February 27 2018
It is the road to WrestleMania so here I am, using my Wednesday morning to watch Smackdown. We’re in Los Angeles, California. Hosts are Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton. The big storyline here is that “free agent” John Cena, having utterly failed to win anything on RAW and has “no clear path” to WrestleMania, is coming over to SmackDown to get his ‘Mania match up.
Promo Time: John Cena
He points out Nakamura is the only guy on SmackDown with a guaranteed match at ‘Mania. He wants into the Fatal Five-Way match at Fastlane so he can win the title and defend against Nakamura at ‘Mania. Get fucked, John, you selfish twat. Shane McMahon and Dan Bryan come out here to debate whether Cena should be in that match. Bryan books him against AJ Styles in tonight’s main event. If he wins, he’s in. I love how Cena’s reaction changes on hearing the name. It’s a great way to put over AJ as being a big deal. Not just another guy who Cena feels he can steamroller.
Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin
Kevin Owens joins commentary to slight Baron Corbin’s hairline and generally make fun of everything. It’s probably for the best as Corbin’s matches are a chore to sit through. Even against Sami Zayn. The biggest issue the match faces is having two heels go head to head. Meanwhile Shane and Daniel argue about whether Owens should be allowed at ringside. Naturally Bryan points out he’s very entertaining so he should be on commentary. There’s some logic there, from both parties.
Also Shane looks stupid eating popcorn. Kevin gets jumped by Dolph Ziggler, out of nowhere, and Sami walks into End of Days because of it. The match was a whole lot of nothing.
Final Rating: *1/2
Naomi vs. Ruby Riott
This has a lot of potential but none of it comes to fruition. Instead it merely serves as background for the Riott Squad’s ongoing issues with Naomi, Charlotte and Becky Lynch. Ruby finds herself waiting for Naomi on spots a few times and it’s an unpolished match. Ruby pulls off the win with her overhead kick. Ruby’s initial impact on SmackDown has withered somewhat. Possibly due to her backup looking like putzes and possibly due to a lack of interest in the matches WWE has conjured up.
Final Rating: *
Video Control takes us backstage where the Fashion Pigs get to meet Josh Duhamel.
Oh, he’s the dork from the Transformers movies. He’s here to hype his new show as USA presents WWE: Synergy. Josh points out the Fashion Police isn’t a real thing, it’s just a parody of movies and TV Shows. They have a misunderstanding between Biggie Smalls and Big E.
“I’m not an actual detective. I play one on TV”. This devastates the Fashion Police. Well, that was totally worth having Tad Hamilton on the show. Great writing Road Dogg.
Promo Time: New Day vs. The Usos
They’re re-kindling their rivalry at Fastlane. I felt like the Hell in a Cell was the perfect pay-off for that rivalry. It’s a little lazy going right back there a few months later. But the alternative is the New Day coming out here and doing goofy shit every week. The Usos do some fine work in pointing out they’ve been overlooked for WrestleMania for the past nine years. As with RAW this was a couple of excellent fiery promos. Especially when Big E steps up to get in the Usos collective grills.
Then the Bludgeon Brothers show up to scare them all off. Seeing as they’ve done nothing but squash jobbers this is a post-Fastlane conflagration for whoever emerges as tag champs. Or, possibly, an opponent for the losers.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Aiden English
The best part of this match is Aiden’s pre-match sing-a-long burying Nakamura and LA.
Are they building to Nakamura vs. Rusev here? It feels like that. The crowd get duelling Nakamura/Rusev Day chants going. This rumbles along happily for a while and the Kinshasa finishes. Totally skippable. Post Match John Cena shows up to ‘sort of’ challenge Nakamura to a WrestleMania showdown. It would make for a cute visual if it didn’t seem so forced. *Points at sign*. *Also points at sign*.
Final Rating: **
John Cena vs. AJ Styles
These two have had some pretty banging matches. This isn’t one of them. Even if it’s a decent contest and easily the best match on the show. They play off a few little bits from previous matches. Like Cena knowing one AA won’t finish and deliberately hauling AJ up for a second one. However it’s also a little clunky with Cena running into the ring steps at one point in a fairly nonsensical spot. What was he going for there?
Cena is trapped in the Calf Killer but sees the ‘Mania sign, refuses to tap and hauls AJ up for the AA and the pin. Now it’s a Six-Pack Challenge at Fastlane.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Post Match: Baron Corbin jumps Cena and Sami and Owens kick his ass too. Ziggler makes the save on his own but he also lays out AJ so Cena decks him. Hey, man, he just saved your ass!
You can pretty much skip this show, which is typical of SmackDown of late. There’s nothing to care about. There’s no one worth routing for. The big belt situation is the only thing of any worth. AJ Styles is the best wrestler in the WWE and he’s carving out his legacy, regardless of how good everything is around him. Much like Shawn Michaels in 1996. The main event is the only match worth checking out. As with RAW the promos were solid with New Day vs. Usos being a highlight. Big E really stepped his game up there.