Smackdown Live – March 21, 2017

The Good

The Usos win the Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The downside of this match was that this was the second segment of the show, which lowered the prestige of it.  Nevertheless, this is the best match that American Alpha has had since their call-up and the best match the Usos have had in years.  The pacing was reminiscent of Alpha’s tremendous tag matches in NXT – fast-paced action, a number of good spots close to the finish, near pins galore.  The end of the match found the Usos pulling some shenanigans to win and walk away withe the titles.  This probably means that this match won’t even see the preshow of ‘Mania now, but it was good classic tag team wrestling, and hopefully, after the big show next week, the tag division might get restocked a bit to allow both of these teams some competition.

Total Bellas Bulls**t: The Miz and Maryse claimed that they used their “Hollywood connections” to get a lost episode of Total Bellas.  The fake episode finds Miz playing a robotic, dictatorial Cena who doesn’t feel anything for Nikki and Maryse playing a stuck-up, airheaded version of Nikki who only cares about John proposing marriage.  This funny in the way that any guilty pleasure is funny.  Cena being unable to tie his shoes and lamented that he didn’t have velcro shoes might be the highlight.  The segment helps further the build and the feud without having the four participants facing off yet again inside a ring playing the dozens with each other.

Randy Orton takes on Baron Corbin:  Backstage, Corbin was looking for Ambrose to see if he accepted Corbin’s challenge at Wrestlemania for the Intercontinental title, but Daniel Bryan says he hasn’t heard from him since Corbin nearly killed him with a forklift two weeks ago.  Corbin says fine and is planning to leave the building.  However, Daniel Bryan tells him no so fast. Randy Orton is looking for an opponent, so for the first time ever, Baron will wrestle Orton tonight.  This was a fairly solid match all-around – nothing out of this world, but entertaining.  Randy seemed engaged in wrestling the younger guy, which always helps, and Baron felt shis equal.  The end of the match found both Orton and Corbin hurting and out of breath.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, Dean Ambrose is standing on a forklift near the top of the ramp.  “Hey, Corbin,” he yells to draw his attention.  “Are you busy?” he asks casually after.  Randy hits the RKO for the win, and Dean comes to the ring and accepts Corbin’s challenge, but not before hitting him with a Dirty Deeds.  This was a good match and smart ending: Corbin remained looking strong despite the pin, Orton looks good but beatable heading into ‘Mania against Bray, and Ambrose gets to play his wacky but dangerous character.

The Bad

The Women of Smackdown Lumped Together: For yet another week, the women are given very little to do.  Becky Lynch was supposed to wrestle Carmella, but Natalya, who was on commentary, attacked Carmella approximately two minutes into the match.  Then Mickie James came out to attack one of the other women, and then Alexa came out to attack Mickie.  They all fought in a boring, lazy build to the ‘Mania.  This is simply an insult to the women that helped make this division entertaining with what was thought to be lesser talent than RAW.

Shane McMahon doing Shane McMahon Things: After attacking Shane McMahon last week, AJ Styles came out and proclaimed that he didn’t regret anything.  In fact, he relished what he did so much that he is going to do it again tonight.  Segments are spread throughout the show of AJ waiting for Shane to arrive.  Shane, however, sneaks into arena past AJ and goes to the ring where he calls him out.  AJ comes out, playing a chickenshit heel and trying to apologize.  Shane goes after him as soon as AJ steps into the ring.  They brawl on the outside before Shane puts him on the table and delivers the elbow from the top rope to through the table, which it feels like he’s down three or four times since he came back a year ago.  This was stale and typical plotting of this feud.

The Silly

Bray Wyatt confronts Randy Orton: Orton is being interviewed backstage when the lights flicker and go out.  When they come back on, Randy is surrounded by about a dozen sheep mask-wearing assailants.  Randy tries to fight them off, but they beat him down and hold him against a wall.  Bray emerges from the shadows and repeats what he did last week: Randy made him stronger by burning Abigail’s body.  He then sings “He’s got the whole world in his hands” to Randy like a lullaby before the segment ends.  This is ’90s level Undertaker schlock.  Many wanted Bray two years ago to take over for ‘Taker as the mystical force, but if they knew they would have to sit through this, they might not have wanted that.

John Cena beats Fandango:  Fandango comes to the ring with “Breezy” Bella, which is Tyler Breeze dressed as Nikki Bella.  Breezy is his “heater,” according to Fandango.  Fandango gives Cena citations before the match for 1) being a “bad boyfriend,” 2) “wearing jorts in 2017,” and 3) being a bad wrestler.  In response to Breezy, the real Nikki Bella comes out. Cena makes short work of Fandango before Tyler Breeze interferes. However, Nikki cuts him off with a spear.  Then Cena and Nikki perform their finishers in tandem then use synchronized STFs to have the tag team tap out.  This was just embarrassing for Breezango, especially Breeze.  They could be a strong tag team in the division if they were given an edge.  Instead they are used for comedic fodder.

The Serious

The absence of Mauro Ranallo for the second straight week: The beginning of the show noticeably was absent of Mauro, who was “sick,” as Tom Phillips was sitting in the middle seat.  This helped commentary surely as less voices is always better, but Phillips is no Ranallo.  He’s not bad at all: he sounds natural and confident in the seat.  However, he’s like a Michael Cole clone and says “shots” rather than calling moves by their name.  Mauro has been quite open about his struggle with bipolar disorder; hopefully, the audience has him back on commentary soon, but more importantly, hopefully he is well.

The Final Analysis

This was a slightly better than average show.  The tag team championship match and the Corbin/Orton/Ambrose segment were both strong and entertaining.  Little was outright bad, but most of the other segments simply felt like filler until Wrestlemania.

 

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