Written by: JR
*AJ Styles opening promo
*Becky Lynch defeats Natalya
-Carmella attacks Becky and Natalya after the match
-Later interrupted by John Cena and Nikki Bella
-Daniel Bryan comes out to set up the Wrestlemania match of Cena and Nikki vs Miz and Maryse
*AJ Styles is seen waiting by the entrance for Shane McMahon
*Mickie James defeats Alexa Bliss
*AJ Styles is interviewed while waiting for Shane McMahon by the arena entrance
-Styles attacks Shane as he exits his car
-AJ throws his head through a car window
*Usos criticize AJ for his actions in the locker room
-Daniel Bryan stops AJ and fires him as he’s escorted from the arena by security
*Mojo Rawley defeats Dolph Ziggler by count out
*Randy Orton promo
-Bray interrupts via satellite/pre-taped promo
*Baron Corbin backstage interview
*Usos defeat American Alpha
-During the match they showed Shane being walked to the arena exit but he stopped himself and headed back into the arena.
*Right before the show ended, Shane came to the top of the stage and announced that he will be facing AJ at Wrestlemania. He was abruptly cut off by Chrisley Knows Best right at the end of his promo.
*Updates on Shane’s condition
*Guests: Mickie James (interrupted by Carmella, Natalya, Becky Lynch, and Alexa Bliss)
The first hour did a good job of setting up AJ’s mood for the rest of the show. Although he had a lot of legitimate complaints and was deprived of a high profile Wrestlemania match, I never understood why he wanted to target Shane when Shane was his biggest advocate during the whole #1 contender dilemma with Randy Orton.
The 2 matches between the women were just OK matches. Having Carmella attack both Becky and Natalya after their match was an effective way to bring her into the Wrestlemania match and get her in the mix of the Women’s Title scene. James Ellsworth has done a decent job as Carmella’s sidekick and it will be interesting to see if he tries to help her out in the Wrestlemania match.
The MizTV segment was underwhelming. The main issue was having the MizTV segment focus on Maryse and Nikki Bella who both don’t have strong promo skills. Maryse told the story about how Nikki double crossed Maryse when Maryse was trying to make a WWE comeback and be part of the first season of Total Divas. Nikki however made herself look foolish with weak comebacks and her usual robotic promo delivery. Her response to Maryse’s accusations didn’t make her appear any better and gave some credibility to Maryse’s complaints. This feud hasn’t exactly made Cena or Nikki look endearing which may or may not be intentional.
The second hour is when business really picked up. The AJ Styles beatdown to Shane was well done and showed just how ruthless and obsessive AJ could be. I thought it was a nice touch to have The Usos criticize AJ for his actions to add some realism to the storyline. Having heels tell another heel that he went too far helps to sell the devastation.
Bryan firing AJ is obviously temporary but it added to the seriousness of the segment. It will be interesting to see whether AJ is brought back as soon as next week or if they’ll keep him off TV for a longer period of time to add more tension to the match.
Mojo Rawley’s entrance was met with silence. Crowds don’t really know what to make of Mojo. He’s toned down the “Stay Hype” gimmick but he’s still not very likable on the surface. As for his opponent, Ziggler’s current heel run has been a joke. He’s been depicted as a perpetual loser before the heel turn and he continues to be a loser during the heel run. Even more pathetic, Ziggler leaves in the middle of the match when Mojo continually gets the advantage over him. The important parts of being a heel are giving fans a reason to dislike you AND giving them a reason to care about you. Ziggler’s current heel run is severely lacking in the latter.
The Orton-Wyatt segment was weird. Not weird in a compelling way but just difficult to interpret. One of Bray Wyatt’s biggest flaws is his rambling promos. He’s an interesting character and one of the few wrestlers with a definitive gimmick in this generation. The segment involved Bray rubbing the ashes of Sister Abigail and dirt on himself and saying that he wanted to absorb Sister Abigail’s powers. Um…….OK. Next segment.
The tag team main event came out of nowhere and the crowd treated it as such. Neither of the tag teams had gotten any TV time in weeks and this match didn’t serve much of a purpose besides giving The Usos a cheap heel win. Even worse, the match was sidetracked and literally placed in the background by showing Shane McMahon backstage during the match. Many people have said that the tag team scene for both shows has been treated like an afterthought and the way this match was handled further supports that notion.
Talking Smack was enjoyable and the highlight was the bickering between the Smackdown female competitors.
Overall, this show was barely passable. The only parts I would recommend watching are the AJ Styles beatdown to Shane and the Talking Smack segment with the Women’s Division. I’m hoping that next week’s episode will be more cohesive because this episode put most of its effort in planting the major seeds for the Styles-McMahon match.