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Wrestlemania is RIGHT around the corner! Can you believe how quickly time has gone? It feels as though just two months ago Lita pulled that red sheet away and unveiled the initial Women’s championship. It doesn’t feel as if Brie Bella took her final bow almost a year ago whilst Lana made her in-ring debut. The time has really gone by so fast – but I’m not complaining. It’s Wrestlemania season, and the women of SmackDown came prepared!
The first match of the night is a redo of last week’s Becky Lynch vs Carmella – with Alexa Bliss and Mickie James on commentary. Becky Lynch first makes an entrance and is then followed by the ever so aggravating James Ellsworth, as he introduces his girl that’s a friend, Carmella. Before the contest begins ‘Mella shares her gum with Ellsworth, literally.
The match has a decent start with both women getting some great offense and defense in. The attention quickly moves to commentary however as Bliss and James begin arguing over who is the better competitor. After James tells her former partner that she “couldn’t even lace [her] left boot” the two stand up, readying themselves for a fight. The shoving and slapping soon turns into Alexa being thrown into the ring and attacked by James. Carmella soon notices what’s going on and tries to fend Mickie off, but as soon as she fights back the bell is called for a disqualification. The four ladies then battle it out until just James and Lynch are staring aggressively into each other’s eyes, focused on possibly tearing the other down.
When we return from a break, it appears that the match has become a two on two contest in which Becky and Mickie are facing Carmella and Alexa.
James and Bliss start off the match and as things prove to be a little too tough for the SmackDown Women’s champion, she tags out as soon as she can. As Carmella seems to be taking too long to leave however, the champ pushes her into the ring and feels the wrath of Ellsworth screaming at her. Unfortunately for Ellsworth, Bliss screams back louder.
A little later on in the match, Natalya enters and sits on commentary – not forgetting to mention how she is “the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be.”
The match then feels pretty back and forth and each woman gets her time to shine. Towards the closing moments, Natalya tries to get involved but is then hit by Becky Lynch. The referee then tends to Neidhart to see if she’s okay, but as he does that, Ellsworth grabs Lynch’s legs, sending her face first to the mat. Carmella then takes ahold of this opportunity and rolls her up for the win.
A brawl then follows as each woman attacks the other, but just as it looks as though Natalya, Carmella and Alexa will walk away strong… NAOMI COMES OUT!
The returning Naomi runs down the ramp and does a Hurricanrana to Natalya – without even needing ropes or turnbuckles to jump off of! Naomi then storms into the ring to Forearm Bliss and give a ton of kicks to Carmella. She then sees that Alexa is attempting to attack her so smacks her with the Rear View!
As all of the women are laying on the ground, Naomi gets ahold of the mic to let the audience hear what she has to say. She tells them that she’s back full time and is ready to take back her title. Naomi states that in her hometown of Orlando, Florida she’ll be joining the SmackDown Women’s title match and making sure that everyone will feel [cue crowd’s response] THE GLOW!
Backstage, Alexa tells WWE.com that Naomi can go to Wrestlemania, but it’ll be Little Miss Bliss that’ll walk out as champion, as Naomi couldn’t even handle the pressure of holding the title the first time.
On Talking Smack, Naomi tells Renee Young and Daniel Bryan that although she’s still mad about the loss of her title, she’s ready to take it back in her hometown of Orlando, Florida.
WWE also uploaded a pretty incredible slow motion recap of Naomi’s return.
And on top of that, the Lass Kicker was shown in this hilarious Snickers commercial alongside Enzo and Cass!
Our other feud is also pretty interesting.
During a Miz TV segment, The Miz and Maryse release the “season finale” of ‘Total Bellas Bull****” and it’s a pretty unique clip.
The clip highlights John Cena’s obsessive rulebook, and even has a moment where the Bellas confuse themselves for each other. But of course, Brie is fully aware of who she is as she has a ring – ouch! The segment also has a part where Nikki Bella proposes to John and of course, he rejects and emphasizes his selfish needs.
