As Sheamus and Ridge Holland made their way to the ring for Holland’s match against Cesaro on this week’s episode of WWE SmackDown, lead announcer Michael Cole blurted out in his usual faux excited tone that it had officially become “Fight Night”. Never mind that he’s an announcer for a wrestling show, which makes every night, by nature, “fight night”.
That line of dialogue epitomizes most of what is wrong with WWE. That need to categorize every little aspect of the product to fulfill this “variety show” expectation the company has created for itself creates an environment where few elements feel authentic or important.
This issue revealed itself on this edition of SmackDown in a few ways.
These are the top three things that went wrong on the Dec. 18 episode of SmackDown.
Honorable mention: Naomi vs. Shayna Baszler- As mentioned in another piece, it was nice to see WWE get through a Sonya Deville/Shayna Baszler segment without putting heat on Deville. That’s no excuse to book Shayna Baszler to lose in less than 30 seconds to a roll-up after attacking Naomi before the match to get an unfair advantage.
Honorable mention: Ridge Holland vs. Cesaro- Again, short matches like these do nothing to help Holland or Cesaro’s credibility, no matter who wins. Also, doing two pre-match attack angles shows how low on ideas WWE is.
“Happy Talk” with Happy Corbin, Madcap Moss, and Drew McIntyre
It’s getting to the point where these pieces will have to be titled “What went wrong on SmackDown…besides whatever WWE books Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss in”. That’s how much of a drag these two are on a weekly basis.
This isn’t a knock on Corbin — a solid midcard performer who WWE has made an avatar for everything fans don’t like about the promotion — or Moss, as they’re only doing what WWE asks them to do, but the company’s plan to make these two so annoying that fans will yearn for a babyface to knock them out has backfired badly.
It was more of the same on another edition of “Happy Talk”, where Corbin and Moss bragged about stealing Drew McIntyre’s sword. They cracked bad jokes, laughed at said bad jokes, and struggled to pull the sword out of Adam Pearce’s desk as if it were Excalibur (the mythic weapon, not AEW’s excellent lead announcer) before McIntryre interrupted them.
Things didn’t get much better after that, as highlighted by McIntyre quipping that Moss and Corbin were experiencing “performance issues”, but the segment at least didn’t last much longer past that.
It looks like the plan is to have McIntyre feud with Corbin for a bit to keep “The Scottish Warrior” occupied until he inevitably feuds with Roman Reigns. If so, would it be too much to ask WWE to make these angles more watchable?
The Usos lose a non-title match
Yes, we all know how good New Day vs. Usos matches are, but what sense does it make to have these teams face each other in a non-title match weeks before they’re set to fight for the titles at Day 1? Wouldn’t it be more logical to have both teams in separate matches where they can win and look strong heading into the pay-per-view?
Of course, you would need more than four teams on the SmackDown roster to make that work. But that’s a problem of WWE’s creation, so it’s hard to feel sympathy for the promotion on that front (of course, there aren’t many, if any, areas where you could feel sorry for WWE).
Having the champions lose knowing they would also get pulverized by Brock Lesnar later on also shows that WWE has no interest in making a potential title change feel like a momentous occasion.