Written By: Mark Armstrong
(Read the original version on Pro Wrestling Journal at http://prowrestlingjournal.com/index.php/2018/09/26/wwe-smackdown-review-analysis-09-25-2018.)
There have never been so many WWE shows on the horizon at one time, but SmackDown has been keeping things simple by taking each event one-by-one with regards to promotion (which sounds like stating the obvious, but this hasn’t been the case on Raw). This edition helped to nudge things along towards Super Showdown, while also highlighting feuds which may not be at the forefront in MCG, Australia next Saturday.
Truth TV w/ Daniel Bryan
The show opened with Miz TV … or so we thought. It quickly became apparent that we were instead about to watch the debut of Truth TV, an obvious pastiche of Mix TV hosted by R-Truth and Carmella (complete with new-look hair). Daniel Bryan was the guest, and where Miz TV allowed the host to be obnoxious and confrontational, Truth focused more on establishing a calm and friendly rapport with his guest, along with a random seven-second dance break with Carmella. As Bryan laughed and seemed bewildered by the show (he seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself), The (erm, real?) Miz came out to slag off Truth and Bryan, noting that the latter wouldn’t abandon his moral code in order to truly beat Miz when they meet at Super Showdown. Truth then challenged Miz to a match for the unofficial rights to the talk show, which Miz refused, only for Paige to inform him that he would indeed have to battle Truth, as the new host and his sidekick danced again.
The Miz vs. R-Truth
This was a rematch from several weeks ago, with Truth looking stronger and as more of a threat due to his previous upset win over Miz. Bryan on commentary still seemed to be laughing at the glorious daftness of the opening segment, but he was turned upside down into a frown when Miz used an eye poke to drill Truth with the Skull-Crushing Finale and then, with an evil glare at Daniel, fired up “Yes!” chants before winning with a Running Knee. Miz vs. Bryan will be one of the highlights of Super Showdown, especially with a WWE Championship opportunity at stake; in the meantime, it has been cool to see Truth revive his career (as well as Carmella becoming a babyface again), and it’s proof that nobody is too late in their wrestling lifespan to enjoy a resurgence.
We were then shown footage from earlier in the day, where Becky Lynch attacked Charlotte Flair during a backstage photo shoot, ending the beat-down by ordering the cameraman to snap a shot of her standing over Flair. Regardless of whether you wish to cheer or boo Lynch (and she definitely acted like a heel here), you have to admit that WWE is trying its best to get you to cheer Charlotte, given that she hasn’t been booked strongly at all in recent weeks. Sure, the exercise is one of futility, but they’re trying nonetheless.
Big E vs. Sheamus
There wasn’t much to say about this bout, to be honest (other than New Day’s pre-match promo where they compared Cesaro to Jason Statham). It’s part of the slow build towards The New Day vs. The Bar at Super Showdown, and though they had previously feuded on Raw, I feel that their October 6 encounter (which could feature a title change) won’t be their only battle in the coming weeks. Last week, Cesaro picked up a big win over Kofi Kingston, and this week it was Sheamus’ turn to gather further momentum by drilling Big E with a Brogue Kick (for the surprisingly clean pin). Expect another boost for the heels next Tuesday, which will be the final stop-off before SSD.
Rusev Day-Aiden English Segment
After Aiden English’s attack on Rusev last week, the Honorary Of Rusev Day and Lana came to the ring to demand an explanation (even given his recent babyface turn, Rusev seemed a little laid-back for someone who was once an absolute killer as an undefeated heel in 2014/5). Aiden complied to explain that, in his mind, he had been responsible for the birth and growth in popularity of Rusev Day, complete with flashback clips in a nice touch. He also showed footage of the problems that he and Rusev had been having in recent months. But then he turned his attention to Lana, stating that she drove a wedge between the two, before implying that he and her had been involved in some sort of incident in Milwaukee. As fans chanted “Milwaukee!” (this show was in Denver, by the way), we were left to wonder what could Aiden have possibly been referring to?
Backstage, things weren’t helped by Becky Lynch coming up to Lana and insulting her, which ultimately led to a match being announced between the two later in the evening (incidentally, Lynch is so heelish right now that it’s only right to describe her as such, regardless of the cheers which continue to cause scrutiny about WWE’s booking of her character).
Asuka & Naomi vs. Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose
This was a quick-fire match, so much so that The IIconics’ pre-match promo was interrupted before it even began, and their guest commentary left me with nothing to remember. The bout was over almost as soon as it began, with Naomi and Asuka nailing Deville with a cool-looking double kick to the head. Asuka has lost a lot of steam this year, but at least she’s doing something at the moment (and the same goes for Naomi, who noted a few months back that she was getting used to sitting in catering during SmackDown).
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Tye Dillinger
The United States Champion and The Perfect 10 went at it here in a match which theoretically existed for one of two reasons: to promote Nakamura as a heel, or to establish Tye as a possible contender to Shinsuke’s title. As it turned out, we never truly knew what was the intention, because Randy Orton ran in out of nowhere to attack Dillinger, suplexing him on the announcer’s table and DDTing him off the apron to the floor. After Nakamura joined in with a ringside Kinshasa to Tye (okay, maybe they did enhance his heel status after all), Orton calmly explained that he carried out this attack because Tye and his “10!” gimmick pissed him off. Makes sense, I guess!
Becky Lynch vs. Lana
In a running theme of the night, this match was also fairly uneventful; it wasn’t quite a squash, but it certainly didn’t do much to suggest that Lana would be challenging Becky for her SmackDown Women’s Championship anytime soon. Lynch of course won with the Dis-Arm-Her in what was, surprisingly, her first televised match on Tuesday night since SummerSlam.
AJ Styles-Samoa Joe Contract Signing
We all know that WWE contract signings never go to plan, but usually because the two performers involved break out into a brawl. That couldn’t happen here because, while AJ Styles was present, Samoa Joe was not. AJ was surprisingly cheery when Joe appeared on the big screen instead, until he learned where Joe actually was; the Styles home! Waiting outside his house while noting that AJ didn’t have his phone to hand in the ring (Paige, who was there to oversee proceedings, presumably had her phone to hand, considering she’s the SmackDown GM, so technically she could have FaceTimed Joe at that moment), Joe also revealed that he had a doll as a present for AJ’s youngest daughter, before the show immediately went to black as he rang the doorbell. We’re left to wait until next week to see what happened (probably not much, and even less if AJ’s wife Wendy was keeping track of things by watching SmackDown at the time).
This episode was in line with other recent editions of SmackDown, in that there wasn’t necessarily anything that was must-see, but it was all entertaining and productive as a whole. Things move along at a nice pace, and in some respects SmackDown is a throwback to the older days of WWE television, where we wouldn’t see the big stars in action on a regular basis, but their stories are progressing through the talking segments, with the various rivalries peaking at the (increasingly-frequent) big shows. So, while it wasn’t crammed with classic content, this was definitely another fun episode of SmackDown.