SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon Made Amends
These two have been bickering for months on end, so this segment was necessary to allow them to bury the hatchet ahead of their tag team match against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn this Sunday at WrestleMania. I feel like their promos have kicked off every SmackDown for the last six months, but this was a solid segment and the crowd was hot for everything they did. That said, this all but confirmed to me that one of them is going heel at 'Mania, and it's probably going to be Bryan.
SmackDown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair def. Natalya (Non-title)
These two were actually supposed to collide last week in a rematch from a few weeks ago, but Charlotte's injury delayed it by one week. I'm glad it wasn't forgotten about because it was imperative that Charlotte avenged her loss to Natalya before WrestleMania. They always work well together and this was another quality contest from them, though I didn't find it to be as enjoyable as their last outing against each other. Meanwhile, the Carmella cash-in teases have been much more frequent as of late. Does that mean she's definitely cashing in her Money in the Bank briefcase at WrestleMania or on next week's SmackDown Live? Also, I liked the post-match face-off between Asuka and Charlotte. It hyped not only their WrestleMania matchup but their clash on Mixed Match Challenge later in the night as well.
Rusev def. Jinder Mahal
To be completely honesty, this match sounded dreadful on paper, especially when you consider it was heel vs. heel. Ultimately, it was better than I thought it would be, yet not terribly thrilling. Despite his popularity, Rusev hasn't mean anything in ages, so giving him the win here was smart. I'd give him the title at WrestleMania, but I sadly don't see it going down that way.
Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Mojo Rawley and Primo def. Breezango, Tye Dillinger and Zack Ryder
Holy crap, I totally forgot Primo was still employed by the company. We haven't seen him on WWE TV in close to a year. I'd argue he was an afterthought here, but to be fair, this whole match was an afterthought. No one could have cared less about this, but thankfully, the commercial break ate up a majority of the matchup's television time and it didn't overstay its welcome. This is hardly a bold prediction, but I don't foresee any of these men winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon Interrupted Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
I don't think anyone actually thinks Owens and Zayn are truly fired from SmackDown, and in fact, Owens and Zayn have done the best they could to convince people that their firing is legitimate by bringing back their Kevin Steen and El Generico ring names on Twitter. Nevertheless, this was a simple segment that offered final build for the tag team match at 'Mania. Owens and Zayn's promos were very good, but the babyfaces' rebuttal was just decent.
WWE Champion AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura def. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin
Needless to say, everyone was aware Gable and Benjamin weren't winning, but as a TV main event, this was entertaining and the final stretch was fun. Unfortunately, no further tension was teased between Styles and Nakamura. What we saw afterward was basically a repeat of what happened last week but with the roles reversed. The short interviews that were conducted with both men throughout the night were well done, but I was hoping for a little something more. I'm highly anticipating their championship clash, but the build has left a lot to be desired.
Similar to Monday's Raw, I can't say this SmackDown did a ton to get me more excited for WrestleMania than I was prior to tonight. It was a straightforward go-home show on the whole with plenty of buildup for SmackDown's side of the card, but there wasn't anything worth writing home about. However, as I've said before, WrestleMania is a hell of a card from top to bottom and one of the most must-see shows WWE has had in a long while, so expectations are high and time will tell whether the event will live up to the hype.