Ah, that wild card. It’s already sowing chaos. After SmackDown main evented Raw, you knew that Raw would have to return the favor, right? AJ Styles opened the show but was quickly interrupted by Sami Zayn, who was eager to get back to his rant from the previous night before Braun Strowman interrupted him.
Styles’ countered Zayn’s holier-than-thou attitude by holding his nose and complaining of Zayn’s stench. We got a decent “take a shower!” chant out of it, which is a credit to how infuriating Zayn’s been lately.
The two Raw dudes were then interrupted by WWE Champion Kofi Kingston, who essentially confronted them both for being on his show. It was a continuation of this newfound confidence of Kofi’s and he got some decent lines in while he was at it. On top of that, Kofi was happy to take on both challengers in a triple threat for his WWE Championship.
That decision brings up a few very obvious questions. If someone were to win a title under Wild Card Rules, would they switch brands? Does it even matter, considering they could show up on their original show under that very same Wild Card rule?
With that said, I don’t want to complain too much. A main event of Styles vs. Zayn vs. Kingston was almost assuredly going to be a good time – and guess what? It was. What was most notable, however, was the role Kevin Owens played. Owens appeared in a video promo earlier in the night, citing his birthday as the reason that he would not be competing on the show. In fact, he was going home.
...Except he wasn’t. In the heat of the main event, Owens ran down to assault Xavier Woods and provide a distraction for Sami Zayn to nearly pick up the victory on Kofi. However, the champion persevered and prevailed in the end.
The thing that interested me the most about this was...what the hell was Owens trying to accomplish? Was he trying to actively cost Kofi the title, or was this just meant to be him sending a message? I’m assuming the latter, but that doesn’t make too much sense to me; Kofi’s been brimming with confidence since his victory at WrestleMania. I don’t think a little run in is supposed to throw him off his game.
A lot of this was off to me, but hey, a good match. Can’t complain too much.
Shane McMahon has a big part on this show, and I thought his parts were hit or miss. He started off by talking about the SmackDown Live Tag Team Championships and how he went down the roster looking for the right duo award the championships. At first, it seemed like the answer would be B-Team to me; what other tag teams has Shane even associated with?
But no, the team he had in mind was Daniel Bryan and Erick Rowan, decked out in Amon Amarth’s new t-shirt. They were eager to have the tag titles, of course, but our third/fourth Wild Card participants chose that moment to make their presence known: The Usos.
I liked their use here. The Usos have been synonymous with the SDL tag titles for so long that it’d make sense for them to be appalled by how Shane wanted to just...hand them to some team. They were determined to make Bryan and Rowan earn it, and that’s just what they did.
The match primarily served as a way to establish Rowan as a scary big dude. He had multiple big dude counters to what the Usos were doing late in the match like stopping them on a double dive to the outside. In fact, Rowan did all the heavy lifting to earn his team the titles. No big complaints here.
The issue I had with Shane’s stuff came after that. He stayed out at ringside all this time and through another commercial break to start waxing on about the ladder matches and The Miz appeared to assault him. Now...this is odd to me for several reasons.
One: I severely doubt the McMahons cleared Miz to come attack one of their own. Is he going to get punished? Two: Why did he wait so long? Shane had been out at ringside for nearly 30 minutes. Three: NOW B-Team comes out to do Shane’s bidding again. If they’re not getting tag titles out of this, what is Shane doing for them? Four: Isn’t Elias supposed to be in Shane’s little group as well? Is he only reserved for Reigns?
So needless to say, I’m not really sold on this Shane/Miz stuff. I liked the creative camera work to their brawl on Raw, but this just felt lackluster.
Ali def. Andrade via DQ – This was a decent little sell to the men’s ladder match. Ali’s video promos are super cool and unique; I’m glad they’re letting him do something creative and are starting to explain what this “light” stuff is all about. The match was good before Orton interfered and I also quite liked Ali standing up to Orton when he had the chance.
But with that said...RKOs for everyone.
Roman Reigns’ video promo – They whitewashed history pretty heavily here, but I liked the general theme of it. It basically served as a way to present Roman as this dude who’s got massive wins throughout his career and how awesome it was that he kicked cancer’s ass. Both of these things are true.
...But when they showed people cheering his original Rumble win, I shook my head and chuckled. Yeah, that’s what happened.
Finn’s in Ireland – Laaaaame. I mean, it makes sense that he’d go home early with the overseas tour about to start, but it would have been nice if he had something more going into this ladder match other than a possible feud with Andrade. I’d imagine he’ll be on Raw next week to make up for it.
Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville def. Carmella and Ember Moon – This was similar to the Lucha House Party match from Raw in that I don’t remember a damn thing about it. Considering this was our only women’s match of the night, that’s unacceptable. Paige came out to tell Rose and Deville that they’ll be facing Asuka and Kairi Sane next week, but that fell flat to me as well.
Backstage Lars bullies Matt Hardy and R-Truth – Man, the lines here really bugged me. Matt Hardy was so careful to add Lars’ nickname before saying his name. It just sounded stupid to me; no one talks like that. All that “I’ve never seen anyone like him before” talk is cliché as hell as well. Either way, Lars attacked them both backstage.
Aleister Black promo – Aleister’s promos are starting to lose excitement for me, but they’re still interesting. He’s using uncommon words and discussing complex issues before summing it up with an unsettling stare and an ominous one-liner. During his promos, it feels like I’m missing something that won’t be revealed until he actually starts fighting again. Or maybe not. We’ll see.
This Wild Card stuff is odd and it’s going to take getting used to. And despite the inclusion of some Raw talent, I still wasn’t blown away by this outing of SmackDown. It had some decent moments, but I don’t think anyone at home missed much if they skipped the episode.