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Miz TV: After the ridiculous opening bit backstage with Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon reviewing the footage from the end of last week’s debacle of a battle royal for the first time in a week, Smackdown started getting good with the bulk of the opening segment, Miz TV. The Miz and John Cena were both very strong in their promo exchange. It was different to have Miz cutting off Cena’s mic to start the segment so that he could get what he wanted to say off of his chest. Cena had a few insider lines that didn’t work in front of that particular crowd, but likely would have worked a lot better in places like New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. But otherwise, it was really good. Cena owned that segment. This was all setting up a mixed tag match for WrestleMania which I don’t care about. But, I give them credit for a good promo exchange here, although it did go on a little too long.
Styles vs. Harper: I was disappointed in the length of this match. It was only a little over 12 minutes which wasn’t long enough for a match of this magnitude, being billed as determining the #1 contender for Bray Wyatt’s WWE Championship at WM. But, it was a good match. A.J. Styles was carrying Luke Harper to that good match, but Harper didn’t need a lot of carrying. I hope that makes sense. He was good in his performance, but Styles was great. The false ending worked well in the way that Styles realized right after the 3 count that Harper’s leg was on the ropes so he shoved it off. That way the referee couldn’t see it afterwards and overturn his own call. It was predictable that Shane McMahon would come out then to restart the match. Not sure why this match got restarted when the battle royal didn’t (I don’t watch Talking Smack and neither do the vast majority of fans who probably had the same question). The final ending was ok. Styles was a bit off on his aim on the splash and landed more on Harper’s legs than torso. This match could have been much better, but it was still good enough to get a Hit.
Ambrose – Corbin: This was a marginal Hit. I liked how it started with Dean Ambrose quickly doing away with his scheduled opponent Curt Hawkins to address his issues with Baron Corbin. I enjoyed his promo and challenge for Corbin to come to the ring. Corbin needs more mic time and it was good to hear him getting a good amount of it here. But, it wasn’t well written. It was overly scripted with his driving metaphor talking about speed bumps and running over a deer in the headlights. When Ambrose quipped about how ugly Corbin’s tattoos look on the big screen, it felt unscripted. Ambrose tends to sound like he is talking off the top of his head. Corbin sounded like an actor doing an ok job of reciting memorized lines. He needs to keep improving and the writers need to do a better job of scripting him. In NXT he had a strong understanding of his character. Maybe he understands it better than the writers? This was a solid way to build anticipation for their eventual match presumably at WM even if it had some flaws.
Lynch vs. James: I’m not sure this feud needed a 2 out of 3 falls match just yet. This match didn’t feel like a big deal. It went 14 minutes which is good, but it had two commercial interruptions. That means at least half the match wasn’t seen on tv. What we did see ranged from pretty good to just ok. The end of course had to involve distraction from Alexa Bliss since 90% of women’s matches on both Smackdown and Raw end with some type of distraction. This was disappointing considering the talent of Mickie James and Becky Lynch.
Crews vs. Ziggler: I just didn’t care about this match. The feud has been poor. I am not behind Apollo Crews yet. Dolph Ziggler’s heel turn which had so much potential has not been handled particularly well. I am not a fan of chairs matches. So these two had an uphill battle to get me to like this match. They failed. It was ok at best. Nothing about it got me excited during it or changed my mind about where these two are and the state of their feud against each other.
Orton Burns Down a Shed: This was a terrible payoff to a terrible and long storyline. The New Day showed up to the Wyatt Family compound for a fight last year or the year before. If they found it, Randy Orton could have found it and burned down the shed without having to infiltrate the Wyatts to gain Bray’s trust and thus gain the keys to the kingdom in order to have access to the shed to burn it down in the first place. Or am I over thinking this? This was a very long con on the part of Orton. If he didn’t win the Royal Rumble, would he still be playing the game? The way this scene was shot with multiple cameras inside the shed was not believable. He should have had one cameraman with him and brought him to the outside with him. Did the cameramen inside the shed get burned? I never saw them leave. When did Orton edit the video to inject the shots of the maggoty ground where Sister Abagail is buried? Are we to believe that somehow burning a shed kills a spirit of a dead woman? I’m not sure what religion teaches that particular tenet. And that burning is supposed to rob Wyatt of his powers? What powers? He has no powers. Nobody has powers. So now he is taking back his WM Title shot? I don’t look forward to seeing how WWE gets out of Styles winning the #1 contender match earlier in this show. They aren’t going to go with a triple threat, so if Shane takes back the Title shot, it gives them a reason for another terrible idea for a WM match of Styles vs. Shane. And it should make Shane a heel. Where does this leave Harper? Will he go back to Wyatt now? The reason he left was Orton who isn’t in the group any more. Orton came across as a heel which put sympathy on Wyatt. That’s how I read it. I’m not sure how WWE wants me to feel about this situation.
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Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw and Smackdown each week. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Act now and become my 68th Twitter follower@JonMezzera (pretty clever handle right?). Just be aware that I don’t live tweet Raw, I don’t tweet much about wrestling, and I don’t tweet much at all.