I feel kinda bad for Smackdown right now. They set up two of the biggest storylines going into Wrestlemania, and then got one of them taken away, leaving them with what? Two whole storylines for the whole show? Kofimania is fantastic, Miz vs Shane is good dumb fun, but then what do they have? I talked last week about what a bummer it is to see top talent like Asuka going into Wrestlemania without a match, but there are people going into Wrestlemania with matches but no stories. Look at Samoa Joe and Rey Mysterio, or the entire tag team division. Do they need to hire more writers? (And would I need to move to Connecticut because that’s kind of a dealbreaker for me.)
Sorry AJ, but drugs are cool
Smackdown’s opening Kevin Owens Show segment served as a reminder that AJ Styles and Randy Orton are going into Wrestlemania with a story. Indies vet versus WWE-trained hotshot is pretty well-worn territory, but Styles and Orton are making it work. Styles brought up Orton’s failed drug tests, Orton called Styles a “corporate bitch,” and Kevin snuck out of the ring so these awful bickering uncles could fight.
What is going on with WWE’s male tag teams?
Tag team storylines don’t need to be complicated. Look at what they’re doing with the Women’s Tag Titles over on Raw: you’ve got the technically-gifted champs, two bruiser bullies, two comedy heels and two best friends reunited to get their shot at something they never had the opportunity for. It’s not like we haven’t been seeing Rusev and Nakamura, The Bar, The Usos, and Black & Ricochet on TV over the past month. What is the angle here? It just feels like a lot of guys wrestling, which sucks because everyone in this match is fantastically talented and should feel important.
Especially because, after the Usos won the match, Wrestlemania host Alexa Bliss came out and announced that they will be defending the titles on Sunday against these same teams. She cited their noble forfeiture in the New Day gauntlet match last week as the reason, which is fine, but doesn’t really give these other three teams much to work with. I guess this means Ricochet and Aleister Black will not be challenging the Revival for their belts this weekend, which seems like an odd choice! If they’re getting rid of the brand split and unifying the women’s championships, why aren’t they doing the same with the tag titles? I’d much rather see The Usos vs The Revival than another fatal fourway.
I know they’re Australian and too young to be president of the United States but I love them!! Peyton Royce was wearing bondage shorts! They came to the ring to talk about all the ways they can win the Women’s Tag Team Championship on Sunday, getting some nice and loud boos from the audience. I still can’t get over how universe brain it is to have “gal pals” be a wrestling gimmick. I can’t get enough IIconics.
Don’t ever doubt the Miz’s strength
We haven’t seen the Miz in his full gear and Naruto headband in a while, have we? He gave a short promo about how he’s the best Miz he’s ever been, and made sure to clarify to the audience that he’s not trying to shamelessly plug the season premiere of his reality show Miz & Mrs, airing on the USA Network immediately after Smackdown, he’s just expressing pride in something he made with his family! The Miz could sell me anything. (I mean I didn’t watch Miz & Mrs. on the USA Network immediately after Smackdown, but I probably will the next time I have the flu and am feeling desperate for Margeaux Ouilliet’s French Canadian antics.) Miz faced off against SAnItY in a 1 on 3 handicap match that Shane McMahon interrupted to announce was in fact falls count anywhere. This wasn’t an amazing match, but it served its purpose in making Miz look strong and capable of having a cool falls count anywhere match. He put the much larger Alexander Wolfe through a table, brawled to the parking lot with Eric Young and pinned him on the wet asphalt.
DCPD gave Becky Lynch a ride all the way to Baltimore
Immediately after Miz got the victory over Eric Young, a cop car drove up with sirens blaring. Out stepped Becky Lynch– free and in a fresh change of clothes. The Smackdown audience didn’t seem to respond to her with as much enthusiasm as the Raw audience had. I’m not sure what that was about. Corey Graves stood in the ring, presumably waiting to interview her, but she took his mic and opted to stand on top of the commentary table instead, explaining that she answers to the crowd, not to him. She talked a little about the last year and how clearly WWE was laying the groundwork for Wrestlemania 35 to be Charlotte Flair vs Ronda Rousey, but Becky made them change their plans. I don’t know if it was the lack of visible crowd reaction or the writing of the promo itself, but, while effective, this segment lacked that certain oomf that really makes Becky so exciting.
WWE’s First Ever 18-Person Mixed Tag Match
Honestly, this was a much better Mania preshow battle royal preview than the weird thing Raw did this week. Having nine babyfaces wrestle against nine heels for no reason is pretty dumb and an obvious way to just get them in the ring, but it was still pretty fun, and that’s what the peeshow (Editor’s note: this is obviously supposed to be “preshow” but I love “peeshow” so much I’m going to keep it because that’s how I feel about the preshows, frankly – JW) Battle Royals are all about. The tag match ended when everyone decided they’d rather just all brawl instead. This worked for me. It’s like Wrestlemania season all the wrestlers go into heat but instead of mating they just want to fight. Asuka and Jeff Hardy knocked everyone out of the ring and then Asuka knocked Jeff Hardy out of the ring. Asuka still deserves better, but hey, at least it was something. This was WWE undercard stupidity at its best.
Mustafa Ali lost his first name AND consciousness, rough week
Samoa Joe and Ali had a short, competitive match. I really like the two of them together and would love to see Ali enter the US title picture. Joe won by putting Ali to sleep with the Coquina Clutch.
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Last night’s Smackdown ended with a Kofi Kingston/Daniel Bryan contract signing for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania. The New Day were in full exuberant mode and this crowd was all about it. Daniel Bryan did some solid heel work, alternating between embarrassingly corny bootstraps advice (“don’t be a bystander in your own lives”) and unfortunately true statements about the nature of fame (“once they’re done with sucking all the positivity out of you, they will discard you.”) Kofi’s response, though, blew Bryan out of the water, pointing out that, while Kofimania shares some superficial similarities to the Yes Movement, Bryan didn’t have to wait very long at all to get his shot at being on top. It was a well-written promo, and Kofi delivered it beautifully. This was on par with the work he did three weeks ago with Vince McMahon. He finished his promo by saying that what he and Bryan do have in common is the experience of going into Wrestlemania with enormous momentum and fan support: “You’re scared as hell, and you should be because you know what comes next.”
- Kevin Owens is a great replacement talk show heel now that Miz is a face
- the IIconics were there
- Kofi’s promo was KILLER
- Nikki Cross is delightful
- The 18 person tag match was the right kind of dumb
- Big E’s boob window
- Not enough storylines for all the Wrestlemania matches
- Rey Mysterio wasn’t even there
- Neither was Dominick
- What is going on with these tag teams??
- Smackdown’s women deserve better