By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
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WWE Smackdown Live Hits
AJ Styles vs. John Cena: The usual strong match from Styles and Cena. Their past matches felt much more meaningful when they were fighting over a championship. It doesn’t help that Cena looks a little sad and desperate to be in a title match at WrestleMania by jumping brands after failing twice on the Raw side. Thus, it was important to give him a big match win here. Sure, they could have protected Styles in some way, but Cena needed this, Smackdown needed to deliver a quality main event with a real finish, and Styles will be just fine going forward. This was the best main event that Smackdown had to offer while in Los Angeles and it was an entertaining way to close the show.
The Usos and New Day: The Usos promo about it being their time after being left on the sideline was intense and passionate. Even better was seeing the New Day flip the switch from comedy to showing an edge when the situation called for it via Big E’s strong rebuttal. The Bludgeon Brothers walking out during the segment sets the stage for a potential Triple Threat match. Either way, the tag title match could steal the show at Fastlane.
Ruby Riott vs. Naomi: A minor Hit for a decent match with the predictable yet logical outcome of Riott going over heading into her title match with Charlotte Flair. I realize they are telling the story that Riott and Charlotte both beat the other’s respective friends, but this match would have been so much more suspenseful had they held off on announcing Riott as the challenger and made this match a No. 1 contenders match.
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan: As much as I enjoyed these two as the no nonsense Smackdown authority figures early on, their passive aggressive relationship now dominates and drags down the show. The latest development with Shane implying that Bryan allowed Kevin Owens to sit in on commentary during the Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin match wasn’t worth interrupting the match for. It didn’t even ring true since it’s not uncommon to see wrestlers sit in on commentary while their tag partners or allies are working a match. I sure hope this is leading to Bryan returning to the ring at WrestleMania because if it’s not then this has been a show damaging waste of time.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Aiden English: A showcase match for Nakamura. There was nothing really wrong with it, but beating English doesn’t meaning anything. The ongoing problem is that creative has damaged every heel on the Smackdown brand to the point that it will be difficult for Nakamura for any other babyface to develop any sense of momentum by beating a heel. We’re still waiting to find out what the challenger for the WWE Championship will do on the penultimate pay-per-view. Jinder Mahal? Rusev? Refilling Shane McMahon’s popcorn?
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