So Smackdown this week emanates from the famous Staples Centre in Los Angeles, California. And as such of course John Cena is appearing on the show tonight, as he contuse his search for his road to Wrestlemania (aka The Undertaker is busy for a couple of weeks…) and so has chosen to go through Smackdown live to find it. With Smackdown’s pre-Mania ppv Fastlane a week from Sunday this should be an eventful episode.
And indeed to begin the show John Cena makes his way to the ring. He says: ‘I like everyone else is trying to find my road to Wrestlemania’, and that he wants in on the Fatal 5 way for the WWE Championship at Fastlane. He explains though that he is not here for a hand out and his here to earn his opportunity. And he awaits what he must do to get his place in the match… Shane McMahon makes his way to the ring next, he puts Cena over for his past accomplishments, and reminds us all that if Cena is in the Fastlane match and he wins he will not just go to the main event of Wrestlemania but he will go there as a 17 time world champion! Smackdown GM Daniel Bryan comes out next and tells Cena if he wants in on the WWE title match at Fastlane he must win tonight’s main event… against the WWE CHAMPION AJ STYLES! WOW some announcement that, a renewal of one of the best rivalries of recent years, fabulous!
Sami Zayn makes his way to the ring for the next segment of the show, his ‘friend’ Kevin Owens on commentary for this one by the way, for his match with Baron Corbin (last week it was Corbin who laid out Zayn, Owens and Styles as is recapped here, so this will be continuation of that as we head to the big match at Fastlane). Decent match this, back and forth between the two, Zayn acts really well as a heel, Corbin gets in some really hard hitting offence, Corbin launches Zayn into the table right near Owens at commentary. And as Owens is talking he is superkicked by Dolph Ziggler who comes out, and a distracted Zayn is hit with the End Of Days from Corbin and he gets the win. Before Corbin can celebrate he is hit with a Zigzag by Ziggler. Corbin’s last week and now Dolph gets his week to look strong, so makes sense I guess. Throughout the match by the way Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan are shown watching the match backstage, with Shane taking little interest. Bryan also asks McMahon if he can in fact go home as Shane ‘seems to have everything under control’. After the next ad break Owens & Zayn are backstage very angry, and are wound up further by Shane.
The Riott Squad make their way to the ring as we are set for Ruby Riott vs Naomi, ahead of Ruby’s challenge to Charlotte for the SD Women’s title at Fastlane. Becky Lynch and Charlotte make their way to the ring to flank Naomi and even the odds for this match. The match starts evenly as Riott rolls to the outside as the two ‘squads’ face off on the outside of the ring. After the ads Riott has Naomi in a resthold, Naomi makes her comeback, she hits a springboard inziguiri for a 2 count, Naomi goes for her Rear View move but Ruby gets out of it, and Riott hits her Riott kick for the win. Makes a lot of sense as Charlotte has beaten both Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan and now her challenger has pinned her 2 friends, Becky Lynch and now Naomi. Ok enough match mind you this one, did its job.
Next is The Fashion Police backstage. They are with a star of the ‘Unsolved’ TV show that they’ve been advertising for the TV network. They did a real fun little segment that was rather funny, the actor explains to Tyler Breeze and Fandango that their Fashion Files ‘cases’ are not actual ‘cases’. Fandango is baffled by this and says that they have solved one of his own cases (the TV show being plugged here attempts to solve the unsolved murders of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G aka Biggie Smalls), Fandango says they have in fact found Biggie and says here is Biggie… and out comes BIG E (GET IT???) and the rest of The New Day, this was actually really funny to me. Big E did a rap, the actor told Breeze and Fandango that he was ‘not a real cop’, something which Fandango was very disappointed at, “I looked up to you” he said. This was funny, pointless but funny.
The New Day then made their way to the ring, they spoke about how the road to Wrestlemania (which included a very exaggerated and long look at the Wrestlemania sign, which made me laugh a great deal). They went on to speak about how they will be renewing their feud with their greatest ever rivals The Usos at Fastlane (which will be tremendous), Usos come out and run down their challengers, they say they used to be like those 3 with their facepaint etc. but that didn’t take them to the next level. They then go on about how for their 9 years they have spent in WWE they are still yet to be on the main card of a Wrestlemania (this part of their promo was particularly effective). The Usos say now is “our time”, that they can adapt and that The New Day have been stuck in the past for the last 5 years whilst “we have evolved”.
Big E responds very passionately; saying they have not been in the past, they hosted Wrestlemania last year whilst ‘you two were stuck in catering’, that they didn’t sit on the sidelines and instead “took what was ours”, he reminds The Usos that The New Day are 5 times tag team champions, it was pretty good stuff from Big E to be fair to him. All 5 men in the ring drop their mics before the lights go out and The Bludgeon Brothers make their way to the ring. The Usos and New Day make their exit as Harper & Rowan stand in the ring looking as monstrous as ever. So… Bludgeon Brothers are beating Usos at Mania then? …
We were then shown an ‘earlier tonight’ segment with Shane McMahon backstage with Aiden English and Rusev. English calls out Shane for Rusev Day not being on tv for the past 2 weeks (AIDEN ENLGISH IS LISTENING TO MY SMACKDOWN REVIEW BLOGS… CLEARLY…), so Shane puts Aiden English (not Rusev) in a match later tonight with… Shinsuke Nakamura (SHANE READS MY SMACKDOWN BLOGS TOO).
Next Bobby Roode had an interview with Renee Young, it was usual stuff before Randy Orton interrupted, and it seemed the two had mutual respect but Orton seemed to have a new found wariness of Roode (maybe Jinder’s suggestions are working…). This is a US title feud between Roode (who could be WWE Champion imo in the next year) and Randy Orton (one of the all-time greats)… and I just do not care about it all that much… very sad.
