Leave it to WWE to follow one of the year's best episodes of SmackDown with a total stinker. Last week's strong in-ring focus, excellent main event, and lack of filler segments made for two triumphant hours of television, but the company abandoned that format last night, resulting in a show well beneath the brand's average quality levels.
The United States Title scene brought a strong in-ring segment, The Usos picked up a solid midcard win, and the David Lynch-inspired Fashion Peaks returned. These were the show's biggest highlights, but they couldn't compare to last week's strongest moments, and while last night's show won't go down as one of the year's worst, It was hard not to feel disappointed by its downturn.
John Cena's SummerSlam direction was made clear, and Randy Orton had a shot at redemption in the night's main event. Elsewhere, Lana's quest to be taken seriously continued, Carmella stepped into the ring with the SmackDown Women's Champion, and Rusev made his presence felt. There was a lot going on, but most of it failed to deliver, sadly.
What dragged the blue brand down from last week's lofty heights, and which segments saved it from being a complete shambles? Let's take a look.
Last night’s SmackDown saw the continuation of Lana’s character arc, with ‘The Ravishing Russian’ once again desperate to prove her worth to the brand’s more experienced competitors. This meant wrestling against Charlotte, and Lana’s performance was predictably meek, with her falling to the former Raw Women’s Champion in just over two minutes.
Lana caught up with Tamina later in the evening. Frustrated with her latest loss, Lana was mocked at first, but Tamina quickly turned it around. She said she’d help her earn another title shot as the short segment came to an end, and several weeks after their apparent split, it looks like the duo are back together.
It’s good that WWE are investing time in these two, but is this really the right story to tell? Lana, again, came off like a complete loser, and the most incompetent wrestler in the world. The company have done nothing but bury her since she started wrestling, and unless her fortunes (and in-ring abilities) show improvement over the coming weeks, it’s going to be hard for anyone to get invested in her.