The WWE's Top "Smackdown" Story is Great and a Mess

As Smackdown Live approaches “Fastlane,” its best story is also its dumbest. The ongoing drama between Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan is incomprehensible as they manipulate the careers of A.J. Styles, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. At the same time, Styles, Owens, and Zayn are three of the best performers on Smackdown Live—reliably creative on the mic and in the ring.

The WWE's MMC Makes FB Must-See TV

The WWE Mixed Match Challenge sounds like a gimmicky way for the WWE to get in on a gimmicky platform, Facebook’s new Facebook Live. Instead, it has been a pleasant surprise and a reminder of what the WWE does well. The series is a tournament of male-female tag team matches, each wrestling for a charity, and while such tag matches are often frustrating because they present non-committal wrestling, here they succeed because they’re all about personas.

Braun Strowman Buries the Opposition

Bottom line: I watch wrestling for the moments when something truly insane happens. Crazy feats of athleticism, ridiculous actions, or something so over the top that no respectable form of entertainment would do it. As I said last week, NPJW’s Chris Jericho/Kenny Omega had me when Jericho put the referee’s son in the Walls of Jericho. I’ll put up with a lot of soap opera to get to a “Holy shit!” moment. On Monday, the WWE manufactured one of those moments when Braun Strowman pulled a wall of scaffolding down backstage on Brock Lesnar and Kane.

Triple H Reasserts What Matters in WWE at "Survivor Series"

It was a depressing moment when Triple H announced himself to be the final member of Raw’s Survivor Series team. The COO of the WWE doesn’t return to television to play a peripheral role, so you knew he would be crucial to the conclusion of the Survivor Series match against Team Smackdown Live and likely episodes of Raw to follow.

Sami Zayn Lightens Up, Balor and Styles Point to Survivor Series

Tonight’s Raw will pick up the pieces from last night’s “TLC—Tables, Ladders and Chairs” pay per view. The night was unusual with a soft card that was largely upgraded as the Raw roster dealt with a freakish run of illnesses that kept Miztourage member Bo Dallas on the sidelines and benched Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns, both of which would have figured prominently in the night.

The Beat Downs Go On Forever

A basic rule in the WWE playbook is that if you want to build heat on a character or in a feud, go for a beat down. Time and again, heels have taken the last 10 minutes of Raw to waffle someone with a folding chair again and again, usually in a two- or three-on-one situation, just to amplify the cruel unfairness. A week ago, The Miz and the Miztourage pounded on Roman Reigns well after he’d stopped moving, going so far as starting to leave the ring and come back down the ramp to beat on Reigns’ prone body some more.

The Big Show Shows How It's Done

I never loved physically big wrestlers in the WWE. They wrestled big, slow matches that were all about power, so they bored me on a couple of levels. I am proudly #neverhulkhogan, and The Great Khali and Giant Gonzales made me uncomfortable to watch because you could see that their unusual size came from the acromegaly that would afflict them more as they aged. That unhealthy undercurrent in big wrestler matches further took the fun out of them.

Raw's Kurt Angle Introduces Jason Jordan as His Illegitimate Son - "It's True!"

 The big news this week in the WWE was the announcement that American Alpha’s Jason Jordan is the illegitimate son of Olympic gold medalist, long-time WWE Superstar and now Raw general manager Kurt Angle. Jordan isn’t in real life, but the shared broad cheekbones make the story possible. The story’s the kind that doesn’t move me, and it doesn’t help that it was tied to a performer who had little presence in the WWE Universe before this week.

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