What began in a dark ring with a single spotlight shining down on WWE Universal champion Kevin Owens culminated in one of the best weeks of WWE promos in recent memory.
While RAW was sluggish and more of the same following Owens opening segment, the impact from his words resonated with fans everywhere, as the majority cheered for the stand alone Owens performance they have all clamored for, a performance that wowed even me, a long time supporter dating back to the era of “Kill, Steen, Kill” and the Owens promos of old. What began on RAW bled noticeably onto Smackdown, as creative has taken an unexpected direction, incorporating more promo’s and even vignettes reminiscent of those from WWE’s 80’s and 90’s era and truth be told, I loved it both for the novelty and effectiveness of this decision.
Some of Smackdown’s superstars shined incredibly bright when the camera was on them, renewing fan interest in their characters or creating a lasting buzz that will help them going forward. In honor of such a big week, I thought I would highlight a few of my favorite promos from Smackdown, all of which are worth a second look. (Note: Bray Wyatt is omitted from this piece as he is ALWAYS good and delivers on the mic, so it goes without saying)
Oh my lord, where in the world has this version of Jimmy and Jey Uso been? When the WWE universe lost interest in the colorful good guys, the brass abruptly switched them into an angrier, more aggressive team sans the face paint, yet something was missing from the formula (and it wasn’t brightly colored Timbaland boots or ultra saggy pants) as the Usos have spent the last couple of months finding themselves and getting acclimated to the change. The Usos were so aggressive and jaw-droppingly good this week that it has renewed my interest in them as a team and shows me they have much more they can do in the tag team division past playing the role of veteran gatekeepers.
Whoever decided to have them emerge from the audience rather than the ramp really helped them kick this promo up a notch and the fact that they were able to interchange members and carry out one thought as a team was absolutely brilliant. I also really like that they have slightly toned down the Usos clothing, making it less over the top, as I felt like they were “peacocking” themselves into attention that should’ve been put on their in-ring skills rather than their outlandish clothing. I love the characters, I loved the promo and I love the new direction. Let’s hope for more golden moments like this going forward as this one hit me like a “Samoan drop”.
“The Wicked Witch” of the WWE was at it again, this time preying on the tears of Naomi and the forfeiture of her Women’s championship. Bliss is an exceptional heel and really knows how to work the crowd with words, hand gestures, facial expressions and most of all, her general storyline disgust for anyone she is working with. When Bliss criticized the crowd’s chants, it worked them into an absolute frenzy, prompting Bliss to get agitated to delight of the fans. This keen ability shows that WWE wasn’t wrong in their decision to put the title back on her after Naomi’s unfortunate injury. Bliss has the talent to drive this vehicle for the long-term and by all means deserves to. No matter whom the champion is after Wrestlemania, Bliss is bound to remain the #1 heel in the division with many reigns in her very bright future.
The Miz cannot be stopped. After years of ire and insults from me, the guy I once referred to as “That tool from the Real World” has commanded so much attention in the last few months of cutting promos and taking digs at other superstars, that I admit to shamelessly changing my tune. This week was no different, as the “Hollywood A-Lister” cut a promo that was almost 60 seconds of him listing his various accolades and accomplishments as a reason for why he would win the evening’s Battle Royal. As usual, he was rude, smug and to the point and for The Miz, that is where he creates absolute magic. Someday, I will shake this man’s hand and apologize in person for once deeming him a bad worker in the press, as I can hardly think of anyone else who has had a renaissance on the microphone like The Miz has had in recent memory. If you cannot see how good The Miz has been, then your understanding of professional wrestling is basic at best and you need to reassess your opinion in a hurry.
While Nikki Bella’s promo towards Natty was the same old shaky bridge it always is, Natalya brought some incredible heat to the table, showing obvious frustration and just enough arrogance to make it all work; almost as if she was channeling some actual resentment toward her real life friend. As the chapter closes on this feud and Natalya deservingly went over after a fantastic “falls count anywhere” bout with Nikki, it makes me anxious to see where she ends up in the mix of women vying for the championship. Natalya is starting to become a believable heel, while not yet perfect, or polished, she shows that there is plenty of room to grow and that she is making a sincere effort and is starting to get better at being “bad”. The audience has finally accepted that she is no longer the cat-loving, pearly white smiling “face” they had all relegated to “mid-card hell”, but now has the ability to win a championship that has long eluded her with this new “bad girl” attitude and character. Give it a little more time and I guarantee you we will see it.
Is there anything in the business Styles doesn’t excel at? One of my favorite moments on this week’s episode was a smug mannered Styles, strutting into the building bragging about how he would win the nights main event. Even this little piece of air time shows why everyone is so high on Styles and what he brings to the table, and when I reference what that entails, the answer is EVERYTHING.
My biggest praise to WWE has been the ascension of Luke Harper and how fast he has been thrust into the spotlight upon his return. In my opinion, he was ready over a year ago and primed for a better singles run than he was originally given. Harper looks and speaks in such a believable manner that we all are waiting for him to snap and have an eventual outburst, as his mannerisms lead you to believe he is merely “silent but deadly” when its words versus action. Currently, Harper is in the world title picture and I couldn’t be more delighted. Another week on his own meant another fantastic promo that was just as rock solid as the last. Harper is truly a diamond in the rough.
If you missed this week’s episode of Smackdown, I suggest you find a way to re-watch. There were a lot more promo spots, some good and some bad, but WWE using them more effectively is the true story in all of this. What were your favorite promos of the week? Did I get this list wrong? Be sure and follow me @NicholasGrooms on Twitter and let me get your thoughts and opinions.
image credit – WWE.com