SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
SHANE EXPLAINS HIMSELF…
Recap: The show opened with Shane McMahon in the ring. The Best in the World trophy was also present, and Shane was announced as such. Unhappy with the ring announcer’s enthusiasm when calling him the “Best in the World,” Shane grabbed him by the collar and forced him to try again. On the third attempt, Shane finally left him alone.
Shane explained that he’s sick of all of the people in his life, not only Miz and the other wrestlers, but also all of the WWE employees. He said they were all always looking for a favor to get ahead in life. He said that by beating up Miz, he put a stop to all of it. He claimed to be born as “Best in the World.”
Shane said the feeling he had on Sunday was so tremendous, and that everyone should get used to it because it’s indicative of the new him. He said Miz works for him and told Miz to get ready for “another Best in the World beating.” After saying it would be “awesome,” he threw the mic down and left.
Evaluation: This was a good segment. Shane’s explanation came off as both believable and heelish. He got good heat from the crowd, so it’s working.
Forecast: Miz comes back from his beating to defeat Shane at WrestleMania.
AJ & RANDY FACE OFF…
Recap: In the middle of the show, Randy Orton came to the ring for a promo. He was incredulous that SmackDown was the “house that AJ Styles built.” He reviewed history starting with 2002. He reviewed all of the times that he was tearing up SmackDown while AJ was “shaking hands with opponents in bingo halls” and “getting a tan with Dixie Carter in Florida.” He said that SmackDown is the house that Randy Orton built.
AJ then came to the ring. He told Randy that he never would’ve made it in the indie world, mocking his signature pose and referring to the RKO as a knockoff Diamond Cutter. AJ then stated that while Orton may not like indie guys, nowadays he’s surrounded by them in the locker room.
Without mentioning them by name, Randy also referenced the Bullet Club ripping off “Too Sweet.” AJ responded by saying that unlike Randy he didn’t rely on his father for a job. He recounted the assistance Randy received over the years from his associations with Triple-H and Ric Flair. He then brought up Legacy and the Wyatt Family, noting that Randy had a “lot of babysitters.” Orton said he’s the landlord of SmackDown “and rent’s due, you son of a bitch.” Randy said to make the check out to the most destructive three letters in sports entertainment: R-K-O. He dropped the mic and turned to leave. Styles said if he wants his rent, to come and take it. He then pointed at the WrestleMania sign.
Evaluation: This promo was great as there was truth on both sides. WWE allowing Randy Orton to reference ROH and TNA, even if indirectly, added to the realism. Likewise, it was s welcome surprise that AJ was permitted to reference the high level talent in the indie world. This is a change from the normal WWE policy of not acknowledging that other wrestling exists.
Forecast: It was obvious that Randy will face AJ at WrestleMania. It seems neither guy is being positioned as a heel, and that the fans will be “allowed” to cheer for their preference.
A TOUGHER NEW DAY…
Recap: When an early tag match broke out into a brawl, the New Day ran out and cleared the ring with a vicious edge we haven’t typically seen.
Later, in the show’s final segment, Vince McMahon came out and recapped the events of Fastlane. He chided the fans for not listening closely when he promised a Triple Threat match, as he never said Kofi would be in the match. He further chastised Kofi for failing in the match he was given on Sunday.
The New Day then interrupted. They angrily berated Vince. The claimed that despite doing everything Vince has ever asked, he always treats them like garbage. Big E said Kofi deserves more. Vince responded that no one deserves anything.
Vince went on to say that Kofi has many great qualities, but that he’s not championship caliber. He said that Daniel Bryan hit the nail on the head earlier when he said that Kofi was awesome, but was a “B+ Player.” This angered Kofi, who recounted all of the time he had missed with his family and children due to his dedication to WWE. He said he’s never complained, but just wanted to be told what he can do to earn a championship opportunity.
Randy Orton then appeared, followed by Samoa Joe, the Bar, and Rowan. Vince stated Kofi would have to beat all of them in a gauntlet next week to earn a title shot. The heels then stormed the ring and a melee broke out as the show went off the air.
Evaluation: Tonight was perfect in terms of having the New Day show a harder edge. They handed out beatings early and expressed believable anger in the final segment. There was no joking around. If Kofi is going to be taken seriously in a WrestleMania title match, this showing was absolutely necessary.
Forecast: I still think Daniel Bryan retains at WrestleMania, but WWE is doing a good job building this match.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – SMACKDOWN 3/5: KO the Regular Guy, Joe the US Champ, Charlotte Calls Out Becky