By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Randy Orton and AJ Styles: A terrific verbal exchange and one of my favorites on WWE television this year. There were plenty of throwback mentions regarding the careers of both men, including some fun jabs from Orton at everything from ROH to Dixie Carter to Bullet Club. The insults clicked both ways and the verbiage was believable coming from both characters. Orton did a tremendous job of putting over AJ’s insults with his facial expressions. I felt indifferent about Orton vs. Styles at WrestleMania going into Smackdown, but this exchange completely sold me on their feud. Excellent work.
New Day: The trio interrupting the eight-man tag match and violently working over the heels was a good way to give them an edge. We’ve seen plenty of quirky comedy from New Day over the years, but it was good to see them drop the pancakes and flip the switch into serious mode. Their segment with Vince McMahon was also well done. I just wish there was something that the Vince character could point to as a believable reason for not wanting Kingston in the main event. For that matter, it feels odd that while Vince doesn’t want Kingston in the match, we are three weeks away from WrestleMania and his character doesn’t seem to have anyone else in mind.
Shane McMahon promo: A minor Hit. Shane had solid heel logic while explaining his frustration with people wanting things from him. The only thing missing was a more specific reason for turning on The Miz specifically. The threat of Shane and his father aligning to feud with Triple H and Stephanie still looms, but this was a decent start to his heel run.
Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair: One of the negatives of adding Flair to the WrestleMania match is that it keeps her and Lynch in a program together at a time when it feels like they could use time apart. They finally have both women slotted properly in terms of the babyface and heel dynamic and they both delivered their promos well, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’ve just seen too much of them together. On the bright side, Lynch ditched the silly crutch and hopefully that means we are a step closer to her losing the limp before WrestleMania. And it’s also encouraging to see that the McMahons have now found other storylines to write themselves into, so hopefully that means the focus will be entirely on the champion and her two challengers.
Daniel Bryan and Rowan vs. Mustafa Ali and Kevin Owens: A good tag match that gave Rowan some juice by having him score the pin with his new finisher. Ali can absorb losses at this point because he’s an underdog character, but I really hope they come up with a plan to make him a player on Smackdown coming out of WrestleMania.
Rey Mysterio and R-Truth vs. Samoa Joe and Andrade: A minor Hit for a good tag team match that gave Mysterio a rare and needed win. Joe’s post match meltdown was believable and I’m curious to see what it’s leading to.
WWE Smackdown Misses
Asuka vs. Sonya Deville in a non-title match: I’d like to see a full length match between these two because Deville is impressive in the ring. But this was more about the ring skirting finish and creating more friction between Deville and Mandy Rose. We’ll see where it’s going and perhaps they are setting up a Triple Threat, but I’m more interested in seeing the company heat up Asuka again while establishing her opponent(s) for WrestleMania.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Ian Riccaboni discussing his decision to re-sign with Ring of Honor, getting emotionally invested in matches, Friday’s ROH 17th Anniversary show, the G1 Supercard at MSG, and much more.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Kenny Herzog discussing his journalism career, his new Outside Interference podcast, doing a feature story on CM Punk, pro wrestling in the pandemic, WWE talk on Retribution, The Hurt Business, Roman Reigns as a heel, and much more...