By Jason Powell
Join me for live coverage of WWE Roadblock on Saturday night. Dot Net Members will hear an exclusive audio review after the show. Join us on the ad-free version of the website and gain access to our entire audio show history via the Dot Net Members’ Signup Page.
WWE Smackdown Hits
Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, and The Uso Brothers vs. The Wyatt Family: A crowd pleasing eight-man tag match. The Uso Brothers deserve medals for filling more television time in six- or eight-man tag matches than any wrestlers in WWE history. Ambrose going over was logical, yet nothing they did with him made me feel like he is going to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on Saturday. Likewise, Bray Wyatt wasn’t featured in a way that made me feel like he has any chance to beat Brock Lesnar on Saturday.
Chris Jericho promo: A strong jealous Jericho heel promo. Everything about Jericho clicks so much more as a heel at this stage in his career. The suit jackets without shirts, the skintight pants, and the scarves all scream heel. The burning of the Y2AJ t-shirt was great. Babyface Jericho felt like a nostalgia act, but heel Jericho feels totally relevant.
Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, and Neville: A minor Hit. I like that Owens and Zayn were given a chance to discuss their history to help get their feud over for the casual viewers who are unaware of it. However, I question the way Zayn is being presented as something of a returning star. Fans who only watch the main roster shows may remember Zayn from his open challenge match against John Cena. Then again, they are called casual fans for a reason, so if those fans missed that match Raw then they may be seeing Zayn for the first time this week. The story that was told was easy enough to follow, but the basics of the story don’t make viewers who are unfamiliar with their history feel any emotional attachment to Zayn. Vince McMahon likes to present something for everyone at WrestleMania. The addition of Neville to the program makes me fear that this is a halfhearted attempt to cater to “the internet fans.” And while it certainly will appeal to the diehard fanbase, the Owens and Zayn feud has been so damn good over the years that I want the masses to feel the same emotion that longtime fans of both wrestlers will feel when they meet. That said, I just can’t give a thumbs down to WWE showcasing Owens, Zayn, and Neville in a WrestleMania program. I wish they had told the Owens and Zayn story sooner and thus more thoroughly, but it’s great to see three deserving talents being spotlighted in some way heading into WrestleMania. I just hope they are setting up a Triple Threat match rather than a big Money in the Bank style match to include a bunch of additional wrestlers.
Sheamus and King Barrett vs. The Lucha Dragons: A logical win for Sheamus and Barrett heading into their tag title match on Saturday. I have to question why they didn’t just make this a No. 1 contender’s match to give this match and even Smackdown as a whole a bit more juice. I couldn’t help but wonder if Sin Cara’s black look is foreshadowing a turn. If so, here’s hoping he ditches the Sin Cara name and mask. By the way, I like that they immediately cut to Ryback, whose gimmick seems to be that he, well, looks down on smaller wrestlers. You have no idea how badly I want this to lead to Randy Newman performing “Short People” as Ryback’s entrance theme at WrestleMania.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Overall show: This was the official beginning of Smackdown DVR Season. I’m sure many of you record the show and watch it later on a weekly basis, but there’s absolutely no reason to watch Smackdown live at this time of the year (aside from following along with Jake Barnett’s live review!). WWE programming features more video packages and commercials than anything else heading into WrestleMania. The entertainment factor of the first run material was decent, but none of it made me look forward to Saturday’s Roadblock show more than I was going in. In fact, I came away from Smackdown more convinced than ever that Roadblock is just another show rather than a game changer on the road to WrestleMania.
Brie Bella vs. Summer Rae: A minor Miss for the continuation of parity booking in WWE. Summer scored victories over Paige and Brie, which left me hopeful that there was a plan in place for her. Instead, she seems to be playing a background role in the Brie Bella vs. Lana feud. If nothing else, at least Lana ditched the Dolph Ziggler denim collection.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ring of Honor's PJ Black discussing the ROH Pure Title tournament beginning on ROH Wrestling TV this weekend, ROH's COVID-19 safety precautions, his run in WWE as Justin Gabriel with The Nexus, wrestling as The Bunny, and more...