By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
AJ Styles and John Cena contract signing: Styles cut a strong promo on Cena in which he labeled him as has-been and claimed he was gifted a title shot by his would-be brother-in-law. Perhaps it’s because Cena has no-sold everything from scathing promos to title losses, but even the strong words from Styles didn’t seem to be strong enough to warrant Cena getting as worked up as he did. That said, Cena killed it with another strong and serious promo. The WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble already captured the big match feel. Baron Corbin felt really out of place and unnecessary when he came out at the end of the exchange, but it’s important to get him in the main event mix if that’s where they are going with him.
The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Title: A good, dramatic match with a nice tease for the referee disqualifying The Miz for Maryse’s interference before being talked into ejecting her from ringside. Ambrose getting the win this early in the program doesn’t excite me, but we’ll see where it goes.
The Miz and Maryse opening: The usual strong mic work from Miz to put heat on himself heading into his title defense against Dean Ambrose. He looked like a sleazy heel for letting his wife do the dirty work by slapping Ambrose only to then smile yet drop off the apron once Ambrose moved toward him. The promo was also a nice hook in that it left viewers wondering what Renee Young would say or do in response.
Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler: A strong match with some great near falls for Ziggler before the right guy went over. This was a much better match than I remember Corbin and Ziggler having during their even steven feud on Raw. Corbin’s only real programs during his main roster run have been with Ziggler and Kalisto, so it seemed appropriate that Kalisto ran out for the save. Ziggler’s superkick out of nowhere was a welcome surprise. The idea of Ziggler turning on an undercard wrestler may not jump off the page, but he can have good matches with Kalisto, and Kalisto can take losses for heel Ziggler. That said, he also headbutted Apollo Crews backstage, so maybe he’s just a racist.
Becky Lynch vs. La Luchadora: A minor Hit for the latest installment with Alexa Bliss playing the masked opponent only to have the actual La Luchadora come out after the match. The identity of the person who is ultimately unmasked is mildly intriguing.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
American Alpha vs. Tyler Breeze and Fandango: The only citation issued should have gone to the creative team for continuing the one note joke that is the Fashion Police gimmick while failing to recognize that they could have a solid heel tag team if they presented the duo in a more serious manner.
Nikki Bella and Natalya: An awkward segment that started cold coming out of the commercial break with the women just trading insults. Is heel Natalya required to talk about how beautiful Nikki Bella is in all of her promos?
Carmella and James Ellsworth: I’ve enjoyed just about everything WWE has done with Ellsworth, but the odd couple bit isn’t clicking and feels rather directionless at this point.