Smackdown Live has found its groove again. On Tuesday’s show, just about everything hit like it was supposed to, Shinsuke Nakamura continued playing entertaining mind games with WWE champion AJ Styles, Sin Cara got beat up by Andrade “Cien” Almas, Asuka won a handicap match clean, Naomi ran circles around Lana, but, man, was it nice to see Becky Lynch get a full entrance, defeat Charlotte clean as a sheet, and that be it.
That is what it was. Nice. It was like if Matt Saracen transferred to the East Dillon Lions his senior year and took down J.D. McCoy and the Dillon Panthers in the Texas High School state playoffs. Like Saracen, you should never trust a person who can’t help but root for Lynch whenever they pop up on your television screen. Lynch was on Smackdown Live first, she was the first Smackdown Live women’s champion, but she’s gradually faded into the background while other wrestlers had their moment in the spotlight whether they really deserved it or not. (I’m definitely not hinting at Lana or Natalya here. Nope. I’m not.)
This week’s episode felt like Lynch and the creative team on Smackdown Live were moving forward. Lynch defeating Charlotte is a big deal. Lynch making Charlotte tap out to the Disarmer, clean, is even bigger. Does this mean Lynch is gearing up for a WWE Smackdown Live women’s title run after taking down Asuka or Carmella after Money In The Bank next Sunday? Does this mean this was just the start of a year-long, bitter feud with soon-to-be former best friend Charlotte? That part is unclear, for now, but that’s not what matters. What matters is that we’re talking about Becky Lynch again. Better yet, we’re fantasy booking future Becky Lynch storylines and title runs without it feeling like a gigantic waste of time.
I wonder, though: Is The Miz starting to do too much comedy? Was “Careful, Mizjitzu,” funny? Of course. The Miz is one of the few who can pull of bad professional wrestling comedy, and so can The New Day. This dynamic works because of the seriousness of Miz’s character meshes perfectly with a trio that hasn’t taken themselves seriously in three years, even with the biggest decision of the group’s history still very much unresolved. Still, there is something to be said about being the butt of too many jokes. As long as The Miz is still main-eventing shows, wins the matches he needs to, etc., he’ll be fine, but if we’re only a few months out from the most must-see PPV match of the year, he needs to stop dipping his hand into pancake mix.
And then there is Carmella, who, by my count, uttered her catchphrase “'Mella Is Money”, both in the ring and on commentary no less than the number of times of Vin Diesel has uttered the word family in the Fast & Furious series. If you’re going to watch WWE programming in 2018, this is part of the deal, that dead horse is getting beaten, damn it. It’s interesting, though, that as much as Carmella has improved on the microphone, and she was great in this opening segment, I can’t help but think of how much it reminded me of Enzo Amore during his brief stint on 205 Live. Carmella isn’t Lana, but she’s certainly not ready for Asuka, either. On this show, we Asuka, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Lynch, Charlotte and Naomi all show just how good they are at professional wrestling right now and just how silly it is that Carmella is the WWE Smackdown Live Women’s champion. Does her promo chops mitigate her in-ring issues? For right now, the answer is yes. She just can’t beat Asuka. There’s suspending your disbelief in professional wrestling, and then there is Carmella outworking Asuka in 13-minute PPV match.
Can we talk about just how good Shinsuke Nakamura is? Was I alone in thinking about Road Dogg watching “The Dark Knight” this week, being amazed by the interrogation scene between Batman and the Joker and immediately sending a text to Vince asking if he could something similar with AJ Styles and Nakamura? (I’m 93 percent certain this is the case.) Jokes aside, this segment worked. It had faulty pins, Styles stumbling over poor dialogue, a very disrespectful Nakamura yawn, and an ending where no table was flipped or broken, just one man left standing.
Is 2018 the year of Samoa Joe on Smackdown Live? Maybe. Did he forget to mention that he lost to Roman Reigns at Backlash in the main event, which clearly showed that he is not always a man of his word? Of course. But Samoa Joe can talk, and it reminds me of Owens’ rise early on in his WWE days. You can trust Joe to make anything sound important, the interviewers always look legitimately terrified at his just how intense and fast he spews his venom, and he delivers in the ring. If Nakamura doesn’t steal the title away from Styles, a summer build of Joe vs. Styles that ends in a SummerSlam WWE title match with Joe going over wouldn’t be the worst idea. It’s too early for Almas, Big Cass sucks, Rusev doesn’t have the support of the powers that be, and, seriously, has anyone seen or heard from SAnitY lately? What about Jeff Hardy? Tye Dillinger? OK, I’ll stop, but you get my point -- the opportunity for Joe to have a big summer is there. Let’s see if he makes the most of it.