1) Come On... – Just because Shinsuke Nakamura is influenced by Michael Jackson, doesn't mean they should bring Dolph Ziggler out and try to make some strange comparison between the two. I did not like his promo one bit. Most of the crowd had no idea what he was talking about at first either, putting the entire segment in a weird spot. Nakamura then grabbed the microphone and played the same game, answering for Ziggler, and calling him a "Jacka--." Have to say it was interesting seeing how middle America reacted to Nakamura, he didn't get quite the pop that we've seen before and he even got a few "What?" chants during his promo. WWE still needs to very much introduce him to the masses, and I hope they come up with better material than this to get him going. Also, if Nakamura is going to mostly talk, should he have in a mouthpiece? It makes it tough for anyone to talk clearly, much less when English isn't their first language.
2) Unfinished Business – Since we never got a proper finish to AJ Styles and Baron Corbin last week, they were the first match to kick off the night. I'll be honest; I ended up paying more attention to Kevin Owens verbally smashing Byron Saxton than the match itself. The contest was fine enough with Styles getting the sneaky win, which seemed okay considering Corbin is still working his way up the ladder. Much like when he took on John Cena and didn't get the win. Just being in there against big names will help keep his stock stable before eventually punching through. Sami Zayn attempted to come to Styles' rescue, that didn't work out so well as Owens ended up standing tall as the segment came to a close. At the very least, I appreciate WWE having a storyline ready to go once Owens finishes up with Jericho, just keeps the momentum going for their Superstars.
3) Tick Tock – First off for the "Beat the Clock" challenge was American Alpha vs. The Colons. It lacked any real urgency and was pretty run of the mill until AA was able to get the win, just after the five minute mark. Didn't help that we just saw them go at it last week- ah, who cares? Breezango ended up winning the whole thing! Thought when the WWE Draft first took place they would challenge for the title as heels, but it took awhile and now they are doing it as good guys. Don't expect them to take the titles, instead, a really good way to kill some time before The New Day return.
4) No DQ – A fine preview (kind of) to get fans ready for the upcoming "House of Horrors" match. Erick Rowan always puts in the effort to make his matches passable (if not really solid), but as an individual wrestler, I'm never invested. That's mostly due to him being (as Luke Harper put it, who was missing in action this week) a "Back-up Dancer" on the Wyatt Family for so long, I'm used to him not doing much. Yes, WWE was able to make something of Braun Strowman, but he has an undeniable presence along with some damn good overall booking. In comparison, Rowan will continue to be a victim of start and stop booking while making the top stars look good, which isn't the worst role to have.
5) "Evil Foreign Guy" – Jinder Mahal is a great promo, I dig how he presents himself and he's believable. What I'm not down with is WWE pulling their usual, tired, boring, evil foreigner gimmick that fans can't seem to help but soak up. He literally said the fans don't like him because he looks different, ugh. With WWE looking to push into India, why put Jinder in this role? I'm not expecting him to be a face (he's a great heel!), but it feels counter when attempting to grow into a new market. I'd much rather the focus be on his (and The Singh Brothers) wealth as a reason to hate them. There's so much more that can be done with that, including paying other wrestlers to do their dirty work or throwing it in the faces of opponents. Jinder stealing the title was a nice wrinkle to the story, him riding off into the night was a great image.
6) The Welcoming Committee – Considering how short we were on time, it seemed likely Charlotte vs. Naomi was going to have a weird ending and sure enough, Natalya, Carmella, and Tamina crashed the party. On the plus side, it gives the three of them some exposure while not in the title hunt. It also opens the possibility for either Becky Lynch to side with them or team up with Naomi and a newly turned Charlotte. I'm not thrilled with Charlotte becoming the good gal, so hopefully that's not where WWE is taking this. Although we didn't really get a full match, thought the flow was better than last week, there's still a slight hesitation between these two, not sure if it's just how Charlotte sells things, or if Naomi needs to be more decisive when it comes to her next move.
Erick Rowan – Despite some of the negative stuff I said above and Rowan losing against Orton, he did a great job putting over the champion. Took a solid table bump and completely plowed through a chair in the corner of the ring, great job by the big man. Also, I still pop for his entrance music...
The Colons – Back to losing when it matters. I didn't expect them to get to The Usos, so why give them a win last week when they just get stopped this week? WWE might as well wait until Primo and Epico can string together two or three wins to build some kind of momentum. Until then, this team just does nothing for me and I don't see that changing at any point in the near future.
This Week's MVP
Rusev – I'm all about creative ways of bringing in wrestlers, and with Rusev out for awhile this was a nice way to keep him in the mix. By demanding a shot at the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank or going back home, he puts Shane and Bryan in a bit of a quandary. They don't want to lose new talent nor should they just hand out title shots because a wrestler wants one. This week's show really didn't have any obvious MVP's; Rowan was solid, but not MVP level. I really like Jinder as a performer, but dislike how WWE is portraying him. Everyone else was just solid or below, so let's go with RuRu this week.
Have we already sunken into the WrestleMania doldrums? SmackDown benefited greatly from being only a two hour show, I may have fallen asleep if it was also three hours long. The plus side with the blue brand is they are attempting to push people (Jinder, Breezango, Rusev) to newer heights, kicking the tires, if you will. That kind of unpredictability will help keep me interested week to week, despite the major peaks and valleys we look to be running into.
Grade (out of 10): 5.5 (Last Week 6.5)