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SmackDown Redux (January 31st, 2017): It’s glow time!

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Starting their trip on the Road to Wrestlemania, the ladies of blue have their hands full. In this week’s edition of SmackDown Live, the women are dealing with the fallout of the Rumble. Will the champ avenge her loss? How is the Lass Kicker feeling? Will the Queen of Black Harts finally be safe again? And how’s the love life of the Princess of Staten Island going? Well, let’s find out!

Our first moment of the night starts off with James Ellsworth, all swagged up! Ellsworth introduces the crowd, in his adorable, annoying, and ever so awkward manner, to the Princess of Staten Island herself, or as he likes to call her, “my boo”, Carmella! After skipping hand in hand with Ellsworth to the ring, ‘Mella looks ahead at her opponent, Delilah Dawson. Carmella mocks Dawson by asking the crowd if that is really her opponent. She then picks out part of her gear to embarrass her even further. Dawson, sick of the disrespect, locks her opponent in a headlock, but it isn’t long before she finds her own head smashed onto the ground. The match then continues to be ruled by Carmella, with a very short moment in which it looks as though Dawson will take home the win. The contest comes to a close once Delilah runs to the ropes and has her legs pulled by Ellsworth, forcing her to the ground. Taking advantage of the opportunity, the Princess of Staten Island locks in the Code of Silence, forcing her opponent to tap. James then rushes to the ring to celebrate with his boo, but it looks as though ‘Mella isn’t as excited as he is… Awkward.

Later on Dasha Fuentes interviews Naomi and Becky Lynch. Lynch discusses how ludicrous it is that Mickie James to think that she would forget her legacy. But she makes it clear that what’s worse is that she cost the Lass Kicker her SmackDown Women’s title. Naomi then takes over the interview as she discusses how Alexa Bliss called her a “nobody” on last week’s SmackDown Live. Unfortunately for the Blissful One, “this nobody became a somebody” at Royal Rumble when she pinned the champ, 1, 2, 3.

The two then leave the interview hyped out, and enter the ring for their tag team match against their aforementioned enemies. The match allows each competitor to shine, whilst the rivalries are made very clear. Whilst Naomi has her eyes mainly on the champ, Lynch is focused on both competitors. We see some great offense on both sides, but it’s the Glowtastic one that shines the light on herself the most. When tagged in for the hot tag, the former Funkadactyl knocks down Bliss and does a deadly dropkick to the illegal Mickie James. A combination of moves with a fired up crowd take place, and though Bliss kicks out after the Modified Headscissors Driver, she falls prey to a Split-Legged Moonsault. They really made their opponents feel that “glow fire” they were talking about earlier.

Naomi is seen on Talking Smack, where she is interviewed by Renee Young and Daniel Bryan. She tells us that she believes that the SmackDown women’s division is the best it’s ever been, and that she’s ready to take control of it. The Glowtastic woman continues by saying that right now is all about validating herself and taking ahold of her opportunities. After Young brags about how talented Naomi is, Bryan speaks up and says that due to her consecutive wins against the champ, she will be facing Alexa Bliss for the SmackDown Women’s championship at Elimination Chamber. Naomi explains how much of a dream it will be for her to walk into ‘Mania as the SmackDown Women’s champion and I’m not crying you are.

At another point of the show, we’re taken backstage as two security guards approach Daniel Bryan, whom has just finished talking to Brie Bella on the phone about his sister-in-law’s current situation. It turns out that the security guards are just around for Natalya, as she no longer feels “safe” with Nikki Bella around. The Queen of Black Harts approaches Bryan, believing that he invited her into his office to discuss her new merchandise. Unfortunately for the former Divas champion, the Fearless Nikki herself pops up. The two go through a war of words whilst Bryan tries to speak over them, but it takes him bellowing “ENOUGH!” to get the ladies to be quiet. After recollecting himself, Daniel tells the ladies that the two will be squaring off at the Elimination Chamber next Sunday. Natalya walks away angrily, whilst Nikki appears confident with the scenario.

