Written by: JR
The show kicks off with an opening promo from Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan. Bryan stated that he wanted to stick to tradition and keep Orton as the #1 contender for the WWE Title. However, Shane believed that Styles overcame many obstacles and controversial situations to earn his new #1 contender position. Shane and Bryan hyped up the match for tonight between Orton and Styles.
-I expect a great match between Orton and Styles. It’s being hyped as the first ever match between these two.
AJ Styles confronted Shane and Bryan backstage to tell them how he felt about his difficult journey over the last few weeks. Styles believed that there was a conspiracy to prevent him from competing for the WWE Title at Wrestlemania.
-It seems like they’re planting the seeds for a Styles vs Authority storyline. We know that Bryan can’t compete which means that AJ Styles may be facing Shane McMahon at WM. Styles had an amazing 2016 and I feel that he deserves a better opponent.
Mixed Tag Team Match: Cena and Nikki Bella vs Ellsworth and Carmella
-It was a fun little match that highlighted the awkward relationship between Carmella and Ellsworth. Miz and Maryse came to ringside before the match to provide commentary. After the match Miz and Maryse attacked the victorious team of Cena and Nikki Bella. Miz proceeded to deliver a promo criticizing the authenticity of Cena’s relationship with Nikki Bella. One point that stood out from Miz’s promo was his mention of the “contract” that Nikki had to sign before becoming Cena’s girlfriend. Although the impending WM match between the two couples will be far from a show stealer, the promos and buildup will be very entertaining and tense.
Curt Hawkins vs Dean Ambrose
-Was it a match? A challenge? Regardless of what it was supposed to be, Hawkins once again was laid out with ease by Ambrose. Just like last week, Dean called out Baron Corbin for a fight and Corbin declined his challenge. Ambrose began to look for Corbin backstage.
Mojo Rawley was seen backstage being interviewed and he stated that he would join the Andre the Giant Invitational Battle Royal to attain his first Wrestlemania Moment. He was interrupted by Dolph Ziggler who gave him a condescending speech about how Wrestlemania Moments have to be earned and aren’t easy to get. Mojo responded with an etherous retort that pointed out how Ziggler doesn’t have a Wrestlemania moment of his own.
-I was amused at Mojo’s sharp comeback. I didn’t even know that he had it in him. Ziggler however has been a weak heel so far. Having a heel put in his place so handily by someone who was a small step above a jobber wasn’t a good look for Ziggler. The writing and booking for Ziggler’s heel turn has been perplexing since its inception and Ziggler STILL hasn’t been very interesting.
Ambrose continued to look for Corbin and Corbin eventually appeared to attack Ambrose from behind. Corbin used a pipe to attack Ambrose and delivered a brutal beating. To further deliver punishment, Corbin lowered the forks of a nearby forklift onto Dean’s body. The “heinous” act forced backstage personnel to rush to Dean’s aid and remove Corbin from the situation.
-I understand that the segment was supposed to make Corbin seem sadistic and ruthless. However, the forklift “attack” didn’t seem very overwhelming and didn’t give a sense of urgency to the audience. It was a tame “statement” from Corbin.
Alexa Bliss promo with Mickie James followed by a tag team match with Bliss and James facing Natalya and Becky Lynch
-A standard heel promo from Alexa Bliss that eventually led to Daniel Bryan setting up a Wrestlemania match for Alexa Bliss to defend her Women’s Title against all of the available women on the Smackdown roster. The tag match ended with Natalya turning on her partner Lynch and Bliss tagging herself in to score the pinfall. Mickie responded with a spin kick to Alexa before leaving the ring.
AJ Styles vs Randy Orton
-Before the match started, Styles gave a promo complaining about the disrespect he’s received from Bryan and Shane McMahon. As expected from Styles, we witnessed another great match.
I especially loved this spot.
It showed great ring awareness from Styles.
Overall this was a decent show with the highlight of course being the main event. Talking Smack showed a backstage clip of AJ Styles getting in a heated argument with Shane McMahon after his loss to Orton. Unfortunately this confirms the Styles vs Shane match that we’ll be subjected to for Wrestlemania. Miz and Maryse further criticized Cena and Nikki on Talking Smack.