Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

SmackDown sets its own fastlane to WrestleMania ablaze

fire (left), snake
fire (left), snake

Because The A.V. Club knows that TV shows keep going even if we’re not writing at length about them, we’re experimenting with discussion posts. For certain shows, one of our TV writers will publish some brief thoughts about the latest episode, and open the comments for readers to share theirs.

  • Results: Becky Lynch defeated Mickie James (2 Out Of 3 Falls); AJ Styles defeated Luke Harper (twice and for a spot in the “main event” of WrestleMania); Curt Hawkins versus Dean Ambrose went to No Contest; Dolph Ziggler defeated Apollo Crews (Chairs)
  • This week, in “What Was David Thinking?”: As Miz comes out for Miz TV, David Otunga says “I hope he has a good guest,” despite WWE announcing John Cena as the guest of the segment a week in advance. And during the Chairs match, he also has an out of body experience as he watches Apollo Crews go: “Muscles and agility—nobody else has it like this!” If only that translated to the WWE Universe caring about to Crews.
  • The exact opposite of the WWE Universe not caring about someone appears in the opening Miz TV segment though, as John Cena and The Miz remind us all just how good they both are at this sports entertaining thing. I appreciate a smart WWE character (Miz telling production to cut Cena’s mic), as well as a WWE character who has a memory no matter the alignment (Miz calling Flair the Greatest Of All Time). But I especially appreciate the fact that Miz is able to get the WWE crowd to chant “YOU SOLD OUT” at John Cena, even if it’s not necessarily true. Cena’s rebuttal… Is essentially a verbal assassination of Mike Mizanin. It’s all good television though, and I know it’s not the point, but now I kind of wish Miz and Cena could have a one-on-one do-over at WrestleMania.
  • Becky Lynch versus Mickie James in a 2 Out Of 3 Falls match is the type of match that could be “straight fire” on pay-per-view but it was both harmed by the presence of commercials and the rush to get to the finish as soon as Becky scores her first fall. Becky wins, so now what?
  • I believe I mentioned this post-TLC, but the Chairs match is a gimmick that is pretty much set up to fail… but Baron Corbin and Kalisto went out that night and made it clear they really don’t have to fail. Apparently Dolph Ziggler and Apollo Crews saw that match though and said: “Let’s go back to failing.” Besides the fact that they barely even think to use the chairs—the spot where Crews doesn’t do a Van Daminator is especially impressive in its ineffectiveness, but Ziggler’s lack of chair use is truly glaring, since chairs are 80% of his character now—until the finish of the match, the crowd still doesn’t care about Crews. In fact, they even sort of boo him when he jumps Ziggler from behind at the start, even though it’s the smartest thing Crews has even done in this feud.
  • Baron Corbin finally shaved his attempt at a mustache. At least he learned from that hair don’t.
  • Randy Orton going to the Wyatt compound and burning it to the ground is exactly the kind of ridiculousness promised when the Orton/Wyatt storyline first started, but it’s also just some amazing acting on Bray Wyatt’s part, even as Orton is going to the papers. The image of the crowd chanting “RANDY” as Bray just breaks down is a powerful way to end the show.
  • Hopefully Luke Harper will remain a part of the Orton/Wyatt story moving forward, because after his match with AJ Styles, I can’t imagine a logical SmackDown world (and remember, one of post-brand split SmackDown’s biggest strength has been its ability to rely on logic and basic storytelling) where Luke Harper isn’t treated like a star. Despite everyone’s obvious love for AJ Styles, you’ve got to admit the crowd even deflates when he definitively beats Harper in the center of the ring. Plus, Harper doesn’t even mention AJ in his pre-match promo—it’s all Wyatt on the brain.
  • By the way, AJ getting so cocky about beating Harper and saying he’ll crash Wyatt’s segment, only not to show up (because things are insane) is just so very AJ Styles.
  • According to Daniel Bryan on Talking Smack, the #1 contendership for Bray Wyatt’s title is still in limbo following Randy Orton’s proclamation and, well, arson. The inmates really running the asylum on SmackDown, aren’t they? Also Talking Smack also continues to lead the way to AJ Styles versus Shane McMahon at WrestleMania, so that’s two weeks in a row of SmackDown making questionable decisions in order to stay a certain course. If (“if”) this is the endgame, then it’s easy to ask why Luke Harper had to lose tonight, but after that match and performance (as well as the end of SmackDown), at least that storyline maintains intrigue.
  • I hope the winners get the losers’ hats: