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SmackDown Review: The Winding Road to WrestleMania Ends, Finally

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The A Show tried to put their best foot forward and though there were some glaring missteps the blue brand turned in a solid outing last night.  Whereas the RAW rivalries could have used some physicality between their combatants to continue the build to WrestleMania, SmackDown has done a better job creatively over the last several months and their contributions to the card this Sunday all benefited from the “hands off” approach last night.

Untouchable

The contract signing with AJ Styles and Shane McMahon was well done. Both men did an excellent job on the microphone and have great chemistry together as they traded shots to open the show. AJ’s rundown of all the legends Shane has faced before elevated his own status and added some excitement for their bout this Sunday. However, pointing out that it’s going to be a regular one on one bout was a mistake and it should not have been mentioned.


No match can benefit more from a No DQ or Street Fight stipulation and now it doesn’t appear to be in the cards. No one wants to see Shane McMahon actually try and wrestle AJ Styles; the skill gap between them is insurmountable. Not only does mentioning this several times lower fan expectations for the match but allowing Shane to actually look like he can hang with AJ between the ropes could end up making AJ look weak after WrestleMania. It’s something to keep an eye on but the company obviously has tremendous faith in AJ to carry an entertaining match with someone whose not a full time competitor at the biggest show of the year and the lack of physicality here was a smart move heading into Sunday.

Consolation Over Necessity

I have nothing against the SmackDown women but giving them 30 minutes on the go-home show when it was already announced that their match is on the pre-show was a poor use of television time. It felt like giving them such a large portion of the first hour was a consolation prize and there’s no place for that this close to WrestleMania. Nothing about either of the two matches that took place stood out and it was essentially 25 minutes of filler before Naomi made her “surprise” return.

The whole thing should have been cut in half and with that left over time Dean Ambrose and Baron Corbin could have been worked into the main show as opposed to being featured on Talking Smack to hype the Intercontinental Title match. This has been a very well built feud since Elimination Chamber and has a classic feel to it reminiscent of Wrestle Mania’s past. This is going to be the first singles match for the IC title at WrestleMania in several years and these guys are poised to have one of the best matches on the card.

Tag Team Relegation

It’s unfortunate given their fantastic match last week and their continued evolution on the microphone with their heel personas that the Usos don’t have a title defense at WrestleMania. They are the only titleholders in the company not defending on Sunday and their relegation to the Andre Battle Royal is disappointing to say the least. The tag division as a whole on SmackDown has been picking up steam. American Alpha, while still trying to find their identity, have been turning in high quality matches week after week. I also believe it’s simply a matter of time before Breezango get themselves over in a big way. Their comedy stylings on Southpaw Regional Wrestling, the Breezy Bella character and their fashion police gimmick continue to showcase the natural, quirky charisma that the athletically talented duo possess. All three teams will merely be lost in the shuffle of the Andre Battle Royal this Sunday.

Blurred Lines

The Miz and John Cena to quote a friend “have made chicken salad out of chicken shit because they know how to build a story”. A match very few were excited for just a couple of weeks ago has had the best creative development of any bout taking place at WrestleMania. Whether it was the hysterical Total Bellas skits The Miz and Maryse have put out or the vicious worked-shoot promos all four participants have exchanged, particularly on the part of John Cena last night who turned in some of the best microphone work of his career, they have gotten the match over with even the most jaded of fans. I really wanted to see the Miz crack Cena in the face after his promo but it was a smart move by creative to hold off on any altercation until Sunday and they understand Miz’s loud-mouth, cowardly heel dynamic opposite Cena.

The closing moments of SmackDown were perplexing and cartoony if I’m being honest. Following a solid match between Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper (who is poised for a career year in 2017, even though he doesn’t have a match on Sunday…Luke Harper vs. Samoa Joe anyone?) Randy Orton would appear on screen along with some weird visual effects and drive a stick into the ground taking away Bray’s “powers”. While I enjoyed the unique visual style that was utilized when Orton burned down Bray’s cabin, last night’s closing moments came off as overly scripted and campy. While Roman Reigns is on RAW plagiarizing Taker’s catchphrases, Randy Orton is pilfering Bray Wyatt’s special effects on SmackDown. It was a letdown for those of us hoping that Bray and Orton would main event WrestleMania.

While SmackDown certainly took some positive steps in building up their contributions to the card this Sunday, the blue brand, like RAW failed to really drive home the NEED for fans to tune into WrestleMania this Sunday.

It felt more like WWE’s message to the fans this week was “Hey why don’t you watch WrestleMania on Sunday? We have some stuff you might want to see? Maybe? The Undertaker will be there, it’s his yard you know. We have Goldberg and Brock Lesnar…at least for 2 or 3 minutes. Let’s not forget Pitbull and Flo-Rida!!! Everyone loves Al Roker, right? Tune in? Please?”

 

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Ryno Wrestling Review Episode 76: 3rd Annual RRR Awards Show!

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It’s the 3rd annual Ryno Wrestling Review Awards (aka ‘The Hornies’)!  Dan is joined by Wil Lewis, Jason Calascibetta, and a few (poorly impersonated) celebrities to hand out hardware in 12 categories: Breakthrough Performer, Promo of the Year, Match of the Year, Card of the Year, Feud of the Year, Tag Team of the Year, Gail Kim Lifetime Achievement Award, FDM Award (D-Bag of the Year), Most Overrated, Most Underrated, Female Performer, and Male Performer!  Listen here:

Play Episode 76


You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, or your favorite podcast platform!

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Ryno Wrestling Review Episode 74: The Debut of Ryno Roulette!

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Dan is joined by Wil Lewis and Jason Calascibetta for the debut of ‘Ryno Roulette’!  12 WWE Superstar names plus one Sasha Banks Christmas hat equals one heck of a show.  Listen here:

Play Episode 74


As always, you can subscribe to the Ryno Wrestling Review on Apple Podcasts here!

Follow Dan Ryno , Jason Calascibetta , and Wil Lewis on Twitter, if you feel so inclined.

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Ryno Wrestling Review Episode 73: Becky Lynch Injury, Survivor Series Weekend, & ‘Would You Rather?’

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Dan is joined by Wil Lewis and Jason Calascibetta to discuss the shocking injury of Becky Lynch, preview WWE’s Survivor Series weekend, and bring back ‘Would You Rather?’  Listen here:

Play Episode 73


As always, you can subscribe on Apple Podcasts here!

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