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SmackDown makes awesome debut in WWE ThunderDome

A location change and a fresh coat of paint instantly makes WWE programming more watchable.

And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder. The internet said, “come and see” and I saw and beheld: A THUNDERDOME!

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly wrestling podcast, PTW!

The WWE has held their last show in the Performance Center and the ThunderDome should be a welcome return to form. Not to mention, SummerSlam is this Sunday and WWE is thundering towards their second biggest show of the year. Wow, that was a terrible pun. Forgive us because Jay and Peter break down:

  • The ThunderDome’s Debut!
  • The Fiend/ Braun/Alexa Bliss baffling, uh, love triangle?
  • Sonya Deville leveling up and straight-up SCORCHING THE F-ING EARTH with her promo skills
  • Naomi…winning?
  • Jeff Hardy vs. AJ Styles for the IC title

Peter: Whatever happens with this Fiend/Vince thing, it seems bad. The idea of The Fiend engaging with authority or corporate stuff, business related aspect plots is a bit… just feels out of The Fiend’s element. Unless that was it? Yes, that was it, just there to tease people I guess. OK, I’ll allow that.

Jay: They knew what they were doing! The Fiend is the most production-intensive entrance they have and they wanted to show off what the THUNDERDOME could do. And it delivered! Those cheeky bastards. 

Peter: Honestly, SmackDown hasn’t been bad the past couple of weeks. At least not as bad as it has been.

Jay: Yeah, it’s been decent. Nothing wrong or out of place with it. They seem to have avoided the fit of delirium that Raw is going through right now. Well, aside from whatever the hell this Braun/Fiend/Alexa love triangle is. And here comes Aces and Eigh– I mean RETRIBUTION (all caps).

Peter: I want to like this plot. I really do. But… we all know they have no idea what to do with this, that creative has no motive for them or direction. They simply thought ‘protests are a thing right now, let’s just be political!’ and that’s as far as they went. RETRIBUTION is going to turn out to be Rowan’s tarantula. 

Jay: I agree. It’s Rowan’s tarantula made self-aware. I’d honestly love it if there wa a spider-shaped member crawling around in black sweats. It would save the angle. An easy explanation is also the topical route they may be taking with it. An even easier one is that Sonjay Dutt, Joseph Park, and Bruce Prichard were also in TNA in 2013 when they did this exact angle, right down to the random, slow burn nature of it. 

Peter: There we go, Park is pretending to be AJ’s bag guy? Or something? In order to take down WWE from within.

Jay: He’s looking for his big brother. You know, Abyss?

Peter: Yeah, but I didn’t think they gave him a role yet on WWE? Did they say why he was there?

Jay: He was AJ’s stats guy. Anyway, I’m keeping an open mind. Aces and Eights wasn’t so bad in TNA and this could maybe sort of be acceptable. In a Nexus sort of way.

Peter: I’m a bit worried they might do something annoyingly screwy on Sunday. They have to do something, but let it be minor at least.

Jay: They’re going to hack DA THUNDERDOME!!! I can see it now. “Oh my, they’re hackers, Corey! Vintage password hack!”

Peter: Speaking of the Dome, are these people reacting at all? So far it doesn’t seem like they’re reacting when they see someone right next to their screen? Face? Whatever you call it? 

I’m not really buying that Big E would have this much trouble in a singles match. But Big E clinching the win like that also seems like kinda a weird move? Like he’s WORSE than he should have been but also still gets a win like that? I guess it’s not the worst decision, just seems odd.

Jay: That makes sense with the angle they are going with. They are portraying him as a tag team star going out on his own for the first time. A baby bird leaving the nest so to speak, so they’d like to show him struggle to get some sympathy. Granted, that baby bird has pecs the size of most sedans and can squat more than 600 lbs, but a baby bird nonetheless.

Peter: I swear I’m not trying to be an AEW mark (although I can be at times), but I did like how they did that angle with Nick Jackson being without his brother against Fenix. Where he kept going for a tag where there wasn’t anyone there, setting up for a tag move for a second; would have been cool to see something like that from Big E. Hopefully they might do some matches in the future with those little motifs.

Jay: Something like that would have been great! Maybe go for the Midnight Hour and realizing no one is there, before hulking up and hitting the Big Ending.

Peter: I love seeing Lucha House Party get actual matches recently. That was a really good match. They actually let them do a lot of cool flippy sh*t and that last sequence tonight with Cesaro was honestly PPV material.

Thoughts on the ThunderDome so far: It’s not as bad as I thought it would be, honestly it looks really cool, but I don’t really feel the audience presence. But in the end, it’s safer than the Performance Center so I can’t complain really.

Jay: I had no doubt it was going to be a great move. WWE has never been accused of poor production values and the dome of thunder looks great. I’m very glad the PC is behind us; it was impossible to watch Raw or SmackDown and not be reminded of why they are there. As for the fans, fans have always been meant to be seen and not heard on WWE programming. This was expected. 

Oh no. Naomi wants to challenge both Sasha and Bayley. In a Beat the Clock challenge. Sasha and Bayley are going to take turns going over her, aren’t they?

Peter: I have to imagine that she has something up her sleeve. It seems insane for her to just run out there and challenge both of them? 

Jay: Peter, her sleeves are transparent. We can see there’s nothing there. Don’t give our audience false hope like that.

Peter: Lesson here being wrestlers need to be wearing turtlenecks for every match. 

Jay: Turtlenecks and gold chains and shades.

