It’s hard to believe that two weeks have already gone by since the Royal Rumble. Within that time, it’s quite impressive how quickly these storylines have turned around and become fresh for the upcoming PPV. While last week’s episode wasn’t great, this week’s put many pieces together, which formed a decent go home show.
The WWE was in Seattle, so who better to open the show than Daniel Bryan? Along with that, who better to interrupt Bryan in his hometown than the Miz? It was simple booking, but it fully worked in terms of garnering crowd reactions. The banter between the two was absolutely perfect, and in my opinion, they could’ve gone all night.
How strange is it that Baron Corbin can sound amazing on Talking Smack and on commentary, but sounds terrible when cutting an in ring promo? Obviously it’s the script he’s been given, but I find it surprising that the writers still can’t figure what works for him. This promo was a great example, as he didn’t come across natural at all.
What made no sense about this promo was how AJ Styles had no desire to request a singles rematch against John Cena. I find it to be terrible writing when a device like that is used constantly but it gets dropped to fit a certain story. The bookers could’ve at least put a no rematch clause in the contract signed between Styles and Cena, which would quickly tie up any loose ends afterwards. As good as Smackdown has been since the brand split, this has been one of the largest plot holes in recent WWE memory.
AJ Styles vs Baron Corbin vs Dean Ambrose vs The Miz
Considering how the promo went, I think a tag match involving these four men may have been more interesting. At this point each competitor dislikes the one another, so the team dynamics would be quite fun to watch.
The fatal four way was actually entertaining, mainly because of how consistently active everybody was. There weren’t many rest spots, which is a normal trope for these types of stipulations. This was also a good time for the commentators to discuss how dangerous the Elimination Chamber can be. While the cage has been mentioned, it’s essential for the risks involved to be highlighted.
I’m sure there’s plenty of AJ Styles fans that were upset over the finish, but they shouldn’t be. First of all, his loss occurred with a use of a distraction. Second of all, it was a great way of showcasing how close the competition will be in the Elimination match.
Nikki Bella/Natalya Satellite Interview
Wow. These two should’ve just stuck to brawls, because this sit down interview format simply didn’t work. Natalya wasn’t so bad in her delivery, but Nikki just sounded horrendous here. She didn’t come across as a likeable person, meaning there was no reason to feel bad when Natalya made those insults about Cena.
Apollo Crews vs Dolph Ziggler
With the way their rivalry has gone, I’m not sure how many people cared to see Ziggler and Crews wrestle. The presented finish could’ve worked, but based on the post-antics it didn’t. Instead of seeing another layer created for this story, fans had to witness the same beat down of Kalisto and Crews.
Dual Contract Signing
Initially, the idea of this segment sounded extremely convoluted. However, once it got going I was shocked with well it was done. Mickey James especially deserves credit for making this promo feel intense and meaningful. In her short time on Smackdown, James has proven to be one of the premiere mic talkers in the entire WWE women’s division. With Becky and Alexa following her up with harsh words of their own, these feuds became heated.
As for Naomi, it appeared she was going to be a complete afterthought, although that wasn’t the case. The placement in this promo was done strategically well. James got to start, which eventually set off Becky, and that queued Alexa, which gave Naomi the chance to finish it off with a bang. All of that showed how connected these four are. How incredible is that?
12 Man Tag Match
Seven minutes was far too long for this match. Apart from American Alpha, there’s no attractions for the tag division, meaning there’s not many reasons to care about it.
John Cena vs Randy Orton
The last singles match between these two occurred at Hell in a Cell 2014, meaning they’ve been kept away from each other for a little over two years. By my standards, I’d now consider this to be a fresh match up. Also, since 2014, both Cena and Orton have gone through a lot of character development, so this didn’t feel similar to anything they’ve done in the past.
As per the match, it wasn’t anything special, but it did become exciting in the last few minutes. Once Wyatt got involved, the three men did a great job at making it seem as if the match could go either way. There wasn’t anything wrong with Cena picking up the pin, because it was clearly done for pushing Orton’s feud with Harper. Essentially, this entire contest was wisely scheduled for the drama aspect, which important for the Wyatt Family story.
I went into this show a bit sour, because my Ottawa Senators got blown out 6-0 by the St.Louis Blues, which was only icing on top of a bad day. For some reason, I was ready to crap all over this episode, but instead it put me in a good mood. Not only is that a sign of how effective this was for the upcoming PPV, it was a sign that pro wrestling can still be the ultimate escape from reality.
Anyways, while there may have been a few kinks, this episode did it’s job by creating that last minute excitement needed for Elimination Chamber. The writers had two weeks to create something, and the card is shaping up to look decent. The low point of this show was the 12 man tag match, while the high points were the fatal four way and the dual contract signing. Overall, I give this edition of Smackdown a 7/10.