In typical fashion Smackdown put on a solid entertaining wrestling show, with very little to complain about, but A LOT to talk about. Let’s get to it.
Set It Free
Jon Cena opened the show with his signature ra ra, “I’m great” “my opponent was great,” promo. It was fine, and then Bray Wyatt and his brother Randy Orton came out. They claimed that they want to set the title free from Cena. This is probably the first time Brey showed interest in the title. He vowed to win it at the Elimination Chamber. Orton said if he still manages to make it out the Chamber alive, he’ll take it from Cena in the main event of Wrestlemania, more on that later.
The Wyatt Family then made their way down to the ring to teach the PHD in Thuganomics a lesson. Then the lights went out and Luke Harper appeared. I guess that ‘turning the lights out and appearing out of nowhere’ power stays with you even after you left the family. Somebody should tell Braun Strowman.
Seeing Harper team with Cena was actually a interesting dynamic, seeing Harper as a babyface in general is intriguing. The commentary team sold the idea that Harper is conflicted with fighting his brother (even though he didn’t have a problem at the Royal Rumble) which may be part of a bigger story they are trying to tell, more on that later.
The match ended with Harper finally trying to hit the Sister Abagail on Bray, but in an exciting sequence with all four superstars it ended with Orton hitting the champion with the RKO. Next week there is a one on one match between Orton and Cena which indicates that they won’t be facing each other at Mania (thank god).
Orton In the Main Event
Orton winning the Rumble was a shock, but I’m not sure what to make of it. A lot of less patient fans have already given up on the Viper being in the main event of the biggest show of the year at this point of his career. I actually understand why they would, Orton has not really set the world on fire as far as his in ring performance and character goes.
But, Orton has been my personal favorite since he started running those Orton injury reports back in 2002, so I’m willing to give it a chance. I think there are very few ways this could really work, one way actually.
It’s not in a multi-man match, it’s not with Aj Styles, but it has to be with Bray. The story they are telling could very easily be a slow burn about him dismantling the Wyatt Family from the inside. A couple of weeks ago when Harper said “he did this” on the night Harper super kicked Bray strengthens that story. The difficulty Luke Harper is having with breaking away from his former family is also key. Long forgotten Eric Rowan could play into that as well.
But I think the only way to pull this off is to turn Orton full heel on Bray and sell the idea that Bray trusted him to be in the family and Orton is the snake he’s always been, going to extreme depths to get revenge.
It’s risky, but it’s different, and it could be a way to finally cash in on the hype Bray never was able to live up to because of bad booking. They may have to shotgun the title on Bray at the Elimination Chamber, that’s the only downside. If they put all their effort in a Bray Wyatt babyface push, and if Orton can tap in the worst version of himself (I believe he still has it in him) they might have enough time to make this work. Every week is crucial; I’ll be keeping a close eye on everything they do with the Wyatts for the next month.
Bad Night For Ambrose
Dean Ambrose ended the night by losing to AJ Styles, then getting hit with the Skull Crushing Finale and End of Days. I don’t expect them to put the WWE title on Ambrose, but I hope he gets payback next week. As IC champ he needs to stay hot going into WrestleMania. With that said, I do like the fact that all the heels just man handled him.
My favorite part of this segment was The Miz. He seems determined to make sure he doesn’t slip back into the midcard. Normally you’d expect a character like him to cower in the face of a hoss like Baron Corbin. He did not back down, not on the mic, and not in the ring, I love it. He’s earning his spot and I’m looking for another run at the title for him this summer. Mark my words.
They literally picked Naomi out of obscurity to feed her to the champion before Wrestlemania, and that’s fine. Naomi is slightly annoying and doesn’t have much personality besides smiling and dancing (like most African American acts in the WWE).
At least they are taking the little time they have to showcase her talent, and I’m so glad they brought back the leg spike DDT(whatever it’s called), she also had an amazing hot tag to close the match, so this is good for what it is.
Alexa Bliss is straight up see you next Tuesday status (pun intended) and that makes her a welcome sight every time she trots down to the ring.
After weeks of fighting back stage, Natalya finally got some security guards (what was up with them, btw?) and Daniel Bryan booked a final match between the two at the next ppv. This rivalry has been booked solidly for a smaller feud, but I think it’s definitely enough to get Nikki Bella over if they deliver.
Of all the things that are working in the blue brand, the tag division is becoming embarrassing. I had high hopes during American Alpha’s promo because they pretty much called out the division. Then nothing happened. The Usos came down to the ring, but then every other corny ass tag team they haven’t bothered pushing came down to the ring. They all just fought randomly until the segment just ended. What the hell am I supposed to make of this?
This segment was just supposed to get Carmella over and her continued pairing with James Ellsworth, whom looked awesomely ridiculous. JBL literally ruined this segment because he can’t stop himself from making fun of her opponent. Yay for anti-bullying.
You Were My Friend
This segment is a retread of what happened last week. I appreciate the commentary team for selling the idea that Kalisto is not accepting this new Dolph Ziggler and he still thinks his friend is in their somewhere. I would really like to see Ziggler change is in-ring style and get more mic time though. Perhaps give him a solid win over Jack Swagger or something, so Apollo Crews can get the rub down the line.
I’m pretty sure they did one of those stupid remember the rumble things after every commercial and it pissed me off. Besides that and the tag division crap, it was a decent show. Looking forward to a very sharp heel turn for Randy Orton, and I’m also curious with what they’re going to do with Aj Styles going into Wrestlemania season. He did carry the brand in the latter half of last year and the fans deserve to see him featured prominently
My Grade: B; Forget the Rumble
Huge fan of pro-wrestling for over 25 years. Lived through the Monday night wars (WWE/WCW) and the ECW revolution. Currently a big fan of Lucha Underground, NXT, MLW, PWG, and even Impact Wrestling…