By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Dot Net Members are listening to my extended thoughts on WWE Smackdown in my audio review and will also hear audio reviews of WWE Fastlane, the ROH 16th Anniversary event, and all of the pro wrestling major television shows. Join us on our ad-free website and access ten years of content by signing up today via PWMembership.net.
WWE Smackdown Hits
AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin: A good preview match for the Fastlane main event. No one expects Owens or Zayn to win the WWE Championship on Sunday, but the story of Zayn vowing to lay down for Owens at the pay-per-view was interesting. It was odd for Shane McMahon to reward Owens and Zayn for interfering in the Styles vs. Ziggler match by giving them and Baron Corbin the advantage of working with two guys who had already worked a 15-minute match. And initially, I couldn’t help but wonder why the Zayn character wouldn’t at least tease lying down for Owens to end this match. Just about the time I chalked it up to a logic gap, Zayn turned on Owens and pinned him to win this match. It made for a good finish to the show even if it didn’t make any storyline sense for Zayn to execute his plan in a throwaway match when he could have saved it for Sunday when the title is on the line. Still, an interesting finish combined with a strong push made by the wrestlers and the broadcast team for the Fastlane main event.
Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal: A good television match with the live crowd hot for Orton while Mahal continues to draw good heat. Orton throwing Mahal into Roode, who was on commentary, set up the finish of the match and provided a potential reason if they want to add Mahal to the U.S. Title match on Sunday.
Becky Lynch vs. Carmella: It’s astonishing that Lynch continues to be wasted in a Charlotte sidekick role. It’s nice that Lynch and Carmella are involved in a tag team match at Fastlane, but hopefully they will get something more than filler roles soon.
Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev: The idea of this match made me cringe last week. After all, Rusev is one of the most popular wrestlers on the roster even if WWE hasn’t done anything about it. Fastlane should be a showcase for Nakamura heading into his WrestleMania title shot, but how much of a showcase would it be if the live crowd was more concerned with chanting Rusev Day than focussing on him? And while that’s still a minor concern, Nakamura showed his fun personality backstage simply by singing “Nakamura Day” to Rusev and Aiden English. As silly as it may seem, that might be enough to win over some of the usual Rusev supporters.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Charlotte and Ruby Riott face-to-face confrontation: A decent verbal exchange with Charlotte sounding less orchestrated than Riott. Just when it looked like Charlotte was in a tough three-on-one spot after the match, the entrance music of Becky Lynch… no, Naomi… no, Bobby Roode played. Huh? I realize they are WWE Mixed Match Challenge teammates, but I have no idea why his mere entrance would have scared off the Riott Squad.
Dolph Ziggler promo: The AJ Styles promo was solid and spoke directly to the fans who are hoping to see him face Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania and don’t want John Cena or anyone else to take that match away. Ziggler came out to his record scratch, pause, same bad entrance theme. He’d been working against heels on television lately and thus I assumed that he was back in babyface mode. Sure, he took a cheap shot at Styles last week, but that could be chalked up to the two being competitive heading into the six-way Fastlane main event. Nope, Ziggler is still a whiney heel who is pissed off at the fans because they don’t recognize the greatness of a guy who loses most of his matches. Ugh.
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