Unlike Raw, this show contained almost no filler. Most characters were used properly, which was perfect for building excitement for Mania.
Charlotte vs Sasha Banks
I wouldn’t mind if Charlotte had a series of matches against her Mania opponents before their triple threat. Flair would have to come out on top though (through cheating), in order to make those matches effective. The two put on great matches together in NXT, but this wasn’t as good. However, it was a strong opening match. In my opinion, it was still intriguing. Both competitors still showed their natural chemistry. I wasn’t a fan of the finish. Charlotte has been running through opponents as of late, so she shouldn’t be losing matches before Mania. I did agree with Becky’s role at the end. Without getting too involved, she looked strong with her post match interference. It was also a smooth way of creating hate between her and Sasha.
Kofi Kingston vs Sheamus
Even when most of their promos sound the same, the New Day still knows how to make them fresh. The Jar Jar Binks insult was quite clever.
I thought the two worked a good match, but it felt too long. Kofi’s move set is designed for a babyface wrestler, so it was great to see him get cheered for his acrobatics. He’s been slightly held back for the past few months because of his heel persona. Sheamus needed to pick up the win in this match. The League of Nations couldn’t lose every television match before Mania. While it felt long, I still thought it was entertaining for the most part.
The Usos vs The Ascension
When was the last time the Ascension was on TV? The match was a typical enhancement match. It wasn’t very interesting, but the Usos needed some momentum heading into next week. Honestly, I loved the table spot. For the Usos it was out of character, but it gave them some much needed personality. It was a great way for them to send a message to the Dudleys.
Dolph Ziggler & Sami Zayn vs The Miz & Kevin Owens
Having the Miz and Owens argue before the match started was a great example of continuity. I didn’t mind the decision of booking this match, but it would have been better to see the triple threat that we didn’t see on Raw. That way there’s tension created between every wrestler in the IC title ladder match. Regardless, it still turned out to be entertaining. I especially enjoyed the back and forth between Miz and Ziggler. In kayfabe, the two despise each other, and it translated well in this contest. The exact same can be said for Zayn and Owens. I’m happy that their in ring interaction was brief. To me, it’s a sign that the WWE doesn’t want to spoil their inevitable one-on-one feud. Owens attempting to abandon the Miz several times was hilarious. It was expected and well in character. Zayn deserved the clean pin, as it gives him more credibility. Also, the post match brawl was perfectly done. Ryder hasn’t been relevant in years, however the booking of that brawl made him look like a threat.
Roman Reigns vs Bubba Ray Dudley
If they allowed for Bubba Ray to work as a singles competitor, I think he would have done a great job at getting Reigns over as a babyface. He simply knows how to get the crowd against, which is rare these days. I thought the two even worked well. Roman has been doing everything perfectly, but he still continues to get jeered by the crowd. It seems to me that the WWE figured this out too late. His beat down on Bubba was awesome. It allows for him to be the character he naturally fits. It’s worth noting that the slow motion replay of Reigns delivering a Superman punch looked incredible.
Ryback/Kalisto Backstage Segment
This would have worked much better as an in ring promo. That way, it shows the significance of the feud.
AJ Styles vs Tyler Breeze
The ironic part about this squash match is that these two could actually put on a clinic if given the right amount of time. If they were in NXT, I’d imagine that this would be a feud for a Takeover special.
I love seeing Brock Lesnar on Smackdown. Since he was on Smackdown during his original run, it’s always felt like his show. For some reason, his appearance on this episode wasn’t heavily advertised. That’s definitely something that the WWE needs to work on. Lesnar is an attraction, and many fans would tune in just to watch him stand there. Heyman was extremely smooth with his words. My jaw dropped when he told the crowd why Foley and Funk are still alive. I can’t say that I anticipated Bray Wyatt appearing. As much as I love the Eater of Worlds, he had no business showing up. Ambrose should have been the only one to come out. It would have made Dean getting beat down so much more significant. The Wyatts were complete afterthoughts.
Believe it or not, I thought this show did a much better job at furthering feuds for Mania. There was nothing complicated, and most feuds were given screen time. I also found the show flowed well. The low point was the Wyatts interruption, while the high point was Reigns vs Bubba Ray. Overall, I give this show a well earned 7.8/10.