Date: March 28, 2017
Location: Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, Virginia
Commentators: Tom Phillips, John Bradshaw Layfield, David Otunga
It’s the final Smackdown before Wrestlemania and that means…..well likely it means a bunch of promos and a few matches here and there but that’s standard operating procedure for this time of year. I’d expect a big push towards Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt and some more names being announced for the battle royal so let’s get to it.
No Mauro again, though now we know why (having a severe bout of depression apparently so hopefully he’s getting the rest/treatment he needs).
Here’s Daniel Bryan to get us going with a contract signing between AJ Styles and Shane McMahon. Shane says this place is supposed to be somewhere families can come and be entertained with AJ as a major part of that. Personal feelings aside, Shane knows AJ is phenomenal. AJ agrees, but Shane keeps going by saying it was AJ’s ego that got him in trouble. It was his ego that cost him the WWE Championship and got inside his head because he wasn’t on the Wrestlemania card (I’d think he has a right to be angry over that one).
Shane is ready for him though and knows he’ll bring out the best in AJ. The boss signs and AJ reminds him that this isn’t going to be a street fight but rather a regular match, where Styles in untouchable. AJ lists off some of the greats that Shane has been in the ring with but none of them were the Phenomenal AJ Styles. The contract is signed and the table is tossed but Bryan stops things just in time. He asks for a handshake and Shane is willing but AJ walks away smiling.
Becky Lynch vs. Carmella
Alexa Bliss and Mickie James are on commentary and James Ellsworth does Carmella’s entrance. For some reason Carmella gives Ellsworth her gum and runs away from the threat of a kick to the ribs. As Carmella goes after Becky, Bliss and James get in a fight which spills into the ring. Both of them wind up hitting Carmella and that’s a DQ (which will be treated as a no contest because WWE doesn’t quite understand the basic rules of wrestling) at 2:13.
Becky Lynch/Mickie James vs. Carmella/Alexa Bliss
Joined in progress with Mickie hitting Bliss with a running dropkick for two. Becky comes in to a nice pop but Carmella tags herself in, sending Bliss into some screeching. Bliss offers a bit of a distraction though and Mickie gets kicked down as the heels take over. Did Mickie ever turn face? She doesn’t really need to but it would be a nice plot point to clarify.
Bliss grabs a chinlock but here’s Natalya down the ramp as we take a break. Back with Natalya on commentary and Bliss charging into an elbow in the corner. The hot tag brings in Becky, who Natalya calls a Pippi Longstocking knockoff. That’s not enough for Natalya as she gets on the apron for a distraction, allowing Ellsworth to trip Lynch up and give Carmella the pin at 9:12.
Rating: C-. This didn’t have time to go anywhere but the ending was the right call as I don’t think anyone is buying Carmella as a major threat to win the match on Sunday. Have her win here and give her a little momentum going into Wrestlemania and things will be a little more interesting.
The brawl continues post match until Naomi makes her return for the save. In case it wasn’t clear enough for you, Naomi officially announces her entrance into the Women’s Title match.
Tyler Breeze, as Nikki Bella, offers his services for the Women’s Title match. Bryan says no but Fandango comes in and they get spots in the Andre Battle Royal, plus in a ten man tag with some other participants tonight. Not a bad parting gift.
Here are Miz and Maryse for MizTV. Tonight we get a special treat: the rest of the “lost” Total Bellas episodes (if Miz isn’t Bryan this time, I’ll be rather disappointed). After a recap of last week, Miz (as Cena) yells about people being late for dinner. Miz has some issues with reading his cue cards until Maryse (playing Nikki) starts talking about the pitter patter of little feet. This brings in the other guests: Maryse as Brie and MIZ AS BRYAN!!!
Daniel, with a huge beard, needs a phone book to sit on and the couple brags about marriage. Daniel isn’t happy with having steak but is pleased with his juicebox. Cena reads off the rules for how to eat and, again, it’s hilarious given how robotic Cena comes off on Total Bellas. Another fake proposal sees John demand that Nikki take her rules seriously. This time Nikki asks John to marry her and it’s to be continued.
Part two is after a break with Cena saying no because it would damage his brand. He’s hustled the fans by convincing them he’s something he’s not. He’s loyal to himself and he only respects money. Cena can never give up because someone more deserving, such as Miz, will take his spot away. You can’t see him because there’s no real person to be seen. Miz and Maryse flip the costumes away and promise to make Wrestlemania their curtain calls.
Without WWE, Cena can just lumber around and pretend to be a star. After Wrestlemania, everyone will know that their lives are total BS. This was great serious stuff to go with the comedy, which isn’t a surprise from these two anymore. Back in the arena, here are Cena and Bella to respond. Cena makes fun of everything Miz did and says sure Nikki and Brie have moments where they’re too dumb to tell each other apart (the fact that this is considered ok might sum up my entire issue with reality TV).
After the praise, Cena asks how Nikki could hold Maryse out of WWE if she’s here now? Maybe Maryse wasn’t asked back because she didn’t do anything in her first run (What exactly did Nikki do in her first run John? Maryse had two Divas Titles to Nikki’s one and was a far better character and worker. I know why he said it but that doesn’t make it true.).
