Was SmackDown good last night? Eh, not really. Which is a shame because with Battleground already failing to drum up requisite excitement, WWE needed the Blue Brand to have the promotional equivalent of Michael Jordan's "Flu Game."
Instead, we got an oddly toned show that didn't do much to build interest for Sunday's pay-per-view.
SmackDown is ill aligned; there are mega stars on the mid card like AJ Styles and John Cena while former jobbers hold the show's most precious belt. But that's hardly an insightful criticism. We already know the Jinder Mahal is inexperienced, and for the record, he's actually doing just fine. But WWE has put him in a tough position by asking him to carry the emotional baton in a feud with an emotionally numbing Randy Orton.
But you can go anywhere on the internet for this, though. Twitter is spilling with negative SmackDown reviews and would love for you to spend 45 seconds of your day scrolling through its filth. While SmackDown didn't offer much in terms of goodness, they did have a couple surprising moments, which is a nice consolation prize for those that watched.
So what parts of SmackDown had us on our heels? Let's find out:
Chad Gable Shows Some Range
With his tag team partner, Jason Jordan dumping him for his new father and imminent stardom, Chad Gable has been left kicked rocks on Tuesdays.
However, WWE gave him an opportunity to spin his perspective in an interview with Renee Young. Was it phenomenal? Not really, but it was at least believable.
Gable represents the newest installment in a thick WWE trend - a great technical wrestler with minimal personality. Both AJ Styles and Finn Balor have ridden that wave all the way to major WWE championships. However, Gable may have the advantage.
Guys like Styles and Balor have spent their entire careers outside of WWE in worlds that do not demand the same entertainment that WWE does. For Gable, all he will know is WWE and could highly benefit from WWE's story and character driven business.prevnext
Naomi's Big Time Promo
WWE may have something with the current SmackDown Women's Champion. She's spent the last month squashing Lana and getting her own personalized championship belt. WWE may be more invested in her than the casual fan man believe.
While she has yet to have a title defense of significance, that day is rapidly approaching.
Charlotte Flair or Becky Lynch must win Battleground's Fatal 5-Way. If WWE is indeed behind Naomi, she needs to pin a legitimate competitor at SummerSlam, anything else would be a wasted opportunity. While someone like Natalya is a proven veteran, SummerSlam demands star power.
Don't forget that Naomi has been around, too. For some wrestlers, it takes a while for the business to click. Naomi may be one big win a way from her career taking off.prevnext
On a night that portrayed foreigners as our mortal enemies, Shinsuke Nakamura was treated well by the live Birmingham crowd.
This can only be seen as a promising sign. As the audience sang the chorus to Nakamura's theme song, WWE officials had to be hearing a resounding cha-ching. It took a couple months, but WWE looks to have solved Nakamura's booking puzzle.
The less they do, the more they do. The King of Strong Style said one sentence last night and it was by far the most quotable line of the show. WWE teased the prospect of Nakamura answering AJ Styles' US Championship Open Challenge - an insinuation that will keep us all tuning into SmackDown on a regular basis.prevnext
John Cena is Still the Best
Look, Cena's promo last night was nearly awful. The American rah-rah just doesn't land like it used to. That said, Cena still managed to rev up the fan base.
Cena was given nearly an impossible task: Make us care about Battleground. This is how you know that John Cena actually is the face that runs the place. Vince McMahon pushed the emergency Cena button in order to promote/save the pending pay-per-view. No one else on WWE's roster could even approach that task.0comments
What Cena offers WWE is simply uncomparable to the rest of the locker room. In terms of reach, John Cena is the most popular wrestler in the history of the business. We all take that for granted because we feel he's over-exposed. And even though his promo was unapologetically jingoistic, he laid it down with full conviction.
While his character may not be as impressionable as Hulk Hogan or Stone Cold Steve Austin, he's just as important to WWE. He's a superhero in every sense of the word. One day we'll all be ashamed for booing with such ironic fervor.prev