By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Hits
John Cena promo segment with the Wyatt Family: It was really good to hear Cena put over AJ Styles in a big way after he labeled him just another guy in last week’s trash talking promo. The lack of hype over his record tying 16th title win has me convinced that they are holding back on it because they intend to make a big fuss when Cena actually breaks the record. The interruption by Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton was solid. The lack of buzz regarding Orton’s Royal Rumble match win was disappointing, but the Wyatt Family video flash followed by Luke Harper suddenly appearing in the ring with Cena was great.
John Cena and Luke Harper vs. Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt: The Wyatt Family drama is finally getting interesting. We know Harper dislikes Orton. And while he’s teased performing Sister Abigail on Wyatt twice, he has yet to actually perform the move. Mauro Ranallo did a nice job of playing up the idea of Wyatt still having some type of hold over Harper. I really hope they have this all mapped out to peak at the right time. By the way, nothing screams we won’t be seeing Cena vs. Orton at WrestleMania quite like the match being advertised for next week’s television show.
Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles in a non-title match: These two worked together a lot, yet they still managed to pull out some spots that I didn’t recall seeing perform them during their past televised matches. I can’t say the match excited me when it was announced because it feels like we’ve seen them work so many times in recent months, but the match quickly won me over. The involvement of The Miz and Baron Corbin also served as effective hype for the Elimination Chamber match.
Naomi and Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James: The race to establish Naomi as a contender to Alexa’s title at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view continues. That’s two wins for Naomi over Bliss in three days. The Lynch and James feud is more compelling, but it feels like it’s been pushed off to the side before James has had a chance to reestablish herself.
Carmella vs. Delilah Dawson: A minor Hit. I’m still not sold on the Carmella and Ellsworth pairing, but the match was simple and effective with the Ellsworth outside interference finish.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Elimination Chamber participants announcement: Where’s the fanfare? I realize WWE only has two weeks between the Rumble and the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, but the simple backstage listing of the names was uninspiring. In fairness, they spoke about the Chamber match throughout the show and offered solid hype despite that tame initial announcement. More than anything, I’d like to see the Chamber become the March pay-per-view event so that they can build to it properly by having qualifying matches.
American Alpha’s open challenge: As much as I was hoping the Revival were going to debut, I was perfectly content with the idea of the Alpha vs. Usos match that we appeared to be getting. And then came all the teams who would be working WWE Main Event tapings if the D-show was still taped on Tuesday nights. I realize the need to work those guys into the show, but they are hurting the tag division by not establishing any of them in a meaningful way.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kalisto: The big Dolph heel turn already feels flat as he continues to take turns feuding with Kalisto and Apollo Crews. Is this going anywhere?