After all of the shenanigans are over however, Miz and Maryse strip off their Nena gear and talk straight to the camera. They tell us that come ‘Mania, Cena and Bella will witness their “curtain call” as there’ll be nothing left for them in WWE. The “it couple” state that John and Nikki will fade into obscurity and will never be as dominant as they are.
Back in the ring, The Miz, proud of himself as always, gets ready to talk. However, Cena and Nikki have other plans. And this is where things get real interesting.
Cena grabs ahold of the mic and truly lays into the Mizanins.
Firstly, John reminds us that if Nikki had actually blocked Maryse’s contract, she wouldn’t be standing in the ring right now. Ding!
Cena then tells Maryse that the reason she wasn’t allowed back in the first place was because WWE didn’t want her back as when she was there the first time, she “didn’t do jack!” Now, I will have to admit that the latter is false as she was the first woman that was officially declared the longest reigning Divas champion, and she’s held the title twice – going into Wrestlemania as the champion as well. So… maybe he was wrong there, but the rest: spot on!
Moving onto The Miz, the Cenation leader says that even though he wants to believe that John is using WWE for fame, yet despite being told to leave by fans, he’s stayed here for 15 long years. He goes on to say that he’s simply “doing a movie” and then coming back, citing the likes of Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Dean Ambrose, Triple H and even The Miz doing the exact same thing. Cena defends himself by saying that the reason he forgot this fact was because the only movies that The Miz did were just “crappy bootleg” versions of ones that John already created. Got ’em!
John then says that everything is fine for The Miz however as at least he’s doing something – because on the other side, he’s still trying to figure out what Maryse is working on. Cena discusses the Women’s Evolution and brags about how tough they all are – emphasizing on the fact that Nikki threw around a guy that’s 210 pounds and “threw him around like he was a waste of space.” And yet, despite the women doing all of this, Maryse just stands around and collects a paycheck. Yikes!
Cena then tells us that the only reason that Maryse came back was because The Miz begged the company to rehire her so that he could take a spot on the successful E! show, Total Divas.
Citing the mockery of Nikki’s lack of children, Cena questions how long the Mizanins have been married and asks how many children they have. Because well, the answer is zero.
John then makes points a little more seriously by telling us all that where himself and Nikki come from, when they get knocked down they get back up. And on the flip side, the Mizanins simply blame anyone else they can.
He quickly takes off his merchandise – similarly to how the Miz did it – and the atmosphere changes dramatically. Cena becomes aggressive and says that this Sunday, they won’t be in for the fight of their lives as they will annihilate the Mizanins. And if the Miz wants to fight back, he needs to start talking tough because he’s coming across as a “p****”.
After taking a lot of heat, the Mizanins approach Bella and Cena, but soon walk away before things get too tough. To end the segment, Nikki grabs ahold of the mic and says that the pair are in for an ass-kicking this Sunday.
On Talking Smack, Daniel Bryan gives his two cents by saying that if he were standing in the ring with his wife, he would never allow somebody to disrespect her the way that Cena did to Maryse. He says that even if it were Brock Lesnar and he would end up being beaten down, he would still do it – which tells us a lot about The Miz’s character…
Thoughts: So the road to Wrestlemania has been very bumpy for team blue. From the feuds feeling extremely clustered and corporate to segments falling apart and there not being a good sense of direction, it’s pretty safe to say that SmackDown are on the right track.
There’s no denying how hyped this episode will get you for WrestleMania. Both feuds are wonderfully portrayed with only a dash of room for improvement – and that’s more than fine at this point.
In regards to the mixed tag feud, it’s pretty safe to say that this is one of the best built feuds this year. Although at first it does feel very sketchy, at this point it’s got a compelling story and clearly has the crowd invested. Each member is important and each member is playing their role perfectly. Cena has finally been allowed the chance to speak his mind, and wow, it feels incredibly real.
