Smackdown is laser focused on the Road to Wrestlemania and with an Elimination Chamber PPV this weekend (WWE really needs to take a look at the PPV schedule because the Royal Rumble was just 5 minutes ago!) this show has a lot of set-up to do in only 2 hours of television.
Not So Fatal Four-Way
I have never been all that enamored with Daniel Bryan even when he was a wrestler but at least then he was capable of putting on entertaining matches so this lovefest with his hometown Seattle fans left me cold. Luckily The Miz interrupted the cloying announcement of Bryan’s first baby to tweak the crowd a bit and get the focus of Smackdown back onto the main event of this weekend’s PPV. The Miz and Bryan have always had a nice chemistry so their back and forth was fun.
Adding 3 of the other combatants in the Elimination Chamber match (Baron Corbin, Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles) ramped the action up and allowed The Miz and AJ to elevate the pretty dreadful mic skills of Corbin and the all around awfulness of Ambrose to a point where the segment was saved and transitioned into what was a pretty good Fatal Four-Way match to kick of the show that benefited mostly from when AJ and The Miz were in the ring, especially with one another.
And just as an aside…Baron Corbin would be a lot more convincing as the monster heel Smackdown wants him to be if he shaved his head. A young man with the thinning hairline of a 70 year-old grandpa is not a good look at all.
Set Luke Harper Free
Luke Harper’s taped promo on Randy Orton was really good and shows that Harper has the charisma to go along with the wrestling skills to be elevated to the (pretty thin) main event scene on Smackdown. So it is time for creative to put some serious thought into how to make Harper into the solo star he should be which means that he needs to stop looking and acting like the Next Generation Hillbilly Jim and become someone fans can take seriously. He’s already a full-blown fan favorite based on how loud the sheers were when he saved Cena from the doubleteam attack of Ortan and Wyatt and then the crowd popped even louder once Harper put them hands on Wyatt and broke Bray’s control. It is Luke’s time to shine.
Good Production Makes Anything Better
It was dumb as hell to have Randy Orton win The Royal Rumble for a couple reasons: Orton is involved in one of the less than stellar angles in the company with this whole joining The Wyatt Family thing and the idea of Orton and John Cena wrestling for the world title for the 9 billionth time is not my idea of a good time. However the video package that they ran highlighting the history between Orton and Cena was so well made that it almost got me excited about these to going at it again. Much like in pop music, all it takes is some top notch production to make any old garbage seem appealing.
I do think giving the possible Wrestlemania main event away on free TV was kinda dumb though. But honestly if you’ve seen one Cena/Orton match you have seen them all.
The Re-Invention of Mickie James
Like still super-hot veteran actress who relishes the opportunity to be in a big scene with a group of ingenues just so she can show these young broads how its done, Mickie James showed Becky Lynch, Naomi and Alexa Bliss just how to work a crowd with a promo during their dual contract signing for the two women’s matches at this weekend’s PPV. James may be a MILF now but she is still the most well-rounded lady in the Women’s Division on Smackdown and her presence has already made Alexa Bliss a better performer so I am hoping it will do the same for Becky and Naomi who still have a ways to go when it comes to the non-wrestling aspects of things.
Saluting The Rock-n-Roll Express
As an old school rasslin’ fan I have to admit to being pretty psyched about the Rock-n-Roll Express going into the Hall of Fame. Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson were one of the earliest “Pretty Boy Tag Team” in wrestling and they inspired a lot of the teams of the future like The Rockers and The Hardys to name a few. Plus The Rock-n-Roll Express had some of my favorite feuds in wrestling with the Midnight Express, The Koloffs and The Horsemen. Also Ricky Morton’s solo feud with Ric Flair was a really fun one that folks should try to watch video footage of.
Is This Total Divas or Smackdown?
I don’t watch Total Divas (because I have a penis and TD is not a show for penis owners) so the badly done verbal catfight between Nikki Bella and Natalya was cringe-worthy. This feud has been going on for waaay too long and I can’t wait till its over so Nikki Bella can semi-retire and Natalya can take her place in the Women’s Division where her wrestling is allowed to do her talking for her instead of her reciting badly written lines leftover from the Kardashian-esque reality show they both appear on.
No1Curr Part 1
The feud that no one asked for between newfangled heel Dolph Ziggler and smiling automaton Apollo Crews gave us not only a super short and super lame match (which Crews won with a roll-up) but also included Apollo’s fellow Smackdown waste of space Kallisto who ran down to save Apollo when Ziggler was beating him down with a steel chair. Of course Kallisto got the beats from Ziggler too and the only thing of interest from this whole ordeal was that the two times the crowd gave a damn about this segment was when Ziggler (the bad guy) was beating Kallisto and Apollo (the good guys) with a steel chair. During this bit of top notch heeling the fans chanted “One more time!” because they care so little about Apollo and Kallisto that the only time they want to see them is when they are being brutalized.
No1Curr Part 2
The tag scene on Smackdown is dreadful and American Alpha is barely connecting with fans as tag champs so the idea of week after week having every tag team on the Smackdown brand in matches/segments is doing nothing to help the division or the current champs. The only thing that can help things is to have a compelling feud for American Alpha against one of these tag teams to give the division focus. Just throwing everything against the wall to see what comes out is a bad strategy.
Yep, Dean Ambrose Still Sucks