The AJ Styles/Shane McMahon Saga: AJ starts the show looking for Shane. He says he can’t do anything to Daniel Bryan because of his medical issues, but he can to Shane. He then ends to the ring to the usual pop. He made his case for why he’s so angry. He lost to Cena, he admits. But he wanted a one on one rematch and instead he got a three-way that he didn’t get pinned in, then the Elimination Chamber, then won a battle royal but there was controversy so he beat Luke Harper. Even that wasn’t good enough because then he had to beat Randy Orton, which he didn’t. He blames all this on Shane McMahon. He goes into the parking garage to confront Shane when he eventually arrives.
When Shane arrives, AJ attacks Shane tossing him around the garage and eventually throwing Shane through a car window, which opened up a gash atop Shane’s head. AJ stands over him, looking at little taken aback by what he did, but says, “You did this.” Fit Finlay shows up and tells AJ to get out of here, which he does after another kick.
Shane doesn’t want medical attention, but he’s willing to go see the medical trainer. Everyone is somber, even JBL. AJ is getting his belongings in the dressing room and even The Usos are telling him how crazy he was. AJ leaves the locker room and runs into Daniel Bryan with police behind him. He tells AJ that he’s a “coward” for what he did. AJ says, “What are you gonna do? Fire me?” with a smirk. Bryan says that’s exactly what he’s going to do and tells him to leave the arena.
By the end of the show, a fuzzy Shane make his way out to the audience at the top of the ramp. “AJ Styles says he doesn’t have an opponent at Wrestlemania. He does now.” Overall, this was a good build for the story they are telling; it’s simply not a story most people want. The company is also overrating Shane’s babyface powers as fans were booing Bryan when he fired AJ. Fans booed Bryan.
Daniel Bryan sets Miz/Maryse versus Cena/Nikki at Wrestlemania: The Miz and Maryse show clips of them running down John Cena and Nikki Bella. Maryse tells a never before heard story about Nikki screwing her out of a contract to be in the first season of Total Divas. Cena and Nikki come out and Nikki says that her and Maryse were never friends and she never stopped her from getting a contract. She wants Maryse in a match because she’s a “spineless, brainless bombshell.” The Miz says that Nikki can’t make makes matches because she’s not John Cena.
Daniel Bryan comes out. He talks about how much he wants to punch Miz “in the face” for all the things he’s done and said about him in the last year. Because he can’t though, he can book a match where someone can, so he officially books Cena and Nikki against Miz and Maryse for Wrestlemania.
Mojo Rawley frustrates Dolph Ziggler: Mojo and Dolph have a match based off their confrontation last week when Mojo announced he is entering the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. During the match, Mojo repeatedly throws Dolph over the top rope instead of wrestling, frustrating Dolph more and more each time until eventually he walks to the back and gets counted out. This was a fun little segment; it’s exactly the type of thing Smackdown does well. They remember what happened last week and act on it and keep a story building even if it’s between two wrestlers that aren’t very over.
Bray Wyatt is reborn: Randy Orton comes out and cuts a promo that merely summarizes what has happened in the past few weeks. Bray interrupts and appears on the Titantron. He tells Randy that he was right about him and Sister Abigail. She was forged in the fires of Hell. Now, Bray is reborn and he rubs the ashes of Abigail over himself. He ends as usual, “Follow the buzzards,” before letting out a scream. This was just dull; it didn’t move the story forward much at all except to let everyone know that Bray has apparently recovered.
The Usos officially become the #1 contenders to the tag titles: The Usos take on the Smackdown Tag Team Champions, American Alpha. If they win, then they earn a title shot. The fans chant, “We want Angle,” multiple times in the match, which would be nice touch for him to manage Alpha; however, I think the fans will be disappointed as he will be the RAW GM after ‘Mania. The match is rather dull: a lot of rest holds and low-level action leading to a hot tag. The Usos win after the non-legal Uso pushed Gable off the top turnbuckle in preparation for a double team move and then helped his brother. The Usos get a title shot. The Usos new look and attitude is good and much needed. But the entire tag division has no heat. When will this title shot? Probably Wrestlemania, and probably on the pre-show, but who knows because nobody even said. This shows how much the company cares about that match.
Smackdown Women’s Division: The women might as well be lumped together since they will be at Wrestlemania and every story leading to it. Becky Lynch beat Natalya in a good seven minute match. Afterwards, Carmella comes out and gives them both a kick to the head and walks away. She’s “making a statement” before Wrestlemania.
Later, Mickie James defeated Alexa Bliss with a Mick Kick. While not as technically sound as the previous, it was still a decent match. Finding interest in the matches is hard when it is leading to all the women being in a match together at ‘Mania because the company doesn’t care to book meaningful storylines for these women.
The Final Analysis
This was a solid show from start to finish. The only lackluster parts were the ending segments with Orton/Wyatt and the tag team match. The AJ and Shane segments as a throughline worked well for the episode and made it feel connected. Even Mojo was entertaining this week. Only on Smackdown.