If this is what Vince McMahon meant last week when he said the WWE would be shaking things up a little bit, we might be inclined to believe him now. Tuesday on WWE Smackdown, McMahon got in the face of former WWE Champion AJ Styles and challenged him to find his killer instinct. The Chairman slapped Styles across the face which prompted a return punch that left the 73-year-old on his butt during a backstage scene.
Check it out:
McMahon showed us he still has the chops to cut a killer promo, despite his advanced age. Mic work has never been his strong suit, though he’s shown some flashes throughout his illustrious career. Unfortunately, he was a little dwarfed on camera by McMahon–not regarding physical stature–but meaning from a vocal talent and presence standpoint. While the concept was solid, Styles could have executed the scene better.
The enraged Styles face could use some work. Likewise, the gentlemen who ran in to pull Styles away from McMahon could have sold it a little more convincingly too. Even with an uneven performance from the performers, it was still potentially the launch point for a great new story angle.
Hopefully, Styles is embarking on a slight persona alteration. We don’t need to see anything too drastic, but just something that challenges him to grow as a performer. WWE fans haven’t seen a raging Styles. I’m not even talking about a heel turn, just a more intense and aggressive nature. McMahon’s assessment, though scripted, could be applied to Styles’ most-recent in-ring performances. Styles has looked like a Superstar nearing the end of his career who is merely going through the motions.
He’s such a top-level in-ring talent that it’s a shame to see him doing anything less than phenomenal. This segment closed out the Smackdown Live broadcast, so there will likely be an address for Styles’ actions on next week’s episode. Overall, the latest episode was strong. Rusev dethroned Shinsuke Nakamura to become the new United States Champion–on his birthday.
There were a few more notable moments as well. It’ll be interesting to watch the follow-ups on the first episode of Smackdown in the New Year.