SmackDown Live returns to us tonight from the Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit, Michigan. It is the go home show for the SummerSlam pay-per-view (PPV) this Sunday.
SummerSlam is only six days away but it really doesn’t feel like it.
It feels like we’re heading into a B PPV more than one of the biggest shows of the year. And while that’s across the board, it feels more so on the SmackDown side of things.
SmackDown has a few big matches that could be considered worthy of a Big Four show. But only one of those even feels as big as it should.
Charlotte’s match with Trish was dropped into our laps just last week with an average promo segment. It’s a marquee match because Trish is in it and it’s her first singles match in a very long time. However build wise, there’s not much there. It’s a match that can survive the lack of a build, but if they weren’t going to build it much, announce it earlier so they can promote it longer. That would anchor it as one of SummerSlam’s biggest match instead of a late addition.
Randy and Kofi are having a good feud, but it doesn’t feel big. Part of that is it has only consisted of two segments. One was the initial promo segment between both men, which was entertaining. The other was a Randy Orton video from last week. That was very good as well, but this needs more to feel like a Big Four title match. Compare that to the Universal title on Raw, which delivered a big angle last week to make that match feel worth SummerSlam. While I am still more excited for Kofi/Orton than Seth Rollins/Brock Lesnar, the WWE title story just doesn’t feel like it is weighted as heavy because it hasn’t much time devoted to it.
The match that feels the most PPV ready is actually Kevin Owens’ feud with Shane McMahon. It has enough history and enough weeks of telling the story, which makes it the most SummerSlam worthy.
With consistent reports that the creative scene on the SmackDown brand has been chaotic with multiple last minute rewrites the last couple weeks (and evidence to support that given they rarely deliver what’s advertised for the show even hours before), it makes sense to wonder if that is hindering the build to SummerSlam. If the show is being changed weekly at the last minute, can they really build big, coherent angles?
Would Ember Moon, the challenger for the Women’s title, have taken a pinfall loss last week in the original plan for the show? Would we already be building Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns for weeks instead of possibly building to it with a pretty lame “Who dunnit?” angle just last week, if that’s the direction this is leading? (As of now, Roman Reigns isn’t even advertised for a match on SummerSlam.)
The one match that seems the most complete, Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens, may be a match where the talent is rumored to pitch much of their own stuff, which could be slightly more immune to rewrites.
The matches on the Raw side of thing have more of a build to them. They feel less rushed. Even though on paper Becky Lynch vs. Natalya isn’t going to blow anyone away, their story seems cohesive from week to week. AJ Styles/Ricochet has been going on a couple months. And even though the Universal title match is a repeat, they’ve pulled out the stops to make it feel big. (The Fiend vs. Finn Balor has had representation on both shows so isn’t really a Raw or SmackDown specific match. I’d consider Goldberg/Dolph Ziggler the same way.)
We don’t know the reason for the chaos and rewrites. Is it just the adjustment to Eric Bischoff leading the show (though rumors are he’s not very involved with creative)? Paul Heyman has worked with Vince before and has been involved in Raw for a little while now so maybe Vince has a bit more faith to let him do his thing? Or maybe it has nothing to do with Easy E and Vince is just in a rewriting move when it comes to Tuesday night.
In the end, the reason doesn’t matter. What matters is the SmackDown side of things seems rushed and therefore less “Big 4 worthy.” While there are certainly stories that are entertaining, the pacing and impact of them have been lacking.
They have one more night to try to address that.
The Title Scene:
WWE Champion Kofi Kingston and challenger Randy Orton have one last segment to hype up their SummerSlam title match. May I suggest a contract signing? (I know they’ve already advertised Kofi responding to Randy from last week, but they’re bound to change it last minute.)
Ember Moon’s tag loss last week makes Bayley offering a SmackDown Women’s title match feel more like charity. This week, they need to make sure the audience knows that Ember deserves this. (Though at least they lost a tag team match to future tag team champions.)
The New Day are SmackDown tag team champions without challengers. At this point, they’re either next getting challengers or will get a last minute Kickoff match.
Shinsuke Nakamura at least has a potential challenger for his Intercontinental title in Ali, but it also a title that’s possibly going to miss the SummerSlam card.
Last night, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross won the Women’s tag team championships, so now they’re free to move between both Raw and SmackDown, not that they weren’t already.
Other things to keep an eye on:
- The biggest “Who Dunnit?” continued yesterday Roman’s car was side swiped by the mystery assailant. I still think it’s the camera man the Big Dog threw a club at on the Hobbs & Shaw set.
- Charlotte and Trish Stratus were represented on Raw but it wasn’t much of anything. So maybe they’ll draw up something more impactful tonight.
- Is this the last SmackDown we see Kevin Owens since he’s putting his career up against Shane McMahon this Sunday? Let’s hope not. These two will have one last face to face when KO invites Shane to the Kevin Owens Show tonight.
- Aleister Black has yet to respond to Sami Zayn’s challenge.
What will you be looking for when SmackDown brings the wrestling wrestling in the Little Caesar’s Arena tonight?