Greetings fellow readers!
This here is another RAW/Smackdown Review for the episodes airing on the 12th and 13th respectively. I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: since RAW is so long I only focus here on the moments that stood out to me the most. I apologize if you were expecting more details for the matches.
This show featured a myriad of good and bad things:
Ø Sami Zayn being told he is being traded for Eva Marie.
- a) What follows is a passionate scene between him and Mick that translates to a draft tease and Sami Zayn being booked for Roadblock at End of the Line against Braun Strowman (Is the match for ten minutes??)
- b) The WWE is playing off internet rumors. The idea of drafting Zayn was treated as a joke and the furthest thing from Foley’s mind. The WWE CAN troll its fans. (Sigh)
Ø A big emphasis made on New Day’s title reign: the team is made to defend their titles in two triple threat matches on the night where they could break the record.
- a) This highlights story but also shows Stephanie McMahon as short-fused, vindictive and petty (over wine poured on her? What the hell was she doing in that party anyway?!! Is she a heel or face??)
- b) It’s hard to root against the New Day after Woods dedicates the match to the memory of his deceased grandmother.
Ø Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho on the Rollins Report.
- a) The back and forth argue-fest between Rollins and Owens actually led to Y2J coming out and the two teaming on Rollins.
- b) The fact that Owens and Y2J have to look like fools to Reigns and Rollins is a let down. The trend of having heels get their butts kicked and walk away is very tiring. Where are the days where a heel HHH beat down the face and humiliated him in front of all the fans? Tsk tsk WWE. Tsk tsk.
Ø I did not care about the Cruiserweights and thus skipped over their match.
Ø I did not care about Bayley and Alicia Fox’s rematch (over a boy) and thus skipped over their match.
Ø A backstage segment between Chris and Kevin where Y2J says to just focus on the now.
- a) Jericho isn’t too pleased with the idea of having Owens’ back forever. When does this tiresome frenemy shtick end??
- b) This pleading to Y2J to have his back makes Owens look like a bitch. Why is WWE doing this to RAW’s top champion?
Ø Rusev and Lana boast about beating Enzo and are interrupted by Big Cass.
- a) They follow this by asking the audience if they want to see what Lana and Rusev do behind closed doors. What am I watching?! I thought this was supposed to be a kid’s show? What is WWE playing at?!
- b) Cass comes out to confront Rusev and does OK on the mic. He seemed nervous but what had me more confused than his delivery was the fact his music was playing while he was still talking!
I think this is one of RAW’s better shows. It had consistent plot lines that appeared and reappeared throughout the show: Zayn’s determination to fight Strowman, Kevin Owens determination to win back Y2J to his side, and New Day fighting for their chance to break the record.
This emphasis on story development is a step forward for WWE! I’m glad for them! I think that they are slowly but surely trying to make RAW into a story-driven show. They have a story going on with the Universal Title, Zayn building himself as a character, New Day doing whatever they can to hold on to those tag belts, and Rusev feuding with Enzo and Cass. It also didn’t hurt that we got two amazing matches out of New Day to progress said storyline.
However, RAW’s other storylines don’t add to RAW due to the stupidity of the plot (Alicia Fox ripping a teddy bear), the lack of character development (who are the Cruiserweights?) and ongoing never-ending feuds like Owens/Rollins and Charlotte/Sasha Banks (which thankfully did not continue this episode).
Seriously, enough of Rollins pursuing the Universal Championship! He’s not the only babyface. Cesaro or Zayn could easily fit into that contender’s spot.
Because this episode made an emphasis on story and character development I laud it. This show earns a B grade. It was fun, most of it flowed well and almost all of the matches were entertaining. An added bonus was WWE showing us signs that they DO listen to us (No Charlotte and Sasha this week and teases at Zayn being drafted). Nonetheless, this show is LONG at three hours and I firmly believe RAW NEEDS more main eventers. Rollins, Owens, Reigns and Jericho are not enough.
My predictions for Roadblock End of the Line are:
Cass to beat Rusev with interference from Enzo
Owens to beat Reigns with interference from either Jericho or HHH
Rollins to beat Y2J
Rich Swann to retain the Cruiserweight Title against Brian Kendrick and TJ Perkins
Charlotte to defeat Banks and continue PPV winning streak
New Day to retain RAW Tag Titles against Cesaro and Sheamus (since match was last minute)
Smackdown LIVE 12/13/16
I found a lot of high-energy moments in this show and worthy matches:
Ø Miz TV Segment between Miz and AJ Styles
- a) Miz invites Styles over and he butters up the WWE Champion before turning on him. Miz turns his attention to Smackdown’s top title. ‘Maybe it’s time I made the WWE Championship legendary.’ he said.
- b) Ambrose, Ziggler and Harper appear and hit each other with finishers each time staring at Styles.
- c) AJ Styles runs backstage into Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan where he demands ‘protection.’ Bryan used this time to make a non-PG joke before putting the previous four men into a fatal-fourway for AJ’s title in a match on Dec 27th.
Ø Alexa Bliss vs Becky Lynch (Smackdown Women’s Championship Rematch)
- a) The segment opens up with Alexa belittling her local jobber opponent and beating her down after a cheap shot. ‘I don’t do charity cases.’ She says spitefully to the crowd. The crowd loudly boos her.
