By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Hits
Dean Ambrose: It’s rare that I find the cutesy humor of Ambrose appealing. The character is typically at its best when he is serious. If you had told me before the show that he was going to dress up in a pizza delivery outfit and an Ottawa Senators jersey, I would have penciled him in for a Miss. Instead, this played out really well. Ambrose showing up repeatedly after Shane McMahon ordered him to leave the building was a lot of fun and he played his role perfectly.
James Ellsworth vs. AJ Styles: As much as I would like to see Styles presented as a strong champion, his three losses to Ellsworth have been highly entertaining. It was odd that anyone who watched the Raw Pre-Show saw footage of Ellsworth announcing to a crowd at an independent show that he’s been given a WWE contract only to have him act stunned on this show, but the story told on Smackdown led to a fun, feel good moment at the end of the night. As much as I enjoy Ellsworth, it feels like it’s time for Styles to avenge this loss by putting Ellsworth on the shelf for a couple months to avoid overexposure. A Dot Net Member pitched the idea of him disappearing until he returns as a Royal Rumble entrant, which I’m all for. The character is great and I would hate to see them run it into the ground prematurely.
Tag Team Turmoil: Forget that the undercard tag teams all looked like scrubs and that the company is blind to what a great team Tyler Breeze and Fandango could be if they just pulled back on the silliness. And never mind that the Alpha finisher on the Vaudevillains looked awful. Viewers finally got a taste of how good an American Alpha vs. The Usos feud can be. It’s still stunning that they haven’t booked the Usos to win the tag titles and put Alpha in chase mode. It’s the most obvious thing in the world, and at this point we can only hope that they see it and are saving it for WrestleMania season.
The Miz vs. Kalisto: A minor Hit for an entertaining match until the finish. The production team had a rare hiccup as they cut to a shot that clearly missed Baron Corbin arriving to attack Kalisto. The Kane vs. Corbin match was a nice setup for the continuation of the angle with Kalisto showing really good fire as he chased off Corbin with a chair.
Becky Lynch vs. Natalya: A minor Hit. It should surprise no one that Lynch and Natalya had a good match. I wish it meant more. Natalya’s lyric stealing gimmick is so quirky that it’s hard to take her seriously. On a positive note, it’s cool that they kept the mystery alive when it comes to who attacked Nikki Bella at Survivor Series. I don’t expect it to happen, but I’d love it if Mickie James was revealed as the culprit. Smackdown lacks a strong lead heel in the women’s division, and James would fill that slot nicely.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton get a free pass: Smackdown featured a tag team turmoil match to determine the No. 1 contenders. After the match, the new Wyatt Family appeared on the big screen and informed the duo that they had not defeated every team on the roster. Oddly enough, it has been officially announced that Alpha will face Wyatt and Orton for No. 1 contender status next week. This felt lazy, especially since the obvious reasoning could have been that this was a reward from Shane and Bryan for Wyatt and Orton winning the Survivor Series match for Smackdown. Even then, it would seem like a dick move for babyface authority figures to let Alpha believe they earned the tag title shot only to pull the rug out from under them.
Jason Powell and Jake Barnett co-host the Dot Net Weekly and Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast combo show and discuss Raw Underground and other WWE concepts, The Rock's group buying the XFL, the Marty Jannetty story, AEW Dynamite and NXT TV, and more...