It’s the last of the final stops on the Road to WrestleMania, and we are in buzzword central. WWE is making sure that it is impossible for you to not realise that the big show is around the corner and they ain’t going for subtle. They will beat you round the head with that sign if they have to. Let’s dish out some stars.
Tye Dillinger, Tyler Breeze and Fandango defeated Shelton Benjamin, Chad Gable and Mojo Rawley
Wow, there were a lot of insignificant wrestlers in that ring. All good workers (well, apart from maybe Mojo) but they’re good workers that WWE doesn’t give a shit about.
And if WWE doesn’t give a shit, why should I?
Verdict: No-one cares
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Rusev
Can someone explain the thought process behind this? Why have they put the man they want to heat up for WrestleMania against the heel that everyone loves?
It’s even more frustrating when you think about how good it could be. If these two were let loose on each other with no restrictions, they would have a chance to steal the show.
But no. We have to settle for Nakamura – a man known for his fiery offence – working from underneath. Throw in a load of stalling from Rusev and it was (if I’m polite) dull.
The final few minutes gave us a taste of what these two could do. It’s a shame about the stuff that came before.
Verdict: Two Stars
Randy Orton defeated Bobby Roode to win the US Title
Verdict: Have A Nap
Carmella and Natalya defeated Becky Lynch and Naomi
Some stuff happened. Sadly, none of it mattered because they’ll probably have a rematch on SmackDown. These women deserve better.
Verdict: Why Am I Watching This Show?
The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso) fought The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods)
Finally, something I care about. Wait, what? Oh, fuck off.
I had issues with WWE going back to these teams so soon after their epic feud, but I wasn’t going to complain too much. They have fantastic chemistry, and on a card packed with filler, I’d take what I could get.
Then two hairy blokes with fake hammers turned up. Of course, we aren’t getting a proper match. They’re just teasing us before setting up a classic get everyone on the WrestleMania card scenario. God, I hate this company sometimes.
It’s worth saying that the action we did get, was fantastic. I loved the story of the teams swapping move-sets in an attempt to catch each other off-guard. It was fast-paced and all over the place, and if it weren’t for the finish, I’d be full of praise for it.
Sadly, I can’t get past WWE turning a PPV bout into an angle.
Verdict: Three Stars With A One Star Finish
Charlotte Flair defeated Ruby Riot to retain the SmackDown Women’s Title
That’s more like it.
This was a bit of classic wrestling storytelling. Riot was the cocky challenger looking to prove herself against the Ace of the division. She wanted to embarrass Charlotte, throwing chops at the daughter of Ric Flair and locking her in submissions directly in front of her friends.
It wasn’t perfect. There were a couple of moments where it looked like Riot wasn’t on the same page as Charlotte. I’d have also preferred they avoided having any interference. Those are small quibbles, though, and none of it played into the finish.
Because when it came to the final sequence, these two clicked. From the moment where the rest of the Riott Squad were kicked out onwards, it was great. Charlotte can look awkward, but when she’s using her unusual combination of athleticism and power to her advantage, she’s a fantastic wrestler.
Easily the best match on the show.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Afterwards, Asuka strutted to ringside and instantly became the coolest person in the building. We’re getting Asuka vs Charlotte at WrestleMania. Don’t let Road Dogg anywhere near it.
AJ Styles defeated John Cena, Baron Corbin, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Dolph Ziggler to retain the WWE SmackDown Title
I’m not going to go into my numerous issues with the booking that led to this clusterfuck. It would require me to double my word count, and I have better things to do.
I will go into the booking of the match itself, because (despite what it may look like) that’s why I’m here. I’d prefer not to, but I’ve already used the Tweet gimmick. I probably can’t get away with it twice.
Actually, there were some good things about it. It was an enjoyable clusterfuck, and I was never once bored. They even managed to make Baron Corbin look strong, which is an achievement by itself. Then you’ve got AJ Styles. He was incredible and worked as the glue which kept the everything together.
Sadly, all that good was let down by some bads. Firstly, Shane McMahon’s smug face kept popping up on my screen. Does he still think he’s a likeable character? Why was he sitting ringside? He didn’t get kicked in the face because of Kevin Owens, he got kicked in the face because he was stupid enough to sit there during a chaotic fight.
Elsewhere, John Cena’s move set seems to have been reduced even further. I swear 95% of his involvement was hitting AAs. It was like Roman Reigns back when all could do was Superman Punches and Spears. If that’s all he’s doing to do, maybe we don’t want him at WrestleMania.
I could go into Dolph Ziggler too, but I’m not sure there is a point. If you’re the person that is still clinging on to the idea that he will fulfil his potential, stop. You will feel better for it.
All that said, in a vacuum, this would be enjoyable. They went out, got to top speed and didn’t bother hitting the breaks till the finish. It’s just a shame that WWE’s booking always has to come along and ruin things.
Verdict: Three Stars
Well, the good news is you can skip 90% of this. Although do take a moment to feel sorry for people like me. Despite my piss taking, I did watch all of it; it wasn’t fun. SmackDown is a mess. When they brought back the brand split, it felt like SmackDown was going to become a programme for people like me. People who actually like wrestling. However, ever since Road Dogg got his hands on the book, it’s been a disaster. Don’t watch Fastlane. Life is too short.