By Drew Ortman
We are at the final stretch of the road to WrestleMania and hopefully that means we will have a more exciting than usual SmackDown! show on our hands tonight. “The Beast” Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman in tow is advertised for tonight’s show which automatically increases anticipation. This is the point of the year when all the roads are meant to come together culminating at the “Grandest Stage of them All”, but as you can tell, this road has been anything but exciting. Before every show, I keep hope that it will only get better, and tonight’s SmackDown! is no different. From Boston, Massachusetts, Mauro Ranallo, Jerry “ The King” Lawler and Byron Saxton are on commentary. Let’s get to the action.
Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks
In any other situation, a match between Sasha Banks and Charlotte should be fantastic, but as you know, SmackDown! can be a killer of anything exciting. Becky Lynch is on commentary to hype the three’s triple threat match at WrestleMania. Sasha takes the early advantage until “the dirtiest player in the game” Ric Flair distracts her allowing Charlotte to take control. This match continues to be evenly matched back and forth. At one point they take it to the outside, and Sasha gets shoved into Becky, and they have a moment showing the tension between the two. Back in the ring, Charlotte goes for the figure eight, but Banks reverses and rolls her up for the win. After the match, Becky jumps in the ring and gives Charlotte and Sasha suplexes and leaves. Sasha recovers and hits Charlotte with a back stabber. The tension with these three has hit its peak which is great heading into WrestleMania.
Final Rating: **1/2
Kofi Kingston vs. Sheamus
The New Day are out first and get their usual insults in on the “League of Booty.” No Del Rio with the League tonight. I don’t completely understand the feud between The League of Nations and The New Day yet, but I am still hoping it will grow on me. These two start out with a good match right out of the gates. Kofi outwrestled Sheamus early and used his high impact moves and high flying ability to keep control. Eventually, Sheamus took back over for a while so the two factions could dispute on the outside. After being beaten on for a while, Kofi came back hitting a spinning heel kick for what looked like a win, but Sheamus’s buddies made sure his foot was on the rope. As things break down on the outside, Kofi is distracted and hit gets by a Brogue Kick from Sheamus that flipped him completely head over heels for the win. Good match from these two in a mess of a storyline.
Final Rating: ***
The Usos vs. The Ascension
It is obviously known now that any match involving The Ascension will be a squash. This match lasts hardly any time at all with The Usos keeping the upper hand throughout and hitting superkicks on Konnor and Viktor for the win. The Dudley Boyz are shown backstage watching the match. The Usos pull out tables and splash both members of the Ascension through them sending a messages to the Dudleys. This match was nothing at all as far as action, but it did its job hyping a Usos vs. Dudley's match perfectly.
Final Rating: *1/4
Backstage the Dudley Boyz are interviewed by Renee Young getting their thoughts on what just happened. They proceed to bad talk the Uso’s family which provokes Roman Reigns to enter and challenge Bubba Ray to a match tonight.
Dolph Ziggler & Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens & The Miz
You can tell from the start of this match that The Miz and Kevin Owens are not on the same page by any means. The Miz takes the brunt of the action at the beginning while Owens stands on the apron telling the Miz how much better he is. Owens was ready to walk out on The Miz again as he did a couple of weeks ago, but Zayn stops him in his tracks taking out both Owens and Miz on the outside. The match at this point because an excellent contest with all four men seeing action, getting in as many spots as possible and adding some good near fall for extra added drama. Even with all of this, Zayn and Owens didn’t get in the ring much together which I think is good. Keeping them apart as long as possible while still building the heat between the two is a great strategy. As Owens was about to walk out again, Zack Ryder, Stardust, and Sin Cara showed up not letting him do so. The Miz grabs Owens and takes him back to the ring where he took a superkick from Ziggler, a Skull Crushing Finale from The Miz and a Helluva Kick from Zayn for the win. All men involved break out into a brawl which ends with Zack Ryder hitting the Rough Ryder on Owens and standing tall in the end to a big crowd pop. Yes, Zack Ryder stood tall at the end of a match. Good match, good drama, and a great build to the WrestleMania Intercontinental Championship Match.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Roman Reigns vs. Bubba Ray Dudley
Roman doesn’t waste anytime going on the attack getting in the Superman punch early. The match immediately spills to the outside where Roman repeatedly bounces Bubba’s face off the announce table just as Triple H had done to him. Reigns gets disqualified giving Bubba the win, but he still takes out both Bubba and D-Von before he leaves. This was a squash of sorts meant to give Roman a boost to his no-nonsense attitude. I get what they were going for, but just a time filler overall to me.
Final Rating: N/R
AJ Styles vs. Tyler Breeze
Breeze didn’t get an entrance which shows you what WWE thinks of him these days. Breeze went on the attack early, but Styles sent him to the floor followed by a plancha to the outside. Breeze gets on offense for another shot time, but AJ cuts him off quick and gets the Phenomenal Forearm for the win. This was a squash for Styles where if you blink, you might miss it. Tyler Breeze continues to sit in the basement of the WWE roster.
Final Rating: *1/2
Promo Time: Brock Lesnar
Brock and Paul Heyman make their way to the ring with an expected pop from the crowd. Heyman gave his always incredible hype to the street fight Lesnar and Ambrose with be having at WrestleMania. At one point Heyman talks about Mick Foley and Terry Funk giving Ambrose weapons over the past few weeks and says that those two men are only alive because God refuses to answer his prayers. Still the best mic man in WWE today. Heyman calls out Ambrose, but instead Bray Rowan and Strowman of the Wyatt Family make their way to the ring. Strowman and Rowan go on the attack, but Brock has none of it giving out suplexes. Ambrose heads to the ring with a kendo stick and unloads on Brock and Bray. Lesnar didn’t even flinch giving Ambrose and immediate F5. Brock standing tall like a beast as we go off the air.
THE SMACKDOWN! RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman - Paul’s verbal assault and Brock’s presence alone can make any show just that much better.
Least Entertaining: The Ascension - Mad Max jobbers
Match of the Night: Dolph Ziggler & Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens & The Miz - Not only some good in-ring action but the build to WrestleMania made it so much better.
Summary: This is one of the last two SmackDowns! before the big one and as you can tell from this show, the build is on for WrestleMania. Unlike most SmackDowns as of late, this show wasn't all that bad. We got a main event segment featuring Brock Lesnar, which always boots the show credibility immediately. We also saw a couple of really decent matches that I will take any day on WWE programming. Normally my response to a show like this would be that it at least gave a build to the upcoming pay per view. Tonight was a little different. A spectacular show? Not by any means, but better that usual? Definitely.