Great SMACKDOWN, but where's Luke Harper?

Joshua Waddles
Staff Writer

Last night’s SMACKDOWN was a pretty decent buildup to the next pay per view. The show started with Jinder Mahal showcasing the Punjabi “Prison” around the ring and promising to smash Randy Orton’s head against it and the two wrestlers got into a “I’m gonna woop you” dialogue. Some fans felt they should have fought to showcase just how dangerous the Punjabi Prison is, but I disagree. Sometimes you want to save it all for the pay per view to have a bigger impact, and I expect a lot of impact this Sunday.

Chad Gable interview

I mention this mostly because I’ve heard that Chad Gable will be getting a push on SMACKDOWN. I don’t know how they intend to manage that, since the 2-hour show doesn’t even have time to showcase Luke Harper, who is among the best in the ring that WWE has to offer.

Chad Gable was Jason Jordan’s former tag partner. It was basically just an interview about how he knew something was going on with Jordan (who entered a new storyline on RAW) but he didn’t know what.

Rusev and John Cena

Rusev and John Cena are scheduled for a “Flag Match” this Sunday, the winner being whoever waves his country’s flag. Cena entered the ring with his usual mix of cheers and boos. He noted some fans didn’t like him but said all fans could get behind the fFag.

I couldn’t help but feel he was really saying, “If I hold up an American Flag, will you please stop booing me?”

Rusev attacked, laid him out and waved the Bulgarian Flag afterwards.

Rusev is a vastly under-rated wrestler and his feud with John Cena is the first time he’s been on SMACKDOWN since he was announced as part of the show. Again, most likely due to SMACKDOWN’s 2-hour format.

AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Owens and Baron Corbin

This is the match that made me go, “Ooooh, yes!” Most of them are very interesting in the ring and I kind of like Baron Corbin too. Corbin might not be a top ring technician nor the most original character, but his brutal demeanor makes up for it.

This match was more of a brawl than anything else. From before the start of the match, when Owens and Corbin attacked Nakamura from behind during his entrance, you got the impression that these guys absolutely hated each other.

The match ended with Owens getting the pin on Nakamura after a pop-up power bomb.

Soap box

Although last night’s SMACKDOWN was one of the better shows, the absence of Luke Harper stands out in a big way. There are a few other wrestlers who have been buried by SMACKDOWN’s 2-hour format and I actually had to Google the SMACKDOWN roster just to see who all works on that show. It actually isn’t quite as many as I thought.

Although I think SMACKDOWN would be much better as a 3-hour show, like RAW, the problem with screen time might be solved by moving just a few of their wrestlers to RAW. Especially Luke Harper, who is just too good to be buried like that. If the WWE doesn’t showcase Luke Harper in a big way, it’ll be a crime against the WWE Universe.