Opening Segment: The show got off to a good start by having the interview with A.J. Styles and Renee Young. I enjoyed the sit down portion of it, instead of just having A.J. come out to address the situation, which is usually the norm. Styles came across as level headed, in that he understood the possible outcomes, but also defiant in willing to still win at the Royal Rumble.
Gable & Benjamin: While I’ve been a fan of their in-ring work for some time now, the team has left a little to be desired with regards to their characters. It looks like that is beginning to change, as they begin to get more promo time. I was entertained by their grievances, and liked how they were demanding justice. Bonus points to Gable for his t-shirt.
Rusev & English vs. The Fashion Police: I gave this a hit for a few reasons. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I felt that Breezango were being underutilized from a wrestling standpoint, due to the success of the Fashion Files. Therefore, it’s been good to see them get ring time recently. Also, when they were announced as Rusev & English’s opponents, I figured that they would lose, so it was nice to see them get the victory. It’ll be interesting to see if this is a one-off, or if this will lead to a feud between the two teams, which would be nice and fresh.
Main Event: Firstly, I enjoyed the pre-match promo between Styles, Randy Orton, and Shinsuke Nakamura. It did its job effectively, while also promoting the Royal Rumble. With regards to the actual match, everyone did their job well, and had an opportunity to shine. One thing that I do appreciate about Smackdown is the length of time given to the main events, as it allows the wrestlers to tell a story, and get the crowd invested.
Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon: While the storyline was intriguing in the past, it took a sharp turn last week with Bryan’s announcement of the handicap match at the Royal Rumble. It was against Bryan’s character, and didn’t necessarily line up with the story that the WWE had been telling. This week, it continued with no explanation from Bryan, and the backstage segment between the two didn’t do much for me either. In addition, less is more, and both of them appeared in at least three segments (together or separately), which drug out the show.
Becky Lynch vs. Ruby Riott: While it makes sense that the returning Becky would want to face off against the leader of the group who attacked her, I didn’t necessarily agree with the booking decision. The Riott Squad are supposed to be booked as a tough group that are being built up (promo skills not withstanding). Therefore, it was disappointing to see not only Ruby tap out, but in a short televised match. It doesn’t do much for the group when the leader has already lost and tapped out. Another miss was the entrances. Why the show had to waste several minutes giving both Charlotte and Naomi separate entrances just to have them accompany Becky was unnecessary.
Mixed Match Challenge: While we’re on the topic of Becky, the segments where the wrestlers met their partners were very frustrating. It makes no sense that a wrestler who is a face, and stands up for the right thing, would be so excited about having a heel as their teammate. In actuality, it makes for a better story when those wrestlers don’t agree or get along, as it adds some drama. What made it even worse was that later in the show, Natalya (a heel) told Nakamura (a face), that she was glad her partner wasn’t Sami Zayn (a heel). The inconsistency here is head scratching, and I can only hope that the actual tournament doesn’t encounter the same issues.
Jeff Indelicato has been a fan of professional wrestling since he was knee high to a grasshopper (little kid) after coming across the Wrestling Challenge episode after WrestleMania 7. He has not looked back. His passion has led him to winning wrestling trivia contests in his city, and even won him his Senior Talent Show by dancing to Shawn Michaels’ theme song. When not annoying others with wrestling talk, he loves spending time with his family and friends, and focuses on his other passion: movies. Follow him on Twitter @the_Indel or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: WWE SMACKDOWN HITS & MISSES 1/2: Gable & Benjamin vs. Usos, English vs. Xavier, Styles vs. Zayn, Women’s Segment, Shane-Bryan