Finding Time For Talent On Smackdown Live

This issue could be written about almost weekly about the WWE. You can’t deny that the WWE is loaded with talent right now. But once again they are having a problem using the talent properly. And recently, Smackdown Live has been guilty of that the most. RAW has done a good job of utilizing its entire roster. Elias Samson has been given a decent push. Sheamus and Cesaro are being used in an almost main event role. Hell even Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas are doing well.

But then you take a look at Smackdown Live and you wonder what the hell is going on. Of course that all started when they put the WWE Title on Jinder Mahal. Thankfully the WWE corrected that error and put the Title on their best wrestler. Hopefully we don’t have to worry about that mistake happening ever again.

Putting the WWE Title on AJ Styles is only a small step in the right direction for Smackdown Live. There are still a handful of problems that the show is facing on a weekly basis. The first problem, at least to me, is that the show is almost a carbon copy of itself every week. The show starts with an opening promo from Shane McMahon and/or Daniel Bryan to set up the main event for the night. That promo is usually interrupted by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Then we have a tag team match involving one of the Usos/New Day/Benjamin and Gable. There will be a woman’s segment. Then we get a squash match involving the Bludgeon Brothers or whoever else is the flavor of the month. Throw in a mid-card feud match with no heat and that puts you right into your main event!

There are so many wrestlers on Smackdown Live right not being used. Case #1 is Rusev. Now, if you have read my columns or listened to the HTCPodcast from the beginning, you know I have been a huge Rusev fan since he came into the company. And finally everyone else seems to be jumping on the Rusev bandwagon. If you don’t follow Rusev on Twitter then stop reading this for a second and go follow him now. The man is hilarious. And with the brief camera time he is given every few weeks he always makes the most of it. Just imagine if they followed through with giving Rusev the push that Jinder received. Smackdown would have been much more enjoyable over the summer.

Rusev should check all the boxes Vince likes. He’s big, he’s agile, and he can cut a promo. But because Vince doesn’t understand how Lana is married to Rusev and not him he decides not to push Rusev. Rusev was stuck in a go nowhere feud with Randy Orton where he had to come out on the losing end because Orton just jobbed to Jinder three times. Rusev should be getting TV time every week but instead is left to entertain us on Twitter with his wits every week.

Case #2 is Shinsuke Nakamura. Nakamura may be the most charismatic wrestler on the entire roster. Yet Nakamura has barely been used in any storyline over the last month. I don’t count the phony RAW vs Smackdown Live storyline from Survivor Series. Nakamura was another victim to the REIGN OF JINDER TERROR. He jobbed to Jinder twice while Champ. Nakamura hasn’t been on Smackdown the last two weeks. One of the three best wrestlers in your company has not been on TV the last two weeks. That’s the equivalent of benching your star offensive player a game for no reason. Now hopefully, Nakamura is being kept off TV only to receive a big push come Royal Rumble/Wrestlemania time. But even if that is the case, the fact that you can’t find any story for Nakamura shows some of the incompetence on the writing staff’s part.

Case #3 could be made for almost the entire mid-card of the Smackdown roster. I know the show is only two hours long. But you have to find time for everyone on the roster. Giving someone a few minutes every week is better than giving them no time for over a month. Mojo Rawley was at the top of this mid-card list for the longest time. He won the Andre the Giant Battle Royal then promptly went on to do nothing. I’ve always thought Mojo could be a good hand to have around. The few serious promos I’ve seen from him were good. But he’s been stuck in a go nowhere tag team with Zack Ryder. And then turned Mojo heel instead of Ryder. Unless they completely change Mojo’s character, I don’t see how it works.

Then you look at guys like Tye Dillinger, Luke Harper and Breezango. All are talented in their own ways (Harper probably much more than anyone else) but that can’t get their footing in any good story. Smackdown constantly fails to break from the normal booking of its TV show. And that causes people to get really lost in the shuffle.

But my biggest concern with Smackdown Live is that it appears to be heading down the same path that RAW is always on: an Authority figure storyline. For the last month we have had Shane McMahon vs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. And now Daniel Bryan is getting involved in it. I doubt the WWE would be dumb enough to turn Daniel Bryan heel. But we’ve seen Smackdown start with the same Shane McMahon promo the last two weeks. It is getting as bad as when Stephanie used to start RAW every week with them. I just don’t see the point of having Shane McMahon around anymore. He’s not a good wrestler, he isn’t entertaining, and the only thing he is good for is jumping off things. To me he adds nothing to WWE programming. But he will be in a Wrestlemania match and do something completely unnecessary.

Smackdown needs to break away from the same show it has been doing every week. Hopefully after Clash of the Champions, Jinder Mahal is fazed off of major programs and more people I mentioned above get their chance to become big time players on Smackdown. Smackdown going downhill can be traced back to Jinder Mahal, hopefully it becoming entertaining again starts with Jinder being phased out.

Until Next Time,

Justin C

Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka