SmackDown Live returned last night (Mar. 6) from the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin. You can find all the results at the live blog here.
This week was the go home for the Fastlane pay-per-view (PPV) and the last chance to try to add some heat to their busy... very busy... WWE title scene.
When it came to how they closed out the title feud, I was wrong with my prediction last week. I thought that SmackDown would run a 6-man tag tonight as the final build to the six pack challenge for the WWE title. But that didn’t happen. In my defense, I thought everyone would show up to promote that match. John Cena did not.
Yup, on the go home show to the PPV where he could win the title for an historic 17th time, he wasn’t there. He cut a promo on Raw instead. Not that I blame him. If you can skip SmackDown, go for it.
So instead, they advertised Dolph Ziggler vs. AJ Styles. Of course, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens got involved. Shane McMahon came out and instead of making the predictable tag team match, he booked a fatal 5-way with those four men and Baron Corbin.
They pretty much ran the main event of Fastlane without John Cena and no title on the line.
Part of me gets the reasoning. “Let’s show them what they are in store for and then they’ll tune in Sunday to see it for the title with John Cena.” But on the other hand, it’s pretty lazy.
The finish of the match was a bit odd. Sami Zayn hit the Helluva Kick on Kevin Owens for the win. Afterwards, Sami cut a good promo about how he’s the best. But this takes away a crucial plot point to the Fastlane title match. The big question was how Sami and Kevin would get along. Sami even offered to lay down for KO to allow his friend to win the title. While we knew that wasn’t going to happen, why take the one point of interest away from the match?
In the end, there’s not much that they could have done to really salvage this overcrowded clustermuck of a championship scene. The only way to right the ship is to just get Fastlane out of the way and hope they can get it right starting things over on the road to WrestleMania.
In that sense, it’s less of a Fastlane and more of a speed bump. All the exciting stuff for WrestleMania, such as Styles vs. Nakamura, had to be put on hold to get past this pay-per-view. The entire time, it felt like this is a show they needed to run but didn’t have anything for. So just just threw a bunch of stuff together for over a month. And it shows the most with this title feud.
Wanna hear something surprising?
This week, the women didn’t have a random tag match! Instead, Ruby Riott and Charlotte had a promo segment. Imagine that!
And it was pretty good. For the first time after a good month of feuding, we get to actually hear these women in the ring together. Ruby claimed she created the Riott Squad to destroy the myth of Charlotte Flair. Meanwhile the champ made it known that because of who she is and who her father is, she had to work that much harder. Because if she failed, it’s magnified.
Finally, we got a bit of heat behind all of this.
But it wasn’t all good. Ruby Riott called Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan in the ring and suddenly the champ was outnumbered. Who would save her? Becky? Naomi?
No, it was Bobby Roode. Kind of. He was just coming out for his match and that was it. He did his entrance and the segment just... ended. It was pretty weird. This damn US title feud ruins everything.
All the rest:
An epic rematch
Actually, the US title stuff wasn’t THAT bad tonight.
It was fairly standard. Randy Orton faced Jinder Mahal, killed Sunil Singh, and then threw Mahal into Roode, who was sitting on commentary. This upset the US champ, who ended up jawing with Orton later, causing the Viper to lose Jinder. It’s pretty standard and not too inspired, but that’s a step up from the list bickering we got to set this all up.
I don’t normally touch on backstage segments, but there was a really good one between Nakamura, Rusev, and Aiden English. Aiden can’t sing because Nakamura kicked him in the throat last week, which I think makes Shinsuke an instant heel? Rusev challenged Nak for a match at Fastlane to support his friend, which the Royal Rumble winner immediately accepted.
Nak said after he wins, it’ll be “Nakamura Day” which he sang in a pretty damn good voice. The segment ended with Rusev saying “You can’t just make up your own holidays,” which is pretty fantastic.
Becky def. Carmella
Becky Lynch defeated Carmella in a match that was set up last week in an online segment. Naomi enjoyed watching it backstage. When Natalya walked up and started talking a bit of trash, Naomi suggested she and Becky face Nattie and Carmella at Fastlane.
The tag team title match between the Usos and New Day, probably the best story on SmackDown, got the video package treatment.
This wasn’t terrible, but it was still overall an uninspired two hours of wrestling. And honestly, with the slump they’ve been in lately, they’re going to need a hot episode to really change the feel of this show. A by the books show tonight, which lacked any real excitement, isn’t going to do that.
Maybe after Fastlane.
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