Liam Hoofe looks back at this week’s edition of SmackDown…
The Main Event
Let’s start things off with a big positive this week. SmackDown’s main event, which pitted John Cena against AJ Styles in a non-title match, was easily the best thing we’ve had on SmackDown in some time. While not living up to the standard of their previous encounters, this was still a cracking match, one peppered with exciting near-falls and plenty of nice spots. Cena picking up the win is fine, though, it would have maybe been better to have him face Shinsuke at Fastlane for his Mania spot.
Putting Cena on SmackDown until The Undertaker shows up is a nice way to attract some interest to a show that is, frankly, rather dull at the moment. The resulting post-match attack from Corbin, Sami and KO means that next week we will likely get a 6 man tag match on the go-home show. The Fastlane main event has all of the right ingredients to deliver. Equally, it contains all the right ingredients to be a total car crash, so either way, I’m interested.
Tag Team Tension
The Usos Vs The New Day is one of the great feuds of this era, and they proved that once again on this week’s edition of SmackDown. Despite the fact that we saw the two teams feud for the vast majority of 2017, they still have the ability to get us excited for another match, which is no easy feat. Take a look back at feuds between the likes of Randy Orton and John Cena in the early 2010’s, and see how long it took fans to get sick of them.
The mic work in this segment was great, and The Usos are SmackDown’s finest asset at the moment. They are quickly becoming the most consistently entertaining thing on a show which is otherwise struggling to entice its audience. The Bludgeons coming out at the end was nice and keeps them looking strong heading down the road to Mania. The two teams will no doubt steal the show again at Fastlane.
Poor Women’s Match
Okay, so I like the idea of Ruby Riott taking out Charlotte’s friends in the same way that Charlotte took out the Riott Squad. It keeps Ruby looking strong and adds a little bit of spice to an otherwise dull feud. This week’s match between Ruby and Naomi, however, was pretty terrible. The two women just failed to get the crowd interested in the bout, and if I’m being totally honest, I had forgotten it had happened until I went over to WWE.Com to fetch some pictures. Next week, we will likely get one last six women tag match, with the Riott Squad coming out on top, before Charlotte retains at Fastlane.
Shinsuke Vs Aiden English
Remember Shinsuke Nakamura? The guy who won this year’s Royal Rumble and is going to headline WrestleMania in a dream match-up against AJ Styles? The WWE clearly have had no idea what to do with Shinsuke since he won the Rumble and he has been mostly absent from SmackDown since the event. This week, he made his big return, against Aiden English. Now, the match was fine and all, but surely they could have found another way to use Shinsuke? He has nothing to do at Fastlane, and he wasn’t even booked to look that strong against Aiden English. He had a nice little moment with Cena after the match, but other than that, this was just a reminder of how badly the company likes to book one of their most over superstars.
Authority Figures Ruining the Show
I might just rename this section. This week, a match took place between Baron Corbin and Sami Zayn. You’d never have thought it, though, as the whole bout focused on some backstage nonsense involving Shane McMahon, Daniel Bryan, and some popcorn. Somehow, as well, Shane McMahon still got a pop at the start of the night. How, can Roman Reigns deliver consistently great match-ups for months on end, drop a great promo on Raw, and still get booed out of the building, while Shane McMahon can singlehandedly derails a whole show, and forces himself into the limelight, and still gets a massive pop!? Is it because of his entrance music? Seriously, I don’t get how he continues to get a positive reaction each week.
The nonsense taking place from the match took away any interest in the match, and totally disrupted the flow of proceedings. Corbin picked up the victory here, but it didn’t really feel like it mattered.
This storyline is terrible. The sooner it ends, the better. Hopefully, it doesn’t play too prominent a role at Fastlane because it will no doubt ruin a match with great potential.
Verdict: SmackDown is beginning to feel tiresome at this point. The show has just been using a rinse and repeat formula for the last few weeks, and once again, this show was saved by a great main event, and a top performance from The Usos and The New Day. The show’s long-term booking with the GM booking has gotten incredibly stale, while the Women’s division feels as if someone hit the pause button the moment the Women’s Rumble finished.