By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
Miz TV with AJ Styles: Listening to Styles and Miz “shine each other’s belts” was fun, and the breakdown with Miz showing his interesting in challenging for the WWE Championship was an unexpected twist. Dean Ambrose running out and getting in the mix was actually disappointing in that it feels like he shouldn’t be in the title picture after all of these matches with Styles, including the TLC match. My involuntary reaction to Dolph Ziggler and Luke Harper getting involved was wondering which man would lose the inevitable four-way to determine the No. 1 contender. By the way, would they have put Simon Gotch in the No. 1 contenders match if he had come out for this segment too?
Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper vs. The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler: It was nice to see the early portion of the match dedicated to making Harper look like a badass. I hope it leads somewhere, but seeing is believing. Still, the elimination match was entertaining and ate up a good amount of television time. Ziggler getting the win felt similar to the Hype Bros becoming No. 1 contenders to the tag titles in that I assume both are number one contenders for television main events rather than pay-per-views. If nothing else, it’s nice to get a break from the Styles vs. Ambrose feud. The closing minutes were strong and the title match between Styles and Ziggler has the potential to be excellent.
Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch: It was surprising to see the match announced on the fly rather than being something they advertised in advance, but the finish with Bliss feigning an injury probably explains that. The important thing is that the feud feels fresh now that Bliss captured the championship and Lynch is trying to regain the title. The only negative is that we didn’t get to see the talented Deonna Purrazzo work an actual match. Check out this week’s ROH TV Women of Honor special if you want to see her in action.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
James Ellsworth illness: The cancellation of last week’s title match was understandable given the legitimate ankle injury that Styles suffered. It felt like a bait and switch this week with Ellsworth pretending to be sick. My guess is that that it plays into Ellsworth aligning with Styles rather than actually facing him for the WWE Championship. I actually like that idea a lot, but it doesn’t justify WWE promoting that as the only hook for the show on Raw when they knew they didn’t intend to deliver the match.
Natalya vs. Carmella: The match was fine and it was actually surprising to see the way Natalya was able to get some cheers despite her recent (and current?) heel role. The real issue is that they are dragging out the mystery over who attacked Nikki Bella at Survivor Series to the point that it’s become ridiculous. She missed an elimination match. Who cares?
Tag Team Battle Royal: With all due to respect to Zack Ryder, who suffered a knee injury during the match, The Hype Bros winning becoming No. 1 contenders is about as appealing as mixing hot sauce with your favorite breakfast cereal. As much as the long wait for a real American Alpha push has been a real head scratcher, I suspect this battle royal set up a tag title match for television, not a real feud between the Wyatts and Hype Bros. Still, the wait is aggravating, as Alpha isn’t even being positioned as a team on the rise.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Brian Fritz of Sporting News and Between The Ropes discussing WrestleMania 36, WWE television from the empty WWE Performance Center, his own travel woes, NFL free agency, and more...