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SmackDown Redux (February 28th, 2017): Standing up for love

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Hey all! Sorry for the late post – it’s been a busy day! So let’s get into it:

It looks as though SmackDown pretty much confirmed all of their matches for ‘Mania this year in this one episode – and, I’m not complaining! After seeing what matches we’ll most likely be getting, I’m suddenly really excited for the Big Night to arrive…

On the top of the show, The Miz and Maryse talk to John Cena on Miz TV. The segment features some comments about Cena being a “part timer” and how The Miz has been here working hard whilst John has been in Hollywood. The former Intercontinental champion then goes on to say that Cena gets whatever he wants, because he sucks up to all the right people. Sound familiar yet? John however fires back by saying that if he could get whatever he wanted, he’d be fighting The Undertaker during ‘Mania season, rather than being across from The Miz. Ouch. The Sexiest of Sexy takes offense to this and decides to stop Cena on his way out. She tells him that he will never be half the man her husband is and she ends up slapping him across the face. John, however, is unbothered, as he warns her of the mistake she made… And… wait for it… You can look, but you can’t touch! An angry Nikki Bella storms to the ring, but the “it couple” quickly run off.

But Bella refuses to let them go without some words as she tells Maryse: “You mess with my man, I’m gonna break you bitch, you hear me?”

It’s on!

Later on in the night, the pair are about to be interviewed by Renee Young but are soon interrupted by the very fabulous, Carmellsworth! Carmella tries to mock Bella but soon finds herself in the firing line. So, as usual, she tells James “Jimmy” Ellsworth to sort the situation out. James tells Bella to not talk to his girl that’s a friend like that – and ends up being booked in a mixed tag match next week with the three competitors next to him. Yikes.

We end up having our only women’s match of the night being a 2 out of 3 Falls contest between Mickie James and Becky Lynch!

The match is a lot like their other matches, except with a slightly bigger dose of aggression.

Mickie ends up getting the upper hand as she forces a Mickie-DT and gets the initial pin-fall victory. Lynch soon evens to playing field as she rolls up her opponent for the win.

The match then remains even for a while, that is, until Alexa Bliss pops up to distract Becky. Unfortunately for the Wicked Witch of WWE, when James goes to attack a distracted Lynch, the Lass Kicker moves out of the way and knocks Bliss from the ringside apron, to the ground. Ouch.

Becky then rolls up James, is then reversed into another pin, and then reverses that into a Dis-Arm-Her. Mickie then taps out, awarding Lynch with the overall win.

Following the match, Lynch boasts about how happy she is to have beaten James, not once, but twice in one night. She goes on further to say that she’s even happier that she was able to do it on her own accord – with no tricks – and will soon do it again to become champ at ‘Mania.

At another point during the night, Natalya meets up with Alexa Bliss backstage. The Queen of Black Harts announces that she will be taking the title away from Bliss, and though the champ isn’t pleased, Natalya is more than confident with her words.

On Talking Smack, Natalya reiterates her conversation with Bliss, and demands a one-on-one title match as she beat Nikki Bella by herself last weekDaniel Bryan has other plans, but allows her to remain a little delusional for now, sorta.

Thoughts: All in all, this was a good episode. From the top of the show we’re given great women action – and it appears that everything we see pushes forward its respective story.

I’ll start with the first segment. Whilst the men pretty much say everything every other guy has ever said when fighting Cena, it doesn’t really matter that much. It’s clear that this moment was meant to be for the women more as the most significant moments involve both Maryse and Bella.

I really appreciate how they’re still anchoring Bella’s Fearlessness as she has absolutely no hesitation to defend Cena. It’s also great that we don’t see her as the Damsel-in-Distress that the show can easily fall for. Instead of Cena saving her, she ends up saving him. She knows that he will never hit Maryse, but is fully capable of doing it for him. And thus, giving Nikki an important role to play with here.

Either pairing is doing well for what they’re worth. Cena and Nikki are the adorable couple that the crowd loves, whereas Maryse and The Miz are the ones we love to hate. Both combinations are working perfectly, and after the stellar buildup we’ve been seeing from either party over the past few months, it’s clearly proven to be worth it all.

The Becky and Mickie drama feels as though it’s been going on for way too long. I will admit, whilst their matches aren’t bad, they aren’t as good as I’ve wanted them to be. I can still rewatch them and be entertained, but I can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed. The concept of a veteran like James facing a strong “newbie” like Becky is a dream match we’ve all thought about. But now that it’s happened multiple times, it doesn’t feel as though it’s ever reached the hype it should have.

But I will praise the storytelling.

We’re clearly getting a multi-woman title match this year at ‘Mania, so we need to have some tension between a few of the ladies. It’s no good having a ‘Mania match for the SmackDown Women’s title where the only thing connecting them all is the actual belt. Having some sub-rivalries throughout makes it a lot more interesting, and that’s what these two are successfully doing.

And speaking of the title picture, Natalya and Alexa are definitely going to be great additions to it.

Natalya has built some great heat and a fanbase over the past few months. She’s been able to gain some more haters as well as allowing herself to grow as a competitor in the company, and this can only aid the upcoming title picture. Whether she’s in the ‘Mania match or not, what she’s doing is allowing people to be invested in the matches leading up to it. After her incredible performance last week, people are interested in seeing where she’ll go next. And, if anything, this makes the title picture that much more entertaining.

What are your thoughts on the episode? Are you excited for ‘Mania? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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