WWE WWW Review Archive (December 2015-July 2017)

WWE SmackDown Live Review: The Pilot

WWE SmackDown Live 

Watch: USA Network

July 26, 2016

First Niagara Center – Buffalo, NY

This is an archived live review.

It’s a new era for SmackDown, and I am once again back in the saddle for reviews here at Wrestling With Words. Daniel Bryan has already announced that there will be a #1 Contendership determination tonight and Natalya will face Becky Lynch. There will also be a MizTV with a former WWE World Heavyweight Champion. I’m kicking off the new era with a live review for a show once again going live on the USA Network.

Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan are the first shot, not the intro. We get an awesome pan through the curtain with emphasis on the superstars and the fans. I dug this for such an innovative open. For the intro we get an awesome futuristic Tron looking package with a Sci-Fi vibe. “This is…our…last…stand!” preaches the package as the games begin from Buffalo, NY. The theme song is entitled “Take a Chance” by CFO$. It’s not bad but kind of kiddish and cheesy.

Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan are in the middle of the ring with the SmackDown roster around the ring. They announce Backlash on September 11th as a WWE Network special. They have to deal with SummerSlam first though. Dean Ambrose out. Ambrose questions who wants it most from the locker room and who’s going to step up. Daniel Bryan announces that there will be a Six Pack Challenge #1 Contenders match. John Cena, Bray Wyatt (who looks almost repackaged in terms of look), Dolph Ziggler, Baron Corbin and AJ Styles are the first five announced. The sixth spot is apparently open for everyone. A battle royal will determine the sixth entrant into the match. I almost thought they were going to say it was a vote. I dig the set up here. A 7-8 minute open that sets up the rest of the show and establishes the main event picture on SmackDown Live.

Battle Royal for the Sixth Spot in the #1 Contenders Six Pack Challenge

Kane throws Simon Gotch out first. Insert Sin Cara punishment joke here. Kane also throws out both members of the Ascension. We go for a long while without an elimination with great camera work for an incredibly awkward few minutes. Breezango eliminate Jey Uso. Otunga shouted out Gucci Mane. Mauro said lit earlier in the show. What has this brand come to?! Aiden English was eliminated during the commercial break, as well as Erick Rowan via Mojo Rawley. Alberto Del Rio then takes out Rawley. Crews and Ryder eliminated Del Rio in an honest shock, and Breezango were taken out. Ryder, Kane, Kalisto and Crews are your final four. I dig it! A blitz of moves from the new era three were given to Kane. A bunch of the typical battle royal teases and team ups across the board. Stalling for the winner. Salida Del Sol and … an Elbro Drop was supposed to happen but Ryder slipped. Kane got rid of Kalisto with one hand. Shaking my head. Double Broski Boots from Ryder! But Kane chucks him out. Apollo flips out of the chokeslam and wins the battle royal. Apollo Crews gets a shot at Dean Ambrose as long as he crews’ through the main event. Good stuff, a basic battle royal, and a put over of a new talent to kickoff the new era.

Post match interviews continue as a trend on WWE. Apollo cut a good promo, way better than usual. He’s not going to celebrate yet as he’s gotta win the main event. Real good stuff and he kept it short.

SmackDown have the one up on Raw in terms of match graphics. They look so dope. I can’t describe them so just scope the design out.

SHELTON BENJAMIN IS BACK! A vignette airs for his return. Infinitely excited. A perfect addition to the minor depleted roster for SmackDown Live right now.

A Dolph Ziggler backstage promo plays. “Somewhere along the way I got lost,” he said. Which is true. I hope he actually becomes good again. It’s all back in his hands and tonight he’s winning the main event, apparently. Time for a little laugh.

Becky Lynch vs. Natalya

Fine. I’ll take it. On my most positive day I’ll simply call this alright. This was not the best way to kick off women’s wrestling on SmackDown Live. Natalya has recently been exposed as not that good of a worker as we thought sher was. It was a basic TV formula with babyface fire only to be cooled down. Will always be tired of coming back from commercial break only for a rest hold. The match did pick up for the tail end though with Becky doing a leg drop from the top rope for a near fall, as well as a discus lariat near fall. We got some solid tussles in the lead up to Becky Lynch finally applying the Dis-arm-er for the submission victory.

Post match interview series continues. Becky said one pun and out came ALEXA BLISS!!!! YES!!!! She killed it on the mic, with the promo of night thus far. She said she was the personification of the new era, and went on to say…oh….Naomi interrupts and bantered her for being a main roster rookie. The series continued with Carmella interrupting Naomi. Eva Marie interrupts to a thunderous reaction~! Holy shit, Eva has a narrator for her entrance. “Continuously charismatic” was a two word line. I am dead. A helluva way to get heat though. I hope they put the title on her for the banter. We need more women on this roster ASAP. A huge flop on SmackDown Live’s side of things for their introduction of the women’s wrestling roster. This felt about 20 steps back from Sasha Banks winning the title on Raw in a TV MOTYC. Maybe this is feeder for Raw’s division? That would be hilarious.

