Following an episode of Raw that exceeded WWE’s low standards a few days prior, the promotion turned in another strong effort with this past Friday’s SmackDown, which emanated from Madison Square Garden.
There were plenty of things on this show that deserves praise, but it wasn’t a perfect show. So this week, we’ll discuss what went right AND what went wrong in a single piece instead of splitting them up.
Here’s what went right and wrong on the Sept. 10 episode of SmackDown.
Right: The opening segment with Roman Reigns, Paul Heyman, and Brock Lesnar
SmackDown started out as it usually does: with a Roman Reigns talking segment. However, this opening oration didn’t waste time getting to the thick of the Reigns/Paul Heyman/Brock Lesnar story.
After the Universal Champion declared that The Bloodline ran New York City (which came with the not-so-subtle line about WWE running “sports-entertainment” in NYC), Lesnar came out to a thunderous ovation and stirred the pot between Reigns and his “special counsel”.
Everyone was great here, from Reigns’ disgust with Heyman, Heyman’s concern over messing things up with Reigns and fear of Lesnar destroying him, and Lesnar…well, being Lesnar. It all meshed to create a great start to the show.
Right: Trae Young
More often than not, celebrity appearances in WWE fall flat, as most fans see them for the desperate attempts for mainstream attention that they are. That wasn’t the case this week, as a 10-man tag team match pitting Big E, The Mysterios, Rick Boogs, and Shinsuke Nakamura against The Dirty Dawgs, Otis, Apollo Crews, and Sami Zayn featured a special guest: Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young.
Young — who became the bane of New York Knicks fans’ existence during the NBA Playoffs this past summer — walked out to loud boos. He had no problem playing into the crowd’s reaction, even attacking Rey Mysterio while the referee was distracted.
In the end, Big E picked up the win for the babyfaces, but the main thing people will remember from this glorified house show match is the budding NBA superstar.
Right: Becky Lynch’s heel tweaks
Following Becky Lynch’s win over Bianca Belair at SummerSlam and the reports that she would be returning to the full-time roster as a heel, many fans and media members expressed concern over WWE attempting to get one of their most over babyface stars booed.
If last night’s contract signing for the Lynch/Belair match at Extreme Rules is any indication, though, those concerns might be for naught. Between the outlandish jacket and glasses, referring to the fans as “the regular people”, and her indignant, condescending tone, Lynch hit all the right antagonistic notes before putting pen to paper and making the SmackDown WOmen’s Championship match official.
Of course, it helps that she’s working opposite one of the most likable women’s wrestlers in the company in Belair — who cut a very good promo before Lynch came out — but “The Man” more than held up her end.
Wrong: No women’s matches again.
With a scheduled Carmella and Zelina Vega vs. Liv Morgan and Toni Storm match being cut from the show due to time constraints, it has now been two weeks since SmackDown featured a women’s match of any kind.
Clearly, Naomi shouldn’t be the only person in the division who should have complaints about the lack of TV time.
If this were a one-time oversight, maybe this could be dismissed as a coincidence. But two weeks? That’s unacceptable. As messy as the Raw women’s division is, at least that messiness is being shown on TV.
There is far too much talent on the SmackDown side to leave everyone off the show outside of a contract signing and a brief sighting by Shotzi Blackheart and Tegan Nox. Going back to using the women as the sacrificial lambs in the name of time management isn’t a good look, either, as it harkens back to the darkest days of the Divas era.
Simply put, WWE needs to do better.
Wrong: More DQ finishes
The women getting no ring time is even more inexcusable when you factor in WWE using those precious minutes to book a tag team championship match between The Street Profits and The Uso that, for the second consecutive week, ended in a disqualification.
Look, we all know WWE did this to necessitate a rematch for Extreme Rules and they needed a pretense for Roman Reigns to be in the ring for Finn Balor’s return as The Demon, but both of those reasons make the champions look weak for and positions the titles as an afterthought.
The women’s match would’ve been far preferable to more lazy booking from WWE.