By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Daniel Bryan: This was another fantastic individual performance from Bryan, who held the crowd in the palm of his hand the entire night. The live crowd ate up his interview with The Miz and showered him with boos for this post main event attack on AJ Styles. I watched the televised main event segment again once I got home from the show to hear Bryan’s commentary, and that was yet another gem. The opportunity to dig into a new character has reinvigorated Bryan and has also given the AJ Styles babyface character a new lease on life. Bryan should be at the very top of the Smackdown heap for the foreseeable future, and that’s fantastic news considering how badly they managed the follow up for his initial return.
Jey Uso vs. Cesaro vs. Xavier Woods: This was the match of the night. Everyone worked very hard, all three teams were very over in the building, and they managed to keep the crowd engaged through slower parts of the match with crowd interaction from the team members that weren’t involved in the match. Despite my personal feeling that their act is getting a little stale, New Day and their pancake gimmick killed, and they threw handfuls all over the crowd after getting “We Want Pancakes” chants during the match. This was just another reminder of what WWE could have on their hands with tag team wrestling if it was given the creative focus it deserves. The personalities have already connected with crowds and can deliver in the ring.
AJ Styles vs. The Miz: This was not the most technically proficient match, as the Miz wasn’t particularly sharp on Tuesday night, but the drama was there and Bryan’s involvement kept the crowd engaged and wondering whether or not Miz would get his comeuppance. I think this could have been even better if they had done more verbally with Styles and Miz earlier in the show.
TLC contract signing with Becky Lynch, Charlotte, and Asuka: This gets a minor Hit. People are clearly excited for the Women’s TLC match, and all three competitors got strong reactions from the crowd for their initial entrances. The content of the promos wasn’t very strong however, and the crowd seemed to lose interest in it the more the women talked over each other while rehashing past feuds and matches. Asuka and Becky elicited the strongest responses from the crowd, and they seemed very forgiving of Asuka’s limited English. If the Becky and Charlotte feud is going to continue, it would be beneficial for everyone involved to try and get a bit more creative with presentation. Vignettes, backstage angles, etc. would do much better than having them rehash the same insults back and forth at each other week after week.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Charlotte and Asuka vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville: This was an average match, but the biggest reaction it got was for Becky’s entrance midway through, which elicited some sustained chants. The crowd didn’t react big for the betrayals at the end, but the match announcement for next week was well received. This may have worked better had they previously established Charlotte and Asuka as having this huge rift between them over their WrestleMania match before the opening segment, because ultimately the crowd wasn’t shocked or motivated by the finish.
Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy: The biggest reaction for this match was the entrances, and some laughs when Samoa Joe was talking about drinking too much during the distraction finish. This feud was just too long in the tooth, and much past its ability to emotionally sway crowds. Hardy especially struggled to get the crowd involved in his offense, but they did show him some sympathy after Joe cost him the match.
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