What Happened to Smackdown?

Smackdown’s showing at Summerslam saw, among other mostly-unspectacular sights, Randy Orton squashing Rusev and Jinder Mahal beating Shinsuke Nakamura.

These two moments were manifestations of a bigger problem that I hate to simplify this way: somewhere along the line, Smackdown became a bad TV show. And there are a lot of factors, but the biggest is that the fish rots from the head.

Every Jinder Mahal match is the same. This isn’t an exaggeration borne from the repetitive storyline; they don’t even bother slightly changing the formula. Singh Brothers show up, get murdered, face immediately wanders into Mahal’s finisher. The fact that the henchmen haven’t been permanently banned from ringside yet (or suspended a la James Ellsworth because they literally never wrestle their own matches) is ridiculous from a kayfabe standpoint, and it wouldn’t be so glaring if it wasn’t exactly the same. There are more ways to cheat than just getting in the way and distracting people. (This isn’t on the Singh brothers, by the way. In fact, their performances are the only good part of all this.)

I don’t need a full paragraph to explain that Randy Orton squashing Rusev, who has mountains of potential aside from being really damn good already, is a garbage move.

These are not problems contained to these specific matches. Right after the brand split, Smackdown was the best WWE had been in a long time. Women’s Champion Becky Lynch, Ambrose vs. Styles for the world title, GM Daniel Bryan – pretty much everything but the tag division and the early stages of Wyatt/Orton was incredibly compelling. But ever since the Superstar Shakeup – because a draft made too much sense, apparently – Smackdown has resembled its ineffectual Mr. Money in the Bank Baron Corbin in the sense that it’s a dumpster fire.

The issue, exemplified by the pure melatonin injection that was Orton vs. Mahal and has now followed them both individually, is that nothing on Smackdown matters. When something changes, it’ll be the same in a month. Sometimes it’s because of no development (see the aforementioned title feud,) sometimes it’s because decisions are reversed (see the early stages of AJ vs. KO,) and sometimes it’s a mixture of both (Carmella with Money in the Bank.)

Smackdown is a hellscape, repeating the same moves over and over again and expecting a different result. And the past week of it has proven that it needs a big, big change. Or maybe two: trade Orton and have anybody, anybody, anybody end this Jinder Mahal trash. Because while the tag division has been delivering, the show embarrassed itself with its big players this weekend.

And changing writers wouldn’t hurt, either.

Written by Bobby Murphy (@RobertJMurph)

Image courtesy of WWE.com

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