There’s no doubt that the WWE started off Wrestlemania season with a bang. The challenge after that is keeping the momentum going. On a show with no Ambrose, Reigns, or Lesnar, Smackdown succeeded with most angles it produced.
After the closing segment on Raw, I was highly excited to hear what Hunter had to say. Based on this segment, I bought him as a heel. He compared himself to the devil and claimed the authority can’t be beaten. He wasn’t a typical heel that bragged about many accolades, instead he was a heel that wanted revenge on one man. The wrist tape of Roman’s blood was a great visual for how dominant Hunter can be. Overall, this was an excellent promo, and I hope to see more like this on the road to Wrestlemania.
Lucha Dragons, Neville, & Dolph Ziggler vs The League of Nations
I didn’t care to watch an eight man tag match. Especially one that had no context. What’s the deal with Neville right now? He’s essentially become the sidekick to the Lucha Dragons. With Kalisto being the US Champ at the moment, I didn’t think this was the right spot for him. I believe they could have teased his Wrestlemania opponent on this episode. Also, how many times does Kalisto have to be on the losing end of tag matches? Even the League of Nations had no place in this contest. This just confirmed how lost they are on the card.
D-Von Dudley vs Jey Uso
This may not be the most crucial feud on the card, but this match was the right way to further it. When tag teams feud, it’s much better to watch the two teams compete in singles matches. It’s actually a pretty simple formula.
Their characters may say otherwise, but the Dudleys will always garner some sort of nostalgia pop from the crowd. The two know that, and they’ve done an awesome job at getting rid of those cheers, and getting the crowd behind the Usos. While the match was short, I thought it was effective for this program.
Big Show vs Kevin Owens
The setup up for this match was executed perfectly. They worked a simple backstage interview that became heated. With great acting from both competitors, I bought in quickly.
Kevin Owens’ presence was greatly missed on Raw. I don’t believe the show suffered without him, but I just missed him. Also, it’s fair to say he got a good match out of Big Show. Most of match was worked slow, however it wasn’t filled with rest spots. Instead, it was filled with heavy hitting moves that took a lot of energy out of both men. I was actually Owens to disqualifying himself. The count out loss for Big Show may not have been the best choice, especially after how menacing he looked earlier in the show.
Natalya vs Becky Lynch
With these two competitors, we were in for a wrestling clinic. Until Team BAD made their way out, the work rate was rather fluid. I hope the finish to this match was just an angle to get Sasha and Becky in the same ring. The creative team would be back tracking if they continue to push Team BAD as main heels in the title program.
Heath Slater vs R-Truth
This contest wasn’t about the wrestling. It was about getting the Social Outcasts exposure, while pushing “Golden Truth”. I actually preferred this match over the one at Fastlane. It was better executed by all parties, while fitting the tempo of this show. Also, I’m sure most fans wanted to see Truth and Goldust gain some momentum.
The New Day vs Chris Jericho, AJ Styles, & Mark Henry
We didn’t get a New Day promo on Raw, so we were overdue for one. While they kept it shorter than usual, it still gave me a good laugh. Considering that the New Day had issues with Jericho back in January, I wouldn’t mind seeing them in a tag feud for Mania. Of course, Styles would be Jericho’s partner. It’s a lot more appealing than the New Day vs the League of Nations.
I’ve expressed my hate for pointless six man tag matches, but this wasn’t pointless. Even if it was for one night, all competitors did a good job at building towards it throughout the show. I’m sure there’s fans out there that couldn’t stand the sight of AJ, Chris, and Mark taunting the New Day with a short dance. However, there’s no denying it generated a great reaction from Woods. In fact, all of Xavier’s reactions had me giggling. The spot of the match was Jericho taking the Trouble in Paradise for AJ. That spot left me wanting more of these two in a tag team environment. It also had me marking out. Through and through, this turned out to be a magnificent main event.
After watching the first match on this show, I was worried that it would turn into a train wreck. Thankfully they rebounded from that. We didn’t get a chance to see much from the main event angles, which was okay. Instead, the WWE did a swell job at pushing all of the midcard performers. While we don’t know all of their plans for Mania, at least they were given roles on this show. The low point was obviously the eight man tag, while the high point was a tie between the opening promo and the main event. Overall, I give this episode a 7.8/10.