Wrestling Night in America Reunion: PWTorch columnist Greg Parks is joined by former PWTorch columnist Pat McNeill for a full match-by-match preview of WrestleMania 36
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Town Hall – MISS: The idea of Kevin Owens’ “shoot” mic work on Shane McMahon is supposed to get the fans thinking that they have a voice in Owens. It was supposed to be nice to hear a wrestler articulating our frustrations with the current product. I felt that the Town Hall which kicked off Smackdown had the opposite effect. It just underscored the fact that changes aren’t really coming. It doesn’t matter what the fans say through Owens, Shane is still going to be in charge, is still going to be the alpha and is still going to take up too much time on tv. We got a little lip service that we might get some tv time for someone like Buddy Murphy, but not enough to really get my hopes up. You still had Shane cutting the mic off the babyfaces and doing other heel things. This was also boring. Owens returned in the end to attack Shane, but Shane botched the stunner bump which looked terrible.
Black vs. Cesaro – HIT: This was short at only 7 minutes, but it was fun to watch even if half the match happened on split screen during the commercial break. Aleister Black got a second win over Cesaro which goes against WWE’s usual 50-50 booking. It is good since he needs these wins to establish himself. I just wish we got more of it.
Liv Morgan – HIT: This Hit is for the potential that Liv Morgan has and will hopefully get a chance to show with some type of repackaging coming out of this loss against Charlotte Flair. She was a fun part of the Riott Squad as a heel. She played a babyface in NXT. I am curious to see what the “real” Liv Morgan is and where WWE will go with her. Having more depth in the women’s division should be a good thing.
Moon & Bayley vs. Rose & Deville – MISS: WWE has been building to Ember Moon and a partner against Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville for awhile. It had potential to be a big tag match which could go various ways. Unfortunately, her surprise partner turned out to be Bayley which was ok, but didn’t have a story behind it. The match was disappointing at only 2 minutes. Rose & Deville are a fun act and they do have some talent in the ring, particularly Deville. They deserved better than losing so quickly this week. WWE wanted to get to Moon vs. Bayley at SummerSlam and instead of telling a story to get Moon there, they had them randomly team up, quickly dispose of their heel opponents, and then have Bayley pick Moon as her opponent. How does she have that power? Why was charisma a reason to pick a challenger? None of it worked.
Daniel Bryan – MISS: One of the few things that WWE did to hype this episode of Smackdown was by saying that Daniel Bryan would have some type of major earth shattering announcement. WWE doesn’t do enough in general to hype Smackdown ahead of time. When they actually do announce that something like this is going to happen, they should follow through with it. After a decent segment with New Day coming out and hijacking Bryan’s time with their own mic work, Bryan came out with Rowan to seemingly make his announcement, but he never did. WWE has had too many instances of promising one thing and failing to deliver. I suppose the idea is to build more anticipation for Bryan’s eventual announcement, but why would I think he is actually going to make it the next time it gets announced?
New Day vs. Elias & Joe & Orton – HIT: This was a pretty good six man tag match with three potential challengers to Kofi Kingston facing the New Day. WWE did a great job of protecting Kofi once he became the WWE Champion at WrestleMania, but he has taken a few non-title losses lately including here against Randy Orton. That sets up Orton to face Kofi at SS, which I’m not really looking forward to. But he makes more sense than another match against Joe or a match against Elias. So, at least of the three he is the best option at this point.
IIconics vs. Kabuki Warriors – MISS: Having the IIconics purposefully lose via a count out so that they still keep the Women’s Tag Team Championship is ok. It is a long standing heel tactic to get heat. The problem is that in this case it happened after less than 2 minutes. Again, this was something that was advertised ahead of time. You announce a title match like this, and you should want the fans to anticipate it. When you deliver a 90 second match at that point, you send the message that the fans shouldn’t invest in big matches. You send the message not to look forward to something advertised for Smackdown. You send the message not to bother tuning in.
Andrade vs. Crews – MISS: This was the second straight very short match on this show and like on Raw with multiple matches, it ended quickly on a leverage pin. This week, WWE had the idea that instead of having a longer match with some type of artificial breaking point like an elimination, or 2-out-of-3 falls, or some type of interference, they would just have several 2 minute matches. That is ok for a squash match, but these short matches with a roll up win don’t do anything for the winner and makes the loser look bad. And when we see it twice on Raw and then again on Smackdown one night later, it gets old very quickly.
Owens vs. Ziggler – HIT: The main event delivered a pretty good 7 minutes of action between Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler. The idea that Shane McMahon had a plan to have some of his wrestlers come out to help Ziggler made sense. Owens was able to outsmart Shane and escape from the heel wrestlers to end the match. What I didn’t like is the fact that there were no babyface wrestlers who came to Owens’ aid. I kept expecting New Day to lead out a group of babyfaces to counter the heels at ringside considering what had happened during the Town Hall at the start of the show. But it didn’t happen which was disappointing.
Follow me on Twitter @JonMezzera (pretty clever handle right?). Just be aware that I don’t live tweet Smackdown, I don’t tweet much about wrestling, and I don’t tweet much at all.
For another viewpoint, check out Jason Powell’s original “Hitlist” column on ProWrestling.net covering this episode HERE.