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SmackDown Redux (March 14th, 2017): Blurred lines

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Just over a fortnight to go, and the ladies of SmackDown Live are ready to fight. This week’s SmackDown Live gets onto the fast-lane for Wrestlemania as one match is updated and another is added. Exciting times, exciting times…

We start things off for the ladies as Becky Lynch takes on Natalya in a Singles contest! The match is pretty intriguing and we see Natalya play the cowardly heel role whilst Lynch is all about action. The match comes to a quick close however as Becky locks in the Dis-Arm-Her and forces the Queen of Black Harts to tap out.

Whilst celebrating, Becky then turns around and receives a boot to the face, courtesy of the Princess of Staten Island, Carmella! Continuing her disruption, ‘Mella then repeats the same move on Natalya and then walks to the back with James Ellsworth by her side.

Dasha Fuentes then confronts the duo backstage, asking for an explanation. The Princess of Staten Island tells her that she is entering herself in the Women’s title Wrestlemania match, as she believes that she is the most worthy of the SmackDown Women’s championship.

Later on in the show, Mickie James faces off against the SmackDown Women’s champion, Alexa Bliss!

The match is fairly slow, but both women show some aggression on each end. There are moments where both parties feel frustrated with their opponent and are determined to win the match, but in the end, it’s a Mick Kick that leaves Bliss on the ground for the three-count.

On Talking Smack, Mickie James discusses how she felt robbed from her title opportunity. She says that despite not having a one on one match, she will becoming the Women’s champion at Wrestlemania. She also discusses the fact that her first Women’s title win was on April 2nd, and with the upcoming match also being on that date, she feels extra lucky going in.

Carmella then interrupts, claiming that James wasn’t even the most impressive woman on the show tonight, so being impressive during ‘Mania is unlikely. She reminds everyone on the show that it was Carmella who’d knocked out both Becky and Natalya in one night. She then says that after having gold on her hat and her necklace, she is bound to get gold on her waist.

She then gets interrupted by Natalya, who claims to be “the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be.” The Queen of Black Harts says that despite being hit from behind tonight, she’ll have eyes at the back of her head at ‘Mania. She then reminds Mickie that she ran her out of WWE years ago, and that now it’s Natalya who is the leader of the locker room.

This then causes some laughter from Becky Lynch who says that Natalya is “leading a locker room full of snakes.” Lynch then reminds everyone that she beat James twice in one night, as well as defeating Natalya tonight as well. Although, Neidhart says that Becky “beat a girl who had food poisoning,” so she shouldn’t brag too much.

Pretty soon, Alexa Bliss shows up and blames Daniel Bryan for the carnage that is going on. She claims that none of the women around her could ever beat her, so there’s no point of having the “personal attack” of a match anyway.

We also see a war of words during an episode of Miz TV, hosted by The Miz and Maryse, and featuring guest stars… The Miz and Maryse! The Miz emphasizes how phoney John Cena and Nikki Bella are, but mostly allows his wife to take control. And this is where things are supposed to get interesting!

Maryse calls out Nikki, claiming that the two used to be best friends and were supposed to star on Total Divas together, alongside Brie Bella and Kelly Kelly. The Sexiest of Sexy then reveals that the Bellas told Maryse and co. to not sign a contract as they can get a “better” one. Later on, Maryse found out that the Bellas were going to appear on RAW and Total Divas whilst WWE cancelled their contracts. Yikes!

After a bit more trash talk and exposing, Cena’s music blasts through the sirens and himself and Bella run out to the ring, leaving Maryse and The Miz dashing out. Nikki immediately grabs ahold of a microphone and insists that she speak, and not John. Bella immediately states that her and Maryse were “never best friends,” and if the rumors regarding her blocking the contract were true, then with all of the current power she holds, it would make no sense for Maryse to be in the company today. After gaining the crowd’s approval, Nikki then insists that her and Maryse battle it out in the ring. The Miz decides to decline and tells her that that only John can make matches, not her. Ouch!

Before attempting to close the show, SmackDown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan storms out to stop The Miz. He stated that The Miz claimed that Miz TV would’ve been “special” yet it resulted in The Miz talking trash, getting called out and running away, like every other edition of the show. Bryan then insists that as he cannot punch The Miz in the face, he’ll use his role as GM to his advantage, as he creates a match. And here we hear the announcement for The Miz & Maryse vs John Cena and Nikki Bella at Wrestlemania 33! Hoorah! The “it couple” are quickly seen screaming in frustration whilst Cena and Bella are prancing and hugging in the ring.

