The Eternal Optimist Presents: An INSTANT review of Smackdown Live (09-18-18)

The Eternal Optimist Presents: An INSTANT review of Smackdown Live (09-18-18)

Hi kids.

Welcome to my first ever Smackdown Live review.  I’m once again going to switch up my ranking system specifically for the Blue Brand.

Every segment gets reviewed.  If it’s good, it gets a rating of “Smackdown!”.  If it’s not, it gets a rating of “Smack Road Dogg”.  Easy enough?  Onto the show.

The Eternal Optimist Presents: An INSTANT review of Smackdown Live (09-18-18).

Miz TV w/ Special Guest: Maryse.

I have no idea what they were going for here, but they didn’t get it.  I’m glad that they announced that Maryse was being written out of the show.  Her and Brie’s inclusion was taking heat away from what should be a Wrestlemania caliber story line between The Miz and Bryan.

Other than that, this was confusing.  Bryan accidentally hit Maryse, then felt bad about it?  Why?  Maryse has tortured his wife and been terrible to him.  Even if he’s a good guy, why would he show any empathy towards her?  The fact that Maryse was faking it would have been fine if it led to a massive beat down from The Miz.  Instead, Bryan turns the tables, Miz knocks Maryse off the apron, and Bryan stands tall.

This was overbooked and didn’t accomplish anything.  The backstage interview with Bryan afterwards came off more as a rationalization of how stupid the prior segment was than anything logical that advanced the story.  Not a good start to the show.

Rating:  Smack Road Dogg!

Kofi Kingston v Cesaro.

Ho-hum pre-match interview between the two teams.  Outside of a cute Iconics reference from Big E, The New Day were well below their usual level of verbal excellence.  The Bar claiming that The New Day don’t take the tag titles serious enough screams of the WWE trying to create heat that just isn’t there.  These two teams have tremendous history together – the WWE would be better served to play up to that rather than fabricate disdain.

Fortunately for them, they were allowed to let their wrestling do the talking.  Unfortunately, they fell flat in that area as well.  Look, I love both Kofi and Cesaro.  I think they are both studs in the ring.  This match felt like they were going through the motions.  Kofi had a neat spot where he spring-boarded himself stomach first off the ropes, but the match felt like it never got going and ended abruptly.  I expect much better from everyone involved.

Rating:  Smack Road Dogg!

Rusev/Lana/Aiden English Backstage Segment.

The highlight of the show thus far.  Rusev was alright in this role, but Aiden and Lana absolutely stole the scene.  I loved the conflict that Aiden has between his frustration with his current situation and his admiration for Lana.

The breakup is coming and this segment was a big step forward in the plot.  I’m starting to wonder if this is going to turn into Christian/Jericho/Trish from Wrestlemania XX.  Could we end up with a love story between Aiden English and Lana?  I’d watch.  Wait a second.  That sounds dirty.  YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN GET YOUR MINDS OUT OF THE GUTTER!

Rating:  Smackdown!

Randy Orton Molests a Member of the Production Crew.

Speaking of things that are creepy, I was half expecting Orton to whip out his manhood mid-way through that segment.  Listen, I love to take pot shots at Orton for reasons I’ve beaten to death in prior columns.  That said, I’m enjoying the character development that he is currently experiencing.

He’s showing a more sadistic side, far more reminiscent of his heyday than the bland character we’ve been privy to for the past few years.  I liked the tease that Orton gave.  Clearly, the WWE has a major feud in mind for him.  A.J. Styles and Daniel Bryan seem to be pretty busy for the foreseeable future, so I’m genuinely curious as to who his next victim will be.  A reason to care about Randy Orton?  I can’t believe it.

Rating:  Smackdown!

A.J. Styles Backstage Interview.

Please, no more interviews from A.J.  It’s just not for him.  He makes me want to change the channel whenever he opens his mouth.  Seriously, he can’t even remember his lines and he stumbles over all of his transitions.  He needs to stick to the two things he does best – being one of the best between the ropes and moonlighting as a soccer mom.  NEXT!