This feud is thriving off of reality. Regardless of the actual truth (which as we all know, is far from what we’re seeing) it feels as if there are no scripts, no characters and no time limits. Tonight Cena really dug into the Mizanins – as have the “it couple” for the past few weeks – and it’s really working. The anger, the hatred and the genuine disgust in each person’s being is truly coming through, and if anything, this is suddenly the match I want to see the most. It’s not even going to be a wrestling classic, but because of the enticing story, I need to see the outcome. MORE OF THIS PLEASE, WWE!
And the Women’s title feud isn’t too bad either.
On one side, there could definitely be more of a build towards it. There is definitely hatred between the women, but it’s not as apparent as it needs to be. Right now, it’s as if the title is the only thing that matters. And that’s a problem.
When you have a feud in which the title is all people care about, there’s no story. There’s very small room for development and it’s hard to really push things forward. There needed to be more mic segments and time for the women to tell a tale. During the Backlash build, there was an opening segment in which each woman spoke and developed a relationship with another member of the match. We didn’t really get this – minus the comedic one on Talking Smack. We need to see developed characters and stories.
But I will say that for what it’s worth, the story is pretty great. There are many little tales within the big one – i.e. Mickie and Alexa, Naomi and Alexa, Becky and Mickie, Natalya and Becky etc. (although ‘Mella is kind of a lone wolf). The issue is that there are so many stories that SmackDown didn’t really bother building on a lot of them.
It didn’t hit me until she teamed with Becky that Mickie is actually a face at the moment. She hates the top villain and teams with the top face, whilst holding a face moveset. On paper, it’s clear that her personality shift occurred once she turned on Alexa, however the actual outcome didn’t showcase that. There wasn’t a clear indication that Mickie was a good guy, and that’s really damaged her connection with the crowd.
James is a natural babyface. She excels when she reacts positively to the crowd and makes them cheer for her. Having her return as a heel was a bad mistake. And having her face turn done so poorly was an even bigger one. She needed a better push to be taken seriously and thus far, SmackDown hasn’t given it to her.
But with all of that said, there are some positives. Such as Naomi.
That pop Naomi received was immense! If somebody ever tells you that crowds don’t care for this woman, they’ll be eating their words as soon as this episode is passed their way. Naomi is the one thing that this feud was missing: a genuine babyface. Yes we have Becky whom everyone loves. But at the end of the day, she’s had a proper title run and plenty of moments in the title picture. Am I sick of her? No, not at all! But she doesn’t feel fresh. Naomi on the other hand does. She is the true underdog with a real life underdog story that goes hand-in-hand with what her character is dealing with. Naomi is an incredible talent that the crowd wants to see succeed. We’ve seen her during her weird purple highlighted hair days in NXT to the dancing dinosaur Funkadactyls days. Then we saw her get bumped off of the Wrestlemania card and join Total Divas. She then grew and grew, turning heel along the way, until she found herself. And despite the constant letdowns and rejections, she’s still here and she is who we all want to see win. She has a likeable personality and can really work a match. Naomi is the missing ingredient and I’m so happy that we finally found it!
I’m excited for this feud. It doesn’t have the biggest build, and it may be on the Pre-Show, but I’m really excited to watch these women kill it.
The women of SmackDown may be given the shorter stick when things really count, but they always make sure to give us their best shot each time. This division is something that we’ve seen grow from literally nothing and form into something. The ladies started with just one basic feud between Natalya and Becky which we all saw as passable. And now we have a ton of them. Becky hates Mickie whom hates Alexa whom hates Naomi whom hates Natalya whom hates Carmella. And although in recent weeks the build may have come to a bit of a halt, we still have a genuine story. Things could be better, but thinking back to the disappointing first night of “hello my name is ___” to now, I’m extremely proud of this division.
They may be on the Pre-Show, but they’re still going to kill it. And regardless of the winner, I’m excited to see these ladies being given the time to shine and get their Wrestlemania moment together as a division.
How do you feel about ‘Mania? Are you excited? Who do you want to see win? Let us know your views in the comments below!