And so, it ended. Last night’s episode of “Smackdown Live” saw the last of four straight nights of WWE programming in Houston, Texas. This was a heck of a weekend with all kinds of big stories taking place, ranging from NXT to a major pay per view to some important televisions shows. Today, we’ll be looking at some takeaways I saw over the weekend. This is going to cover a good chunk of what happened over the five shows, almost all of which had something important going on.
These are in no particular order and some are going to get more time than others.
1. Shane McMahon is a Joke
Let’s get one of the bigger ones out of the way: Shane McMahon had no business being in the main event of “Survivor Series 2017” and the idea that he’s still supposed to be a face who talks down to Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn (more on them later) is laughable. It was bad enough watching McMahon get to be the last man to survive for his team and take the kind of a beating that he took but to have him act like he’s the good guy in the whole thing made my head hurt.
2. Jason Jordan Isn’t Working
I mean…..he just isn’t. Jason Jordan is trying as hard as he can but he’s stuck in a really bad story. Why am I supposed to care about him being Kurt Angle’s son? He’s rather good in the ring and has some scary strength for a guy his size but the story they’re going with just isn’t connecting with the people. Give us something to care about with him and the whole thing might start to work. As it is though, Jordan is floundering and needs something else. Like a tag team. With an Olympian. Nah let’s go with him as a singles guy and Angle’s son while the better talker is stuck in a weaker team. That’s the ticket.
3. Velveteen Dream is Dreamy
Where in the world did that come from? Over the last few months, Velveteen Dream has come off as something like a more muscular Rico. Sure he’s in great shape but he’s little more than someone there for the sake of comedy and making other wrestlers slightly uncomfortable. For some reason he was put in a match with the outstanding Aleister Black, who refused to acknowledge Dream and say his name. The build was good but it wasn’t like they were going to do anything once they actually had the match.
And sweet goodness if those two didn’t go out there and tear the house down. They had one of the best matches of the year in WWE and pretty easily Black’s best since he joined the company. Dream looked completely comfortable in the deep water and there were times I was thinking they might actually have him pull off the upset. Some people have called it the match of the night (we’ll get to the other option in a minute) and the more I think about it, the more sense that makes. I never would have bet on this one but they absolutely shocked me. Great stuff and there’s some serious potential for both of them.
4. The Snazzy Seven
I’m not sure I’d call them magnificent (well maybe Mandy Rose) but over the course of two days, seven people debuted on/returned to (Paige has been gone so long it might as well be a debut) the main roster: Paige, Rose, Sonya DeVille, Sarah Logan, Ruby Riot, Liv Morgan and Hideo Itami. This is the kind of thing you see on the “Monday Night Raw” after Wrestlemania but we got it here instead.
I’m digging the idea of the women coming up, especially with how stale the divisions have been getting in recent weeks. It’s not like most of them were going to be doing anything in NXT (which opens the door for more of the Iconic Duo) so bring them up and let us have some fresh blood on the main roster. Add in Itami as a guy who can kick Enzo Amore’s head off (and lose of course so Amore can keep talking and running his mouth forever) and I’m rather happy with this new batch of talent.
5. Asuka is Crazy Good
I’m not sure what else there is to say on this one. She didn’t have the best start on the main roster with the whole Emma deal but now she’s just kicking people in the head and grabbing the Asuka Lock. What more do you really need from her? I mean, other than more kicking in the head and more Asuka Locks? It’s a matter of time before she heads towards the Women’s Title and seeing her make Alexa Bliss scream will be a treat.
6. AJ Styles vs. Jinder Mahal is Still Going
This is the more straight opinion time: I can’t stand Jinder Mahal. Really, I can’t stand him. Maybe he’d be fine in the midcard title hunt or in a tag team (that would be good actually) but why, other than for the sake of the required rematch (because Heaven forbid anyone ask creative to come up with something else), why in the world are we continuing with Mahal?
