It’s a mini SmackDown report this week, as the show was mostly video packages and hype from Fan Axxess. It’s the SmackDown report in a Main Event report-sized package!
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Best: Oh, Right, Big E Is Really Good
SmackDown kicked off with a fatal four-way singles bout between guys in the WrestleMania tag titles match, and surprisingly, the match was mostly a showcase for Big E. That shouldn’t be surprising because, as it turns out, he’s really good, but it is. Dude was belly-to-belly overheading guys left and right and got to hit a wacky triple suplex that completely defied physics, but looked pretty cool.
Other guys got some fun spots in, too, like Cesaro slingshotting multiple dudes into each other. In the end, Jimmy Uso won because Jey totally isn’t injured and The Usos have a chance at Mania. Totally.
Best: A Functional Announce Team
I won’t comment on all the Renee Young and Byron Saxton hype segments from Axxess, except to mention how lovely it is to see a commentary team that actually works. We criticize the Raw and SmackDown teams for ignoring the action and burying the talent, but just as annoying is the fact that they all hate each other. Listening to people gripe and undermine each other isn’t fun. Renee and Saxton on the other hand seem like the genuinely enjoy each other. They build on each other’s points and cover for their partner’s weak points. Also, at one point Renee did this dance, so…
Best: Going Above And Beyond
Can we get the guys who edit WWE’s video packages to start writing the show? They went to some impressive lengths to try to make the IC title match seem like something you want to watch, and, well, it worked! They actually showed all those legendary IC Champs and title matches people always talk about. They then segued into a history of ladder matches at WrestleMania, which they tied back neatly to the fact that the first ladder match was for the IC title. They even listed off a few Royal Rumble-style stats. If the last couple weeks of shows before Mania was nothing but video packages, I bet the buyrate/Network subscriptions would actually go up significantly.
Worst: A Decent Build To Backlash
So, A.J. addressed the events of Raw, and hoo boy, did she have a lot of hard-to-digest WWE verbiage to chew through. They made her reference that she was “just about everybody’s girlfriend” and the Kardashians, and she just generally had a look of grim “let’s get through this” determination on her face throughout the whole ordeal. She called Paige out, and both basically agreed that they were big dummies for falling for the Bellas’ very obvious plan, so they were about to make up when the Bellas hit the stage.
God bless Nikki. She was trying hard to deliver one of her “I’m realer than you think I am” promos, but it wasn’t quite landing. Her line about A.J. working less dates than Brock Lesnar was good, but otherwise, there were no mic drop moments. It was actually Paige who delivered the best performance when she started going off about how proud she is to be a freak, geek, ect. Of course, it was totally disingenuous because Paige and A.J. are very pretty, very popular, very successful “freaks,” but there was some good passion there.
Unfortunately, the real issue with this segment was that it all hinged on the Divas title, which just served to underline the fact that nothing important is on the line at WrestleMania. I thought maybe they’d announce a “If Paige or A.J. get the pin, they get a title match” stip, which would have been logical, but nope. I suppose you don’t want to rock the boat and start adding interest to this match now.
Best: Your House Show Go-Home Match
Man, what kind of wacky tag team conglomeration was this? What is Mark Henry even doing at WrestleMania? Why is he teaming with Cena, Bryan and Reigns? While we’re at it, why is Bray Wyatt on a team with The Authority? My theory is this match wasn’t supposed to be televised, but they decided at the last second that SmackDown viewers could only take so much Byron Saxton banter. I mean, I can take a lot of Byron Saxton banter, but I guess I see their point.
As you might expect, the match stuck closely to basic tag team formula. Roman Reigns started the match, and he actually looked pretty damn good, but then tag matches have never been his problem. He’s got tag matches locked down. Then there was a lengthy heat segment with Henry and Cena, and I have to admit, it is gratifying to see John Cena get methodically pummeled. The end of the match was all about the Bryan hot tag, and he even got to get the pin on Big Show at the end, which further backs up my theory that this was a lost dark match. Making Daniel Bryan look like a star is fine for live audiences, but it doesn’t make TV often any more.
All in all, a fun match, to top a surprisingly watchable show that didn’t dramatically f*ck up anything before WrestleMania. So, mission accomplished, SmackDown! Enjoy the one weekend a year where pro wrestling is deemed acceptable mainstream entertainment, everybody! Woooo!