By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Kevin Owens and Daniel Bryan verbally spar: This was just a taste of what should have been a much longer and more carefully built program. Owens immediately found his comfort zone as an everyman hero denouncing Bryan for being a pretentious asshole. To his credit, Bryan continues to be brilliant in his role, and despite the rush to get to this match, I am genuinely intrigued to see what they put together in the ring at Fastlane. Owens using the Stunner as a finish has been a nice touch as well, and it seems fresh after it basically disappeared when Steve Austin retired 16 years ago.
Samoa Joe captures the U.S. Title: This was a welcome move, even though I was enjoying R-Truth’s comedy run with the U.S. Title. Joe has consistently outperformed his push since joining the main roster, and it’s really past due for him to be recognized for it with a championship. The match was strong, and everyone sold strongly for him throughout the match. Given that Joe has been talking some trash about John Cena, and R-Truth had been emulating his Open Challenge, I’m curious if Cena ends up challenging for the championship he labored to revive a few years ago. Beyond that, it would seem Joe already has some meaningful challengers lined up with the likes of Mustafa Ali and Rey Mysterio.
Becky gets her groove back: After being pummeled on Monday after another bizarre twist in this farcical storyine, Becky Lynch was able to summon up enough moxie to take down Charlotte Flair with a crutch and slap on the The Disarmher. While it was very straight forward and basic in terms of storytelling, it was a welcome change from the constant barrage of creative machinations that have been boxing in Lynch since the Royal Rumble. Here’s hoping they go out of their way in coming weeks to try and restore some of the luster they’ve knocked off Becky.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Jey Uso vs. The Miz: This Fastlane match just seems like a gateway to an angle between Shane and The Miz. They haven’t managed to generate any actual excitement for the match, and the on-screen chemistry and intensity between these two teams just hasn’t clicked. This match was a perfect example of that. There was nothing wrong with it from a technical perspective, but it’s very clear that they weren’t going to progress the story until Sunday, and it made for a mediocre TV segment.
Ricochet and Aleister Black vs. The Bar: Ricochet and Black cruise to another quick victory here, and do some impressive things in the ring, but they lack any significant characterization. The potential is endless, but they haven’t made me care yet.
Mandy Rose vs. Naomi: It was nice to see that Asuka looked no worse for wear following a scary injury at the White Plains house show on Monday, but this segment was a bunch of nothing. Naomi got basically no offense in during the match, and Mandy looked very strong, but they negated it immediately by having Asuka appear and tear through Mandy and Sonya Deville like papier-mâché.
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