Thoughts: The fallout from the Rumble wasn’t really going to be the most exciting of events. With a six woman tag on the kickoff, anything that happened there didn’t really matter. Yet somehow it did.

What’s so great about the fallout is that Naomi isn’t given a championship match for winning a tag team contest. This is something I expected the show to do, but they didn’t do it. Instead, they kept us waiting, anticipating the announcement, and they made her work for it. Naomi has been desperate for this title shot for a long time, so this buildup is exactly what she needs. Even if you aren’t a fan of her, seeing her work impressively in the ring and grabbing the spotlight to make certain that is shines on her is wonderful.

Naomi’s in-ring work is brilliant. She may not be everyone’s favourite, but after tonight, she’s almost definitely creeping up your list.

It’s been a long time coming for Naomi. And this slow build of mostly wins that have been spread out and not received too much attention has helped her immensely. SmackDown almost made us forget that Naomi was much of a contender whilst still writing her as a strong talent. She was pushed aside for women like Lynch, Bliss and Bella to shine, without being made out to be a weak performer. And now that ‘Mania is coming up, her time is (hopefully) here.

In regards to the actual champion, her booking is great. Bliss has the perfect build, look and persona for the “cowardly heel” gimmick that she’s working. And this is the best way to also build to a Naomi title reign. With Bliss, you want to hate her. She’s ungrateful, full of anger and never stops cheating. So when someone that is overlooked – like Naomi – comes along, seeing the frustration in a defeated Alexa’s face is always worth it.

The other female storylines are also working wonderfully.

Nikki and Natalya is probably my personal favourite feud on WWE television right now. These are two women that have spent almost their entire time in WWE alongside one another. From debuts, reality TV and musical chairs to Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania, Natalya and Nikki have been through a lot together. So this feud gives me all kinds of shrills as it makes perfect sense.

But what makes it even more perfect is when we think about the rumors regarding Bella’s retirement come ‘Mania time. Could this be her final feud? Is Nikki going to have her retirement match against her best wrestling friend, the woman that has shaped her into the revolutionary talent she is? As a fan of both women, I couldn’t be happier at this thought. Elimination Chamber could be their first encounter, whilst ‘Mania can be their last – and the final time we see Nikki altogether.

The buildup is great, and to see Nikki finally get her shining moment at Wrestlemania whilst one of her best friends is by her side is all I could ask for. And maybe Brie walking down that ramp…?

Becky and Mickie is also yet another dream feud. Two standout talents from different eras coming face to face during Wrestlemania season? Sign me up!

This week it’s clear that Lynch’s focus is more on James than it is Bliss. She needs to knock out “the past” before she can get her hands on the title, and this is going to be one hell of a ride. James and Lynch are phenomenal talents, with somewhat different audiences backing them. Lynch has the casual viewer, as well as the hardcore “smark” and a good portion of women’s wrestling fans behind her. And in comparison, Mickie James has part of the casual audience, but her fanbase is mostly of long-term women’s wrestling fans that are dying to see old era ladies get justice. The fans of either woman are feeling exactly what the ladies feel. Lynch’s fans see her as an underdog that is constantly overlooked, whereas James’ audience are striving to see her get respect and have her voice be heard. And to see both of this combined is fascinating. I’m not sure who I’d like to win, all I know is that the story is doing great, and the end-all match will be even better.

And before I leave you all, I just want to praise the Carmella and Ellsworth scenario. Pushing the comedy aside, this storytelling is great. Yeah, the jokes are corny, and some lines fall flat, but it’s really helping to build Carmella as the untrustworthy and sly character that she’s been said to be. And pretty soon this will all blow up between her and Ellsworth, and she’ll come for that proper heel gimmick we need to see her in.

How do you feel about this episode? Are you on team Naomi? Are you excited for Lynch vs James? What are your thoughts on Nikki retiring? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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