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Turning the Corner
For the first time this entire season, last night felt like we were on the road to WrestleMania. For that matter, we are in the fast lane (pun intended) on getting there, and the addition of Daniel Bryan to the Universal Championship match finally brought all of the pieces together. Edge’s outrage suddenly felt comfortable and made sense, Roman Reigns suddenly had a tremendous hurdle to overcome, and Bryan brings with him the fan investment. Combined it creates a synergy that is indescribably stronger than where we were at any point since the Royal Rumble. The fact that the result of the match seems suddenly less clear is a great thing indeed.
A Narrative and Performances that Make Sense
There was a thread of narrative storytelling on this week’s Smackdown that was complimented by excellent acting that made this the best of the 2021 shows. Starting off with Daniel Bryan’s phenomenal show opening promo and then having Adam Pearce carry the burden on interweaving the conflict throughout the show created a one-episode story arch that seemed reasonable and important. For as much grief as I’ve given Edge during this run, he had an excellent show closing performance – even if the scene chewing acting earlier in the show was a bit much. Then there is Roman, Paul Heyman and Jey Uso who remain the best collective act in all of wrestling.
When we look back at this year’s WrestleMania build it is possible that we look back at tonight’s promo performance by Bianca Belair as the definitive moment that her potential to be a big star gave way to the real possibility that she could be a mega star. Belair seems to be fully embracing this time and doing the best she can with all of the factors with which she’s been working. Sasha is already a star, but the totally inconsistent attitude has made her less easy to define with regards to motivations and character. Together, though, we are on a much stronger path with all of the third parties now being removed and allowing us to fully get where we need to if this match is going to take its rightful place as the final match of night one of WrestleMania.
The tag team pair off of Alpha Academy with Street Profits and the Mysterio men with Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler were the best combinations and produced excellent action throughout the show. It’s a shame that the likely result will be a fatal four way match at WrestleMania as I really saw great potential in proper feuds between these groupings that could produce more noteworthy matches.
Rollins vs. Nakamura
A brilliant showing from both Seth Rollins and Shinsuke Nakamura this week in a match that felt like a treat for the viewer and ultimately allowed Cesaro to make a run-in that made him look like a true badass. It’s a shame that Nakamura had to take the loss, but it is best that the match a proper conclusion. I’m more excited for the Rollins vs. Cesaro than I have been so far, so from that perspective this was a definite hit. I’m hoping that Nakamura finds himself in a strong WrestleMania showing even if it’s something along the lines of winning the Andre the Giant battle royal.
Save Your Tears by The Weekend is the best WrestleMania theme song in years. The roll out of match graphics paired with that song did more for the WrestleMania build than nearly every other segment in 2021.
The Little Things
I hate Rey Mysterio’s furry mask. Why is Dominik wearing the shirt of the man that tried taking him away from his family? What’s with the piggyback routine? Who is Logan whatever-his-name-is? When did the idea of celebrity fall so far into the depths of YouTube ‘influencers’? I still hate Big E’s logo of him gyrating.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S SMACKDOWN HITS & MISSES: WWE SMACKDOWN HITS & MISSES 3/19: Less Reginald, more structure, Intercontinental adventure, Rollins Coaster, more