Peter: So far the audience hasn’t been distracting but there is for sure a giant stuffed bear in the front row enjoying some wrestling.

Jay: Yeah, I remember there being a thing that is no one (or nothing) was in front of the camera for a period of time you would be booted out. In other words, the bear just beat WWE’s algorithm thing and he’s delightful to boot. I fully expect RETRIBUTION (all caps) to “hack” the screens and take over all ominous like. 

AND WHAT DID I SAY!? Banks just beat Naomi in 3:39. I fully expect Bayley to beat her in 3:38.

Peter: I think you’re legally obligated to leave just one second on the clock with Beat the Clock challenges. That, or be on a two count when the time runs out.

Jay: Oh. I was wrong. Naomi actually won. Lightning has struck in the ThunderDome. 

Peter: Woah, did not expect that. 

Jay: It’s weird, right? Also, have you ever noticed that half of Sasha’s signature moves involve her knees? The Bank Statement, Meteora, that thing were she drapes her opponent in the corner and hits the jumping knee strike thing. Her patellas must be made of steel.

Peter: Oh yeah, Nyla does that rope draping thing too. And I hadn’t thought of that before but man, she does use her knees a ton.  Also, with Naomi, they seem like they want to push her but don’t really want to pull the trigger on it. I remember during the Rumble she was trending with even non-wrestling Twitter and everyone thought she would get a push. It’s now August and we’re still waiting on that.

Jay: Remember when they almost crippled Zack Ryder by throwing him off the stage while strapped to a wheelchair? Ask Bryan about how the fall and winter of 2013 were. 

Peter: Yeah, I suppose it’s just sort of the never-ending frustration for both the wrestlers and fans that WWE likes to inflict on everyone. 

Jay: They just had Dana Brooke mention Sonya Deville’s real life ordeal on television and they had Sonya slap the taste out of her mouth. It takes a gigantic amount of courage on Sonya’s part to even show up at work and kudos for WWE for showcasing her as the warrior Sonya is. 

And Peter, not only did she show up — she sold a whole damn PPV in the process with that promo. She’s next level. Sonya just leveled up in my eyes with that two minute segment. Sonya Deville is f*cking incredible.  

Peter: Honestly, I’m extremely impressed by her resilience as a person. She’s amazing. And that promo. My god that promo was something that absolutely demanded that everyone give their entire attention to. Most promos always feel a bit a bit theatrical, kind of goofy. But, this one… she honestly felt like her heart and soul was in that. It felt like she was spitting fire.

With regards to Hardy, I feel bad but I haven’t gotten into him since he’s returned. I think it was just that terrible feud they had him in for his return that just made things awkward. Hopefully this will help gloss over that bumpy return.

Jay: I agree. He’s still great in the ring but after watching him pretty consistently since 2000, I’ve seen all the Jeff Hardy I need to see. He really needs to tweak his presentation. 

Oh, wow. I guess the question now is, could that something be the Intercontinental Championship?

Peter: Did not see that coming. I can’t imagine the title will do much by itself, but I could see it being just one part of something else, a tool to let him then pivot into something fresh.

Jay: This whole Braun/Alexa/Wyatt thing is…well, it’s a thing, ain’t it? But yeah, hear that, Peter? Bray doesn’t think we should believe in love. He said all our sunflowers will die. Do you want that, Peter? 

Peter: I like my sunflowers just how they are! I guess I better not believe in love then. But seriously, I am kind of intrigued where the Bliss/Fiend plot goes, with the teases that Bliss might turn into what people thought Sarah Logan was going to be. Not necessarily Sister Abigail, but a female sidekick of some kind.

Jay: I am curious. In a car crash/demolition derby/Sharknado sort of way. I do want to see what happens, I guess? But honestly, it would be so much more effective if Braun just started flipping ambulances again. You can’t be saying stuff like “I’m the most evil son of a bitch to ever walk this Earth.” That’s “sufferin’ succotash” level. Alexa did make things interesting, I guess. 

Peter: 100% agree with Braun, and this beatdown that just happened isn’t really getting there either. Beatdowns happen all the time and like, it’s Bray? And Bray just coming back out of the ambulance right away as The Fiend doesn’t really do much for Braun’s evil credentials. 

Jay: I agree. The thing is just overbooked. The genius behind the character is that he has a built in patsy in “Funhouse” Bray whenever he needs to take a beatdown and built in excitement with the angle that – “OMG everyone changes when they face The Fiend.” Not to mention the actual design of the character. All they really had to do was play on Braun’s paranoia and have him go off the deep end, as they have been doing, and have Alexa come into play and be attracted to The Fiend. That would have been great. But instead, we have “the most evil son of a bitch that ever walked the Earth,” roaming our screens like a bald, edgy, man-child.

Peter: Oh, wow, I really like the paranoid Braun idea a lot more than this. You get the same effect as this current plot but it’s a lot more natural and believable. 

Jay: What can I say? I have a gift/curse. But now, I don’t even know who the heel is and it’s not a great look when the entire angle hinges on what a supporting character will do, ya know?

Anyway, not a bad debut for Le Thunder Dome and SmackDown was solid overall.

Peter: I was happy to get on the Twitter hate train for it but I’ll admit, my mind is changed, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m eager to see it more as well as all the possible Mad Max jokes it brings along with it. 


What do you all think? Will Alexa join The Fiend’s Funhouse brigade? Were you able to ride the thunder in the ThunderDome? Were we hallucinating or did Naomi win?

Get on the Twitter machine and let us know!


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