I apologize to my readers for skipping Raw this week. It thought it was a solid show, and unfortunately I didn’t have the time to properly review it.
As for Smackdown, it kicked into the next gear and was all about the Mania programs. Nothing on the show was meaningless, which means my eyes were glued to the screen for two straight hours.
You know what? I had heavily criticized the idea of an AJ-Shane feud, but the start of this show really swayed me into the other direction. It goes to show that fans sometimes need to be patient and maybe not criticize every rumour that’s online.
The promo cut by AJ at the start of the show was absolutely amazing. While Styles still used a heel tone, his arguments against the Smackdown management made it easy to sympathize with him. That’s exactly what I’d call shades of grey in terms of character alignment.
Overall, this was a brilliant way to kick off Smackdown.
Becky Lynch vs Natalya
These two have spent enough time away from each other for this singles match to feel exciting. They could’ve easily worked something simple, but instead they created drama and they utilized some hard hitting moves.
Becky and Natalya were given the right amount of time to put forth the a smooth match that had the crowd invested. Along with that, having Carmella ambush Lynch after the finish was a great way to rebound her character after a loss and further the multi-woman story for Mania.
The first half of the promo was nothing more than a recap from last week, and it was extremely boring to say the least. Obviously the Miz was excellent last week, but spamming recaps can get annoying.
I didn’t let the long recap ruin this segment of Miz TV, because I was still looking forward to what the Miz had to say. However, it wasn’t the A-lister that stole the promo, it was Maryse. We don’t hear a lot from the Quebec native, so it was shocking how her delivery came across as natural as it did. That only made Nikki’s response seem more forced.
As for the mixed tag Mania announcement, we all saw it coming, but I now believe this is something fans are looking forward to. The booking committee and the four wrestlers involved have done a superb job at making this feud entertaining.
Alexa Bliss vs Mickie James
I’m still surprised how the Mickie babyface turn wasn’t saved for Mania or the Smackdown after Mania. That way the two could enter a feud right out of the PPV, and at that point the story tells itself. Choosing to book this match on this show diminished any big moment they could’ve built towards.
The match itself moved at a slow pace, and was mediocre at best. Considering how the two used to be friends, there was no real sense of hatred here.
AJ Styles Ambush
Holy sh*t, this was incredible. To my surprise, this feud went straight to the point, and there wasn’t any time wasted in getting a physical confrontation between the two.
The emotion from AJ felt raw, and that allowed for this backstage ambush to feel meaningful. Also, Shane did a great job at taking the beating he was handed.
Having Bryan fire AJ was a solid follow up to the ambush. That made the attack feel real, and it only creates more intensity for the program moving forward.
Mojo Rawley vs Dolph Ziggler
These two had the unfortunate task of following up the biggest part of this episode. At the same time, it worked as good buffer.
Randy Orton/Bray Wyatt Promo
Randy was decent here, but it was actually Bray that stood out. The eater of world’s had showcased a slight change in attitude. He dropped the slow pacing in his voice, and had become much more maniacal. I’d say this is a much welcomed change to the Bray Wyatt character, as it gives him more layers and shows how crazy he can truly be.
American Alpha vs The Usos
I’m all for the tag division main eventing episodes of Smackdown, but this didn’t feel like the right time. Have the tag champs even been on Smackdown within the past two weeks? Both teams felt too cold. With the actual match being used as a back drop to Shane McMahon’s condition, I didn’t feel the need to pay attention to the in ring action.
The title win for Usos should’ve been a bigger moment. They’ve become incredibly entertaining, and deserved to be something more than an afterthought.
I’m in full belief this could’ve been better planned, where the tag match still main events, we get a commercial, and Shane gets to cut a slightly longer promo.
In terms of being a meaningful show, this certainly delivered. The two hours of this Smackdown managed to incorporate every Mania program, and progressed them. Apart from the cluster that was the main event, this episode flowed smoothly as well.
The low point of the show was Bliss vs James, while the high point was AJ’s ambush on Shane. Overall, this episode deserves a 7.5/10.