Rating:  Smack Road Dogg!

Shinsuke Nakamura v Rusev – U.S. Title Match.

Aiden, Lana and Rusev had a nice follow up segment to their earlier one prior to the match.  I liked that Rusev was too focused on Nakamura and his title shot to listen to what Lana wanted to tell him.  That’s a logical perspective to have.  It makes sense.

I’ve rarely found a Nakamura match that I enjoyed, but this one worked for me.  Rusev’s striking-based kick- heavy style was perfect match for Nakamura’s striking-based kick-heavy style.  Who would have thunk it?

Holy cow – the heel turn happened tonight!  I felt like the story needed to progress, but I sure didn’t think that it would move so fast.  Aiden’s turn was well done, although I fear that neither man will do as well on their own as they have been doing together.  Nonetheless, this was the best part of the show thus far.

Rating:  Smackdown!

A.J. Styles v Cien Almas.

I’m so torn on this.  First off, the wrestling was rock solid.  There was absolutely nothing wrong with what was happening in the ring from a physical standpoint.  The problem was that the crowd barely cared.  People can complain all they want about Roman Reigns getting main event after main event while A.J. toils in the mid-card, but the building is LOUD whenever Roman is wrestling whereas A.J. is largely performs to crickets.

I’m tired of Almas jobbing.  He’s a tremendous talent but he’s in danger of becoming another nXT casualty.  The WWE needs to get him into a meaningful story asap or else he is going to be a lost cause.

I hated the post-match angle.  Joe showed up and showed tremendous intensity.  Great.  Styles turning the tide and running Joe off made absolutely no sense whatsoever.  The WWE clearly didn’t learn from the opening segment.  Heel attacks that are immediately thwarted do nothing for ANYONE.  Joe was and should have been irate over getting screwed out of the WWE Title.  He should have left Styles in a bloody heap, not cowered off at the first sign of trouble.

I’m starting to wonder if the WWE is simply going to have A.J. triumph and end the feud in two weeks at Super Showdown.  I hope not.  His title reign can’t come to an end soon enough for me.

Rating:  Smack Road Dogg!

Billie Kay v Asuka.

Snooze.  Filler.  The Iconics have been booked in a non-credible way, and the WWE have repeatedly reminded us that we have no reason to care about either Asuka or Naomi.  I understand the need for the Iconics to have a match at Super Showdown in their home country, but this angle is doing absolutely nothing for me.

Asuka is a great wrestler and Billie Kay can hold her own with the right opponent.  Why not give them 15 minutes to tell a story?  Instead, we got a squash that barely lasted five minutes.  I just don’t get the rationale.

Rating:  Smack Road Dogg!

The Becky Lynch Championship Celebration.

I’m not sure how I felt about this.  I’m definitely glad that it went on last.  The ascension of Becky Lynch is by far the most interesting part of Smackdown at the moment.  That said, Becky is a weird interview.  She has a quirky and sarcastic personality that comes off better in backstage segments than it does with a live microphone in the arena.

I thought the segment was written well and in a manner that should have in theory led to Becky getting booed.  It’s not going to happen though.  The crowd chanted for Becky the entire time she was berating and beating down Charlotte.

The segment ultimately served its purpose – to set up what I presume to be a Submission Match between the two for Evolution.  I fear that this feud is doing irreparable damage to Charlotte, but we can cross that bridge another day.  A solid enough way to end the show.

Rating: Smackdown!

The Verdict:

The wrestling on Smackdown largely bored me, but I thought the lion’s share of the backstage segments and angles were well done and interesting.  I’ll take good storytelling over good athletic performance any day of the week.  Thus, the show gets a thumbs up from me.

Overall Rating:  Smackdown!

That’s a wrap kids.  Agree or disagree with my assessment of the show?  Sound off below!  As a reminder, you can follow me on Twitter @The Eternal Optimist.


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