The distress beacon went up and Rob needed someone to fill in for your usual Smackdown reviewer. Holla at your boy as I pass the Ru-bicon and review/recap/regurgitate Smackdown. So Voices of Wrestling proudly presents:

A Smackdown Review From A Guy Who is Too Tired From Watching Raw And NXT  To Watch Smackdown On A Regular Basis…or “Smackdown Review” for short.

Overall: Filler, but really good filler. Nothing that you will remember next week but if you have a couple hours, well worth the watch.  Oddly enough, the Miz is far more at home and has a little more room to work on this show and comes off far more engaging than on RAW.

Miz TV

Oh Tish, speak French to me! AJ is here to answer for the Reigns beat down on Monday. Miz paints the conspiracy picture, but unlike Colonel Jessup, AJ Styles does not break under cross to admit he ordered the Code Red. Maryse with some nice trolling here as she throws Miz off track and movie references abound (A Few Good Men, Concussion, Empire Strikes Back). Once back to the interview AJ beats down Miz and leaves.

Your usual exposition but no real movement, it was fine to set up the match for later.  

Eden’s outfit is an outstanding look.

Ryback def. Kalisto

Ryback attacks nanoseconds before the bell and proceeds to do power offense on Ryback, including sliding Kalisto into the post shoulder first and a standing delayed superplex. Kalisto turns the tables as while in the Tree of Woe, he avoids a shoulder block. The rally dies at the hands of a clothesline, with a false finish as Ryback has his Shellshock reversed into a DDT. But the rally comes up short as the Salina del Sol is reversed into a Shellshock.

So Ryback’s not in the doghouse, and we’re getting a WrestleMania rematch it would appear. Perhaps as a rib it will be on the preshow. Did all it need to and wasn’t a bad match.

Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin – No Contest

Dolph gets attacked from behind during his walk to the ring by Big Banter. After getting thrown into everything, the End of Days brings the end of Dolph. Rich Brennan decides it would be a good time to ask “Why?”

Me: “Because he can”

Corbin “Because I can”

Rich Brennan asks the probing questions, but I like that Corbin didn’t cut a long promo here. Brevity, the soul of wit and badasses. I’d rather he hadn’t smiled and said it menacingly to Brennan, perhaps even throwing Rich into something. Then we can bring out Alex Reyes and see if anyone notices the difference. A much better handling of Corbin here than on Monday.

AJ Styles def. The Miz

Say what you will about the Miz, he is a pretty good heel midcarder that takes offense and can seem credible giving it back. I think his improvement goes unnoticed because he’s been around so long we take incremental improvement for granted.

AJ gets an early Muta/Indian Death/Emma/Shelly Death Lock and Lawler acts like he’s never heard of Muta. They’ve both destroyed Doug Gilbert, that’s a bond. Lawler toeing the company line that “this kid” got one of the fastest title shots ever, and Mauro drops a Public Enemy verse. I love you Mauro.

Also, I know it’s old hat, but Mauro trolling Lawler on moves like Ushikorishi just to have snappy comebacks when Lawler plays dumb never gets old.

A fun extended match with plenty of back and forth. Nice teases of a Styles Clash and a Phenomenal Forearm and an extended Calf Crusher the Miz escapes. Miz gets a Figure Four. Miz decides to bail and Gallows and Anderson intimidate Miz back into an AJ springboard forearm to the outside. Phenomenal Forearm leads to a pin in a solid match that adds to the intrigue for Payback.

Sami and Dean don’t like Jericho and Kevin Owens. Sami decides they need a wacky team name. and I’m guessing someone made a bet as to how far they could push the envelope. We get spotted dick, jerking around, and as team names: Beefeater and Rough Riders. To quote the Edge and Christian Show that Totally Reeks of Awesomeness.

Sean Mooney: “Does Vince watch this?”

Edge: “[Expletive] No.”

 After the match and in the ring,  Miz cuts a great promo about being right about the Bullet Club collusion and how the people should believe him even though he’s a bad guy. Shane interrupts to say hello. Miz calls him out on saying nothing but hello and degrades Shane due to being “his boss’ little boy” and the importance of being Intercontinental Champion. Miz tells Shane to go make him a priority and Shane does his Sports Entertainment punches and shuffle. Miz was absolutely fantastic here, it’s a shame this didn’t make air.

Brennan presses Gallows and Anderson, they’re going to debut against the Usos, they drop the word “impact” more than once (ah..TNA…never die) and the NWO’s old “We’ve arrived.”  They’ve kind of turned this into a show geared for the wrestling bubble and I have no problem with that as only completists really go out of their way to view.

Paige/Nattie def. Team B.A.D

Paige got to look good in front of the home crowd. Nattie got built up as a contender. Double Sharpshooter/PTO finisher. Most credible Paige as looked since the beginning of the Divas Revolution.

R-Truth def. Fandango w/ Goldust as referee

Comedy with Goldango and Golden Truth leads to this grudge match. Really, I’d rather watch a Goldango team.  R-Truth wins after some comedy and Golden Truth channel Kid and Play.

Cass & Enzo and The Vaudevillains are out for a tete-a-tete on the microphone. Both hold their own here despite the crowd giving Aidan English the “What?” treatment and Enzo being a bit too clever/punny for the room. But I like the dichotomy of  “You’re acting childish/ we’re doing an homage to real men” in all of this. The Vaudevillains are better as heels and better at promos than they ever were in NXT.  

I love the way Eden says “Ooooooooooooowens.”  I hate that “Eating Sonic and having a heart attack” Lawler thinks he can make fun of Owens’ weight with a Titanic crack. If you’re going to be an across the board heel, how about sticking to it? Talk up the heels, act as a counterbalance. Byron drops “having fun” and I drop some choice words for anyone non-Mauro. Owens refuses to start against Zayn and the story is Owens getting cheap shots and blind tags to get more cheap shots. After the tag match devolves into a tornado match an odd ending where Jericho pushes Dean into a crotch shot on the ropes and that’s enough for the pin.

While the ending was bad, the Owens celebration is enough to make up for it. Especially the “Viva Los (sic) Canada.”

Verdict from a guy who only seeks out Smackdown when he hears there’s something worth watching: The past three weeks since WrestleMania have brought a noticeable improvement to Smackdown as well. Worth putting back on your DVR season pass as there’s been one or two really good matches or segments amidst the RAW recaps. Mauro is an absolute joy on play by play and given enough room to breathe. Lawler is still breaking bad habits like going for easy body jokes that would please Vince and can’t handle an aggressive straight man. Byron, for all the reps he’s getting, isn’t asserting a personality. Perhaps I’m getting soft, but I find myself rooting for Byron’s breakout moment when he starts talking.