By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
The Miz and Maryse spoof John Cena and Nikki Bella: It continues to be good fun. Oh, and that Shinsuke guy was kinda neat too.
Shinsuke Nakamura arrives: In all seriousness, the recreation of his NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II entrance with the solo violinist was a great call. The original version of that entrance is one of my all-time favorite entrances and it’s cool that it made its way to the main roster. The fact that he interrupted The Miz appears to set up his first program as The King of Strong Style vs. The King of WWE Weak Style. Sounds like fun to me, and obviously The Miz can do a great job of carrying the bulk of the mic work.
Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin in a street fight: This was much better than their disappointing WrestleMania match. It was more in line with the type of brawl I expected from them on Sunday. Both men seemed motivated to make up for their WrestleMania clunker, and the inclusion of weapons seemed to work for them more than working a standard match. Corbin going over in the non-title match keeps the feud alive, and I suspect it’s only a matter of time before he wins the Intercontinental Championship.
AJ Styles and Shane McMahon: The most compelling moment came when Styles brought up the “Superstar Shakeup” in that I actually wondered if he would demand to be traded. The logic could have been that he knew he would never get a fair shake as long as the man he defeated at WrestleMania was calling the shots on Smackdown. Instead, AJ made peace with Shane, and Styles stated that he wants to stay put. I hope it sticks, as Styles could easily become the top babyface of the brand rivaled only by Shinsuke Nakamura. The two of them on the babyface side would be a cool way to keep them apart until next year’s WrestleMania. Of course, AJ could just as easily be the brand’s top heel and feud with Nakamura sooner than that. I just hope they save their first WWE showdown for a major show and give it the type of buildup that it deserves.
Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: A better than expected match. It was nothing special, but the effort was there. My guess continues to be that Charlotte is headed to Smackdown as part of the shakeup (and perhaps Alexa Bliss to Raw?). If so, it makes sense to have the babyface keep the title with a top heel coming to take it soon.
Tye Dillinger vs. Curt Hawkins: I have never been big on the 10 gimmick, but the key number is actually 36 – Dillinger’s age. It feels like it’s now or never for the veteran. So many wrestlers rave about him and it’s time to give him a chance to click on the main roster. Introducing him in front of the lively Orlando crowd was perfect in that they were clearly very aware of of the gimmick and very vocal about showing it.
Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt opening segment: While the nightmare that was their special effects match at WrestleMania still haunts me, the opening segment turned out to be solid. Wyatt showing up in the ring behind Orton and then attacking him was nicely done. The fact that Wyatt didn’t play the “on my time” card when he was challenged made it feel like the heel wants to get his hands on the babyface just as badly as the babyface wants to get his hands on the heel. The return of Erick Rowan got the show off to a good start in terms of letting the audience know that they were picking up where Raw left off in terms of surprises.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Randy Orton and Luke Harper vs. Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan: And then the bell rang for the main event. This was just a horribly flat way to close WrestleMania weekend. It’s a good thing for WWE that the vocal Raw crowd didn’t stick around for Smackdown because they would have destroyed the campy finish. The Wyatt hocus pocus act that resulted in him simply leaving the ring was really corny. If they’re going to use the light tricks, the guy should at least do something to help his team win the match.
Mojo Rawley promo: The frat boy who won’t grow up gimmick was on full display in his party talk promo. I have enjoyed Rawley much more the few times he has toned it down and acted like a normal person.