to Styles would be done in the process. Everyone gets their hypocritical feel-good moment of Ellsworth doing something.
As it was originally booked, all we have was the new rift between star-crossed lovers, Ambrose and Ellsworth.