The two opened the show by taking Smackdown’s writers to task for what they perceive as confusing, ineffectual booking of the main event angle:
WK: “How were we supposed to feel about AJ Styles, Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn, Shane McMahon & Daniel Bryan? I ended that show looking at the final scene and I’m like ‘I don’t really have a ton of sympathy for AJ. I don’t really feel like Sami did anything all that wrong. I mean, they’ve established the last couple nights with Asuka attacking all her partners and then Randy Orton attacking Shinsuke from behind that there’s really nothing Sami and Kevin did that’s any worse than what Asuka and Randy Orton did. We’re supposed to arbitrarily think it’s ok when some do it, but then it’s supposed to garner heel heat and sympathy for the babyface when heels do it.
“I just came away from that with no strong feelings. I feel like the people writing Smackdown either don’t know or have completely lost their way when it comes to the absolute fundamental core of pro wrestling, which is you want people to have an emotional reaction to what they watch. I didn’t have an emotional reaction. I was just sort of more nonplussed than even befuddled.
“It just seems like you have a chance to write your own script. Why do you book a 9-3 field goal contest with nothing exciting happening in the game and no home team? Am I overstating how kind of listless this show seemed to end?”
JB: “I think WWE has given lip service to the idea that black and white characters are a thing of the past for them and they’re trying to write characters that are three-dimensional and more layered. They talk about gray area a lot and, to be honest, I think when they try to do these types of things, layered characters and layered stories and somewhat morally ambiguous angles, they don’t write it well enough to where it feels focused.
“They don’t have AJ Styles written in a way where you can really buy into him suddenly losing focus on his match in order to tip Kevin Owens off a gurney or take a few pot shots for no discernable reason while he’s being tended to by trainers. Like, nothing Owens has done has risen to the level of that kind of viciousness to deserve it. Especially from Styles who I think they’re trying to cast as a babyface.
“Then you have Sami Zayn coming to his friend’s rescue and eventually winning the match because the babyface lost focus to go on this ill-conceived tirade at ringside. Am I supposed to not like Sami as a result of this? Was this all just to come up with some plausible way to make this handicap match seem like a threat to AJ? I really don’t know.
“Then when you toss in the work they did earlier on in the storyline with the authority figures, it gets even more muddled because it seemed like they were the catalyst for a lot of this animosity in the first place. They don’t really layer neatly on top of the story. It doesn’t really seem like their conflict gels very well with the story they’re trying to tell inside of the Owens and Zayn and AJ conflict.
“I think they really get themselves into trouble where, I don’t know if it’s they think they’re better writers than they are or they think their characters are better actors than they are, but none of it really comes across clearly. As a viewer, you’re just sitting there going ‘I don’t really follow any of this.’ Like, it’s so hacky in comparison to the better TV on the market. I don’t even know why they try. It’s just not their strength at all.”
To listen to the entire episode, check out the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast.
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