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This week’s edition of Smackdown is an interesting one. On one hand, we have Dana Brooke doing a phenomenal job as The Predator, a woman that is targeting the underdogs and aiming to take over the WWE. And then, we have Maryse, a veteran in the business with a wonderful solo career behind here who, unfortunately, hasn’t been able to revisit that same acclaim since rejoining the roster…
But, before we get into analyzing everything, let’s take a look back and remind ourselves of what exactly happened during this week’s episode!
Smackdown starts off with Cesaro vs Kevin Owens as the lovely Maryse joins her husband The Miz as well as Sami Zayn on commentary. After being quizzed about the whereabouts of tonight’s scheduled Miz TV showing, The Miz announces that was cancelled due to the fact that the three guests showed no respect to him, his wife and his title (with the biggest emphasis on his championship). During the bout, Cesaro leads the charge but the tables are turned once Maryse yells at him in French and allows Owens to take control. Maryse also makes her name known on commentary when she has a small (and somewhat adorable) conversation with Zayn in French. Towards the end of the match Owens attacks Zayn on commentary but is then stopped by Cesaro. As Miz runs his mouth a little we see him attacked by the Swiss Superman who then proceeds to his match. A few moments later a wild Sami Zayn pops into the ring to attack his former best friend but is punched by Cesaro whom, fresh off of the distraction, is rolled up to a three count by Owens. As Kevin leaves the ring the three remaining get into a brawl and all end up on their backs by the end.
Soon after this we’re greeted with our first and only women’s match for the night, and it is none other than “the youngest female champion” (lol) Paige vs Dana Brooke (featuring Becky Lynch on commentary)! As Dana makes her entrance, Becky discusses how her eye injury is the “worst injury [she’s] ever had” as having double vision means that she has to see Dana’s face twice. The match begins with a quick lock-up as Dana pushes Paige to the ropes before being stopped by the referee. The move is then repeated but Paige is the one with the upper hand this time. Dana then pushes Paige off of her before saying “you don’t do that to [her]” and then runs to the ropes. On her way back, Dana is tripped over by Paige dropping to the floor and stopping Brooke midway, forcing her to land straight on her face. Dana attempts to sit up but is quickly hit to the ground again by Paige’s knee to the face.
Becky comments about how she knows Paige very well and actually used to fight with her mother many years back.
Brooke quickly moves to the corner to lift herself up and as soon as Paige charges towards her, she throws the Brit onto the outside apron. Paige however takes hold of the action by thrusting Dana’s stomach and pulling her torso through the middle rope for a few knee smashes (and her inevitable scream). The Predator quickly turns things around by pulling Paige’s feet, forcing her to crash onto the apron and then falling outside of the ring. Dana follows her opponent outside the ring and quickly tells Lynch that she sees her. The Lass Kicker insists that she can’t understand anything she says by calling it a “noise that only dogs can hear,” but Jerry Lawler comments that this is ironic coming from Becky. Dana then tells Lynch that she is tough but the red head makes clear that despite her thinking she’s as “tough as a plank of wood,” she’s also as smart as one too.
The action quickly refocuses as both competitors are back in the ring. Brooke thrusts Paige in the mid section multiple times and then does a hand stand as she digs her heel into the former champion’s neck. As she is then pushed away she manages to stay on top by clothes-lining Paige as she lunges forward. As Brooke poses to the audience Becky states that the only reason that she is being targeted is because she is a threat, as she is “what is standing in the way.” She then insists that she is constantly coming back and jokes that we should call her “Becky Balboa.”
Back in the ring, we see Dana holding Paige in a leg scissors on the ribs. After Paige wails in pain, she quickly pushes herself back to land a 2 count on her opponent before being kicked away. Dana then tries to hold on to her control but is kicked to the ground. After attempting yet again to take control a series of kicks to the Predator’s mid-section take place before she lands on her feet in the corner of the ring. Paige then rallies the crowd by reminding them that is in fact, her house, and performs a knee smash to a stable Dana Brooke, whom is then flipped onto her knees and hit on the face. This is then followed by a 2 count pin fall by Paige.
Brooke is then brought to her feet by Paige but quickly reverses by dropping to her knees and smashing her opponents chin to her head, causing Paige to let go. Dana takes advantage of her offence by putting Paige in a sit-out slam and pinning her to take home the win.
As soon as this match ends Renee Young introduces Lana alongside the #1 contender for the United States championship, Rusev. After taking a look back at Rusev’s rampage that took place on RAW, Lana’s “explanation” for her husband’s actions are that Kalisto is a “weak man that hides behind his mask.” She brags about how her fiancé is the “greatest United States champion of all time,” before Rusev goes on about how much he dominated Kalisto on Monday night. The pair then leave right after the Bulgarian Brute declares that he will be the new champion at Extreme Rules and instead of the crowd chanting “Lucha, Lucha,” they will say “Machka, Matcka.”
Regarding the Women’s Championship feud, a promo package highlighting the feud so far, including the “Chicago Screwjob“, Stephanie’s backstage announcement and RAW’s main event contract signing is shown.
Thoughts: Oh, Maryse. A few weeks back I stated how Maryse has either really good days, or really bad ones. This episode of Smackdown unfortunately consists of the latter. This week we see Maryse on commentary alongside her husband and Sami Zayn, and, despite the one line of French she yells at Zayn, everything else she delivers just seems to fall… flat. For example, The Miz asks her who the best man in WWE is, and him a few times of rephrasing it to get her to answer properly, and by the time she does that the commentators’ attention is focused on the action. And for the rest of her time during the match, she pretty much remains awkwardly silent and almost never chimes in with her opinion. Whether or not this is a creative decision or just a lack of ability, something needs to be done. We could either be made to see Maryse simply interfere in the action here or there so that we can make the most of her (trusted) skills, or somebody needs to hand her a few promo classes before letting her out at TV.
Maryse has had a splendid time in the past as a solo competitor, proving that her commentary skills were once one of the best in the division. However, with her return, things just aren’t the same. I really do hope that things can improve as the old Maryse was a brilliant addition to the show, though.
Moving on to the main action for the women, we see that, yet again, Miss Brooke is proving to be an incredible addition to the main roster. In this impressive bout against 2x Diva’s Champion Paige, Dana makes certain that we all know just how tough she is as an in-ring competitor. My fear for Dana coming to RAW and Smackdown was that she would be stuck in a valet role and when put in actual matches she would be having short and poorly booked bouts. However, absolutely neither of these statements are currently true. Brooke is proving to be a real threat in the ring and is managing to tell the story with Becky really well. She’s the predatory heel, whereas Becky is the underdog of a face. And by having Dana constantly take wins – especially wins over accomplished women such as Paige – it truly makes her stand out as somebody to beat.
How do you feel Dana is doing? Are you a fan of Maryse’s work? Let us know your views in the comments below!