14 Ups & 2 Downs From Last Night's WWE SmackDown (Jul 9)

Kevin Owens' "pipebomb" and big structural changes highlight SmackDown's upswing.

Roman Reigns Kevin Owens
WWE.com

A quick glance at the Ups-to-Downs ratio might suggest that last night's SmackDown was one of WWE's best shows of the year so far, and an outstanding weekly offering from a brand that has succumbed to repetitive formulae since WrestleMania 35.

It wasn't quite at that level. This was a solid show and the vast majority of its content hit the right notes, but using adjectives like "excellent" would be a stretch. 14:2 is, indeed, a mighty ratio, though few of those 14 Ups were better than decent-to-good.

Regardless, this was a praiseworthy night of action with much its success coming from structural changes. It looks like WWE have finally found a way to calibrate SmackDown around the "no commercials" rule without endless 2-out-of-3 falls bouts and restarts. Shorter, snappier matches seem to be the answer and while none of last night's stretched beyond 10 minutes, they didn't suffer for it.

It was a big night for newly-minted babyface Kevin Owens, who came off like a total badass in his new war with Shane McMahon and his affiliates. Elsewhere, Nikki Cross met SmackDown Women's Champion Bayley in an Extreme Rules contract signing, Roman Reigns wrestled Dolph Ziggler, and there was a three-way Tag Team Summit between Rowan/Daniel Bryan, Heavy Machinery, and The New Day.

Let's break it down.

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A caffeine-dependent life-form from the frozen wastes of north east Scotland. He once tried to start a revolution but didn't print enough pamphlets, so hardly anyone turned up. Give him a follow @andyhmurray. You'll have a great time. Maybe.