By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Hits
The Miz and Maryse spoof Total Bellas: Miz and Maryse playing the roles of John Cena and the Bella Twins could not have been more spot on. Seriously, the Saturday Night Live crew could not have done a better job of mocking the absurdity of Total Bellas. Miz spoofing Cena’s robotic antics and over the top rules were perfect. I don’t watch the WWE reality shows closely, but after sampling the shows over the years, it feels like the repeated storyline is that Nikki gets upset about not being married and having kids only to have Cena make everything better with distraction jewelry. Miz and Maryse nailed it and even out shined the Southpaw Regional Wrestling videos.
AJ Styles opening: The image of Styles taunting Daniel Bryan by approaching him while dressed in a WrestleMania visor and t-shirt was great. His in-ring promo that followed was cocky heel fun. It’s really a treat to see just how good he has become on the mic since he arrived in WWE. He doesn’t look like a guy who is trying to remember lines, he looks more comfortable than he ever has in this environment.
American Alpha vs. The Usos for the Smackdown Tag Titles: The presentation of the match left something to be desired. It certainly wasn’t worse than last week’s match taking place as an unadvertised main event, but it would have been good to hear from both teams going into the rematch rather than have them come out cold. Fortunately, the teams are so good that they were able to bring fans into the match in a big way via their ring work. Listen to the ho-hum reaction for the introductions compared to how hot the fans were down the stretch. It continues to blow my mind that WWE has never truly gotten behind this feud that so many of us have been waiting for since the draft. The tag title change was a nice surprise and hopefully creative gets behind the story of Alpha in chase mode, including a match at WrestleMania that doesn’t involve a bunch of other teams.
Randy Orton vs. Baron Corbin: A surprisingly long and competitive match between the challengers for the Smackdown singles titles at WrestleMania. The finish was logical with Dean Ambrose providing the distraction, which gives Corbin an out. The fact that they felt the need to give Corbin an out when he was facing Orton is a sign that the company thinks highly of the main roster rookie.
John Cena vs. Fandango: How could you not laugh at least a little at Breezy Bella? On an average night, this would have been the funniest moment on the show. This week, it came in third behind the Miz and Maryse spoof of Total Bellas and Shane McMahon’s punches.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Shane McMahon and AJ Styles: I was excited to see Shane return last year and felt like he helped save a depleted WrestleMania lineup. Watching him apply submission holds on Undertaker was embarrassing and the thrill was gone coming out of that match. Shane does a fine job as an on-air authority figure, but I have no interest in seeing him work against AJ Styles at WrestleMania. How much better would this be if Shane had introduced someone such as Shinsuke Nakamura or Kurt Angle to serve as AJ’s opponent. Instead, it’s another year of listening to the broadcast team shamelessly build up Super Shane.
Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton backstage: The corniness of the hocus pocus theme of the Wyatt and Orton saga does not appeal to me in any way. Cult leader Bray has so much potential and I could have bought into the idea of his followers attacking Orton had they not ruined it with the silly light flickering and cheesy music. Fortunately, though, the segment was brief and Smackdown bounced back nicely after last week’s painfully bad episode.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features referee Rob Page discussing the difficulty of reffing tag matches in the modern era, making three counts if a wrestler's shoulders are down even if it wasn't the planned finish, the growth of F1rst Wrestling, and more...