Shane McMahon Explained His Actions
I think most people (myself included) expected Shane to be the heel in his program with The Miz, so I was pleasantly surprised when Shane turned at Fastlane instead. He hasn't been a heel in WWE in well over a decade, so it's definitely a refreshing change of pace for his character. He cut a solid heel promo here and his logic was sound, but we'll see in the coming weeks if Miz can hold his own on the mic as a babyface.
Aleister Black, Ricochet and The Hardy Boyz vs. The Bar, Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura Went to a No Contest
SmackDown Live has an infinitely better tag team division than Raw and the talent involved in this match just proved that. This was fun while it lasted, but it didn't get a ton of time and half of it consisted of a commercial break. Plus, I wasn't too fond of the contest being thrown out after The New Day interfered. I assume this is leading to a multi-team matchup for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania 35, but I'd honestly prefer The Usos vs. The Hardy Boyz straight up.
AJ Styles Interrupted Randy Orton
The rivalry between Styles and Orton had been on ice for a few weeks and seemed to be relegated to backstage segments, but this verbal exchange was exactly what they needed to get people talking going into WrestleMania. Orton took exception to Styles' background on the independent wrestling scene while Styles mentioned how Orton earned none of what he achieved and how he had to hide behind factions in order to be successful. This was a strong segment that made me look forward to Styles vs. Orton more than any other match on the 'Mania card as of now.
SmackDown Women's Champion Asuka def. Sonya Deville (Non-title)
It made sense for Asuka to take on Deville after what happened at Fastlane at the end of the SmackDown Women's Championship match, but this wasn't anything special and Asuka was completely overshadowed by the teased split between Rose and Deville. The finish looked even sillier than it did at Fastlane with the apron being what cost Deville the victory. If I had to guess, Deville will be the babyface coming out of this.
Charlotte Flair Interrupted Becky LYnch
There's no denying that WWE caused a lot of fans to lose interest in this Raw Women's Championship storyline as a result of all the overbooking from the last month and a half, but it finally looks like they're getting this thing back on track. Ronda Rousey's Raw segment was great and Lynch and Flair furthered their feud by cutting quality promos here. I'm not sure what more they can do between now and WrestleMania, but I'm excited to find out.
Rey Mysterio and R-Truth def. United states Champion Samoa Joe and Andrade
WWE originally advertised Joe vs. Truth for the United States Championship for this show, but I guess plans changed. Mysterio, Andrade, Truth and Joe have been battling over the U.S. title for weeks and it appears that will continue to be the case heading into WrestleMania. I really thought John Cena would be contending for the belt, but apparently not. Perhaps WWE has him pegged to face Kurt Angle in his retirement match instead. At any rate, this was an entertaining tag team affair as the chemistry these four have is off the charts.
WWE Champion Daniel Bryan and Rowan def. Kevin Owens and Mustafa Ali
With the WWE Championship picture still in a state of flux at the moment, this was a perfectly fine placeholder for all four men. Rowan does nothing for me as an in-ring competitor, but props to WWE for at least attempting to make him out to be a threat by having him look dominant against guys like Ali. This was a decent match and the heels winning was the right call. I just don't know what the future holds for Owens.
Mr. McMahon Gave Kofi Kingston a WrestleMania 35 Opportunity
Perhaps my favorite part of this storyline with Kingston is that everything he and the rest of New Day are saying about Kingston paying his dues over the course of his career in WWE rings true. New Day showed awesome intensity in the face of McMahon and it's clear the fans are ready for Kingston to get his long awaited opportunity at the WWE Championship. I don't love the idea of Kingston having to run the gauntlet again to earn his shot at the title at WrestleMania, but if nothing else, it's bound to be an excellent main event.
Raw didn't do much to get me more amped up for WrestleMania than I was before, so SmackDown was a definite improvement in that respect. There are plenty of storylines worth getting invested in as the event draws near and I appreciate that almost everything on these shows serves a purpose. This was a promo-heavy edition of SmackDown, but all of them were worth checking out and the two hours were enjoyable on the whole.
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