By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton, Samoa Joe, Sheamus, Cesaro, and Rowan in a gauntlet match: It was a nice touch to have the babyfaces send their best wishes to Kingston leading up to the match, and then to show many of them cheering him on while watching on a backstage monitor. The match was laid out nicely with Kingston getting good wins over Sheamus and Cesaro before Rowan got himself disqualified while the broadcast team sold the idea that it was all part of a Daniel Bryan plan. The only negative was Samoa Joe taking his second pinfall loss in as many weeks since winning the U.S. Championship, but obviously the Kingston storyline is a higher priority. The final portion of the advertised match with Orton was suspenseful and satisfying. Once the gauntlet ended, you had to know that Vince McMahon was coming out. Instead of pointing out that he merely said Kingston was going to WrestleMania and never mentioned the WWE Championship match, he introduced Daniel Bryan as the real final obstacle and kept the story going for another week. Once Kofi clears whatever the next obstacle is, will Vince go with the wordplay next week and drag this out until the go-home week?
The Miz reacts to being attacked by Shane McMahon: A strong promo with Miz showing good range while framing himself as a hard working guy who came from humble beginnings and earned respect. Shane didn’t really explain why he turned on Miz specifically during his promo last week, but Miz did a great job of making the feud feel very personal on his end.
Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Peyton Royce and Billie Kay in a non-title match: A minor Hit for a nice non-title win that should put the Iiconics in what will likely be a four-way tag title match at WrestleMania. The match wasn’t particularly strong, but it was good enough for what needed to be accomplished.
Rey Mysterio vs. Samoa Joe announced for WrestleMania: A refreshing change from the usual big multi-person match. It was also cool to see Rey’s son Dominic, who is a trained wrestler and thus feels like quite the target for Joe’s character now that he mentioned he will be ringside at WrestleMania.
WWE Smackdown Misses
KO Show with Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair: A minor Miss. Oddly, Miz’s babyface role is closer to what I envisioned for Kevin Owens. I’m anxious to see a storyline that puts Owens in a position to show heart and deliver serious promos rather than light comedy. Meanwhile, the Ronda Rousey story on Raw is much fresher and edgier than the repetitive segments involving Lynch and Flair on Smackdown. I wonder if Smackdown would get a ratings bump if Rousey announced on Raw that she would confront Lynch and Flair on a Tuesday night show?
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Fulvio Cecere discussing the 350 Days documentary that included interviews with over 70 pro wrestling legends including Bret Hart, Ted DiBiase, Wendi Richter, Greg Valentine, and Bill Eadie, why pre-ordering the documentary is so helpful, a nugget regarding Fulvio’s run as Lt. Thorne on Battlestar Galactica, and much more.