WWE SMACKDOWN LIVE 3/7/17
I was hoping Smackdown would do something… anything to dissuade my already negative feelings about the state of this year’s Wrestlemania. Sadly, this week’s episode of Smackdown only confirmed my fears that, at least on paper, this Wrestlemania is shaping up to be pretty terrible.
Smackdown starts off with Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan in the ring. They say they can’t decided who should get to face Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania for the WWE Championship. So they say they will be having a singles match between AJ Styles and Randy Orton to determine the undisputed #1 Contender. This entire segment went on for 10 minutes, explaining everything we already knew in a redundant and boring opening to the show.
SIDE NOTE: This shouldn’t be “disputed” at all, by the way. Orton gave up his title shot. AJ won his shot last week. This entire storyline is a convoluted mess. Why can Orton just demand his title shot back? If this was his grand plan all along, why give it up in the first place? In kayfabe terms it doesn’t make a lick of sense. In booking terms, it’s a jumbled load of garbage. But I guess the bottom line is that arson, while a felony in most states, is rewarded in WWE with a title shot. Congrats to Orton then, I guess…
When we come back from commercial, AJ Styles is confronting Bryan and McMahon backstage. He says there’s a conspiracy against him, but he’s going to make the best of a bad situation.
John Cena and Nikki Bella are out next for their mixed tag against Carmella and James Ellsworth. Before the match, Ellsworth cut a promo calling himself the “Mack Daddy of Smackdown”… ok.
As soon as the match starts, Miz’s music hits and he and Maryse make their way down to the commentary table. This distracts Nikki allowing Carmella to get in a few cheap shots. But the match was basically an excuse to have Nikki and Cena perform some moves in tandem… because… they’re dating.
So we got dual 5 Knuckle Shuffles, a Rack Attack/Attitude Adjustment combo, and dual STF’s to which both Carmella and Ellsworth tapped.
Isn’t this sweet? It’s like a first date in a romantic comedy… about wrestling.
After the match, Miz and Maryse attacked Cena and Nikki while they were engaging in some celebratory PDA. Miz then cut a pretty scathing promo on Cena (which was nice considering Cena tore Miz down with his last promo). Miz says that Cena is only dating Nikki because it enhances his brand. The their love isn’t real and Miz and Maryse have true love.
SIDE NOTE: If this is setting up a Wrestlemania in-ring proposal from Cena to Nikki, I’ll barf. That’s the kind of Total Divas garbage we see from WWE nowadays so I guess I should just expect it.
I thought I was suffering from deja vu because, Dean Ambrose made quick work of Curt Hawkins…again… he then called out Baron Corbin who appeared on the Titan Tron… again… and Dean went off looking for him… again.
This time, Dean found Corbin waiting near the oldest forklift in history. Corbin attacks Dean Ambrose with a pipe. He beat Ambrose down and then (taking a page from Mankind’s book) lowered the forklift on top of him. Corbin runs off as officials come to aid Ambrose who looks like he’s slowly dying under the weight of the forklift. Hooray for attempted murder on live TV!
SIDE NOTE: Cynicism aside, this is a good, straightforward feud. And in this mess of a Wrestlemania season, it’s nice to see a simple, old school, consistent storyline.
Smackdown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss comes down to the ring with Mickie James for her “Blissertation”. Bliss begins to cut a promo but is quickly interrupted by Becky Lynch. Becky says she’s going to take her title back. This brings out Natalya who says she’s the rightful #1 contender (Um, why?). Mickie then says that she’s in line for a title shot as well (again, why? She’s done nothing but lose since her return). They argue until Daniel Bryan comes out and says that Alexa Bliss will have to face every woman available on the roster at Wrestlemania. Seems fair. Bryan then makes a tag team match between the four to start right now.
SIDE NOTE: It seems like they are scrambling here in the wake of Naomi’s injury. Another directionless title that they’re trying to book broadly since they have no idea what they’re going to do.
Natalya and Alexa Bliss start the match with an immediate botched dropkick (always a good sign). Becky Lynch is tagged in and fights the majority of the match against Bliss and James. The match was fairly standard and not very impressive with the exception of a stellar flying calf kick from Becky.
Becky neglected to tag in Natalya much to her dismay. Eventually Natalya got fed up and turned on Becky hitting her with a release german suplex before leaving the ring. Alexa Bliss scampers into the ring and gets the pin on Becky for the win. After the match, Mickie James turns on Alexa Bliss surprising her with a swift kick to the head. Mickie then stands over Bliss and drapes the Smackdown Women’s Title over Alexa’s back.
Randy Orton and AJ Styles had a great match to close the show. As Smackdown main events go, this one is up there with some of the best. We saw counter after counter to big moves. There was a great “Phenomenal Forearm” fake out from AJ Styles. Orton had some great RKO attempts as well.
Unfortunately, the match was overshadowed by the forgone conclusion that Orton was going to win. We all knew where this was going. I don’t think anyone with half a brain expected AJ to pull out the victory here considering the forced, convoluted story used to get to this point.
So, Orton wins… and we’re back to square one after weeks of what turned out to be complete B.S.
My question is, why even bother involving AJ in the first place? Especially if we were just going to wind up in the exact place we were at the end of the Rumble and at the end of Elimination Chamber. Nothing changed. We just had 3 weeks of total filler nonsense that had no impact whatsoever. Again it just reiterates the complete lack of direction and story cohesion going into Wrestlemania. It truly boggles the mind.
SIDE NOTE 1: Where the hell was Bray Wyatt on this show? You know? Our CHAMPION?
SIDE NOTE 2: Both AJ Styles and Kevin Owens were champions that carried this company for months. Especially AJ who had fantastic match after fantastic match. He made that title mean something. And now both men, after being the backbone of their respective shows week in and week out, are tossed aside for last minute replacements or semi-retired part timers.
After Smackdown, on “Talking Smack”, they showed AJ Styles and Shane McMahon getting into a huge argument backstage which continues to set up their match at Wrestlemania (groan).
So this is it. This is our Wrestlemania, folks. A show filled with matches most didn’t want to see, that are boringly predictable with minimal story or heat heading in. These last few months have given us some of the worst booking decisions heading into a Wrestlemania that I can recall in recent memory. Everything from the weird Orton/Wyatt/AJ nonsense on Smackdown, to Raw handing it’s main title to a guy who can’t wrestle a full match, to Reigns/Taker, to everything else in between. I can’t even bring myself to be mad about it anymore. I’ve moved through the stages of grief to acceptance. This is our Wrestlemania… and I couldn’t care less…