By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
Naomi forfeits the Smackdown Women’s Championship: No, it’s not a Hit that an injury forced her to drop the championship. Rather, it’s the emotional speech she delivered before doing so. Naomi made the championship feel important and it helped fans make more of a connection with her. Daniel Bryan delivering the the setup and being the person to take the championship away certainly added to the moment given everything he has gone through.
Nikki Bella vs. Natalya in a falls count anywhere match: Nikki and Natalya showed great effort at the Elimination Chamber and they actually worked even harder this time around. There were some frightening moments at times, but this was a very physical and highly entertaining brawl. If this is the end of the feud, then I actually like Natalya getting the last win. She needs it more than Nikki does at this point. The finish with Maryse is another step toward a mixed tag match at WrestleMania. However, the big negative was that after the women worked such a physical style, Maryse’s weapon work looked comically silly.
Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss for the vacant Smackdown Women’s Championship: The idea of Bryan booking this match with no regard for the other women in the division felt odd. At the very least, it felt like they could have had a four-woman tournament. Nevertheless, the match was entertaining and I like the decision to go with the last champion now, perhaps with the idea of shaking it up with a title change at or coming out of WrestleMania.
Pre Battle Royal promos: Some of the promos were better than others, but the basic idea of having the wrestlers speak about the battle royal beforehand brought me back to when the company took a similar approach with the Royal Rumble competitors.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Battle Royal: This wasn’t your typical battle royal with lots of punching and kicking until the final moments. Keeping the wrestler count to ten was wise in terms of not exposing the thin roster and because it gave them plenty of room and opportunities to tells stories in the ring. They were wise to have the match come down to Luke Harper and AJ Styles considering that most people had them pegged as the favorites. Unfortunately, the in-ring work was sloppy, and then the finish was botched. It was obvious upon first glance that Styles hit the floor before Harper, yet they stuck with the plan, insulting the intelligence of viewers everywhere.
American Alpha vs. Breezango: Tyler Breeze and Fandango are always a Miss in my book because this cornball gimmick is keeping what could be a solid tag team buried in an undercard comedy spot. It means nothing when Alpha or anyone else beats them. Could Fandango have rolled out of the ring any faster after taking Grand Amplitude and being pinned? The post match angle with the Usos jawing at Alpha was strong and I’m really looking forward to these teams finally feuding.