Written by: JR
The show started with Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles talking backstage. AJ showed little remorse for his actions last week and promised that he’ll confront Shane once again and beat him up. When AJ went to the ring and delivered his promo, I noticed that the crowd was heavily in his favor. From a wrestling storyline standpoint, AJ’s positive reactions conflict with his heel tactics from last week. This may pose a problem if the goal is for AJ to be the heel in the Wrestlemania match.
The Tag Team title match was an excellent match. I questioned why it wasn’t in the main event and even more confusing was why the match wasn’t saved for Wrestlemania. The Usos showed great teamwork and used great heel tactics to their advantage. Unfortunately, American Alpha got a lukewarm reaction from the crowd during their entrance and throughout the match The Usos were getting cheered. I can’t completely blame AA for their lack of connection with the fans since they have not been consistently getting screen time during their title reign. AA were darlings to the NXT audience but as we have learned quickly that appreciation usually doesn’t transition well to the main roster audience. The crowd showed appreciation for the match with “This Is Awesome” chants.
The question for AA is what’s next? The team has a lot of talent and they can be a new age World’s Greatest Tag Team. If creative could spend more time after Wrestlemania with vignettes and segments for AA, fans may start to build a rapport with the up and coming tag team.
The Usos on the other hand have been red hot with their new heel personas and a few weeks ago gave one of their best promos of their careers. It should be interesting to see The Usos feud with other teams like Slater and Rhyno or any other face tag teams on Smackdown.
Some of the best parts of the night were the segments with Miz and Maryse mocking John Cena and Nikki Bella’s relationship. They did a good job of parodying the mannerisms of the couple but at the same time weren’t overly goofy. Both of the segments were hilarious and helped to add more fuel to the feud.
-AJ Styles appears backstage with Daniel Bryan
*Shane decided to not fire AJ Styles
-AJ Styles opening promo
-Corbin looks for Ambrose and asks if Ambrose accepted his challenge
*Bryan sets up a match for Corbin to face Randy Orton later tonight
-Usos defeat American Alpha for Tag Team Titles
-AJ is seen waiting outside for Shane again
-Luke Harper segment
-Miz and Maryse mock Total Bellas
The Orton-Corbin match was OK. Not much to write home about but it gave an excuse to bring Ambrose out and cost Corbin the match. The IC Title match at Wrestlemania between them most likely won’t be a MOTN candidate but it should be a solid match.
The interview with Randy Orton was a great segment. Having Orton surrounded by goons in sheep masks reminded me of something from a comicbook where villains would play mind games with the protagonist. I’ve always been a fan of unique characters so to see a wrestler with a distinct gimmick who can be weird and disturbing is refreshing in the current era of wrestling. This segment was much better executed compared to the unusual one from last week.
The Cena vs Fandango match was…….odd. Tyler Breeze came out dressed as Nikki Bella. Yes that really happened and no you shouldn’t look for any clips of this. Even more ridiculous was seeing Nikki Bella give her finisher to Breeze and locking in the STF as he tapped like a fool. It goes without saying that Cena won the match and the match ended with both Cena and Nikki giving the STF to Fandango and Breeze respectively. The segment was pretty demoralizing for Tyler Breeze who once had a match with the legendary Jushin Thunder Liger at the 1st NXT Takeover Brooklyn back in 2015. After reaching such a low point, it’s hard to see Breeze ever becoming more than a jobber or tag team partner which is a shame because Fandango and Breeze have great chemistry with their Fashion Police gimmick.
The big brawl between the female competitors was just a way for all the women in the Wrestlemania match to get in the ring at once. Nothing really special.
The final segment with Shane and AJ Styles was decent and it gave Shane the opportunity to do his trademark flying elbow onto the announce table. During Shane’s promo he experienced a lot of “what” chants and “AJ Styles” chants. For as long as I can remember, Shane usually tries to be the “likable” McMahon. However, he may be placed in the unfamiliar position of being a heel. And let’s not even imagine how the crowd will turn on Shane if AJ doesn’t win at Wrestlemania.
-Randy Orton defeats Baron Corbin after a distraction from Ambrose
*Ambrose accepts Corbin’s challenge for WM
-Orton is attacked backstage by a bunch of goons wearing sheep masks and confronted by Bray Wyatt
-John Cena defeats Fandango
-Becky Lynch vs Carmella ends in DQ from Natalya’s interference
*Mickie and Alexa run in to join the fight
-More footage from the “lost” Total Bellas episode
-Shane shows up in the ring while AJ is waiting outside
*Shane gives an elbow drop to AJ through a table
Nikki Bella and Cena both did a bad job of giving fans a reason to side with them. Nikki’s promo was unusual because she tried to make the entire conflict about “women putting down other women” and advocated for “female empowerment”. Everyone knows the reason Nikki has been mocked during this feud is because of her inauthentic unconventional relationship with John Cena. Cena’s promo was good in its delivery but the message was shaky. Cena claimed that he enjoyed the parody segments but clearly wasn’t amused and even referred to Miz as “Mike”. As we move closer and closer to Wrestlemania, it’s becoming more difficult to dislike Miz and Maryse since they make a lot of good points.
-Nikki Bella and John Cena
Overall show: A significant improvement over last week’s. I strongly encourage to watch the Tag Team title match, the Miz and Maryse parody segments, the Orton-Bray Wyatt interaction, and the closing segment with AJ Styles and Shane McMahon.