AJ Styles Addressed SmackDown Live Commissioner Shane McMahon
Pretty much everything on the SmackDown side was set in stone for WrestleMania 33 except for Styles' match, so it was logical to open the evening with him. He cut a pretty good promo that addressed the events that led to this point and why he feels (and rightfully so) he's been screwed out of a WWE Championship match. He also did a great job of providing a hook for the remainder of the show in regards to his confrontation with Shane McMahon and his career potentially being "over." Obviously, no one actually believed that, but it was interesting, nevertheless.
Becky Lynch def. Natalya
Lynch and Natalya have had a handful of matches against each other over the last year, but they always work well together, so you won't hear (or read?) any complaints from me. Plus, this made sense coming off Natalya's betrayal of Lynch in last week's tag team match. This was a nice effort from them and I liked Carmella making an impact afterward by laying out both women. Other than her "relationship" with James Ellsworth, she's been directionless for months, so her announcing her participation in the SmackDown Women's Championship match at WrestleMania 33 was only inevitable.
John Cena and Nikki Bella Crashed Miz TV with The Miz and Maryse
Once again, Miz and Maryse were absolute fire on the mic in this segment. Maryse already told her side of the story on Total Divas earlier on in Season 6 (which I can't wait to resume by the way) about how she believes The Bella Twins blocked her from returning to WWE back in 2013, but it was perfect for her to bring it up here. And once again, John Cena and Nikki Bella didn't have much to retort with. I'm glad the match is finally official for the WrestleMania card and I'm looking forward to it more than I thought I originally would.
Mickie James def. SmackDown Women's Champion Alexa Bliss (Non-title)
From an in-ring standpoint, this was a solid match, but the crowd silence didn't do them any favors. However, I don't blame the crowd in this case because technically both of them are heels. James could be a face for all I know, but I assumed she was just establishing it's every woman for themselves at WrestleMania with her ambush on Bliss last week. Once they clear that issue up, these two can have better bouts down the line.
Mojo Rawley def. Dolph Ziggler by Count-out
On the bright side, they did set this match up last week through their backstage confrontation, but that's honestly the sole positive thing I can say about it. I know they have high hopes for Rawley as a singles star until Zack Ryder returns from injury, and he has a slight upside, but being put in meaningless matches with equally directionless wrestlers like Ziggler will result in fans not caring. This was a complete waste of time. Was this supposed to get me excited about the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal or something?
WWE Champion Bray Wyatt Interrupted Randy Orton
We've been waiting on this explanation on Orton for months, and it was basically what we all expected it would be. There was nothing wrong with it because the promo was rather straightforward, but I found Wyatt's response and the fact he seemingly poured Sister Abigail's remains (?) on himself to be more intriguing. Unless I missed it, Orton didn't reference that promo he cut in September about this being the plan the entire time, so I wish he would have referenced that. The campy shenanigans from Wyatt don't do much for me, but at least it wasn't as over-the-top here as it has been in the past.
The Usos def. SmackDown Tag Team Champions American Alpha (Non-title)
For American Alpha, the current SmackDown Tag Team Champions, to get next to no reaction from Pittsburgh spoke volumes. I can't say I'm surprised because they haven't been featured on WWE TV in weeks and have received little character development. The match was decent enough, but the crowd was clearly holding out hope for something major to happen (such as a Kurt Angle appearance seeing as how he was backstage). The constant break-ins on Shane's condition essentially labeled this match as afterthought. They should be allowed to go all out if they have a rematch at WrestleMania for the titles.
SmackDown Live Commissioner Said AJ Styles Would Have a WrestleMania Match
First and foremost, I thoroughly enjoyed Styles' backstage attack on Shane from earlier in the evening as it helped him develop that extra edge he has been lacking for some time. That aggression was awesome, but the camera angle they showed from inside the car seemed unnecessary. As for what happened here, they cut away so quickly that they couldn't catch the crowd's reaction to the announcement. I'm sure it was meant to entice viewers to tune into Talking Smack, but I just would have held off on it until next week.
The Styles and Shane storyline was of course the focal point of this show, and if you don't dig that program, you may not have liked this edition of SmackDown Live. That said, I thought what they did to build up that bout was effective for the most part. Miz TV was by far the highlight of the night in my opinion and the stuff with the women was well done. I find myself more pumped for what SmackDown will have to offer at WrestleMania, but there is still some work that needs to be done over the next few weeks.
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