My time management sucks.
Now we're on to the second Smackdown PPV, No Mercy. Again, this is not a comprehensive recap. For that, there are better writers to seek out. These are just my thoughts on the show.
Kickoff Match: American Alpha & The Hype Bros. beat The Ascension & The Vaudevillains.
WWE World Title Triple Threat Match: AJ Styles (c) retained against John Cena and Dean Ambrose by pinning Cena.
Nikki Bella pinned Carmella.
Smackdown Tag Team Champions Heath Slater & Rhyno stopped The Usos.
Baron Corbin toppled Jack Swagger.
Title vs Career Match: Dolph Ziggler pinned The Miz (w/Maryse) to become the Intercontinental Champion.
Naomi beat Alexa Bliss.
Bray Wyatt pinned Randy Orton.
- Miz and Ziggler steal the show...again. Dolph Ziggler versus The Miz wasn't just a great match, it had emotions. The fans bought into Ziggler's struggle and The Miz needing to be taken down a peg. This was a better match than Backlash, if only because Ziggler was selling both the desperation and his leg (more consistently than last month, anyway). The key, of course, is what happens next. Fans care about Ziggler again, and Miz is still on fire...but aside from the mandatory rematch, what happens to capitalize on this? There's not a lot of heel depth for Ziggler to feud with (aside from revisiting his feud with Baron Corbin, which nobody wants). Maybe Luke Harper or Bray Wyatt, intertwining Ziggler with Orton?
- Welcome back. It takes a lot to really get me to mark out these days, and I had become convinced that Wyatt versus Orton was going to end with Orton punting Bray Wyatt into the WWE history books. Instead, we got the return of Luke Harper, and it gives me (foolish) hope for the future of The Wyatt Family. Orton and Bray had a good match, but the crowd was dead and even I never felt like Orton was ever in any real danger until Harper showed up. That's what two and a half years of booking Bray as a punching bag for the top stars will do to "The New Face of Fear". I have seen calls clamoring (again) for a Harper vs Wyatt feud, but let's be honest: It will be a long time before that feud will ever do either man any favors. Let them run roughshod. Heck, at this point I would be happy with Harper and Wyatt as tag team champions.
- Poor Ms. Bliss. I felt, going into this show, that Alexa Bliss was in no way a threat to Becky Lynch, and that Lynch was probably just treading water until Eva Marie returns. I like Bliss, as she's very athletic, has a great look and is promising on the microphone (it just seems like her comfort level isn't quite there yet)...and so Lynch's mysterious injury seemed like a perfect opportunity to begin building her as a proper threat. I got nervous when she came out and cut her promo, because that seemed like the perfect set up for the arrogant heel to get squashed (I was almost expecting an Asuka debut). Instead we got Naomi. What followed was a sloppy match that seemed like it was telling a story (Alexa Bliss working the arm in response to Becky's own Dis-Arm-Her)...and Naomi squeezing out a lucky win. If you want to make Alexa seem like a legitimate threat to the title, that wasn't the way to do it. Instead she's been repeatedly overshadowed by Eva Marie and Carmella, the former of whom is a notoriously bad in ring worker and the latter of whom hasn't been able to draw a crowd reaction on the main roster as a face or a heel. Hopefully they bail Bliss out before she become another NXT also-ran (like most of the Kickoff show's Superstars).
- The pacing of the show. I enjoyed the show. I even understand putting the World Title match on in the beginning because of the Presidential debate. That said, the pacing was just a little weird, especially when the pacing peaked with the Intercontinental Title Match and the last two matches were largely performed in front of dead crowds...and this wasn't even a Raw/WrestleMania/Summerslam effect where the fans had been sitting through a show that was just waaaaay too long. Obviously, it doesn't help when someone as popular as Becky is taken off the show at the last minute, but Miz hasn't wrestled in front of a dead crowd in years, and he and Ziggler stole the show last month, so they should have been the obvious choice to end the show if the World Title Match was going on first.
- Faces and heels are officially dead. Jim Ross said on his blog today that he didn't understand AJ Style being booked to cheat when he was clearly the crowd favorite. Unfortunately, Jim Ross and I both need to come to grips with the fact that faces and heels are dead. There are several examples of this in WWE right now, but when The Miz and Dolph Ziggler are getting split "Let's go, Ziggler!" "Let's go, Miz!" chants, it is time to stop worrying about who is getting booed and who is getting cheered once and for all, and just focus on who elicits a crowd reaction and who doesn't. ESPECIALLY when a certain segment of the audience loves to voraciously boo babyfaces until they turn heel...then cheer them to the point that they turn them back into babyfaces...at which point they are booed again. Stop worrying about it. That goes to you, me, Jim Ross and WWE Creative. The wrestling audience has morphed into a whole other beast, for better or for worse.
- Stop being too smart for your own good, WWE. WWE matches have been having lots of creative spots and finishes these days...and it's not necessarily a good thing. Some things (like Luke Harper appearing in the ring, but not actually touching Orton, so as to not cause a DQ) aren't bad. Other things (like Cesaro and Sheamus fighting to a draw in a Best of Seven Series, or AJ Styles tapping out to two men, and so the match carries on as if nothing had happened) are pretty silly at best, or make you feel like you wasted your time at worse. This is made doubly bad when it seems like cutesy finishes like these are popping up on every major show now. Possibly the only thing that annoys me more at this point are all the false finishes that pop up in just about every match, especially all the finisher kickouts. Heck, the biggest highlight I've seen on regular TV in months was Ambrose pinning Cena with a sunset flip, because it was a non-finisher pinfall, which made non-finisher/interference/weapon pinfalls look possible again.
Thanks for reading, and I'll try to manage my time better to post new thoughts sooner.