Just like Raw, this episode of Smackdown kept things simple. If you weren’t excited for Mania already, I’d say the WWE did a great job at heating things up with both of their television shows.
Opening Segment – AJ Styles/Shane McMahon Contract Signing
Thank god they didn’t get Daniel Bryan to use the phrase “ultimate thrill ride”. I’m totally cool with the punch line, but not when it’s forcefully inserted into everybody’s promo.
For a program that only started three weeks ago, this final encounter between AJ and Shane was smooth. Their back and forth was strong, which only legitimized this feud even more.
While Shane was fluid with his promo, AJ stood out more by explaining the difference between the two when it comes to competing in the ring. That difference is hardly ever mentioned, and it added intensity to this segment.
Carmella vs Becky Lynch/Carmella & Alexa Bliss vs Becky Lynch & Mickie James
The first bit of drama that occurred when Becky was wrestling Carmella was extremely entertaining. At this point, we don’t need drawn out matches to push Mania feuds, but more drama.
Even though this did turn into a tag match, the division isn’t stale like Raw’s, so it worked. Also, it ended at the appropriate time, which culminated with Naomi’s return. Right when the crowd started to tone, that return gave them a reason to pop, and show Naomi that she’s still over.
With the “Total Bellas” skits being as good as they were, they had to air some new ones on this show. I didn’t think they could be better, but then Miz parodied Daniel Bryan. The Miz has always found ways of being funny, but this may have easily been the most humorous thing he’s ever done. In fact, this may have arguably been the funniest thing on WWE television in quite some time. To top the skits off, it was astonishing how they ended on a serious note.
From my eyes, it was going to difficult for Cena to top the Miz’s last two weeks, but somehow he found a way. John was absolutely incredible with the words he spit out. Everything he said allowed for this feud to feel real, and arguably the best built program heading into Mania. While Cena’s promo stole the show, the Miz’s angers facial expression still added to the confrontation.
They probably could’ve gone without letting Nikki say anything.
Babyfaces vs Heels (Battle Royal competitors)
This 10 man tag was only in place to showcase who was competing in battle royal from Smackdown. It wasn’t anything special, but like the battle royal segment on Raw, it was a much needed buffer. With that being said, this match could’ve been condensed.
Luke Harper vs Bray Wyatt
I can’t be the only one that acknowledges this as a big match that could’ve been saved for another time. There’s a story to be told here, and I don’t think it should’ve been wasted without more build up. With their in ring chemsitry being as strong as it was, I’d love to see these two compete in a more meaningful match sometime in the future.
As for the Randy Orton video promo, I don’t see anything wrong with it. Initially, I was thrown off, but the tone of the feud isn’t meant to be like the others, so it should be appreciated for what it is. It was a tad bit hokey, although that’s the appeal behind this program.
Dean Ambrose/Baron Corbin
What the f*ck happened here? These two are in a a title feud, yet they couldn’t manage to make the card for this episode of Smackdown. Choosing between this and the 10 man tag should’ve been a no brainer. While us fans praise Smackdown for their booking, this was probably the biggest mistake made on television this week.
Aside from the botch of not including the IC title feud on this show, I’d say it flowed well. The show had a solid structure, which easily guided the fans from one storyline to the other. Along with that, most programs received the right amount of time needed to get that last minute boost before Mania.
The weak points included the lack of Ambrose/Corbin and the 10 man tag, while the high point was undoubtedly Miz TV. Overall, this go home show deserves a 8/10.