SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Charlotte’s Promo – HIT: I still strongly disagree with adding Charlotte Flair to the WrestleMania main event against Ronda Rousey. Once I get past that, I can look at individual moments and performances in that storyline to evaluate as a Hit or a Miss. This show opening promo was a Hit. Charlotte should be a heel and she clearly is. She gave a good performance doing this heel promo talking about replacing Becky in that match. She did a nice job of dealing with the fans. Her “What”-ing the fans was a great touch. She is so much better as a heel, so I hope WWE realizes that and doesn’t try to turn her back babyface any time soon. None of this made me want to see her wrestle Rousey. And since I’m still sure that Becky will be added back into the match, I don’t really care that much about the storyline until they get to that point. So while it was a Hit worthy promo, it still didn’t do that much for me.
The IIconics – HIT: Smackdown followed up on Raw’s stupid rules triple threat tag match where the wrestlers, particularly Bayley, were stupid, with its own triple threat tag match with the same stupid rules. And it wasn’t a particularly good match, but not too bad I suppose. But, it did have one smart team. I loved the fact that the IIconics just sat out the match. They knew they could not lose if they weren’t in the match, so they didn’t get in the match. It fit in with their character. The post-match attack worked well too. I think we are supposed to not like them for ducking the match, but I liked them for being smart. I also appreciate the fact that all six teams got short sound bites to talk about being in the Elimination Chamber. Some were good. Some were bad. But, at least it was something to hype the PPV.
Ali Video – HIT: It is unfortunate that Mustafa Ali got hurt so that he won’t be in the Elimination Chamber match on Sunday. I was looking forward to seeing him in that match. It was good that WWE gave him a chance to make this video talking about his injury and vowing to come back better than ever. He is very strong in those types of videos as he showed multiple times on 205 Live.
McMiz TV – MISS: I continue to not be a fan of Shane McMahon and The Miz as a tag team, especially now that they are the Smackdown Tag Team Champions. Are we supposed to cheer them? Maybe against The Bar, but against The Usos? I sure won’t. If they are supposed to be babyfaces, then Miz shouldn’t mock them by bringing up Mandy Rose. That isn’t a babyface thing to do. The whole bit about how much they know each other with Miz whispering answers to Shane was supposed to be funny, but it didn’t make me laugh. I was definitely siding with The Usos as they were so much more likable and cool as opposed to the geeky Miz and Shane who came across like asses. But, I don’t think that was the point of the segment. Would babyfaces take a cheap shot like the Usos did at the end when they kicked Miz and Shane?
No Asuka – MISS: So Asuka beats Becky at The Royal Rumble to defend her Women’s Championship and then doesn’t appear on Smackdown since? I know it has only been a few episodes, but it still is odd to me. They have nothing for her for the PPV and they want the focus to be on the EC match and Charlotte and Becky, so I guess it makes sense from that standpoint. But, they really dropped the ball in capitalizing on what should have been a major win for Asuka.
Kingston vs. Bryan – HIT: The first stage of the gauntlet match was a very good singles match between Kofi Kingston and Daniel Bryan. I don’t like the WWE Champion losing clean like this in the first stage of the gauntlet. Kofi Kingston has been part of a joke (albeit successful) team. He hasn’t been presented as a legit singles wrestler in years. He was a replacement for Ali, so he shouldn’t have been in this match at all. So it does seem like Bryan was hurt by losing to Kingston. They wanted to give him a big night and this was the start of it. Despite my issues, the match itself was so good that I have to give it a Hit. It was 25 minutes and was fun to watch from start to finish. It was a good start to the gauntlet.
Gauntlet – HIT: The Gauntlet as a whole was a good way to take up the second half of Smackdown with a long stretch of wrestling. Kingston was the star and while I do have issues with that, it wasn’t enough to ruin the match. I do have to reiterate making someone like him look so strong at the expense of Bryan, Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe. Hardy hasn’t gotten much of a push and is on the downside of his career, so I didn’t have too much of an issue with Kingston beating him after wrestling a 25 minute match against the WWE Champion. But, I do have a bit of an issue with it. The bigger issue is him beating Samoa Joe at that point. At least it was a leverage pin on a bit of a fluke. And Joe was really good in his performance as the menacing heel just gloating in the fact that he was going to dominate Kingston when he got into the ring. I liked the AJ Styles portion of the match a lot. He played his part very well in being conflicted over fighting Kingston who appeared to be out of it at that point. Kingston showed great fire in saying “bring it!” The wrestling was good throughout the gauntlet, particularly in the first match and then here with Kingston vs. Styles. At least Styles won in the end. The RKO Out of Nowhere for the final stage to end so quickly with Randy Orton standing tall was predictable, but still a cool moment which worked very well.
For another view from the original Hitlist author, compare Jason Powell’s views to mine by visiting prowrestling.NET’s “Hitlist” section here.
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. Follow him on Twitter @JonMezzera.