By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Hits
Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch: The setup for the Triple Threat match at WrestleMania felt lazy and contrived. After all, we’ve watched the NXT creative staff do a far superior job with a similar storyline involving Samoa Joe and Sami Zayn in recent weeks. The reason the match gets a hit is that it feels like WWE has taken a step forward when it comes to the way the women are being showcased. Banks and Lynch are getting a fair amount of match time, and Charlotte is really starting to click as the arrogant women’s champion. Best of all, the hard fought matches between Banks and Lynch just to earn a title shot made the title feel more prestigious. Now if only they had a belt and a name for the division that felt prestigious.
Dean Ambrose promo: Ambrose sitting down in a chair in mid-ring and addressing his title match at WWE Roadblock was a nice piece of business. I like the way Ambrose spoke about beating Triple H for the title and then raised the question of whether he would defend the title against Roman Reigns or Brock Lesnar or Triple H or even making the match a four-way. I don’t believe we’ll see Ambrose win the title at Roadblock, but I like the way he made the show feel like it could have major ramifications on the WrestleMania card. The interruption by Kevin Owens was well done with Owens taking exception to Ambrose getting the spotlight even though he is the Intercontinental Champion. I also like the way Ambrose played it cool by remaining seated even once Owens entered the ring only to spring to life once Owens tried to attack him.
Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens: The build at the top of the show left to yet another entertaining match from Ambrose and Owens. The Ambrose win was logical given that he’s the guy challenging for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship next weekend. I doubt there was too much thought given to live events when this show was written, but it also served as a nice setup to Ambrose challenging Owens for the Intercontinental Title on three shows this weekend. I will be attending tonight’s show in Minneapolis and I’m curious to see how they shake things up one night after their television match aired.
AJ Styles vs. Kofi Kingston: I enjoyed this match more than Jake Barnett did based on his live review. Jake is right in noting that the match would have been better if it were more straight forward minus the interference of Xavier Woods and Big E at ringside, but I can’t say that surprised me, particularly with the tag title match set for Monday. Styles and Kingston worked well together and this match stood out as Styles’ best singles television match that didn’t involve Chris Jericho. The match left me more anxious than ever to see Styles work singles matches with a variety of fresh opponents.
Sheamus and Rusev vs. The Uso Brothers: I’m not a big fan of watching top tag teams lose tag matches to a pair of singles wrestlers. However, WWE has a major shortage of meaningful heels. They have League of Nations members working Raw main events on a regular basis, so they need all the wins they can get. The post-match attack by The Dudley Boyz was a nice touch. I got a kick out of the way LON parted for The Dudleys and then cheered them on from ringside as they roughed up The Uso Brothers.
Mauro Ranallo, Jerry Lawler, and Byron Saxton: Consider the work of this broadcast team a weekly Hit unless otherwise noted. If WWE isn’t ready to add Mauro and Lawler to the pay-per-view broadcast team, then here’s hoping they get a chance to call the WWE Roadblock live special along with Saxton.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz: Parity booking continues with Ziggler avenging his quick loss to Miz on Raw with a quick win on Smackdown. By the way, it took Ziggler seconds to do on Smackdown what it recently took AJ Styles over ten minutes to accomplish when he faced Miz. I like Miz and Ziggler and would like to see them showcased in a more meaningful manner, but trading quick wins didn’t leave me anxious to see the rubber match.
Bray Wyatt vs. Brock Lesnar hype: Wyatt saying he’s more than just a man feels so hollow for all the reasons listed in the past regarding the way he has been booked to lose every key match. It’s a shame that the Lesnar and Paul Heyman characters never seemed bothered by the fact that the Wyatt Family cheated to eliminate Lesnar from the Royal Rumble match. This should have been built up as a revenge match for Lesnar. Perhaps Paul Heyman can work his magic if he’s on Monday’s Raw, but as it stands the match feels very random.