Moment of the night?
Chris Schubert: Probably Heath Slater winning his first-round matchup of the tag team tournament. Slater has been one of the most fun pieces of WWE television since the draft, and that is saying something. He is getting a real chance to shine, and it’s working. He was great on Talking Smack. That segment with him and Rhyno in his house was good as well. It’s a piece of television that has kept me wanting more. I can actually see a path where the WWE decides to give Heath Slater and Rhyno the tag titles, and play the long-con with American Alpha.
John Brown: For me, it was the backstage segment between AJ Styles and Apollo Crews. The biggest doubt fans had about the treatment of AJ Styles in the WWE was his “poor” mic skills, basically stemmed from the fact that he was never in a situation where he really had to rely on them; his in-ring ability did the talking. His mic skills were already decent going into the WWE, but his segment with Crews saw him really embracing the role as the heir to the Cena “Face that Runs the Place” throne. He was both smug and witty, two qualities rarely associated with Styles. If anyone needed an outside-the-ring example of why Styles belongs in the WWE, this segment gave them one.
Adam O’Brien: The opening promo between The Miz and Dolph Ziggler. I’ll admit, I was disappointed at Daniel Bryan’s lack of a response to what Miz had to say last week, but there wasn’t a whole lot that could’ve been done that didn’t result in an eventual match. Putting Bryan in a weekly feud would just be dangling a carrot in front of him, knowing that WWE wasn’t going to let him lace up his boots in the end. Instead, Miz continued on his rant and it was excellent. The man has been getting serious heat and it comes across just perfectly for a guy like Dolph Ziggler to capitalize on. Segments like these are hard to do right, but the crowd genuinely wanted to see Miz get back in that ring and fight, which makes their inevitable clash at the PPV one of the most mouth-watering contests on there.
Brandon Jackson: The moment of the night was Renee Young going to interview Heath Slater and Rhyno in Slater’s home. It was a really good comedy segment. This whole Heath Slater angle is a great way to utilize his talent. He has no in-ring credibility whatsoever with the fans, but he is a very likable character and person. This is a great angle for Slater and a great way to fill time on both shows until more talent is brought up from NXT or signed.
Ronnie Rowlands: Hard to say. SmackDown wasn’t terrible last night by any means. There were enjoyable, adequate matches, but overall this edition of SmackDown felt like it was sowing a lot of seeds. So the pre-credits sequence with Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan getting frustrated with each other was intriguing. Dolph Ziggler taunting The Miz and driving him out of the ring wasn’t developed beyond that one segment on this show. Heath Slater and Rhyno didn’t really show much in the ring against The Headbangers, and didn’t demonstrate much in-ring chemistry as they did interpersonal chemistry in that vignette in Slater’s trailer. The women’s division is pressing honorably on, and the main event was solid and perfunctory enough. It wasn’t an explosive show, it wasn’t a tedious show; it was understated and steady. So, for me, I think I’ll go with whatever the hell the deal was with that milkman.
Fill in the blank: A feud between The Miz and Dolph Ziggler will be __________.
CS: Boring. It’s a feud we’ve seen before, and while these two have different characters now, it won’t do much for either character going forward. The Miz struck gold during this Talking Smack saga, and this feud feels like a let-down after what the last week has been. Nobody really thinks they are going to take the belt off of Miz, especially after this last week. So hopefully this is just a blowoff feud for Miz and then they can move Miz to a bigger program that means more and can capitalize on what has happened.
JB: …hopefully a stepping stone for the progression of The Miz.
Dolph Ziggler is done, son. His last hope was his recent mini-feud with Dean Ambrose, a feud predicated on the notion that “Ziggler can never win the big one.” The creative decision to have him lose clean to Ambrose dignified that notion, so the outcome should leave fans wondering why he’s there in the first place
The Miz is an AAAWWWEEEEESSSSOOOOMMMMEEEE heel (see what I did there?). He already was one before the verbal onslaught he handed to Daniel Bryan on last weeks Talking Smack. His newfound aggression and resentment of fans and doubters of his skill finds Miz being, by miles, the most intriguing character in the company. The potential of this transformation is beyond dealing with the likes of Ziggler.
