By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Hits
Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch in a cage match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: A good, physical cage match before the interference finish. The reveal of Mickie James as La Luchadora was not a well kept secret. I’m not sure if that played into the live crowd’s flat reaction, but it certainly was not the ideal reintroduction of James to WWE’s main roster after all these years. Even so, she played a hell of a heel in TNA and she should have no trouble getting heat while working with strong babyface Lynch. By the way, it was interesting that WWE playing the Lita video as part of a movie promotion on Monday. It’s just a shot in the dark, but with Lynch now apparently feuding with Alexa and Mickie, could we see her bring in a legend partner of her own?
Opening segment with Shane McMahon, AJ Styles, John Cena, and The Miz: Shane’s “huge announcement” regarding the return of the Elimination Chamber lived up to the hype for those who weren’t already aware of the pay-per-view returning. AJ Styles being bothered by being forced to defend the championship again (if he still holds it) inside the Chamber was logical, and John Cena stirring the pot between the bickering Styles and Miz was also good fun.
The King’s Court with Dolph Ziggler: It was nice to hear Ziggler use a slower speaking style rather than breaking into that piercing scream he tends to use when he gets worked up.
AJ Style vs. The Miz: A minor Hit for the unexpected break from the usual babyface vs. heel dynamic. Was this WWE testing the waters for a Styles babyface turn? Probably not if only because they have to recognize his popularity already and know that the fans will embrace him if he turns. The DQ finish was logical as there was no reason to have either guy lose, and they also put the spotlight right back on Styles vs. Cena.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton: A long and at times plodding match that had also had its moments. Making it a non-title match for no good reason made it feel uneventful. And after all that, we ended up with a distraction rollup finish. The post match angle with Bray Wyatt punching Luke Harper was solid. My next shot in the dark speculation is that Erick Rowan returns next week and Orton is sent packing from the Wyatt Family. Maybe they’ll surprise me by keeping Wyatt and Orton united and then have Harper and Rowan team up against them, but Wyatt indicating that the Wyatts will be stronger than ever after Harper vs. Orton leads me to assume that he’ll have at least two men at his side.
Nikki Bella and Natalya: A minor miss. The brawl between the women was physical, but it’s hard to buy into the story behind the feud. Nikki is still pissed that Natalya attacked her at Survivor Series, and apparently this week she was upset because Natalya was complaining about her merchandise. Natalya’s heel antics have been so petty that it feels like Nikki should be rolling her eyes and moving on. I get the idea that they are trying to claim that Natalya turned her back on a long friendship. Maybe I missed it all on Total Divas, but we’ve seen these two for years on WWE television and were never given a hint that they were good friends, so it just doesn’t ring true.