Did anyone look at Mahal’s title reign and think it was a success? He crippled Shinsuke Nakamura, he had one boring match with Randy Orton after another and he had us BEGGING for the India tour to be over so he could finally lose the title. Styles on the other hand is possibly the best wrestler in the world today and had a weekend stealing classic with Brock Lesnar (more on him later as well). He could have great matches against pretty much anyone and it would be quite the shame to put the title back on Mahal for whatever reason, especially after we already sat through that nonsense for six months.
7. Roman Reigns Wins the Intercontinental Title
This could have been its own column. Earlier this week, I was watching “Monday Night Raw” and saw Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor in a good twelve minute match. Samoa Joe won the match with the Koquina Clutch….and then what? There’s no Universal Title for the two of them to fight as Brock Lesnar can’t be bothered to appear more than a few times a year. They don’t exactly have something personal to fight over either so what’s left?
Later in the night, Reigns defeated the Miz for the Intercontinental Title, meaning NOW those guys have something to fight over. Reigns gets a chance to wrestle various people who can give him good matches and they have a prize to fight about. This is actually a very smart move as Reigns, like him or not, is still a top star. Let him go out there and have some big matches as we get ready for him to fight Lesnar later on (as he has to of course).
8. Brock Lesnar is Still Awesome
Yes indeed he is, at least when he sells. That’s one of the biggest issues with so many Lesnar matches: he just destroys everyone in his path and no one has a chance against him. While Styles may not have had much of a real chance to win the match, he got in enough spots to make you believe that he could pull off the impossible. That’s what makes for a good Lesnar match: the hope that something could happen.
Lesnar’s best matches (arguably) since he’s come back (side note: Lesnar’s first run was two years. This one is coming up on SIX. Can we please call this his real run instead of the first one?) have been the first one against John Cena, the one against CM Punk and now the one against Styles. None of them are monsters, but above all else they’re the ones where he’s sold. It’s a key to the whole Lesnar thing: sure he can wrestle with the best of them and dominate people, but you have to give people a reason to believe he could lose, which you don’t get very often (not the worst thing in the world). When he does though, he’s awesome.
You knew we were getting here eventually. First of all, I know it’s not the traditional format, but that was never going to be the case. Just go with what we got, because it was absolutely awesome. This was all about violence with everyone beating on each other as hard as they can, making for a heck of a performance. You don’t get that kind of thing in WWE very often but when it works, it gives you something like this. No it’s not like WarGames, but that’s not what it was supposed to be. This was WWE’s version and it worked very, very well.
10. Smackdown is the B Show
Despite what McMahon, that guy you’re still supposed to cheer, said at the beginning of the show, it was made very clear that “Smackdown Live” is nowhere near on “Monday Night Raw’s” level. I don’t know how else to say it. They got destroyed in the main event, they lost the World Title showdown, they lost the women’s elimination match and they lost the six man tag. But hey, their midcard champion, Women’s Champion and Tag Team Champions won. Sure it was 4-3, but come on with that nonsense about the shows being equal.
I don’t know how many people really think “Smackdown Live” measures up to or surpasses “Monday Night Raw” but really, why would you think so? The bigger stars are on Monday, along with the extra TV time and the bigger focus. If there was any doubt, and I’m not sure why there would be, coming into Sunday, it was completely erased in the span of about three and a half hours. This was all about the red show and really, that’s not surprising at all.
11. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are Smackdown
Honestly, other than Styles, what is there to really pay attention to on there? Charlotte is good but in need of someone to challenge her. McMahon is a pesky old man who can’t get it through his head that he shouldn’t be around anymore. Mahal is Mahal. Who are we supposed to care about on there?
That leaves us with Owens and Zayn, who are such smarmy heels that it’s almost impossible to not like them. They’re a couple of jerks who know how great they are and laugh at everyone around them while also giving McMahon a variety of headaches. The show is still good but these two stand out more than anyone else, at least when they’re not being sent home from the European tour.
There was a lot going on during “Survivor Series” weekend, including its long aftermath. However, a lot of the stuff that was going on is going to set the ball rolling towards the most important part of the year. Some of these things might be more important than others but there’s definitely something worth checking out.
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