AO: Great. Both of these guys have chips on their shoulders right now. Miz needs to prove that he is, in fact, a worthy Intercontinental Champion whose style does not embody that of a coward, while Dolph Ziggler desperately needs to ensure that a loss at SummerSlam isn’t going to hinder him from becoming one of the top performers on SmackDown. The only problem is that as good as this feud promises to be, it can really only end one way for both to benefit: The Miz walking out as champion. The match has all the makings to steal the show at Backlash, so if they can find a way to have Miz retain without making either look bad, it would make for the perfect finish to the rivalry.
JB: Fine. The Miz has an awesome buzz around him and the Intercontinental title after that promo last week, and he would definitely be the star of the rivalry. We’ve seen Ziggler and Miz have matches before, even matches for this championship but the angle was never really hot. This budding feud isn’t terribly hot either, but there is definitely some interest for it happening. Maybe the only problem is that the Intercontinental title may be some kind of consolation prize for Ziggler, and that isn’t what the title should be.
RR: Disappointing. Ziggler and Miz have been crossing paths for years, and although he is an immensely better wrestler than The Miz (who is still excellent at what he does), he did take that whole FCW > PG WWE route. He’s just not someone who can be taken seriously when he criticizes The Miz’s style. Also, the IC arena is one that Dolph has spent enough time in. I firmly believe he should still be chasing the WWE World Championship at this point. Can’t someone at the bottom of the pile go after The Miz instead?
After this week’s episode of Raw, did SmackDown stand any chance to make a relative impact?
CS: It did. It had to include The Miz and Daniel Bryan. It was a huge storyline that could have a ripple effect throughout the entire
roster, like what Triple H did on Monday. Massive storylines that have long-term potential and ones that include potentially the entire roster are few and far between. When the company comes across them (Daniel Bryan’s rise to being a champion), it tends to strike the
iron while it is still hot. It didn’t seem eager here. It could have been the fact that Bryan couldn’t get into the ring. Although, I could argue WWE didn’t need that to make this a great storyline. It would have been a tough task to top Raw, but SmackDown had the ingredients to do so. Just because it didn’t isn’t a bad thing. We should be happy that it has these options in front of them.
JB: SmackDown made an impact because it has The Miz. Kevin Owens winning the WWE Universal Championship was great, and has internet fans excited. However, beyond that, he won it via unjust means, a regular quality of Owens’ successes. The Miz’s transformation is fresh, and dare I say “Punkian.” His Talking Smack segment was not exactly “The Pipebomb,” but it may end up having similar impact when we look back months or years from now.
AO: Nope. Raw had this week in the bag the second that Triple H nailed Rollins with a Pedigree. Monumental moments like Kevin Owens winning the WWE Universal Championship, and the entire main event picture on Raw being given a facelift to boot, are few and far between, so you can’t blame SmackDown for not measuring up. But that’s not to say the blue brand did a bad job. The main asset that SmackDown has to its merit is consistency, and if it had tried to deliver something huge just for the sake of matching Raw, it would’ve been a wasted effort that would forever be remembered as SmackDown’s failed attempt to stay in the lead.
BJ: No, and that’s perfectly OK. Raw had the opportunity to crown a new world champion on its show, and that will always be a big deal. Plus Triple H returned, turned on Rollins and crowned Kevin Owens as champion. Unless the Young Bucks showed up for the SmackDown tag team tournament, Tuesday’s show was going to fall short of what Raw did. And again, that is OK because Smackdown has been the better show for a couple of weeks now, without having to rely on title changes.
RR: Of course. Raw wasn’t exactly a perfect show, and neither was SmackDown. For sure, it was never going to give us the anticipation of what’ll happen next week, but that’s only because the return of Triple H is so terrifying for a fan that they want to come back and hope it isn’t going to be a long-term thing.