Liam Hoofe with his take on this week’s SmackDown Live…
Fatal Five Way One-on-Ones
As with any multi-man PPV match in the WWE, the company will spend the weeks leading up to the match giving us every possible one on one match-up they can get out of the situation. Last week, we saw Dolph Ziggler Vs Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens Vs Baron Corbin, and this week we got Kevin Owens Vs Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin Vs AJ Styles. While this formula feels tired, and takes the shine off the five men stepping in the ring together at the PPV itself, the matches this week were, as they were last week, fairly decent outings.
Ziggler and Owens put on the night’s best match to kick things off. The match was good, up until the finish, which saw Zayn run down to the ring and allow Owens to pick up the cheap win. No problem with the two heels helping each other out, but this run-in just seemed a bit too exaggerated. The night’s main event saw AJ Styles defeat Baron Corbin in a solid, though far from spectacular main event. As I said last week, Corbin’s in-ring style just feels a little repetitive by this point, and his booking is far too uneven. Take the post-match as an example, which saw Corbin lay out both Owens and Zayn one after the other, following his defeat. I understand that they want Corbin to look strong despite his loss but it also felt terribly inconsistent to have him end the show as the last man standing in the ring. The matches were good though, and providing the main event at Fastlane isn’t overbooked, it should be a good match.
The Women Entertain
I’ve criticised the SmackDown’s women roster a lot over the last few weeks, and not without good reason. The booking of SmackDown’s women has been poor since the Rumble, especially in comparison to Raw’s, and it feels as though they are just biding time at the moment. That didn’t change this week, however, the 6 women tag match which saw The Riott Squad take on the team of Becky Lynch, Naomi and Charlotte was still an entertaining piece of in-ring action. The crowd was fairly dead for the first part of the match, mostly due to the aforementioned terrible booking, but the women managed to put on a good match in spite of this. It was also announced that Charlotte would face Ruby Riott at Fastlane.
Jinder Mahal’s Promo
I’ve enjoyed Randy Orton, and even Jinder Mahal, being a part of the US title division over the last few weeks but this week’s promo, which saw Jinder reveal Bobby Roode’s SmackDown top 10, was pretty woeful. The whole promo just felt like a reminder of Jinder’s WWE title run, and quite frankly, no-one needs a reminder of that. Orton and Roode interrupted and after exchanging finisher attempts, Jinder Mahal ended the segment as the last man standing. The post promo stuff was fine, but the promo itself was terrible. Jinder will likely find his way into Orton Vs Roode at Fastlane. If not, then you can expect a multi-man US title match at Mania.
Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin’s Booking
So after weeks of teasing The Usos Vs The Bludgeon Brothers, it looks as though the company is now going to wait until WrestleMania to give us that match. Instead, at Fastlane, The Usos will square off against their long-time rivals, The New Day. I’ve no problem seeing these two teams tear it up once again. What I do have a problem with, though, is just how badly Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin are being booked right now.
The team lost in a number 1 contenders match to The New Day on SmackDown this week, which is just another nail in the team’s coffin. After being embarrassed last week, and losing 2-0 at the Royal Rumble, the team has now lost all momentum and I struggle to see where they can go from here. The New Day could have beaten any number of teams to become number 1 contenders but instead, Gable and Benjamin were sacrificed. The finish was screwy, so maybe Gable and Benjamin will use that to find a way into the match, either way, this doesn’t benefit them.
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan’s Never-Ending Nonsense
When is all of this Shane McMahon/Daniel Bryan shtick going to end? This ongoing story, easily the most inconsistent in the WWE right now, has been damaging SmackDown for months now and this point, it all feels like it has been building to absolutely nothing. Bryan is clearly not going to get back inside the ring, and chances are, we will just get Sami Vs Kevin at Mania now. What a waste of time, and I can’t help but sigh when the two men have a disagreement on the air.
So this week, Shane announced Orton Vs Roode for the US title, what are the chances that Bryan adds Jinder to the match before Fastlane? It’s just become tiresome and the WWE should just kill it before it gets any worse.
Verdict: Despite having some good matches once again, SmackDown feels tired at the moment. The storytelling feels repetitive and the show is seriously stalling in comparison to its Monday night counterpart. The show wasn’t bad, but rather, instantly forgettable.