From Baltimore came the go home episode of Smackdown Live for Wrestlemania 35, a rather lack luster episode bar the main contract signing segment but still a decent enough show that set up lots of the Wrestlemania angles.
The show opens with Kevin Owens and the Kevin Owens Show, he mentions how close we are to Mania and with some nice subtle touches shows his disappointment that he doesn’t have a match, tough to believe Owens isn’t on the card but with what happened with Kofi is makes sense and unfortunately he is the victim of this. Kevin introduces both Orton and Styles, KO stirs it up asking Orton about why he ruined Angle’s last Smackdown match last week. A smug Orton explains he saved the WWE Universe from having to watch the match and if Styles was as good as he think it wouldn’t have taken him so long to get here. Styles fires back with an excellent line about Orton failing drug tests whilst Styles was out on the independent scene. It all breaks down after Orton says now Cena is in hollywood Styles is the new “Corporate Bitch.” They square up to each other, KO scampers and after a brief brawl AJ goes for the phenomenal forearm but into an excellent RKO for Orton to stand tall leading to there match at Mania. Decent opening for a match I didn’t think I’d be interested in but weirdly I am looking forward to, hope AJ can drag a classic out of Randy. – B-
Aleister Black, Ricochet and The Usos vs Shinsuke Nakamura, Rusev (w/Lana) and The Bar:
An ok match, not a lot to say, Black and Ricochet are really protected here and made to look strong. One of the Usos is dominated largely until a hot tag, match breaks down with everyone hitting big moves on each other, a double super kick from Jimmy and Jey onto Rusev leads to the win for Black, Ricochet and The Usos.
Not bad, some decent action, never really got going – C-
Post match sees the wonderful music of Alexa Bliss hit, Corey Graves ruined the moment with his over the top creepy reaction to her, Bliss cuts an excellent promo and announces that because Jimmy and Jey forfeited the match last week in the gauntlet match last week that they will now defend the tag titles at Wrestlemania against the teams from this 8 man tag.
Brawl breaks out between the teams and after a Black Mass to Cesaro, Black and Ricochet stand tall. I’m thinking they will win at the show after losing at Takeover.
The Iiconics cut a decent promo after the break about how they will win and the coincidence of both tag titles matches being fatal four way tags and promise to make Wrestlemania Iiconic, decent fun promo from them, they’re very entertaining. It was also at this point I noticed the guy in the front row with a sign saying “Bring Back The Red Rooster.”
Miz is next and is facing all three members of Sanity in a handicap match, he cuts a promo beforehand saying this is the best version of the Miz, he plugs his show and calls Shane a Son of a Bitch. Nice stuff Miz as always.
The Miz vs Sanity (Killian Dane, Alexander Wolfe and Eric Young)
HERE COMES THE MONEY.
Shane comes out on the ramp before the bell rings, he makes Gregg Hamilton announce him which is still awesome and gets good heat, Shane is just here to see this up close and tells the referee to ring the bell.
Miz largely dominates to begin with beating down all of Sanity and gets the upper hand. Shane Mcmahon then returns to the ramp to interrupt the match as The Miz has beaten own all of Sanity, Gregg Hamilton begins to announce Shane again but Shane tells him that’s “Overkill” which was very funny. Shane says this handicap match is now Falls Counts Anywhere and blows up the picture of Shane grabbing Miz’s dad from Fastlane on the big screen. Sanity sort of get some offence in but again Miz dominates, the match goes into the crowd where Miz puts Wolfe through a table, fights of Eric Young and they go into the back and through a locker room, Killian Daine tries to get offence in but Miz throws him into a wall, Young and Miz brawl outside the arena where Miz gets the win. Lots of fun but no idea where Sanity go from here, they got little to no offence in at all and Miz just ripped them apart, Miz vs Shane will be awesome I imagine – B-
Right next to where Miz is a police car with its sirens on pulls up and out steps Becky Lynch, who marches into the arena.
Another replay of the Raw arrest segment is played and here is Becky Lynch, she gets into the ring gets a microphone but before speaking she goes to the outside of the ring and stands on the announce table she cuts a good promo about how women are going to main event Wrestlemania and she will be the champion after she makes one of those two “dopes” tap out to become dual champion. Crowd go wild for Becky saying this. Good promo and I’m very excited for this main event.
