(Almost) Live Reactions to WWE SmackDown Live

We’ve got 33 days until WrestleMania. And tonight, the number one contender for Bray Wyatt‘s championship would be decided in a match between AJ Styles and Luke Harper. What other feuds would progress and develop? Read on to find out.

Opening Segment

The show opened with Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan kinda admitting that AJ hit the floor first last week (which he did by a mile). But, they sort of shrugged, we need a main event this week, right? If you’re looking for it, you an see Harper realize AJ is going down too fast, and he just throws himself towards the ground, which I didn’t notice last week.

Miz TV

The Miz called out his guest, John Cena. The Miz ordered Cena’s mic turned off, and ranted at Cena, who was verbally helpless to respond. Miz pointed out that once, Cena railed against The Rock for leaving the WWE to go to Hollywood. And now, in recent years, Cena has been doing the exact same thing. Miz vented a decade’s worth of frustration against Cena for having taken up the top spot for so long. Cena disagreed with most of Miz’s arguments, and set about giving his own refutations to Miz’s raised points. Cena accused The Miz of stealing The Rock’s naming scheme, Ric Flair’s Figure Four, Chris Jericho’s personality, Daniel Bryan’s moves, and AJ Styles’ complaints. Maryse took umbrage with Cena’s attempt to leave the ring, and slapped Cena. Cena mostly laughed it off, but Nikki Bella was more serious about the situation, and ran out. Maryse and The Miz retreated.

We’ve all heard the rumors that this was going to be a feud heading into Mania, and that seemed to be what they were hinting towards last week. They went full on explicit about it this week. With how good Cena was (he was really good), it’s easy to forget that Miz was really good here, too. Since this is still a really new story, I’ll give it another week before I say too much about it.

Becky Lynch vs Mickie James in a 2-Out-Of-3 Falls Match

James played the veteran early, able to stay just ahead of Becky in the grappling exchanges. When the match got more physical, James was still able to maintain control. James hit a Mickie-DT for the first fall. Lynch had a hard time recovering, and James continued to have the momentum on her side. Out of nowhere, Lynch scored a roll-up fall to even the score at one all. Alexa Bliss came down to help out James, but Lynch managed to lock in the Dis-Arm-Her for the victory.

I quite often enjoy 2/3 falls matches. This one was fine, I guess. I think James just works a much slower pace than Lynch, which keeps their matches from getting out of first gear.

Anyhow, from a story perspective, this worked. Lynch wins, so she has some momentum, which is important. With Naomi being on the shelf, Lynch makes the most sense to slot into the #1 contender spot, even though she was involved in a program with Bliss really recently. She’s the best available option, is what I’m saying.

Luke Harper vs AJ Styles

Harper overpowered the much smaller Styles early. Styles was a bit too fast and athletic to be in any real trouble, but he struggled to find space for offense of his own. Styles finally fired back with various kicks, but his time on top didn’t last long. Harper was again able to brute force his way through everything Styles threw at him. Harper hit a suicide dive that sent Styles flying into the announcers. Harper gained a two count with a half and half suplex to send the show to commercial. Harper hit a sit-out powerbomb for another two count. Styles was able to hit an enzugiri and a Phenomenal Forearm. Harper got his foot on the rope, but the referee didn’t see it. McMahon restarted the match. Styles and McMahon bickered, and Harper hit McMahon with a superkick that was intended for Styles. Styles tossed Harper into the ring and picked up the win with a Springboard 450 that landed on Harper’s… knees. On his knees.

The match was fine. I wouldn’t mind if this mini-feud continued for another week or two. With the overbooked (and ultimately underwhelming) finish, I would be surprised if the WWE weren’t planning on the same thing.

Dean Ambrose Does a Promo

Ambrose drilled Kurt Hawkins before the bell was rung. Content with that, Ambrose grabbed a microphone and cut a promo on Baron Corbin. He challenged Corbin to come to the ring. Corbin appeared on the titan-tron and declined. They traded verbal barbs.

Ambrose went back and forth between the unhinged crazy person aspect of his character (the good aspect) and the wacky version of the same character (not good) more than I would have liked here. Given their respective gimmicks, I think these two could work a really good program together, but not if Ambrose is going to complain about parking validations in the middle of their verbal square-off.

Dolph Ziggler vs Apollo Crews in a Chairs Match

Who loves chairs matches?!!? Well, boy howdy, do I have a match for the two of you who responded to that question in the affirmative.

Crews jumped Ziggler during the entrance and we got right into things. Crews seemed in control to begin. Ziggler landed with a falling neckbreaker. Crews fired back with a dropkick and a moonsault to the outside. Ziggler was unable to outdo the athleticism of Crews, who landed an enzugiri and a standing moonsault. Crews picked up a two count with a back suplex onto a chair. Ziggler raked the eyes and crotched Crews onto the top of a chair to get the three count.

Eh. For being a chairs match, the chairs barely factored into this. Am I the only who feels like this rivalry isn’t going anywhere? At this point, it’s gone on so long and resulted in nothing but one mediocre match after another. Ziggler doesn’t exactly look like a formidable heel, and this is doing nothing good for Crews.

Bray Wyatt Does Bray Wyatt Things

Bray mentioned that he didn’t much care if AJ or Harper had won the match earlier in the night. He called AJ a mortal, not a diety, like Wyatt.  Randy Orton showed up on the big screen, from inside Wyatt’s compound. He turned on Wyatt, saying that he was never a true part of Wyatt’s world. Orton threatened to destroy the compound. Back in the arena, Wyatt was beside himself, in a cold sweat, talking to himself. Orton spread gasoline about the place as he continued to taunt Wyatt. Wyatt begged for Orton to stop. Orton set it ablaze, and posed before the flaming structure to close out the show.

Awesome. I know we all kinda saw that coming ever since they partnered up last year, but it was still cool. This was a slow-burn, long form story which was done very well, and that’s always a good thing. I think Wyatt is a face now? Which is good, because I want to cheer him now that he’s finally champion.

I liked the closing segment, but the rest of this week’s show didn’t really do it for me. Harper and Styles was a decent match, but nothing incredible. It was a workmanlike show, and hopefully next week can improve.

But what about you? What do you think they’ll do with Harper? Will Styles keep his spot against Wyatt, now that Orton wants his Rumble match win to count for something again? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or come say hi on Twitter at @Ejdupras_VVV.

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