By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Smackdown Hits
Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston contract signing: Bryan did a terrific job with his preachy “life lessons” promo, and Kingston responded with a home run response. Kingston acknowledged the similarities between their babyface rises while also pointing out the differences. Excellent work from both men. The live crowd’s support for Kingston said it all. No wrestler in the company is hotter than Kingston going into WrestleMania 35.
Randy Orton and AJ Styles: For two guys who are not best known for the mic work, they’ve done a very good job of selling their WrestleMania match in verbal exchanges. The storyline is simple and easy to follow in that they resent one another for the different paths they took in getting to WWE. Styles bringing up the Orton drug test failures felt personal and jarring, and while Orton accusing Styles of becoming a corporate bitch didn’t ring true to me, it still connected as a zinger with the live crowd. I felt numb to the idea of an Orton vs. Styles match when it was first rumored, but the wrestlers and creative forces have done a great job heating this up in a big way in just a few segments.
The Usos, Aleister Black, and Ricochet vs. Sheamus, Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Rusev: A minor Hit for a solid eight-man tag match that served as the setup for Alexa Bliss to announce that the teams will meet in a four-way match for the Smackdown Tag Titles at WrestleMania. For those keeping score, that means Black and Ricochet will have challenged for the Raw, NXT, and Smackdown Tag Titles within six days.
Samoa Joe vs. Ali: Mustafa Ali is highly entertaining and I hope that he will get a nice push coming out of WrestleMania. But it’s absurd for WWE to chop his first name when there’s a legend named Ali who is known the world over and also made his name inside a ring. Anyway, it was nice to see Joe get a television win after the way he’s oddly been booked to lose routinely since winning the U.S. Championship.
WWE Smackdown Misses
The Miz vs. Sanity: I’ve enjoyed Miz’s work over the years, but if I had any desire to see him miscast as a guy who can kick the asses of three men at once then I’d watch The Marine sequels.
18-person tag match: Sports entertainment silliness. Horny Otis frightens me. The get everyone on the show battle royals are what they are. Do they really need go-home show hype when there are so many more meaningful matches that could use extra attention? I assume that Asuka being the last person standing in this segment means she won’t be winning on Sunday. Does that mean the nod will go to Lacey Evans?
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest PCO, who discusses the ROH and NJPW G1 Supercard event that will be held on Saturday at MSG, taking crazy bumps at age 51, what he still wants to accomplish in pro wrestling, and much more.