It’s only the first week of 2017 and SmackDown has already blown RAW out of the water. The show on Tuesday night brought so much to the table that it’s hard to pick what the best moments were. Yet, here are the top 5 things SmackDown has already done right in 2017!
- Booking the IC title right
Crowning Dean Ambrose as the new IC champion in the first SmackDown of the year was a brilliant move and not because the Miz’ reign ended, or because Ambrose has gold again, but because it was a great outcome to a perfectly executed feud.
The Ambrose/Miz rivalry didn’t start because of the championship. It was based on personal animosity. The title came as an added incentive. However, focusing on the personalities involved made the fate of the gold that much more exciting because the fans were invested in it. As a result, currently, the IC title feels more important than the Universal Championship.
It also has to be noted that the involvement of Renee Young in the story was very well balanced. Unlike everything that happened between Lana/Rusev and Enzo on RAW, this here wasn’t about sexualizing the girl. It was about Renee doing her job and despite that the Miz, being a douche, disrespecting her privacy and brining her love life into it. It was only natural that Ambrose would go and deal with it like a man, without much talk. Good storytelling, SmackDown!
- Dolph Ziggler Heel Turn
The match with Corbin was good and the crowd was even making an attempt to stay lively but the real reaction came when Dolph superkicked Kalisto. The arena exploded with cheers. I even heard a voice in the crowd yelling ABOUT TIME.
Ziggler had begun to look pathetic, fighting to not get forgotten all the time. Turning him heel will change everything and the WWE Universe knows that. Ziggler as a heel has a lot to offer to SmackDown and it truly was “about time” for a change. Good start to 2017!
Also, the segment itself was brilliant. It gave Corbin a victory, turned Ziggler heel, started a feud between Dolph and Apollo Crews (which brought Crews back into the show) and reminded us of Kalisto and Corbin’s on-hold rivalry. How many birds with that one stone? You can’t deny the SmackDown Creative know what they are doing!
This is an odd pairing with obvious ulterior motives on the part of Carmella. The Princess of Staten Island wants to use the poor gullible James, in order to win matches. It’s not a particularly novel concept of behaviour. However, it’s doing what it’s designed to do – keep Ellsworth entertaining.
James Ellsworth became the crowd’s favourite jobber for a reason. There is something innately funny about the guy. However, his involvement in the SmackDown main event picture had become too much and the fans had begun to turn on him. Everybody thought that James had outluved his usefulness and had to go. Then the SmackDown Creative saved him.
This storyline makes you feel for Ellsworth and at the same time presents Carmella as a cunning, manipulative heel. It’s a good way of utilizing all the assets on the roster.
- Tension in The Wyatt Family
I keep admiring the slow build to the Wyatt Family’s breakdown. The cracks are starting to show. Actually, they’ve been there ever since Randy Orton infiltrated the enemy camp. The SmackDown Creative are doing a marvellous job of using details to paint the real picture.
One look from Harper to Orton and you already know that next week won’t be about the Tag Team Titles; it will be about the disease growing at the core of the Wyatt Family. Randy does nothing to show that he’s not genuine in his devotion to Bray but everything he does causes animosity to grow in Luke Harper.
I long for the moment when this will be revealed as the Viper’s cunning mind games – lying in wait, working from within, until the enemy crumbles. Then again, it wouldn’t be out of question to see another twist and have Erick Rowan reemerge and join Bray again. The point is that the way SmackDown is written, it draws you in; it makes your imagination run wild. That’s great booking!
- Handling Cena vs. Styles Right
It’s hard to book John Cena these days. Everything he says, he’s already said. No matter how much he tries, people will always be divided in their opinion of him. The danger of being a constant, unchanging character is that at one point there will be nothing more to offer the fans and John Cena is walking that line.
We’ve seen Cena vs. Styles before and repetition is unavoidable. However, the contract signing segment was handled with care. First, it wasn’t used to close SmackDown, although it concerned the main event. This took away some of the frustration the fans have against John Cena for always being on top.
Second, Baron Corbin didn’t have to be there at all but SmackDown just couldn’t resist pushing a new rising superstar into the mix. This stirred things up. It changed the course of a feud we’ve already experienced and are not that excited about any more. Throwing curveballs is the way to go when you want to revamp any of John Cena’s old feuds.
Third, AJ Styles and Baron Corbin both left the scene looking strong. After that much talk, you’d expect John Cena to own them both, or Corbin the least. Yet, the heels stood tall. If they are to have any chance against John Cena, they need this momentum. People will always think Cena will win at the end, so any build-up for his opponent is welcome.
And last, SmackDown has John Cena and has to use him, whether people like it, or not. The show started the year by utilizing one of its biggest assets and added flavor to compensate for his flaws of character. If that’s not great work, I don’t know what is!
How do you think SmackDown has done so far, entering the New Year? Leave a comment and let us know!