Giant mixed tag match designed to remind us how battle royals work:
I hate this trope, loads of people come out including The Hardys, EC3, Lana, Andrade, Zelina Vega, Carmella, R-truth, Naomi and Asuka for an 18 person tag match. Graves has a near heart attack when Mandy Rose come out (apparently her and Sonya get along now). I guess it was fun and it all breaks down and just turns into a throwing people over the top rope because we are all too dumb to remember what a battle royal is apparently. Was a funny moment with Nikki Cross fighting with Shelton and jumping on his back. EC3, Jeff Hardy and Asuka are the final three in the ring. Asuka hits a sweet kick on EC3 and Jeff eliminates him from the ring Jeff and Asuka high five before Asuka throws Jeff Hardy out to stand tall.
WE ALL KNOW WHAT A BATTLE ROYAL IS WHY DO THEY DO THIS EVERY MANIA AND ROYAL RUMBLE, WE ALL KNOW! It’s nothing more then a chance for the commentators to say “if this happens on Sunday” it’s stupid I hate it, if Asuka doesn’t win though I will be very angry – F
Rumour is Rey Mysterio is injured, which is why Andrade vs Rey didn’t happen. Samoe Joe comes out and will be facing Ali.
Samoa Joe vs Ali
Mustafa less Ali has a great light up jacket and put on a great show here, a nice back and forth match that I wish was longer and maybe if Rey is injured Ali could replace him. Ali hits various dives and kicks and a great springboard DDT. In the end though he goes for a 450 which Joe avoids and locks in the Coquina Clutch and Ali passes out.
Very good match, Ali is fantastic and Joe is a good dominant US champion, hopefully Rey isn’t injured badly but if he is and has to miss Mania maybe Ali and Andrade could replace him but I imagine John Cena would – B
Before Joe and Ali get out the ring the music of Daniel Bryan hits and out he comes flanked by Rowan for the WWE title match contract signing, Bryan has a cool looking Sloth t-shirt on and the funny sign guy now has one saying “I ate the Rosebud Bunny” which made me chuckle.
WWE Title match contract signing for Daniel Bryan vs Kofi Kingston at Wrestlemania
Michael Cole is here to lead the contract singing, Bryan slumps into his seat and Rowan stands by, Cole introduces Kofi Kingston to the delight of everyone. Big E and Woods are with him and they are in full New Day mode until Kofi sits down and begins to stare daggers through Daniel Bryan in a nice touch as E and Woods dance around. Cole tries to start proceedings as the crowd chant for Kofi, Bryan shh’s them and tells Cole he has got this. Daniel Bryan was fantastic here and works off the constant chants for Kofi by trying to “educate them” with life lessons. Bryan signs the contract but doesn’t give it to Kofi before he says his bits. His life lessons are “Don’t be complacent” accuses Kofi of being a bystander in his own career and waited 11 years for someone else to hand him chances, Kofi doesn’t react just staring at Bryan as E and Woods encourage the crowd to keep chanting. Bryan calls Kofi out with another life lesson of “Don’t mistake a fad for reality” saying he has been where Kofi has been and he doesn’t feed off the crowd they feed off him calling the fans parasites leading to a rare “asshole” chant.
Kofi finally reacts after Bryan says this is the best it gets for him, Kofi stands up grabs a microphone and snatches the contract from Daniel, Kofi brings up how he has never had a one on one match for the title and at Wrestlemania he’ll educate Daniel Bryan and ends the segment saying Daniel has been where Kofi is and he is scared because he knows where it leads and it leads to him winning the WWE Championship. Kofi Kingston signs the contract as Smackdown goes off the air.
This was simply fantastic, Daniel Bryan was amazing here, he got genuine boo’s and even a asshole chant and that’s because we all buy what he is saying. Kofi acting serious whilst the other two danced around was great as well, I cannot wait to see this match and I really want Kofi to get his moment. – A
Overall this was an ok edition of Smackdown, I understand the Andrade vs Rey had to change and Joe vs Ali was very good, the main segment was fantastic but everything else fell a bit flat for me, the tag match announcement from Bliss was good and probably will be a good match but other things like Miz being able to beat up all of Sanity at once has basically killed Sanity and I do not buy Miz being able to do that. The massive tag was filler and I hate that trope of reminding us rules of battle royals. But I am very excited for Wrestlemania especially the main event and Kofi vs Bryan will be fantastic. Think they could of definitely done more but even with that said not a bad episode the ending especially left it on a high. – C