Next we have Miz’s Hollywood theory for Cena, but John is more brand loyal than anyone other than Vince McMahon and no one can get rid of him. Miz leaves to make movies of his own but only ones Cena made first. That’s what Cena can’t get: what is Miz doing here anyway? There’s a Women’s Revolution going on right now and last week, Nikki beat up Tyler Breeze (Can we never bring that up again?) and Miz is using Maryse to get on Total Divas. Oh and how many kids do Miz and Maryse have? Cena: “You firing blanks there sport?”
Cena calls them all talk because Miz never knows how to stop running his mouth. John rips off the gear so he’s here man to man and promises to destroy Miz and Maryse on Wrestlemania. If you want to talk tough, you better be tough but Miz is a p***y. Miz is offered a free shot but the villains back away again. Nikki promises a beating on Sunday to wrap things up.
This was OUTSTANDING stuff and again some of the best talking Miz has ever done. While Miz and Maryse have been nailing the story from the beginning, this was the first time I really bought Cena’s rebuttal. Basically Cena had been saying Miz didn’t know himself but now Cena actually had some examples to really hammer the point home. I’m looking forward to the match and I’m actually buying Miz and Maryse having a chance, which is a lot more than I was expecting. Nikki beating Maryse would be far more acceptable than Cena beating Miz, but you can probably pencil in the stereo submissions.
American Alpha/Mojo Rawley/Heath Slater/Rhyno vs. Usos/Breezango/Dolph Ziggler
All ten of them will be in the battle royal. Jordan and Ziggler start things off with an amateur sequence on the mat and Dolph is just in over his head. Gable comes in to take over on Ziggler’s arm and it’s off to Slater for more of the same. Rhyno adds a belly to belly as this is one sided so far.
Back from an early break with Gable getting taken into the wrong corner so Fandango can come in for two off a hard whip into the corner. I know he’s a low level guy but maybe an improvement in offense would help. Jimmy dives over to break up the tag but Gable drops him as well, meaning it’s off to the (near) hometown boy with Rawley cleaning house. A parade of superkicks is capped off with Rhyno Goring Ziggler, followed by Rawley’s running right hand knocking out Breeze at 11:00.
Rating: D+. Did Breeze run over Vince’s dog or something? At least he lost to a power move from a power wrestler this time instead of being beaten up by Nikki Bella. This was a fun way to help set up the battle royal and even though none of these people have a chance, I can appreciate throwing in some false hope.
Luke Harper has seen the truth: he doesn’t need Bray Wyatt. Bray should run.
We run down the Wrestlemania card. Naomi is officially added to the Smackdown Women’s Title match, which has been moved to the pre-show. As a bonus, the Raw Tag Team Titles match will now be a ladder match.
We see Bray doing…..something to Orton with that stick thing last week. Yeah I’m still not sure what that was, though multiple masked men helping him is interesting.
Bray Wyatt vs. Luke Harper
Non-title and Harper is now in a clean black shirt. Dang he really is mixing it up. Bray starts fast with the running body attack but gets dropkicked out to the floor and punched in the face. Harper throws him over the barricade and we take an early break. Back with Luke escaping the release Rock Bottom, only to have Bray block the powerbomb. That means the Rock Bottom can connect, only to have Sister Abigail broken up. Luke gets in the suicide dive and a big boot is good for two. Back up and Bray goes into trance mode, freezing Luke long enough for Sister Abigail to put him away at 8:33.
Rating: D. Yeah I really wasn’t feeling this one and I really would have preferred Harper being allowed to get a title shot after a few weeks’ build. This could have been something special but it was still the same Bray hypnosis bit (Now I want to watch an Osirian Portal match.) with Harper losing the big match. He’s starting to make me think of Cesaro and that’s not a good thing.
Post match Orton appears on screen, kneeling over Sister Abigail’s grave. Bray has claimed that Abigail gave her powers to him but Orton pulls out the same weapon used on him last week (How did he get that?) and stabs the dirt. Orange sparks fly out to end the show on a rather dumb note.
Overall Rating: C. This was an acceptable go home show but as is so often the case with WWE, it’s all over the place. First of all, you have a classic segment with Cena vs. Miz. Those two have some very underrated chemistry together and I’ve liked their stuff since all the way back in 2009. I’m not crazy on the mixed tag but they’ve really brought me around on it.
On the other hand though, WWE slipped on two major matches: the Orton vs. Wyatt match with the really stupid ending and Corbin vs. Ambrose with the really stupid lack of everything. You would think they could at least have a promo (like they had on Talking Smack) but in this case, there wasn’t as much that could be cut.
Finally, the Women’s Title match being moved to the pre-show is fine and if nothing else it eliminates a bunch of entrances that would take up pay per view time. As great as Alexa has been, I’m fine with them just being on the pre-show as it’s not like people are really dying to see this one.
Overall, Smackdown should be fine on Sunday though I’m a bit worried about how well Orton vs. Wyatt is going to go. If they do a hard hitting, back and forth match, everything will be fine and it’ll come close to match of the night. If they do something stupid with Sister Abigail appearing…..well it might be better than Orton getting the title, though I’m not sure he will. Anyway, fine go home show but Sunday is still a potential big misfire for reasons beyond Smackdown’s control.
Carmella b. Becky Lynch via DQ when Alexa Bliss and Mickie James interfered
Carmella/Alexa Bliss b. Becky Lynch/Mickie James – Rollup to Lynch
Mojo Rawley/Heath Slater/Rhyno/American Alpha b. Usos/Breezango/Dolph Ziggler – Running right hand to Breeze
Bray Wyatt b. Luke Harper – Sister Abigail
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