By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
Dot Net Members are listening to my extended thoughts on this show via last night’s WWE Smackdown. The members are also listening to John Moore’s WWE 205 Live audio review, my Raw audio review, and my Quick Hits audio update on the return of Daniel Bryan. Join us on the ad-free version of the website and mobile website and hear all of our audio content by visiting PWMembership.net.
Daniel Bryan opening: I had ridiculously high expectations for this segment going into the show and it somehow blew them all away. I guess it should not be a surprise given that Bryan is the same guy who managed to turn his heartbreaking retirement speech into a feel good moment by focussing on his gratitude rather than the negatives of the situation. Bryan owned the crowd from the moment he walked out and his speech about receiving medical clearance was excellent, and the praise he gave his wife Brie for pushing him to continue his quest to receive clearance was touching. It was also ultra classy of Bryan to thank the doctors for treating him as a person rather than as a wrestler. Everything about Bryan’s speech was perfect.
Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn: Bryan’s emotional speech was followed by terrific mic work as he tried to make sense of the storyline mess that his ongoing angle with Shane McMahon became. He came across believable as he fired Owens and Zayn and the crowd went crazy for his kicks and running dropkicks on the duo after they attacked him. It will take some time to get comfortable seeing Bryan take bumps again, but at this point you have to put your faith in the opinions of the medical experts and hope that Bryan will avoid certain moves (see the top rope headbutt). Owens and Zayn were also top notch here and the stage is set for what should be a fun tag team match at WrestleMania.
Luke Harper vs. Jimmy Uso: A solid match. The match kept the Bludgeon Brothers looking dominant while also giving Uso just enough offense to make it seem like he and his brother have a chance to retain their titles at WrestleMania.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Rusev: This was more of an in the middle segment, but I just couldn’t bring myself to place this in the Miss section on Rusev Day. Anyway, Nakamura got another clean win over Rusev. It looked like AJ Styles was taking his sweet time when it came to saving Nakamura from a double team attack by Rusev and Aiden English, but apparently the story was supposed to be that Styles was surprised by how quickly Nakamura was able to fight them off. Meh. The Styles vs. Nakamura match sells itself on paper for many of us, but the storyline build to the match continues to consist of nothing more than Nakamura telling Styles that he’s going to beat him.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Charlotte vs. Natalya: A good and Hit worthy match and a rare win for Natalya in this lopsided rivalry, but it was odd to see Charlotte lose so close to WrestleMania. It’s nothing she can’t bounce back from, but I’m not really sure what purpose it served. The latest Money in the Bank cash-in tease has me more fearful than ever that Carmella will cash in at WrestleMania and either steal the win or, more likely, take the loss so that the company can avoid delivering a real finish between Charlotte and Asuka. I sure hope I’m wrong about that one.
Baron Corbin vs. Tye Dillinger: A botched finish to a meaningless match that seemed like it existed only to let the broadcast team hype that both men will be in The Dre battle royal. Dillinger’s new look is an improvement and hopefully he can reinvent himself so that there’s more to his character than a number.
Becky Lynch and Naomi vs. Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan: The directionless battle between Riott Squad with these two babyfaces (and Charlotte) continues. It was the babyface side’s turn to win this week. This is parity booking at its worst. Is it really too much to ask of the creative team to come up with actual storylines for the women on Smackdown who are not in the title picture?
Randy Orton, Bobby Roode, and Jinder Mahal: A minor Miss and mostly for Mahal cutting his usual promo about the fans being hypocritical. Will there ever be more to the Mahal character than this?
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