Post WrestleMania SMACKDOWN was 100 percent sweet
The past few SMACKDOWNs, I’ve said that the show’s mid card is its weak point. If last night was any indication, WWE is looking to fix that.
The show started and ended with the feud between Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt. Orton got a mixed reaction, about equal parts cheers and booes. I don’t think he deserved to be booed, but I was happy to see that Wyatt had so many supporters in the crowd.
After WrestleMania, my fear was that the fans would stop taking Wyatt seriously. It seems the opposite has happened. The annoying “what?” chants that derailed so many of Wyatt’s previous promos didn’t happen last night and the Wyatt fans were louder than I’d heard in a while. I think Wyatt may be more over with the fans now than he was when he had the World Title.
Erick Rowan made his return and I was glad to see him. The crowd felt the same way, it’s the first time I’ve heard them chant “Rowan!”
One thing I will say is that I don’t much care for how WWE keeps messing with his sheep mask. When he started, it was a cheap, cracked, plastic mask that me probably found in a dumpster somewhere, and this went great with his gimmick of a backwoods psycho. But they’ve been making new shiny masks for him now, either vinyl or rubber (I’m not sure which) that are designed to look old and beat up.
Basically, the mask is too fake.
This evolved into a tag match between Wyatt and Rowan vs Orton and Luke Harper.
Before Harper started having single’s matches with AJ Styles and Randy Orton, I had no idea how good he was. Harper had been on a singles kick before, but apparently he’s been training since then. He was always good, but he’s on a whole new level now. During the match on Tuesday, he impressed me again by flinging himself over the top rope and leaping to the outside for a suicide dive.
It ended with Erick Rowan eating the pin for Orton and Harper to get the win. A few Wyatt fans were disappointed with this, but like John Layfield said, “He’s (Wyatt) got something planned and it wasn’t this.”
Wyatt and Orton are going to meet again at the next pay per view for the Title Rematch and they’ll have at least one more match before then. Even if, hopefully, Orton drops the belt to Wyatt again, WWE can’t have Wyatt win every match until he gets the belt again.
Naomi vs Alexa Bliss
The last several SMACKDOWN Women’s Division matches were very forgettable. I now think it’s because they were trying to cram too much into the SMACKDOWN Women’s Title conflict. I didn’t even realize it watching it, but the WrestleMania match for the title apparently included every single active female wrestler on the SMACKDOWN roster.
But last night, the focus was on just Naomi and Alexa Bliss for the Women’s Title. This seems to work better in SMACKDOWN’s case because most of the interest in the WrestleMania event revolved around Naomi anyway.
Sadly, there’s a catch if they want to whittle it down like that. SMACKDOWN is only a two hour show and there’s just not enough time to feature much of the roster. They didn’t do anything at all with SMACKDOWN tag team division last night and now they’re bringing in more NXT wrestlers.
Curt Hawkins vs Tye Dillinger
This was the introduction of one of those NXT graduates. I haven’t been able to watch NXT, but the fans certainly know Dillinger, chanting “10” during the entire match. (His other nickname is The Perfect 10).
Dillinger took the win.
The Miz, Maryse and Shinsuke Nakamura
The Miz and Maryse came out and performed their shtick impersonating John Cena and Nikki Bella. The crowd appreciated this quite a bit, especially when The Miz said Cena and Bella would be gone for a while. Celebrating their engagement, I would assume.
Then some sweet violin music started playing. I don’t know NXT but the crowd did. And even though I don’t know anything about Shinsuke Nakamura, he’s already got me interested because of that entrance. The live violin player was just killing it.
The Miz and Maryse got out of there. Nakamura’s entrance and Miz and Maryse’s comedy routine took a while so there was probably no time for a match or a fight, but that’s ok. The message was “He’s here, he’s awesome, stay tuned.”
Dean Ambrose vs Baron Corbin
I’ve been a fan of Corbin as a heel since he first came to the WWE. He doesn’t fly through the air, he doesn’t thrill with technical wrestling, but he’s big, physical and comes off as vicious. Sometimes that’s all you need.
Dean Ambrose is not afraid to fly, though. They call him The Lunatic Fringe, he might actually be a little bit crazy. He comes off as frantic in the ring when he’s throwing punches. His punches actually look a little goofy to me because he’s clearly not hurting the other guy, but when he did the same thing with a leather strap and just wailed on Corbin- that looked painful.
Corbin won the match and I loved that. The reason for that is because Corbin is the heel and Ambrose is the face. Not that I always root for the heels (although I usually do), but feuds are so much more interesting when there’s a possibility that the heel can win and win clean.
Shane McMahon and AJ Styles
This was basically just AJ Styles and Shane McMahon shaking hands after their great WrestleMania match. I don’t know if it was a face turn for Styles, but they certainly presented it as a moment of mutual respect and sportsmanship.