by Joseph “thepoorassgamer” Reyna
As usually noted in any formal WWE article, we typically don’t throw a whole lot of praise around. Lvke recently took aim at the yearly mess of a show that is Crown Jewel and boy have Eric and I taken issue with almost everything WWE does these days. But today I’m here to talk about the joy, and some of the pitfalls of NXT’s recent debut on the main roster: Smackdown.
First off, I don’t typically have cable, I have completely moved to subscription based TV so watching wrestling live on Fox is especially weird to me. This weeks show was my first viewing of Smackdown since the move to Fox and generally speaking I was really happy with most of the direction of the show. This was the most, “Vince takes his hands off the wheel” show I’ve seen and I think a lot of fans have been chasing that feeling for some time now. The day Vince gives up creative control! Well hold on, I’m pretty sure he’s just taking a big nap after that long flight! Too bad he didn’t think about all of his workers first eh? What ever will he do?!
Well it turns out HHH got some sleep on the plane so with that, let’s get into the nitty gritty of this weeks episode:
Brock doin’ Brock type stuff
Hey everybody! It’s Brock Lesnar! BOO YOU SAY?!? Well yes, yes I agree too. Brock is back at the top of the show to tell us, well, not Brock but Paul Heyman, that he’s done with Smackdown. After the unprovoked attack by Rey Mysterio and his defeat of Cain Velasquez at Crown Jewel, he basically has nothing better to do then to chase Rey to RAW. Yay? This feels like a rehash of some David v Goliath stuff they did more than 10 years ago, but whatever, get Brock off Smackdown anyways. Still feel like this was a shitty thing to do to Kofi.
WWE Womens Championship Match -Bayley vs. Nikki Cross
Honestly these are two performers I love to see together in any match. We have some antics from Sasha Banks that ultimately gives Bayley the win over Nikki via a top rope elbow drop. But there’s a lot of good stuff to be had for me, the viewer that hasn’t been watching for a bit. First off, I like the new attitude Bayley. She was long overdue to get rid of the kiddie persona and she’s done the bad girl character well in the past too. Props also go to the transformation to this persona, slicing up those Bayley Buddies was a great touch. Even the evil eyeliner is good. I also think this gives Bayley and Sasha a whole new dynamic. They are both a little conniving enough to make you wonder how long this relationship will last. Lastly I love Nikki Cross and pretty much everything she does so more of her too!
OH! Surprise! Shayna Baszler pops out from nowhere, lays everyone out and then takes Bayley out in the ring. Here’s the start of the pre-planned invasion everyone! Seriously, despite all the travel rumors occurring today I have to think all of this was at least a few weeks in the making. It certainly was planned for the upcoming Survivor Series show, but honestly the biggest reason for wanting to watch for me has always been NXT. That’s honestly the only reason why I decided to watch this Smackdown and to write about it.
We get some backstage antics with Sami Zayn basically declaring the NXT invasion started after Bayzler showed up, then again, SURPRISE! Keith Lee and Matt Riddle are also here. I really like Keith Lee and honestly Riddle has grown on me too. Keith and Riddle chase Sami down to the ring where Riddle gives Sami a Bro Derek (which *chef kiss* what a finisher name) and Keith finishes Sami with a second rope moonsault.
Tommasso Ciampa vs. The Miz
Miz gets his typical Miz TV segment, blah blah, TOMMASSO CIAMPA?! YES! Okay but seriously Ciampa’s promo was a little lame, amounting to “I broke my neck for NXT I’m a super serious guy!” while also claiming Miz isn’t serious. Miz rightly tell him this is a lame excuse and they decide to have a match right then and there. I also really enjoyed this match because for one, good god Ciampa only recently returned from neck surgery some 7 months ago. That’s absolutely insane. The toughness of that guy. Miz and Ciampa have a great match with Ciampa taking the clean win over Miz. Good showing for Ciampa and does a little to show NXT is some kind of threat to the main roster.
Backstage we have Daniel Bryan running into his arch nemesis Triple H. This segment was pretty funny, alluding at one moment that Bryan would face HBK, but in reality the match was always meant for Adam Cole. BAY. BAY. A match, that honestly I didn’t know I needed to see until the moment it was announced and ooooh boy it delivered!
Rhea Ripley and Tegan Knox vs. Fire and Desire
The only real blemish in the night was this moment. Lost mostly to setup and commercials, this match didn’t seem to have the spur of the moment nature of the previous NXT segments. Ripley gets the tap out victory over Mandy and then we cut to Bianca Belair backstage beating down on Carmela and Dana Brooke. Again, more chaos I suppose but this didn’t really highlight anyone in this group during this portion of the show.
NXT Championship Match Adam Cole vs. Daniel Bryan
OOH BOY am I glad I thought to DVR this episode of Smackdown! Triple H and HBK join Cole ringside as supposed mentors to this well established veteran. Bryan, as always is cool calm and collected during this match. He’s a ring general and shows it by dominating this match and dictating a tremendously good pace. I loved the dive by Bryan through Cole and the fleeing HBK and HHH. I also really enjoyed the tension in those last few moments while Bryan cinched in his submission hold.
What’s a little surprising? Cole got over completely clean with Bryan. I suppose it isn’t too crazy to see going into Survivor Series. We’ll likely get a repeat match up of some sort, but remember this is a HEEL Bryan so, any match going forward could end in under sneaky circumstances.
HHH then assembles his crew from the land of misfit toys—I mean NXT, in the middle of the ring and proclaims everyone else started the war and “to build an army, you turn to your blood and you turn to your family”. You know, that thing he’s only the CEO of. This might be extremely nitpicky of me, and I think I’m not the only one that shares these sentiments, but I’d like to see less of HHH as the face of NXT. I know, I know, it’s his BABY. But sometimes you’ve just gotta let that baby go a little right? Like, picture this: couldn’t that whole speech have been delivered by oh say, the NXT champion, or even Ciampa? You couldn’t find one of those NXT dudes to make it seem more orchestrated by the wrestlers themselves? It comes off as odd, that a day after a travel delay day from a big show in Saudi Arabia that HHH has to do all of the selling for the show. He’s in the back pulling moments like Bryan and Cole together (which could have happened organically) and he proudly shows up at the end to proclaim “WE ARE NXT” as always. Frankly I’m getting tired of H standing up there and doing this EVERY SHOW. We get it. We all know you run the show. Now to show how cool you really are, let the reigns go a little and maybe have your actual cast of NXT proclaim that they are in fact, NXT. Whew. I know, that was a rant.
Truthfully this was the best NX–er Smackdown show I’ve seen in years. It was because of NXT. Plain and simple. But some of the best performers and parts of Smackdown were there to make up for those absentee this episode. Props to a pretty successful show that gets me excited for next Wednesday. Even with all my love of AEW, I’ve been peeking ever so often back in on that little show in Florida. Hey! They still do great stuff.