I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Smackdown recently and whilst I still have reservations over some of the camera angles and zooms for how it makes the show look smaller than it is, the creative content and flow of the show has been good. That leads nicely onto this Sunday’s PPV – No Mercy.
I’ve just spoken positively about Smackdown, so let’s get the big negative out of the way first. Bray Wyatt: the eater of worlds? More like the eater of pinfalls. (With thanks to PWI’s Matt Topolski on that one)
In fact, there may be casual fans who think his finishing move is an opponent pinning him. Facetious? Maybe Flippant? Possibly, but also true because Wyatt constantly loses and it’s not just big matches now, it’s even Smackdown matches against Kane. He came into the WWE from NXT with a buzz, he felt special and unique, but not anymore. Even his promos that once were vibrant are now just gibberish and increasingly meaningless because he loses every feud. Why would anyone take notice of him or even take him seriously when all his opponents beat him? He’s become a charismatic jobber that WWE mistakenly think is impervious to defeats. Win and losses don’t matter? They do to the viewer in how they perceive the significance of a performer. If they lose all the time, they can’t be very good, so why get emotionally invested?
The latest person to be getting obligatory victory over Wyatt is Randy Orton in what has to be one of the worst and most ridiculously hokey presented programmes since the Ultimate Warrior and Papa Shango had their classic feud. If you don’t remember that or it was before your time, just look for it on YouTube and see the fluid escaping from Warrior; Wyatt and Orton is at that level of cringe. As Smackdown has improved recently, this has been the worst part of the show and I can’t wait until it’s over. I may even skip through the match as I care that little.
The Smackdown Women’s division may not be deep or illustrious, but they’ve done a pretty good job of showcasing Alexa Bliss and making her a viable contender to the ever improving Becky Lynch, who is leading this division nicely and gets over well with the crowd. This should be a decent match and I’d be surprised if Becky drops the title. Staying with the Women’s division and it’s been good that they’ve had more than just a title belt storyline (take note Raw) with Carmella and Nikki Bella building a decent feud. I don’t expect too much from this match, but Nikki is very much over with the crowd and this could be an interesting contest with their storyline likely to continue.
The tag team division is another that’s thin on the ground on Smackdown, but the development of Rhyno and Heath Slater has been fun, with some entertaining vignettes and smartly presented in the ring with the two as well. It would be a shame to see them drop the belts as I think there’s more mileage in them and the programme between Uso’s and American Alpha doesn’t need the titles….yet. The Uso’s have transitioned well into heels, a move that was long overdue and has made them relevant again. Their aggressiveness and attempts to injure opponents is a good move for them and I can see American Alpha costing them this match, with perhaps a pay off at Survivor Series.
Although I’m not the biggest fan of Miz, I have recognised his improved work this year and the fact that he’s done a good job with the Intercontinental title. The promo between Miz and Dolph Ziggler on Smackdown was good and the fact it was stated that Ziggler putting his career on the line for this match means he can’t just go to Raw, NXT or take a sabbatical has added to this contest and feud. For the first time in maybe a couple of years, I’m interested in Ziggler and I’m intrigued to watch this match. Two wrestlers, fighting for a prize with consequences on the line: simple, but effective.
The main event triple threat between AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose and John Cena for the WWE title is another that I’m looking forward to. This is a match that I feel has the potential to be fantastic. Styles is the best in the business right now and Cena rarely disappoints these days; Ambrose is a mixed bag, but capable of very good matches. I feel Ambrose has lost his way since winning the WWE title, both in direction and presentation of his character that may need a re-think before too long. Cena talking about making history is a good angle and one which should be played out for a good while longer yet. Him equalling Ric Flair’s title haul should be a Mania moment and besides, Styles is doing a superb job with the belt, so there’s no reason to change in my eyes and I don’t expect to see it either.
All in all, unlike Backlash the build to No Mercy has been good and it’s an event I’m looking forward to.