“Welcome to a new era of SmackDown!!!!”, Michael Cole hollered at the top of the hour.
The new WWE SmackDown on FOX had everything going for it, new stage, PYRO, a stacked roster, and a hot crowd at the Staples Center. This faithful wrestle hound had high hopes that Cole would be right, for once.
–The Rock, The Man and The King – True to WWE form the show kicked off with a segment, Becky Lynch building up the brand and acknowledging that it was SmackDown where she made her bones and the fans that built her up (KAYFABE and continuity exists!). Only to be interrupted by King Corbin, who is the slimiest of heels and out came The Rock, he did the catchphrase thing, they put a beating to Corbin, People’s Elbow yadda yadda Rock Bottom, rinse wash, repeat. Pretty standard Rock affair. It worked to pop the crowd.
–Lynch and Flair v. Bayley and Banks – Appropriate to their moniker the Four Horsewomen put on a stellar contest with both sets of wrestlers telling their respective stories and trying to build for the impending Hell in a Cell event. Move of the match was when Flair went to the top rope and did a moonsault on to the heels, which lead to the finish and the babyfaces being on top. This worked as a showcase of the Horsewomen for the uninitiated and illustrated the women’s division prowess. – 2/5
–Rollins v. Nakamura – On paper this match sounded fantastic and even got going rather quickly but then The Fiend was up to his shenanigans, which are rather cheeky and fun; so these are either bad shenanigans, or rather evil shenanigans. Any case the camera cut from Nakamura and Rollins both preparing for the worst, making the viewer doubt that Seth would get attacked. But alas The Fiend attacked Seth, a message for Sunday night. Wasted potential of a match but understandable build for Sunday night. – N/A/5
-McMahon v. Owens – The long gestating story between Shane-O and KO finally came to a head, whereas the ladder match was set to be taking place at Hell in a Cell it was moved up to gain viewers, I could only assume. This was most definitely match of the night with the amount of spots and crowd pops and you could just see how invested the crowd was. Shane did what he does best, fly around the ring while KO brutalized. Broken tables and ladders littered the surrounding area as KO ascended the ladder to retrieve the briefcase leaving the young McMahon without a job and hopefully out of the spotlight for a long while. – 4/5
–Strowman, Miz, Heavy Machinery v. Styles, Orton, Roode, Ziggler – This was a throwaway match where the biggest injustice is that they didn’t give AJ “The Face that Runs the Place” Styles his entrance. More or less, this match looked to be hastily put together to sow the seeds for what I can guess will be a face off between Strowman and Tyson Fury at some point down the line, like WrestleMania or some damn thing. Each competitor got their signature offense in before Strowman slammed Ziggler to the mat for the 1-2-3. – 1/5
–Reigns v. Rowan – Lumberjacks surrounded the ring to keep the competitors from taking things to the outside, but as always the lumberjacks always end up fighting each other and being completely useless unless someone is diving from the ring. The match illustrated Rowan as the monster he should always have been booked as, as he had his way with THE BIG DAWG. Once Reigns got the upper hand Harper got involved to which Daniel Bryan took umbrage and kneed the hell out of Harper’s face and Reigns took the dub. Again building to their face off in HIAC, it was a serviceable enough match. – 2.5/5
-Kingston v. Lesnar – Face it. We all knew this was going to end badly for Kofi; some even went so far as to suggest that Mysterio and son would cost the Beast the match. Five seconds was all it took, it was a fantastic reign that fell victim to VKM and lack-of-creative. It was after the match that Mysterio came out with Cain Velasquez, the only man that stripped Lesnar of the belt in UFC, and proceeded to pummel Lesnar. One of the few times anyone’s been able to easily bring down the beast and rain down punches. With that did Velasquez just jump to the front of the line ala Goldberg? – 1/5
Matches = 2/5
Entertainment = 1.5/5
Overall = 1.75/5 Bibles
I get it: SmackDown coming to Fox is not meant for the hardcore wrestling fan. They had a pair of good matches, some nostalgic trip, and names more associated with SportsCenter highlights. This catered to the masses, the 18-49 demographic that were sitting at home flipping the channels and got a glimpse of The Rock laying a smackdown on some candyass. The Joe Schmoes that have watched bleary eyed Cain Velasquez’ UFC fights at Twin Peak while they suckle on their greasy Buffalo sauce covered fingers putting down some shitty ass Dos XX. I get it, VKM sought the larger demographic and my god did it work. Raking in 3.9 million viewers and surpassing all wrestling shows for that week, with RAW at 2.6 million, AEW 1.9 million, and NXT 890 thousand. It was a shitshow that had very limited glimmers of greatness; new era my ass, more like the same old shit. You lied to me, Cole! You lied to me!! Maybe I’ll tune back in for the draft and see how it pans out but rest assured as long as VKM goes unchecked in the creative department the injustices against the fantastic talent will continue.