By Jake Barnett, Prowrestling.net Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Daniel Bryan challenges Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens: Bryan showed good fire here when he needed to, and also did a great job of setting the stage for his comeback at WrestleMania. It’s hard to imagine that Shane McMahon will be good to wrestle in two weeks given his bout with diverticulitis and a hernia repair, but I guess WWE is willing to wait and see and cross that bridge when they get there. The stipulation that Sami and Kevin will be fighting for their jobs leads me to believe they will get the win at WrestleMania, but it could also be a method to move them along to Raw to make room for some other talents coming up from NXT.
The Bludgeon Brothers: It’s great that Erick Rowan and Luke Harper have maintained a sense of danger about them heading into WrestleMania. The Usos and New Day have raised the prestige of the Smackdown Tag Team Championships over the last year, and The Bludgeon Brothers seem poised to reap that harvest after WrestleMania. Their dominant performances on TV have been enjoyable and entertaining, and I hope they can maintain that once they settle into having long form feuds and matches.
Rusev goes to WrestleMania: WWE has backed into a great opportunity to make Rusev the U.S. Champion and embrace the crowd reaction that he’s been getting for months. It would also give them an opportunity to turn Bobby Roode and Randy Orton heel to chase after him. Rusev getting the win over Orton in their tag match on Smackdown got a big reaction, even though it meant Jinder Mahal got to glom onto the victory as well. That should tell you everything you need to know.
Becky Lynch: I’m going to cheat here a little bit and include some of the happenings from the Mixed Match challenge, but it was a good night over all for Becky Lynch. She and Rusev were the most underutilized people on the Smackdown brand, and it was nice to see her pick up a couple of consecutive wins in the same night. Whether it means anything with the ongoing 50/50 booking is anybody’s guess, but Becky is the best babyface on the women’s roster and it isn’t even close.
WWE Smackdown Misses
AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura build: While this was the best effort we’ve seen from Shinsuke and AJ to create some drama between them, we still have much of what they talk about going unexplained. Why is this such a dream match for Styles? Why does he consider Nakamura “the best” outside of himself? What is Shinsuke’s motivation? Why is the winning the WWE Championship so important to him? We are one week away and I have far more questions than answers, and it’s a huge bummer.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Tyler Breeze: Ziggler’s comeback initially had him promising that he was going directly after the WWE Championship. Now he’s aimed squarely at the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, and having pointless matches that only seem to exist to get the big Dre Trophy on television. I keep hoping WWE will come up with something more interesting than the played out showoff character for Ziggler, but it seems he’s been shifted to the back burner once again. At one point, a Tyler Breeze and Dolph Ziggler match would have been booked at a lot differently.
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