By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Becky Lynch promo: Lynch did a wonderful job of establishing just how badly she wanted to face Ronda Rousey and that medical restrictions were preventing her from doing so. The angle of Lynch picking Charlotte as her replacement and even going so far as to hug her was intriguing as far as the future of their characters is concerned. For that matter, they can have any of the other women take offense to being snubbed by Lynch. It’s worth noting that Asuka was begging Lynch by saying “pick me” repeatedly, so don’t be surprised if this comes up again whenever they go to Lynch vs. Asuka. Rousey vs. Charlotte was an expected WrestleMania match. And while they could work toward a rematch on Sunday, it seems more likely that they will work their way back Lynch vs. Rousey instead, assuming Lynch will be healthy by then. If this is a short-term injury, this could turn out to be a major positive for Lynch and the WrestleMania card even if it means they are rushing into Rousey vs. Charlotte on Sunday.
New Day vs. Big Show, Sheamus, and Cesaro: A good six-man tag match complete with some strong near falls for both teams before Show punched out Kingston and pinned him. Corey Graves noted that Big Show will be in the corner of Sheamus and Cesaro on Sunday, so be ready for plenty of shots that display the size difference between Show and Drake Maverick.
Rey Mysterio vs. The Miz: A quality match with Mysterio keeping his spot on Team Smackdown by defeating Miz in a competitive outing. Randy Orton’s post match attack shows that the men’s Team Smackdown is not unified heading into Sunday. Will that be a story in the elimination match or are they just setting up storylines for post Survivor Series?
Jeff Hardy vs. Andrade Almas: A Hit for the usual good match. Sadly, it came with the usual loss for Almas. I understand that Jeff needed a win since he was added to Smackdown’s Survivor Series team, but WWE is completely wasting the Almas and Zelina Vega act. Aside from the presumed pay bump for Almas and Vega, it’s a shame they even bothered to call them up from NXT.
WWE Smackdown Misses
AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship: The actual match was Hit worthy. And Daniel Bryan may turn out to be a really good heel, perhaps even with his wife and sister-in-law playing some part in his act. But there is no way of denying that the company dropped the ball on the seemingly can’t miss story that was his improbable return. It was the feel good story of the year when Bryan announced he had been medically cleared to return to the ring, and fans should still be in the honeymoon period. Instead, the company cooled him off quickly by putting him in a lousy feud with Big Cass, and they never managed to recreate the magic that Bryan and Miz made on the Talking Smack set. Bryan never moved forward as a babyface. He was playing the greatest hits with Yes! chants before, during, and after his matches. There was no new mission statement, and even his t-shirt boasted that “Yes Is Back”. The company had no fresh ideas for Bryan and they never even came up with a creative way of selling fans on his quest to regain the WWE Championship. So no matter where this story goes from here and no matter how good of a heel Bryan turns out to be, the company failed miserably with this chapter of his career.
Daniel Bryan vs. Brock Lesnar set for Survivor Series: What was once considered the ultimate David vs. Goliath feud is now an oddball heel vs. heel match that will occur without any storyline build or mic work.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Seth Rollins hype: While it was nice to learn from Nakamura’s promo that one of the characters is taking the match seriously, the overall build was weak. It’s a shame because the match looks like a gem on paper.
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Salina de la Renta from Major League Wrestling.