By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Zack Ryder Interrupted Intercontinental Champion The Miz and Maryse on 'Miz TV'
I've been raving about the Miz and Maryse pairing since they joined forced last week and I just love the chemistry they have together that really shined through in this segment. Ryder interrupting was a pleasant surprise and I'm happy he isn't completely out of the picture after being left off Raw on Monday night. Admittedly, his entrance music is a guilty pleasure of mine, but he might benefit from a new theme song to go along with his more serious character (did you see that amazing sit-down interview he did with Michael Cole this week?). He had an enjoyable interaction with Miz and Maryse and I liked how it seamlessly led into Miz backing out of their title picture and Ryder going up against Corbin instead.
Baron Corbin def. Zack Ryder
When I saw this match on tap for SmackDown earlier in the week, I was disheartened that Ryder was back to being utilized as an enhancement talent, but I actually really liked the set-up for this match. Plus, Ryder scored far more offense than I thought he would considering who his opponent was, but not enough offense where it made Corbin look weak. As noted in the previous paragraph, I truly hope Ryder will be featured more prominently going forward and his WrestleMania moment wasn't just a one-off. Meanwhile, Corbin continues to embark on a path of complete destruction.
Emma def. Paige
I figured Emma and Paige wouldn't be given a ton of time to contest the match we all know they're capable of (see: NXT Arrival), and while the match could have gone longer, they certainly made the most of what they were allotted by producing a nice little match. Oddly enough, Paige was a total afterthought here as Emma received some promo time before the bout. I'm glad her feud with Becky Lynch is starting to take shape and they're building her up the right way with wins over credible women. As I discussed in an article on Tuesday, the Lynch vs. Emma program has the potential to be quite good if given the television time it deserves.
Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady def. The Ascension in a No. 1 Contender's Tag Team Tournament Quarterfinal Match
Amore's promos are always entertaining, but that one line about how The Ascension's worst attribute was being The Ascension had me dying. These two have had no problem getting over up to this point. Granted, it's still too early to tell, but I get the feeling they'll be just fine. There wasn't much to the match since it was mostly formulaic, but I'll never complain about Amore and Cassady being in action because it means more often than not that we're getting a promo from them as well.
AJ Styles def. Alberto Del Rio
I might write a separate piece on this sometime soon, but did WWE make a poor investment by bringing Del Rio back? He's been in the WWE fold for almost six months and had yet to have a breakout singles match before now. Of course, he went up against AJ Styles, so it wasn't any surprise they contested a great match, but it's matches like this that remind me how talented of a worker he is. It's simply a shame next to no one cares about him at the moment because of his awful booking. There were reports earlier on in the week that Del Rio might have injured Styles on that reverse suplex off the ropes, and it looked brutal, but Styles has since said on social media he isn't hurt.
The Vaudevillians def. Goldust and Fandango in a No. 1 Contender's Tag Team Tournament Quarterfinal Match
What's worse: Golden Truth or the team of Goldust and Fandango? On the bright side, the match was kept short and sweet, so I didn't have to suffer through this. It doesn't help that The Vaudevillians do nothing for me, either. They're perfectly competent in the ring, but their gimmick leaves a lot to be desired. I don't know what's next in the Truth and Goldust saga and I honestly don't really care.
Sami Zayn def. Chris Jericho by Disqualification
Jericho is so exceptional in the heel role it's amazing, and as such, he's a fantastic foil for stars such as Zayn. They put together an awesome matchup where Zayn was able to work from underneath throughout the bout and Jericho's interactions with Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens at ringside were classic. Speaking of whom, as entertaining as the match was, Ambrose and Owens were arguably better on commentary. I'm typically not in favor of Superstars bickering on commentary, but Ambrose and Owens going at it was absolute gold. Plus, two feuds were furthered after Owens got involved in the match and all hell broke loose. Expect to see these four men involved in a tag team match against each other next week on Raw or SmackDown.
Sorry to sound like a broken record, but SmackDown has been freakin' killing it since its move to USA Network at the dawn of 2016. I'm shocked WWE has stuck with it this long in making it feel more meaningful and the blue brand hasn't been throwaway in months. Of course, some weeks are better than others, but this was an excellent episode on the whole with two highly enjoyable matches, two tag tournament matches, a good women's match, and one of the better installments of 'Miz TV' in a while. Thursdays have become my favorite day of the week solely because of SmackDown and I hope they can maintain this momentum in the months ahead.