SmackDown Live has been making quick work with its time as a brand, advancing storylines and getting fans invested into the blue show. Did that trend continue this week?
When SmackDown had its first brand-only pay-per-view, questions were raised as to what quality of a show Raw would put out. Up against a go-home show for the blue brand, Raw had a chance to generate interest in its show. It failed to capitalize on the opportunity. This week was SmackDown’s first chance to compete with a Raw go-home show. Competition breeds success. When these two shows have the chance to one-up each other, they should jump at the opportunity.
Two marquee matches headlined this week’s show, with two-thirds of the No Mercy main event going to battle and an Intercontinental Championship defense by The Miz. John Cena and Dean Ambrose were looking to gain momentum before the title match and Dolph Ziggler was searching for that bounce-back win, getting him out of his “rut.”
With that, let’s rebook this week’s edition of SmackDown.
Opening the show
Problem: One of the biggest concerns about having Daniel Bryan be the SmackDown Live general manager was his over-ness with the crowd. Bryan overshadowing the Superstars of SmackDown roster is a major mistake in the long-run. Having the former WWE World Champion open the show constantly gives it the feel of any edition of Raw from the previous era. The authority of the show putting their nose in everything was a staple of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon on Raw. In this supposed “New Era,” things feel very similar.
Solution: If the idea was to have the contract signing open the show, how about using Renee Young in that role? Or David Otunga? Get the authority out of everything. Don’t have Bryan and Shane McMahon involved as much. Let everybody else guide the show. That’s why they are there. And none of them will be more over than the general manager. That’s a problem.
American Alpha taking on The Usos
Problem: From a wrestling and storytelling standpoint, this segment was probably the best thing on the show. No complaints in that regard. Having this match in the first place is something to talk about. When they were originally taken out, the major question is when AA would return to challenge for the Tag Team Championship.
Before that could happen, those belts needed to be shifted to The Usos. A storyline would emerge. AA comes back and wants their fair shot at the titles; the shot that they never got because they were taken out by The Usos. In kayfabe, there is no reason for AA to have to compete to get a shot at the tag team gold. They should get one because they didn’t get their previous opportunity. That’s why having them face The Usos is suspect.
Now, The Usos will go on and win the belts at No Mercy. Who will be their next challengers? American Alpha. After losing to them and missing out on a title shot, they will be thrust right back into the title scene.
Solution: What if Chad Gable and Jason Jordan were kept off television until after No Mercy? Have The Usos knock off Breezango and get a title shot. On the SmackDown following No Mercy, The Usos can gloat about their victory and how they took out all the teams in the division. Enter a returning American Alpha and away the tag team division goes.
Baron Corbin vs. Apollo Crews
Problem: This feud has reached critical mass. Baron Corbin and Apollo Crews have fought so much that the feud is teetering on becoming un-watachable, and it is sad. Both Corbin and Crews are interesting characters with bright futures if the WWE ever decides to push them. At first, this battle appeared to be its way of pushing one to that upper mid-card or main event scene, while the other got repurposed elsewhere. Now, the feud has the stench of something the WWE put together, with no real plan for the long-term.
Each time these two get the ring and duel, the less and less fans care about the outcome. And no, adding Jack Swagger to the mix isn’t going to make it all better. If the end goal is Swagger and Corbin going at it (and all indications are that it is), then have Corbin fight a jobber or a lower card guy that doesn’t have a direction. Ruining Crews in the process, while having Corbin basically tread water, doesn’t help either guy move up the card.
Solution: Getting Crews away from Corbin is the best decision that the blue brand can make for both Superstars. Like mentioned above, put Corbin with jobbers while setting up his duel with Swagger. In the meantime, Crews can work his way back up into the IC title picture for down the road.