On the SmackDown Live Fallout, The Miz complains about the biased booking of SmackDown. He states that when Cena and Nikki want a match, they get it, but it doesn’t work like that for The Miz and Maryse. The pair then emphasize how everything they say about Cena and Bella is true, and is a “real life situation,” before grumpily walking off.

Thoughts: This week, like many recent episodes of the show, is pretty hit and miss.

The Becky and Natalya match is surprisingly a pretty good hit. Going in, I expected it to be just like all of their other matches and not offer anything new. And although for the most part it was pretty repetitive, we did see a more cowardly side to Natalya that made the match a lot more enjoyable. For what it’s worth, the match was great. It was a good way to keep the crowd invested, and after being a pretty tough battle, it was a wonderful way to push Carmella.

The Princess of Staten Island has been constantly overlooked, so by having her knockout two of the best competitors of the division – especially after a great match – only makes her look incredible.

My one concern however, is the fact that Carmella’s inclusion felt pretty rushed. If we were to really see Carmella as a dominant force – even in a cowardly way – some mic time would have been pretty useful. If she could call out the division, or even spend more time beating on already vulnerable opponents, then we could take her a lot more seriously.

The problem that this ‘Mania match faces is the fact that it feels as though everyone is just being thrown together without a story. WWE need to invest in character development here as that is what the story is missing the most. We need to see the women have hatred for one another and have an intriguing reason to be in the match. So far, most of them feel as though they’re just being thrown together so that everyone is included. And although the Backlash match is pretty much the same thing, we’re getting completely different vibes here.

For Backlash, each woman was allowed consistent time to talk and develop her story. They were each introduced as threats at the very beginning of the draft, and pretty soon we saw a lot of the relationships develop. However here, there isn’t much going on besiddes Alexa and Mickie, which in itself, isn’t all that great either.

The issue with these two is that they didn’t have enough time to develop on screen for us to feel attached. The pair worked well together, but due to their short amount of time as a duo, there wasn’t much room for them to grow. So with them breaking up, it’s hard to pick a side as SmackDown isn’t really making us care for whomever goes out on top. We want to see either woman come out on top because we care for said woman, not because we care for the feud. It’s everything prior to this that makes us root for someone, and I can only refer to that as lazy booking.

Mickie turning on Alexa could have easily been a last minute placement. The pair could go in as an AJ Lee/Tamina type duo (because at this point, the AJ comparisons aren’t even a concern, so why not?), and then on the SmackDown before – or even during the match – Mickie could turn on Bliss. This would feel like more of a shock and then we wouldn’t have to deal with the awkward aftermath building up to the contest. Instead we can focus on that after a bigger turn, rather than something that was fairly weak.

And lastly, the Miz TV segment. Ah, the controversies this is causing…

For the past few weeks it’s felt as though The Miz hasn’t been doing too well on the actual SmackDown shows. This week is an anomaly. The Miz really anchors the hatred himself and his wife have for Cena and Bella, and it makes the whole situation feel way more believable than it should. However, the downside comes with the material that Maryse is dealt with.

Maryse isn’t the worst talker on the mic, but she isn’t the best. So with this in mind, she needs good material to make her segments interesting. The fault here is that SmackDown are trying to make the scenario feel as real as it can be, yet are using Total Divas storylines and rewriting them. On the first episode of season six, we find out that it’s Brie who texts Maryse and has all of the conversations with her. Yet in SmackDown, suddenly it’s Nikki who did all of that. Maryse does do a great job, though, but it’s hard to take it seriously when Miz is spilling information that feels real whereas we have legitimate proof that goes against everything Maryse is saying. It’s understandable that the show is scripted, but it’s made clear – especially through the Talking Smack segment from last week as well as tonight’s Fallout clip – that the aim is for it to feel real.

I do however, enjoy Bella’s work. I live for the moments that she gets to put the haters’ words to rest and she did exactly that tonight. Nikki makes Maryse come across as the jealous and bitter ex friend that we need to see her as. And after the past few weeks of just the Mizanins getting the upper hand, it’s refreshing to get a mix of both.

What are your thoughts on this week’s episode? Are you excited for the upcoming match? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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