Cleat Geeks

Straight Up Smack Down

 

Over the past few months, Smack Down Live has morphed from the “land of opportunity” into the place to be. There are a few factors in play that have helped shape Smack Down Live into the better show. One is their writing team. There’s no question that the show’s writers are night & day in contrast from Raw’s writing team. Another factor that has a huge impact is the show length. This has been a constant difference for a long time, but when the show is good, it makes the viewer feel less contained. 2 hours can fly by a lot faster than 3.25 hours. The third factor is the talent. Not only does Smack Down Live possess a roster that top to bottom is better on mic & in ring than Raw, but their outstanding performance has been the real difference. You can have all the talent in the world, but if they can’t perform at their highest level, then how good are they? I’d say the talent benefits immensely from a shorter show & great writing, evident in their performances in the last few months. That being said…..

Randy Orton began Tuesday’s show from Orlando, Florida. The area is a hot bed for pro wrestling, home to WWE’s Performance Center, Full Sail University (whose studios produce NXT), & recent site of Wrestle Mania 33. Orton has been on fire as of late, embracing this sadistic character change. He took to the ring & delivered a passionate diatribe about both deserving & not receiving respect. At one point, he tells the audience “I will become SO violent, that you will want to change the channel”…….

This is the version of the Viper that I dig so much, the version that is fully invested into his character. What a difference from the babyface version that was spoonfed to fans last year & earlier this year. The last time he was REMOTELY close to this good was when he burnt down Bray Wyatt’s shanty, with the ghost of Sister Abigail inside. In fewer words, I like the change & let’s see what else he can add to this new found identity before Summer Slam.

What else was in store for Tuesday night? Well here is General Manager Paige to lay it all out:

I have always been a big fan of these concise show outlines. It adds a lot of structure to the program & gives the audience a refresher of the show’s recent episodes. Also, it brings new viewers or recently absent viewers right up to speed. There is always a risk of repeating this tactic too much & disengaging your regular audience, but with 2 weeks before Summer Slam this was definitely the right time to do it.

So, as the GM just said, Miz finally accepted the challenge to face Daniel Bryan at Summer Slam. Here was Miz’s official acceptance announcement:

The Miz wasn’t done, he participated in a remote interview with Byron Saxton. Miz exploded in this interview & nearly reached his Talking Smack boiling point from a few years ago:

Here we go! This feud has gotten better every week so far & I expect next week’s episode to be best altercation yet. WWE is rebuilding the animosity & hatred between these two very well. Next week should chronicle their history & add the proverbial exclamation mark, prior to their match next Sunday.

 

Speaking of heated rivalries, the Samoa Joe/A.J. Styles feud has been escalated by Joe over the past few weeks. Last week, Joe launched an intense verbal assault on Styles’ choices of his career path over his family life. This week, Styles responded to Joe with his own impassioned in ring speech:

Styles says Joe won’t walk out champion at Summer Slam & will be lucky to walk out period. Joe laughs. I’m very eager to watch this match at Summer Slam. If there’s ever a time to crown a new champion, I’d say its now.

 

Before their tag match on Tuesday night, Charlotte & Becky had a candid, friendly talk on camera about last week & how the new stipulation at Summer Slam affected Becky. They also took a nice little jab at their Four Horsewomen counterparts on Raw:

Seems like they’re teasing that “tea” toast pretty heavily between the first & second segments. I would not be surprised if that comes up again next week. There should be some altercation between the two, before their triple threat title match against Carmella at Summer Slam. Something to further build the friction beforehand.  I could very well envision both Lynch & Flair initially teaming up against Carmella in the match, before it turns into a one on one against each other, resulting from these previously harvested emotions.

 

The most unlucky entertainer on Smack Down Live, Aiden English, apologized to Lana & Rusev this week….just as Rusev had finished apologizing to Lana:

Rusev seems like he’s got Aiden pretty well pegged at this point by telling him to hang back, away from the match this week. Would Aiden heed the Bulgarian Brute’s directive? Of course not…..

Maybe we’re just all spoiled by the level to which most WWE women perform at these days, but this was easily the worst match of the night. English’s folly covered up the display of bad wrestling by both women here. He looks like the guy who just can’t get out of his own way. After the match, English tried to apologize once again but was dismissed by Rusev this time around. It appears that the fumbling English is planning another soon to be snafu:

 

The evening’s main event was the final match of the Smack Down Live tag team tournament featuring The New Day versus The Bar:

Really good match by these veterans & definitely worthy of the night’s main event spot. I also like how the Bludgeon Brothers were shown as spectators near the very end. It was a nice touch to end the show.

 

I can’t wait for next week’s Smack Down Live & even as a die-hard fan, that seems like a weird thing to write. But like I said at the very beginning, Smack Down Live has morphed into the place to be.

Thanks for reading!

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