By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair: Another strong promo from Lynch to open the show followed by Flair’s heelish rebuttal. Lynch punching Flair in the face was an unexpected and yet perfect response. I like that Flair didn’t just take it and instead attacked Lynch in the aisle, which led to a solid pull apart brawl. The heavy face makeup and the bitterness seems to suggest that Flair is finally back to the full fledged heel role that she plays so well. I am mildly surprised and yet pleased that Flair’s character wasn’t scripted to protest Lynch winning the Rumble match even though a McMahon didn’t approve of her entering the match. Here’s hoping that means we’re getting Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey in a singles match rather than a Triple Threat. Flair is great, but she’s just not needed in this match, though I still suspect she will be in it.
Daniel Bryan introduces the WWE Hemp Title: This is perfect for the character and I’m pleasantly surprised that WWE actually took this step.
Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship: It was a little too convenient that the five challengers just happened to come out before Triple H made the announcement, but I still like the match on paper. Samoa Joe telling Jeff Hardy to pretend like he was at an AA meeting and shut up while Joe was sharing was good for a spit take.
The Usos vs. Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Heavy Machinery vs. New Day for a Smackdown Tag Title shot: A well worked tag match even if the end result was the Usos getting what feels tag title shot No. 8,393. It’s not like The Bar or New Day would have felt any fresher at this point. On the plus side, at least the actual tag match with Shane McMahon and The Miz vs. The Usos will be a fresh matchup. And while the Smackdown tag division has its flaws, it’s still much stronger than the Raw tag division.
Miz’s Dad: He is always a Hit in my book.
WWE Smackdown Misses
R-Truth, Shinsuke Nakamura, Rusev, and the U.S. Championship: If they wanted to put the title on Truth then they should have put it on him the right way. Nakamura kicking out when he did was presumably done to protect him, but it hurt the crowd reaction and did nothing for the new champion. Meanwhile, Rusev’s fun loving babyface run lasted about as long as Elias’s babyface run.
Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville declare themselves for the Elimination Chamber: The Raw women had to earn their way in, but all the Smackdown women have to do is declare themselves as entrants? Here’s hoping this is shot down next week, but I’m not holding my breath given that they are officially advertised for the match.
Asuka: The Smackdown Women’s Champion made the hottest act in the company submit on Sunday and was nowhere to be found on Smackdown. It felt like they really should have had something planned for her to set up wherever she’s going next.
Check below for the new ProWrestling.net Live with Jason Powell and Will Pruett taking calls on the WWE Royal Rumble and NXT Takeover: Phoenix events.