Pruett’s Pause: WWE SmackDown Live – Returning to Daniel Bryan’s hometown and confronting his retirement, Cena vs. Orton, final Elimination Chamber hype


By Will Pruett

I don’t know if anyone else has this issue, but it still kills me to remember Daniel Bryan has retired. It’s easy for me to mentally return to the moment he said goodbye to wrestling last year and the wound is still raw. I don’t know Bryan Danielson, but somehow his career became personal to me. The opening of this Smackdown was a rough reminder of the beauty and pain of being a fan of Daniel Bryan.

Before his music hit, I had a feeling it would be him. WWE is in Seattle and since the moment in December 2013 when Seattle took over an awkward belt-hanging ceremony with Bryan chants, WWE has known what Seattle wants. Bryan’s opening monologue gave me far too many flashbacks to his retirement speech. The emotion wasn’t as fresh. It didn’t feel as personal, but the flashbacks were still there.

The Miz interrupting this moment was welcome, as I would hate to start sobbing about wrestling as I cooked dinner. Miz and Bryan have some sort of magic animosity I’ll always appreciate. They play off of each other well. Miz brought me back to the reality of Bryan never wrestling again. It sucked, but it was necessary.

It did cause me to wonder where this Bryan and Miz story will terminate. Bryan cannot get revenge on Miz himself. Bryan probably cannot and should not rush the ring and deliver some swift kicks to Miz. What could be done here?

One option is John Cena stepping up in defense of his almost-brother-in-law. This has been heavily rumored as being Miz and Maryse vs. Cena and Nikki Bella. This might be the best possible option. What else could be done to advance the story of Miz and Bryan?

It doesn’t feel as good as a Daniel Bryan story should, but it might be all we can get. This episode was a stark reminder of Bryan no longer being able to wrestle.

And now for some random thoughts:

– We should describe super-over wrestlers as “Over like Bryan in Seattle.”

– The prospect of a new Elimination Chamber structure is the most exciting thing about Sunday’s Elimination Chamber show to me. I will always love the reveal of new matches or match types. I’m almost regretting not making the long drive out to Phoenix for this show.

– Baron Corbin beating AJ Styles, Miz, and Dean Ambrose by pinning Styles is a nice feather in his cap (or vest). Corbin has been one of the victories of Smackdown’s creative efforts since the draft.

– I’m rather excited about having three women’s matches at Elimination Chamber. This should be a regular occurrence on single-brand shows when possible. I dream of a day when WWE shows feature 50% women’s matches.

– Luke Harper seems like nothing more than an obstacle for Randy Orton to quickly go through at Elimination Chamber, but I remain excited about what Harper can be. Given that I anticipate Wyatt and Orton to be the WWe Championship match at WrestleMania, Harper could do some pretty neat things.

– As excited as I am for the plentiful amount of women’s matches on Sunday, this Nikki and Natalya promo has featured some truly cringe-worthy promos. Please make it stop.

– I thought I’d care more about Dolph Ziggler after a turn, but my newfound hatred of Apollo Crews has caused me to care less. Now Ziggler is being set up as the bad guy at an almost unfair disadvantage on Sunday.

– The combo-platter contract signing for Mickie James vs. Becky Lynch and Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss was well done. James’ promo was the centerpiece of it and she did a really nice job. Lynch’s response was excellent. This type of exchange between a delusional heel and an easy to support babyface is missing from far too many areas in WWE.

– I’m still not in love with frequent contract signings.

– 12 man tag team matches shouldn’t happen. The tag team scene on Smackdown is the disappointment of the show. Who knew Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley were holding everything together?

– American Alpha should really just be doing open challenges every week. Steal the John Cena gimmick and let them get over with it.

– Randy Orton vs. John Cena was what I expected it to be. The Wyatt Family interference with the referee knocked out was one of those ridiculous “only in wrestling” moments. The referee’s resurrection made me laugh.

Got thoughts on this show or my review of it? Hit me up with them! Check the Twitter @wilpruett, leave a comment, or email me at


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