We’re getting closer to Wrestlemania and tonight on Smackdown Live the road got a little more clear. Some of it was solid and some of it wasn’t. Here are my hits and misses this week on Smackdown Live.
HIT: Daniel Bryan is Going to Wrestlemania
It was pretty much a given that Daniel Bryan’s first match since getting cleared was going to take place at Wrestlemania. After the incident last week with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, it was all but clear Bryan would be stepping into the ring against Smackdown Live’s most despised duo. The question is who would his partner be? Many fans on the internet were playing the speculating game like they’re doing for who is going to Braun Strowman’s partner on Raw. There’s no way it’s going to be Shane McMahon is it? Between the assault from Owens and Zayn to the recent hospitalization, but sure enough Bryan announced tonight on Smackdown Live that Shane was going to be his partner. So it’s official at Wrestlemania Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon vs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.
MISS: But There’s a Stipulation
As awesome as it is we’re getting Daniel Bryan back in the wrestling ring, they had to go and make a stipulation to the match. The stipulation goes as follows. If Owens and Zayn win, they both get reinstated. If Bryan and Shane win, Owens and Zayn are still terminated. There’s no way Owens and Zayn remain terminated. That is unless of course they end signing back with Raw? Then again Smackdown Live is also more than likely getting a new general manager so maybe that’s how Owens and Zayn get back in? Either or, I really hope this is the end of the Owens and Zayn verses the Smackdown Live authority because this storyline has gone way too long. Bottom line though is I rather I could just sit back and enjoy this match because there’s three talented wrestlers in the ring instead of overthinking it because there’s a stipulation attached.
HIT: Nakamura Getting in AJ’s Head
I haven’t been impressed with the build of the Shinsuke Nakamura vs AJ Styles match for Wrestlemania. Everyone knows what they’re going to do in the ring is going to top notch, but the build has been put to the side it seems like. Well finally tonight they seemed to let Nakamura and Styles build their program a little bit. Nakamura requested Styles accompany him to ringside since Shelton Benjamin will have Chad Gable in his corner. Nakamura then told Styles he only wanted him out there so he could see up close how he’s going to beat him at Wrestlemania. The two men exchanged words after Nakamura defeated Benjamin. Here’s the real kicker though. Nakamura leaves for the back and Styles gets ambushed by Gable and Benjamin. Nakamura returns for the save and then measures up Styles for a Kinshasa. Nakamura could’ve took Styles out, but just as he went for the blow stopped! Stopped and patted him on the head. This is mind games at a whole new level. I like this side of Nakamura’s character. Cocky, confident, and playing some serious mind games.
MISS: Triple Threat Mania
Seems like Wrestlemania this year is full of triple threats. First we got the Intercontinental Championship triple threat. Then we got the same thing with the United States Championship. Tonight the triple threat got moved to a fatal four way only so they could book another triple threat with the Smackdown Live Tag Team Championship with the Usos defending against New Day and the Bludgeon Brothers. Personally don’t know how I feel about a triple threat tag team match. They’re so awkward? I feel you either need to add a fourth tag team so all the corners are utilized or go with an idea I’ve been adamant about for weeks and that’s making this a ladder match. Personally I feel you could add Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin to this match. You gain two quality workers opposed to wasting them in the battle royal. Plus if you add the ladder element, there’s no way the Usos get left off the main card.
HIT: Rusevmania is Born
When it seemed like Rusev Day was destined for nothing at Wrestlemania except the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, something magical happened. Jinder Mahal had to find a replacement tag team partner for his match against Randy Orton and Bobby Roode. Enter Rusev Day. The tag team match got plenty of time to kick off Smackdown Live, but it was Rusev who pinned the United States Champion Randy Orton in tag team action. Backstage Jinder offered Rusev a front row seat to watch him win the United States Championship. Rusev however had a better idea and propose to Daniel Bryan that he gets entered into the United States Championship match at Wrestlemania for pinning the champ Randy Orton and sure enough Rusev was added to the match. Jinder wasn’t fond of that idea and I’m sure we’ll get Rusev vs Jinder Mahal in singles action next week. Bobby Roode definitely has to be pissed off now knowing his rematch clause got turned into a fatal four way. Randy Orton has to be pissed as well knowing his odds of retaining have decreased even more.
MISS: Riott Squad (again….)
Smackdown Live was decent for the most part tonight. However we had to suffer another night and see the Riott Squad. Now before you think I’m out to attack this more than I probably should. I’m going to come out and say I like Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose on Raw. In fact I was pissed they were made to look stupid to Brock Lesnar 2.0 Ronda. I absolutely can’t stand the Riott Squad at all. The quicker they let Ruby go solo and dump the deadweight the better. Give me Natalya or Carmella for your heel representative any night. Hopefully Superstar Shakeup really shakes up the women division on Smackdown because it’s bad. Worst part is the featured women’s match for Wrestlemania barely has any build because Asuka is still on Raw squashing the local Jane Doe and Charlotte Flair apparently is injured?
That’ll do it for me this week. Next week is the go home show before Wrestlemania. Get ready!!!! With that, follow me on twitter @chairmanpodcast and thanks for reading.
UNRELATED NOTE: If you haven’t seen the Golden Lovers vs Young Bucks match from NJPW Strong Style Evolved this past Sunday night. Stop reading this and watch that match. It is definitely a match of the year candidate. Whether or not you know the backstory of what’s going on in the Bullet Club or you just like top notch five star wrestling. This match is ALL IN!!!!!!!!!