A Baron Corbin vignette airs. He’s not winning the match tonight for mom, dad, the fans, or anyone on the roster. He’s winning it for himself! Great banter from Big Banter. Enjoyed the small hype promo.

It’s time for MizTV with…The Miz. He’s pulled this opening promo stunt before but now it’s better than ever. In a hilarious fashion he introduced himself and continued to interview himself in the most extravagant way possible. The two kiss and as hinted in the intro Orton is out to continue his federation talk show tour. Daniel Bryan must have pitched this idea, smiling ear to ear. This banter sent me into an induced coma I popped back out of for Randy saying his first match back should happen tonight against The Miz. I was praying this match wasn’t going to be booked tonight, but if it gets us over the hump of never seeing this again I am okay. Maryse got riled up to accept the match on Miz’s behalf. WHAT A SMACKDOWN THIS IS! SCREW YOU RAW!

Randy Orton vs. The Miz (w/Maryse)

I like how we go straight into the match as we come back from the break. This is one of the worst TV matches of the year. We got really good work over with Miz beating Orton up outside. Orton hits an RKO back in the ring. He stands there for a full minute, doing nothing. Why not just, you know, COVER THE GUY? It looks so stupid. It literally looked like Orton’s controller was disconnected. Orton hit another RKO a billion years later and picked up the win. Questionable things: 1) Squashing your IC Champ, 2) a minute between RKO and finish, like why?! Another bizarre thing to take in as SmackDown Live continues. What a weird show in general so far.

We get an American Alpha vignette that’s literally been the best part of the show. They debut next week.

A local competitor is in the ring and Heath kicks him out of the ring! A SHOOT IS INCOMING! “How in the world can Heath Slater not be drafted to Raw or SmackDown Live?” Heath said error and not era. Heath proposes the idea of being entered into the main event. He gets a sign Heath Slater chant going. Heath plugs the Network and shoots on his past resume as Shane asked that he should send in such to get a job more effectively. Heath pulled a Corey Graves and called himself the hottest free agent in sports entertainment. Rhyno has returned to the main roster. He eats a gore. I feel bad for Heath but I hope he goes to EVOLVE. Rhyno is back to add more depth and that’s fine. I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Corbin cross paths again.

AJ Styles shoots on the authority and how this new era is exactly like the last. Maybe everyone is against him because he’s too good. They didn’t draft The Club and now they have him facing five other guys just for an opportunity. AJ continues his great promo saying he’s the obvious pick. He’ll win the match without the Club. #BeatUpJohnCena and bless.

I missed the Bray promo because I was getting rice. I am sincerely sorry for my actions.

(#1 Contender Six Pack Challenge) Bray Wyatt vs. Apollo Crews vs. Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. AJ Styles vs. John Cena

This match started out for 15 seconds and went to commercial break. Not a good call in the slightest. Love how we get a commercial, then a Raw plug, THEN come back to the action. A whole bunch of nothing, yes, highlighted by Corbin and Apollo feuding in match, finally got jump started with a ref bump via Bray. Everybody hit signatures on everybody which led to a Ziggler hope spot. Obviously he wasn’t going to get the win but he managed to hit Zig Zag on Bray. Cena delivered an AA to Styles but Styles kicked out to extend the feud. AA’s to nearly everybody, Corbin got out of one, but ended up being AA’d anyways. Phenomenal Forearm to Cena and ZIGGLER WON THE MATCH. WHAT? Why are you pinning Styles clean and not Apollo or Baron? This makes absolutely no sense and makes AJ look like a goof. This match is a whole load of nothing sans a couple fun sequences. What a wonderful way to cap off SmackDown Live…not.

Overall Thoughts: 

What a heap of nonsense for a first show. This was passable, but if this was the first impression on your brand, it makes me not want to tune in and just stick to Raw. This was essentially a waste of two hours. If Ziggler is still in his later 2015-2016 state, the Ambrose match doesn’t make sense. He’s getting a push in what seems like a filler title match at a C-show PPV. Except it’s at SummerSlam. The returns are going to be mildly exciting. Shelton Benjamin and Rhyno will add depth to the roster. This show also lacked ANY of the tag division including American Alpha, who, for some reason, just debut next week instead. We go from the greatest Raw of all time to a regular episode of SmackDown before the brand split. That didn’t help my opinion at all, either. Please Dolph Ziggler. Revert to your prime 2014 run form somehow. At least it was live…

About the author


Founder of this weird world. Purveyor of generally ~POSITIVE~ pro wrestling takes. If you see a show preview, it's likely me. If you see odd fantasy booking, it's Dan, but possibly me too. Vancouver born and raised. Your sports fandom section is inserted here (BC Lions fan). Enjoy being terrible at video games. We have a side project for that! Don't do as many podcasts as I used to, but you can listen to the bi-weekly 'Your Taste is My Taste' adventure with Garrett. That just about wraps up my long ass bio. Wanted to see how much you'd actually read on here. Or am I just a bad writer? You'll never know, but what you do know is that you should keep it locked to Wrestling With Words.


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