Welcome to TWM’s Investment Rate, the place where the fighting’s made up and wins and losses don’t matter.
The usual guy is off on assignment, so you’re being filled in on how invested we were by this guy.
No, not the tall one.
After an underwhelming Raw, did Smackdown Live show the flagship show how to do a good go-home show?
So many positives.
Samoa Joe spitting out “hustle” like it’s a four letter word, in an attempt to paint Kofi Kingston’s work ethic as a flaw. Paul Heyman oozing around Kofi without a word before his rebuttal, just to let the champion know he – and his client – are around. Paige slapping Billie Kay to get The IIconics worked up enough to accept a title challenge from the Kabuki Warriors next week. The New Day being delightfully inappropriate, mostly at Rowan’s expense, and the solid triple threat afterwards. Ali’s promo. Just Ali’s promo.
But the best episodes have a theme running through them, and this week leaned on the rehabilitation of Kevin Owens.
After his takedown of Dolph Ziggler’s entire career last week, he started this episode by brawling with Dolph in the parking lot, getting sent home and breaking back in to cut a worked shoot promo on the state of the blue brand.
He referenced the infamous “We Are The Authority” promo for being bullshit, he called out Shane for hogging airtime, and he shouted out Apollo Crews, Kairi Sane and AOP (among others) as talented people who are being held down by the McMahon’s posturing.
This isn’t the first time they’ve used a character in the show as an audience surrogate to call out the quality of their TV. It’s not even the first time they’ve done it in the last 12 months. And while I’m not always a fan of them using people within the fourth wall to call out issues outside of it, this was done masterfully. Shane came out and tried to stop Owens talking (giving us the immortal line “guess what idiot, there’s more than one microphone!”) and eventually banned him from the building – culminating in Owens sneaking back in at the death to hit his finisher on Shane, keeping the finish of Roman Reigns vs. Dolph Ziggler relatively clean.
A disgruntled employee hitting a stunner on a heel McMahon? Is this 1998?
While many may be sceptical about a face Kevin Owens, he needed this – he’s been spinning his wheels since losing his title shot and they’ve built this well. He started to make us laugh with his flashcard gimmick on his talk show and was clearly done with everyone’s shit last week. Pitting him against Shane McMahon, a character Owens has never seen eye to eye with, is great continuity.
Finn Balor said that if Shinsuke Nakamura wanted to make a name for himself of him, he’d be in for “an extraordinary surprise”. Was the surprise either of these two getting TV time?
Both these men could have a three star match half asleep, so their bout was good. However, mishandling one of the finest wrestlers in the world to the point he has to state “no more tag teams” and having your Intercontinental Champion make his first public appearance since the Champions League Final ain’t a good look.
Meanwhile, in a closet, we finally know who Aleister Black is fighting! Yay!
It’s Cesaro! Eh…
Again, two incredibly talented men who will put on a masterclass this Sunday. But was anyone expecting… more? The contrasting suits were a nice touch, I guess.
Elsewhere, Fire and Desire carried on bullying Ember Moon, which is the most WWE thing ever. Take one of your best workers in a division… and use her in backstage segments. About the only interesting thing about this was the heavy romantic subtext (belated Happy Pride, everyone!) and the fact that Ember now has to find a tag team partner. It should be someone with a pre-existing grudge against Mandy and Sonya, like Naomi. It will be Carmella.
Speaking of Carmella, she lost a short match to Nikki Cross, who is somehow the biggest babyface in a feud involving Bayley. Nikki turned up to her contract signing alone, and claimed she and Alexa Bliss are going to be the first Smackdown Women’s Co-Champions.
I told you this episode was about Kevin Owens.
The Investment Rate
I clapped at the episode’s end, where the Montreal Mamba (trademark pending) finally struck at
The Authority those guys giving him trouble. It was a nice, tight episode that loses points mostly for reminding the audience of how good this product can be, Shelton Benjamin’s eyes and Bayley’s booking in promos. They always struggle with that.
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