Rusev and Aiden English are in the ring next. English sings a song on LA and Nakamura, complete with sing-a-long words on screen. Rusev was just acting so funny in the background throughout, overall it was great! So much love for both these guys. These two are so obviously supposed to be heels but absolutely nobody boos them and everyone loves them. For God sake WWE just turn them face and have them win the tag titles! Anyway Nakamura comes out and the two have a real fun enjoyable match, filled with “NA-KA-MU-RA and Rusev Day” chants throughout. I didn’t take too many notes to be honest because I just enjoy watching Nakamura so much, and it’s been a few weeks since I’ve had the pleasure to do so. English is really good too I should add and shows it here. Nakamura won a fairly short match (obviously). As Nakamura makes his exit he is met head on the rampway by John Cena. Cena mentioned about earlier how Nakamura was the only guy who was guaranteed his spot at Wrestlemania after winning the Royal Rumble (fills me with so much joy to be able to say that; Shinsuke Nakamura won the Royal Rumble). They have a staredown as both acknowledge the Mania sign. This is followed by the entrance of the current WWE Champion; AJ Styles.
Right here we go then, SO…. John Cena VS AJ Styles. A renewal of an awesome series of matches the two had in 2016 and finishing at the 2017 Royal Rumble with an absolute classic. In this one of course if Cena wins he’s in the title match at Fastlane. Match begins with a collar and elbow tie up as both had finished taking in the crowds reactions (Owens and Zayn are shown watching the match from the backstage area). Cena continues to be well on top early on here, does a series of rest holds, hard attacks and gets a couple of nearfalls. AJ responds with some hard chops to Cena, he throws Cena into a corner, although John responds with some kicks and delivers a great tornado DDT for a 2 count from the resulting pinfall. Good start here, could be another masterclass…
Cena comes back from the ad break with a 5 Knuckle shuffle, but Styles powers out of the following AA attempt and hits a neckbreaker for a nearfall. AJ then tries a Styles Clash but Cena counters by slingshotting Styles into the corner and follows up with a TKO for another nearfall as Baron Corbin is shown watching on from backstage on a monitor. Cena then takes charge again, Ziggler and then ‘Kami’ are shown backstage watching on, Cena tells AJ to get up, big clothesline for a nearfall, Cena charges into AJ but misses, both men are down, both men hit their finishers DURING THE AD BREAK (WTF) for a nearfall a piece, AJ misses a moonsault, Cena locks in the STF but Styles rolls him over for a roll up nearfall, Cena hits his ribs in the corner and AJ takes advantage and hits the Phenomenal Forearm for a 2 count, AJ puts Cena in position for a 450 splash which he then misses allowing Cena to hit an AA. Instead of going for the cover Cena rolls through and attempts a 2nd AA (which is how Cena won their previous encounter at the Rumble last year), only for Styles to escape to the outside. Cena charges Styles but he moves and Cena goes flying into the steel steps.
As they’re on the outside Cena regains control and delivers a huge AA on AJ Styles through the announce table! Styles only gets back in the ring at a count of 9, John Cena attempts to finish the match with another AA only for Styles to counter it into a Cab Crusher submission! The leader of the Cenation though is able to counter this into a final Attitude Adjustment and John Cena pins the WWE Champion 1,2,3! And the title match at Fastlane becomes a 6 way! … what a fantastic match that was! Doubt you’ll see a better one on a regular Smackdown for some time. After the match Owens, Zayn, Corbin and Ziggler all come to the ring and a mass brawl ensues as the show goes off the air. A preview of the chaos that the title match could descend into…
And that was Smackdown… and that was MUCH BETTER than in recent weeks!
Key points to take home:
– John Cena is the top man for a reason
– The Usos and The New Day should do promo battles every week
– Someone liven up the US Title scene PLEASE
– Nakamura is really good
– Is anybody else in the Smackdown Women’s division on Charlotte’s level?
Well done Smackdown Live. That was a good fun show. I’ve been a little harsh on SD in recent weeks, simply because I haven’t found a show that contains some of my absolute favourites to be very entertaining. I bemoaned the fact that there were 5 men in the WWE Championship match for Fastlane, now there’s 1 more added to that! BUT… BUT… that man is SUPER John Cena, and despite what you may think that man has carried WWE in the past, and apart from some guy from Chicago and a goat-looking fella he was the only thing semi-interesting on WWE tv for a number of years. And before and now after that period he’s STILL the man. Anything he puts his hand to he improves and makes more entertaining and intriguing to see unfold.
Next thing I’ve recently moaned about was the lack of usage of people who the fans actually care about and are entertaining, but this week: we had Nakamura in a match, we had Aiden English singing and Rusev being hilarious, The Usos and The New Day doing great back and forth promos, even Breezango made an appearance with their stuff. AND another of my gripes from recent Smackdown review blogs has also been answered, via an online video that’s been posted following the show, as next week Carmella will be in action against Becky Lynch. And Ms Money in the Bank can show off her briefcase again, just to remind everyone that she can throw a spanner in the works at anytime… Good stuff all round. Smackdown isn’t perfect yet, the US title scene still needs work but Bobby Roode and Randy Orton are so good I trust them to figure it out (just one of you two turn heel, that’d solve it…). But Smackdown Live has in 1 week become a lot closer to the show it should be, and you may not like it but you can put a large part of that down to WWE’s very own Superman. And you can cheer him on or tell him he sucks all you want, fact remains John Cena is still the man. LET’S GO CENA…