After Cena and Styles put forth a possible match of the year contender, I’m sure more fans were looking forward to this show than Raw. Smackdown also included the Royal Rumble winner, so it was as if this show had the right ingredients for a wild night. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, because this episode moved at mild pace at best.
Even though the mark in me was routing for AJ at the Rumble, it was great to hear Cena shout “the champ is here!”. John hasn’t said that phrase in quite some time, so it was refreshing.
Throughout his feud with AJ, Cena had said some harsh words. I personally didn’t mind, because it was all about added to the feud. However, it was only right for his character to mention how Styles brings out the best in him.
As for the Wyatt Family interrupting the champ, it worked as a good transition for the story that was being presented. Not only did it give Cena a chance to interact with the Royal Rumble winner, it furthered the inner Wyatt Family feud. Seeing Luke Harper come to Cena’s aid was unexpected and mark out worthy.
John Cena & Luke Harper vs Randy Orton & Bray Wyatt
I was surprised this match wasn’t held off until the main event because it easily could’ve kept all the home viewers hooked until the end of the show. Also, it could’ve lead to a funny backstage segment between Cena and Harper talking about a game plan.
This particular contest wasn’t exactly about the wrestling, as it was more drama heavy. I’d say that was a smart idea because there’s a lot of left story to tell between the Wyatts. Luke Harper’s hesitation to attack Bray was a great plot device to make this tag match more intriguing. That essentially kept Cena wrestling Orton and Bray on his own, which only made it more interesting as to what the outcome would be.
Randy Orton looked like a beast with the way he won this contest. Who would’ve thought he’d get a near clean pin on Cena on this episode? Since he did just win the Rumble, it’s crucial that he’s booked as a strong competitor in his next few matches.
Carmella vs Delilah Dawson?
The longer this Ellsworth-Carmella angle goes, the more funny it gets. It’s a simple yet entertaining mid card program, and it’s helping both wrestlers involved. Even though this match was a carbon copy of what they did a few weeks ago, it still worked. The distraction spot they’re working can definitely be done a few more times, because it could lead to something bigger in the future.
Kalisto vs Dolph Ziggler
The idea of these two wrestling again just made me roll my eyes. I enjoyed their first match, but this was an ineffective rehash. Also, it doesn’t help that Kalisto is consistently on the receiving end of beat downs from Ziggler. It makes him look extremely weak.
Apollo Crews running out to save his friend was inevitable and easily telegraphed from the start. Right now, it appears this feud isn’t moving anywhere apart from these types of spots.
Becky Lynch & Naomi vs Alexa Bliss & Mickey James
In terms of work rate, this was a smooth match. The pacing was fast, and it never felt boring. Even though the narrative going in was Becky vs James, both Alexa and Naomi were still important to the action. This could mean we’ll be seeing some sort of Bliss vs Naomi feud heading into Elimination Chamber.
Initially I was put off from the finish, but then it made sense. We have to still realize that Alexa is playing the cowardly heel. She runs from every challenge, meaning it shouldn’t be such a surprise if she eats the pin during a tag match. At the same time, it gives Naomi some much needed credibility.
Tag Division Brawl
I’m not sure if this was the best idea for the tag team division. Seeing every team come out and brawl only reminded the fans how irrelevant each of them have become. Also, as an overall segment, this was to cluttered.
Dean Ambrose vs AJ Styles
Does anybody else find it odd how this was the main event? It was hardly promoted, and it simply felt cold. For two of the biggest stars on Smackdown, it was unfortunate that neither of them were able to cut promos on the show. AJ especially should’ve gotten in a few words, because it appeared that Rumble loss barely fazed him.
While I enjoyed the chemistry between Ambrose and Styles, I can’t say this had me hooked (don’t get me wrong, they still wrestled a great match). However, the Miz was absolutely amazing on commentary. I’d even say he was the highlight, because everything he called was done with a great amount of conviction and emotion.
As for the finish, it was done in the best possible way. AJ managed to pick up a win after a huge loss, and Dean looked strong in defeat. Along with that, Miz and Corbin were able to built a dislike for one another during and after the match. Aside from my complaining at least the four men involved were booked well.
For the first time in a while, I think Raw was a more important show than Smackdown. Other than the opening segment/tag match, there was little to no urgency for the upcoming PPV. Also, not many of the superstars got a chance to speak about their Royal Rumble experience. Based on this, I’m guessing the go home show will be action packed.
The low point of the episode was the tag brawl, while the high point was the opening segment/tag match. Overall, this show receives a 5.5/10.