WWE SmackDown Live: Haphazard Booking Won’t Bode Well for Mid-Card Stars


Some of WWE SmackDown Live’s best prospects are slowly fading into obscurity, and the brand’s booking isn’t helping one bit.

We have witnessed a plethora of questionable developments on WWE SmackDown Live over the course of the last few months – way more so than on Raw, at least.

Jinder Mahal is WWE Champion, with Baron Corbin now lurking close behind as Mr. Money in the Bank. We’ve already witnessed quite possibly the biggest controversy we can expect this year with James Ellsworth helping Carmella win the first women’s Money in the Bank ladder match, and the decision later being overturned.

Heck, even Lana is in the SmackDown Women’s Championship picture, a development very few of us would’ve predicted at the top of the year with the level of depth on Tuesday nights, paired with Lana’s former status as a non-wrestler.

You’re going to see a lot of people complaining about these individuals taking up the limelight, but there’s something to be said for the brand’s new direction and sense of “anything can happen”, since these new names started coming out of the woodwork.

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That said, there are unique ways to utilize stars, and there are pointless ones.

SmackDown Live’s broadcasters like to boast about how deep each of its divisions are, but the reality is with all the progress they seem to be making on paper, a good portion of the brand is being put to waste, or used in a way that makes no sense.

The big example we’re going to use here is the mid-card and tag-team divisions, and the nonsensical crossover they saw on SmackDown Live this week.

In case you missed it, Kevin Owens came to the ring, and essentially made an open challenge to defend the WWE United States Championship against anyone in the arena from Dayton, Ohio – this week’s host city –  which was Kevin’s clever way of ensuring the AJ Styles wouldn’t be the man to answer the challenge.

Who did answer, you may ask? Chad Gable, who of course isn’t actually from Dayton, Ohio, but apparently giving the address of the arena is an easy workaround.

Take nothing away from Chad Gable and Jason Jordan. These are two extraordinary athletes who, despite being used terribly since coming to team blue last July, still remain as one of the best all-around tag-teams in the WWE today in terms of ability.

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The latest issue these guys have been having is their lack of appearance. With Tyler Breeze and Fandango’s hilarious Fashion Files segments taking up seemingly the only available tag-team slot that doesn’t contain the titles every week, Jordan and Gable can’t get a word in with regards to their progression.

Some have pulled for a heel turn, but with The Usos standing firmly as some of the best heels in the company, they would have to tread lightly and think very carefully in planning an effective shift in character for American Alpha.

So, with Gable and Jordan having nowhere to go, having not appeared on TV for weeks, what is there for them to do? Compete for the U.S. Championship, apparently.

Make no mistake, Gable certainly held his own against Kevin Owens, and you can bet your bottom dollar that there were a ton of fans pulling for an upset title victory for the young upstart, but without it, what was really the point of this match?

Does it paint Gable as a legitimate prospect should he break away from Jason Jordan? Sure it does, but given the way so many of the brand’s lower mid-carders have been treated lately, that’s something nobody should want for American Alpha.

Exhibit A here is that while Gable and Jordan should be in their rightful position in the tag division building themselves up to be a threat to the titles, guys like Tye Dillinger, Luke Harper and even Erick Rowan should be in that spot against Owens.

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Legitimate mid-carders who should, all things considered, stand as the most credible threats to the title given that they are there to enhance the division the title represents.

Has anyone even seen Tye wrestle a match this month?

And sure, Luke Harper did compete in this week’s main event against the WWE Champion, but surely it would be more worth his while to have competitive matches in the undercard and actually participate in a real story as opposed to just showing up when the champion needs to win a match.

What’s concerning here is that SmackDown Live used to be quite a riveting show. It definitely has its entertaining aspects now, but at the moment it seems to have lost its consistency to the same “first time ever” tropes that plagued Monday Night Raw late last year, but with unlikely Superstars getting big opportunities in its place.

Should this kind of wacky booking continue, you can kiss goodbye to any hope of genuinely deserving athletes like Harper, Dillinger, Rowan and American Alpha getting their chances to shine on a weekly basis, instead of once in a blue moon.

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What do you think? Was Chad Gable vs. Kevin Owens a good one-off for this week? Or should that spot have been reserved for a solo mid-card competitor?