Liam Hoofe rounds up this week’s SmackDown Live…
YES YES YES!
Okay, things are going to be a little different this week. Simply putting the return of Daniel Bryan into the ‘good’ column would have felt like a misjustice. The return of Daniel Bryan to in-ring action in the WWE is a special moment for fans the world over.
Wrestling is so often a silly sport, but there are moments from time to time that you watch and can’t help be moved by. Moments you know will stick with you forever. Most of these moments, such as the exact moment Edge choked up and told the wrestling world that he was being made to retire are heartbreaking, they bring a lump to your throat and a tear to your eye. On last night’s SmackDown, though, the feeling of pure joy when Daniel Bryan made his way to the ring after being cleared to return to the ring was nothing short of amazing.
Bryan’s speech that opened SmackDown was heartfelt and beautiful. A reminder of why fans fell so madly in love with Bryan four years ago, and his victory in his journey to get back into the ring felt like a victory for all of us. Bryan’s speech was humble and well delivered, and the fans just made the occasion feel all the more special. This was, by far, my favourite segment on WWE television this year, and I struggle to see it being knocked off that spot anytime soon.
The closing segment of the show, which saw Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn attack Bryan effectively confirmed that it will be a tag match at WrestleMania this year, but seeing Bryan hit the yes kicks and fend off Zayn and Owens was also a special moment. Everything about the opening and closing segments of this week’s SmackDown was amazing, and are worth tuning in for alone.
Tag Team Feuds Continue
In the continuing feud between The Usos and The Bludgeon Brothers, Jimmy Uso squared off with Luke Harper this week. The match between them was perfectly fine, if not a little short but I’m always happy to see Harper given time to show what he can do inside a WWE ring. I’m really enjoying the way that they have built this feud, and having Jey sat at ringside, continuing to sell the assault from Harper and Rowan was a nice move.
Shinsuke ruins Rusev Day
Shinsuke Nakamura met Rusev in the opening match on last night’s SmackDown in a re-run of their encounter from Fastlane. While the match never quite hits the heights of their previous one, this was a solid SmackDown match that kept the crowd hot after the opening Bryan segment. Nakamura got the roll-up victory and was then assaulted by Rusev and English after the bell.
AJ, who was at ringside, got up to help Shinsuke but Nakamura fought them off himself, before smirking at AJ. I really like the way they are building AJ and Shinsuke, and a tag match between Rusev/English and Styles/Nakamura looks likely before Mania.
Charlotte Flair Loses
Charlotte took on Natalya on this week’s SmackDown in a fairly forgettable match. The match itself is not the issue, though, but rather the result. Midway through the match, with Charlotte down, Carmella ran down to attempt a cash-in, only for Natalya to roll up Charlotte for the victory before the ref could confirm Carmella’s attempt.
Having Carmella attempt to cash in made a lot of sense, especially with WrestleMania a matter of weeks away, but why have Charlotte lose just weeks before her big match with Asuka. Charlotte is the only superstar in the WWE right now who feels like a legitimate threat to Asuka’s streak, so why have her lose to Natalya, of all people, just weeks before their match-up.
Dillinger Vs Corbin
Tye Dillinger and Baron Corbin had a match on this week on SmackDown, and Corbin won. That is the only really notable thing from the match, which was easily the worst thing on SmackDown this week. Dillinger and Corbin both feel aimless right now, and Dillinger has felt that way for some time. It’s nice to see Tye getting some TV time but the WWE really need to figure out what to do with him and fast. This match was effectively a glorified squash, but neither man comes out looking good.
This week’s SmackDown Live was one of my favourite shows of the year so far, purely because of Daniel Bryan’s return. In reality, the rest of the show was so-so, but nobody is going to remember that in a few weeks time. This week’s show is a must-see.