Saturday, October 23, 2021

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SmackDown Redux (March 7th, 2017): All roads lead to Mania

Getting right into it: SmackDown wasn’t the best this week. Whilst it had its moments, this week’s episode of “the B show” didn’t quite live up to what previous weeks did. So let’s see where things went wrong.

The women start off the night during the anticipated in the “interspecies match” of Nikki Bella and  John Cena vs James Ellsworth and Carmella. Ellsworth introduces his “girlfrie – friend that’s a girl” to the ring, and then the power couple follow through. Just as the bell rings and ‘Mella and Bella are about to go at it, Maryse and her husband The Miz walk down the ramp! Distracted by their entrance, a fed up Nikki looks in their direction, and of course, as soon as she turns back she receives a boot to the face – courtesy of the Princess of Staten Island. After Nikki manages to get up however, she tosses her opponent out of the ring and tags in her partner, Mr Hustle, Loyalty and Respect, John Cena! Though the crowd is loving, Ellsworth thinks otherwise. After stepping in the ring and pleading with Cena, his friend that’s a girl steps in, demanding he fight. Carmella ends up being so frustrated with Ellsworth that she shoves him into Cena, resulting in John knocking James to the ground.

‘Mella then attempts to distract John by yelling in his face, but with a forearm from Nikki, Carmellsworth both end up laying on the ground. Sensing the opportunity, Nikki and Cena insert a Five Knuckle Shuffle to either opponent, followed by the AA and Rack Attack 2.0. To top this things off, Cena uses his STF whilst Nikki puts on the Fearless Lock, causing Ellsworth and his boo to tap out.

During the match we witness the “it couple” on commentary, mocking Nikki and Cena. And following the win, the pair grab the legs of the victors, to throw John into the stairs and Nikki into the ring-post. As their enemies are knocked out, the Mizanins decide to take ahold of the microphone to address the WWE Universe.

The Miz goes on about how Cena is handed everything – like the match he decided to make – and how the pair are attention hungry. After Miz’s rant, Maryse gets the mic, walks up to Nikki, and says: “break that, bitch” before literally dropping the mic on her.

On Talking Smack, the “it couple” sit down with Renee Young and Daniel Bryan to discuss the night’s antics. This is where things get interesting. The Miz discusses how Cena is simply handed everything – emphasizing the tag match – and how only The Miz knows what it’s like to struggle in the company. He then mocks Cena’s “robotic” love for Nikki, as seen on the two reality shows. Maryse then talks about how when she was the Divas champion, Nikki was taking care of the celebrity guests (“if you know what I mean,” she says specifically). And then she brings up the fact that after she started dating Cena, Nikki got two reality shows – one in which she’s an Executive Producer of – as well as becoming the longest reigning Divas champion of all time.

At another point in the night, SmackDown Women’s champion Alexa Bliss hosts a “Blissertation” in which she announces her opponent for Wrestlemania. With Mickie James by her side, Bliss ticks off everyone that won’t be competing. The list includes:

  • Naomi, due to injury
  • Nikki Bella, due to being catered to by her “squared chin” boyfriend
  • Carmella, due to taking care of her troll friend
  • Becky Lynch, due to being given too many opportunities already

During her speech, she’s then interrupted by both Natalya and Lynch, who both claim to be deserving of the spot. Becky says that she beat James twice in one night, whilst Natalya reminds us of her win against Nikki Bella. Mickie then feels offended when she finds out that she won’t be competing, as she thought that the two had an agreement that it would be a one on one match at Mania. Bliss counters all of their arguments by saying that she’s better than all of them… which is where she screwed up.

Daniel Bryan then pops up to announce that at Wrestlemania, Alexa will defend her title against every “available” female Superstar on the blue brand… And as soon-to-be Hall of Famer Teddy Long would do, he announces a tag match in which Alexa and Mickie will fight against Becky and Natalya!

The match quickly follows and we see Bliss and James dominating Lynch throughout. All three get some decent offense and it ends up being a pretty good match.

At one point, Natalya is fed up with not being tagged in, so she storms into the ring and suplexes an already tired Lynch, knocking her out. The Queen of Black Harts then exits the ring, and allows her opponents to finish off the match. Bliss quickly tags herself in and gets the pin, and this angers James. It angers her so much that during their celebration she gives the champ a Mick-Kick, knocking her out.

After the match, James appears on the SmackDown Fallout and emphasizes that she was promised a title match. She says that Bliss said that if she were to be helped to retain the title, James would be given a one-on-one match.

Bliss takes to Talking Smack and is asked about her “Blissertation”. She says that James should be grateful as if it weren’t for her, she wouldn’t be back. She also says that she’s ready for the challenge as she is the best.

Thoughts: So, on paper, this night looks great. Cena and Nikki having a cute moment and the SmackDown Women’s championship match for Mania being declared. But then we actually watch it and it feels so unorganized…

The Cena/Nikki vs Miz/Maryse scenario is losing all of my interest. What is happening here is that The Miz and Maryse are rounding up every insult sent in Cena and Bella’s direction and thinking of new ways to say it. On SmackDown we see The Miz attempt to make his rivalry with Cena feel real by going deep and personal, but in reality it felt like every comment on a WhatCulture article. It’s tiring hearing the same comments again and again about these two, and the fact that we have to deal with it for another few weeks makes me want to tune into the show less.

However, the work on Talking Smack does beg to differ. Here the words feel more fresh and as if they are genuine. The Miz has a true hold of his character – as does Maryse – and we get the feeling that the pair genuinely dislike Cena and Nikki. I’m not sure what it is, but my guess is that the duo were allowed more of a creative input on the post show, and if that’s the truth then we need to see more of that.

The Women’s title picture isn’t too impressive either. Whilst James’ turn against Bliss is intriguing, the scenario this week doesn’t feel very unique. Bliss gets a lot of comparison to former WWE Divas champion AJ Lee, and this is the first name that comes to mind when the match is announced. Back in 2014, AJ Lee faced “the world” when the General Manager disliked her and wanted her to lose her belt. This ended up with AJ facing every available female competitor on the roster at Wrestlemania 30. Three years later and we have the same story, pretty much.

The only upside to this is that I’m more than certain that the women will actually be getting solo spotlight moments throughout the feud. None of the contenders have been finalized, which gives some room for other ladies to get involved. And with the ex-champ making her way through recovery, as well as Eva Marie readying herself for her annual appearance, it could definitely be an interesting ride. But in terms of originality, it’s a no from me – for now.

What do you think of this week’s episode? Are you excited for Wrestlemania? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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