- b) Becky Lynch comes out and makes it short, sweet and to the point. She wants her rematch right now. Bliss agrees but then backs out saying ‘not tonight’ to which Commissioner Shane McMahon tells her that that match is next.
- c) What follows is an intensive back-and-forth with the characters telling their story in the ring (Lynch uses throws and Bliss sticks to forearms and vicious kicks). Bliss gingerly holds her knee while standing outside the ring. She takes the ten count. Lynch goes after and makes her pay for it. Bliss rolls out the ring and back up the ramp. Lynch stares at her, disappointed.
Ø Tag Team Battle Royal
- a) Several tag teams are in the ring and the match begins with Simon Gotch eliminated first. The various times vie for the total elimination of the others.
- b) American Alpha is shockingly eliminated mid-match. Slater accidentally eliminated Rhyno as well. The look of shock and anger on Rhyno’s face said it all.
- c) Prince Pretty (Tyler Breeze) makes it to the final three but is eliminated by Zack Ryder who promptly eliminates the Ascension to win #1 Contendership for his team.
- d) The announce team congratulates and warn the Hype Bros for winning the match since they’ll have to face the New Wyatt Family.
Ø Natalya vs Carmella
- a) Natalya tries to have a word with Nikki Bella who is at ringside. She is promptly interrupted by Carmella’s theme music.
- b) Natalya and Carmella put on a good match that ends with a surprise small-package for Carmella since Natalya got distracted by Nikki on the outside.
- c) The commentators had the bulk of the attention in this match sadly. The back-and-forth between JBL, Otunga and Nikki went on for far too long. Their antiquated jargon also sounded cheesy as can be.
Ø Dean Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler vs Luke Harper vs The Miz (Fatal Fourway Elimination Match for #1 Contendership to the WWE Championship)
- a) This match began with Luke Harper dictating and dominating the pace. He slammed and threw around Ziggler and Ambrose like rag dolls. Miz wizens up and offers him applause (genius).
- b) Miz is first eliminated when Ambrose surprises him with a small-package (see a pattern here??). He throws a tantrum and promptly leaves…
- c) Luke Harper is eliminated after a Super Kick and a Dirty Deeds which made him look like a beast.
- d) Miz returns (for some reason) and interferes. Both Ambrose and Ziggler put the hurt on him until he grabs Ambrose’s foot, which causes Ziggler to Superkick him into victory. Ziggler and Styles (at ringside) have a staredown.
Honestly, I think that Smackdown had a few highs and lows with this show shining decently.
Smackdown continued with some story development with the Miz, AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, the tag team division, the Nikki Bella storyline, and Becky vs Alexa. Smackdown used their time slots wisely (minus the backstage Fluffy scene) and continued to build up anticipation for future matches.
However, with this episode I could see many flaws: the main event scene is very dry, Baron Corbin and Apollo Crews were not featured in a prominent way and the show lacks real depth and direction. Were it not for the dryness this episode would earn higher than a B- grade.
An example of this lack of depth and direction is visible especially in the main event scene. Let’s look tonight at those men vying for the WWE Title.
Ambrose has faced Styles several times now with their last match being a TLC match. It’s been done and no one wants to see that now.
On the other hand, the Miz needs to either drop the Intercontinental Title and chase the WWE title or just keep feuding with midcarders like Apollo Crews. His body of work demands that he rise into a more prominent role since he has made us care about his feuds on Smackdown.
On yet another hand, Dolph Ziggler is not a credible contender now either; he can wrestle but can’t seem to win ‘the big one.’ By that I mean he won’t win the WWE title right now. Perhaps he will later down the line when more believable opponents have been vanquished. With AJ Styles likely wrestling the Undertaker at Royal Rumble and possibly John Cena at Wrestlemania Ziggler does not stand a chance of interrupting those plans. Do I credibly believe that Ziggler will beat Styles and insert himself into those matches?
No I don’t, and that’s a problem.
It’s a problem because the WWE needs to sell us, the viewers, the idea that contenders can beat the champion. If we can see the outcome a mile away, then the fun of it is killed right there and then.
Speaking of fun, the story between Natalya and Nikki is certainly fun at the moment, but the WWE better do something big to settle this story because it is devoting a sizable amount of time to it. Nikki is a prominent star on the roster but she needs to use her stardom to elevate other talent and contribute to Smackdown’s appeal. At the moment, she is just another player in a bigger game. Furthermore, Carmella already said her piece: ‘It was Natalya.’ She doesn’t need to be anywhere near Nikki since her feud with Nikki was ended at TLC. This match could have easily been Natalya vs Naomi in order to spotlight Naomi and move the story away from Carmella. This story needs the blame game to end with Natalya or someone not named Carmella. Perhaps Becky Lynch or Alexa Bliss will do. In either of those cases the feud can gain momentum and lead to a Women’s Championship match.
On the topic of matches, why didn’t Apollo or Baron Corbin have matches? Corbin has been on a roll on Smackdown. WWE needs to keep featuring him and delving into his character further if they want to build a new star. Him not being on the show was a dumb move. Almost as dumb was to limit Apollo Crews to a backstage segment. How does this let us see his impressive in-ring skills or further develop his character?
If WWE wants to develop more characters, then they need to focus on giving their prized players screen time. I laud their ability to spotlight almost all tag teams on one night and I praise their clever use of Lynch and Bliss. But, WWE needs to really build up Smackdown’s midcard and main event with more characters or Smackdown will continually feel hollow as this one unfortunately did.