By: Keila Cash
Location: Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin
Sing Like You Mean It: Shinsuke Nakamura Really Is a Rockstar…
· SmackDown Live kicked off with Charlotte and Ruby Riott having a verbal confrontation leading up to their Women’s Championship Match at Fastlane on Sunday. Both ladies did fine, but the material they were given was weak. Ruby claiming that Charlotte was the Chosen One is a load of bullshit because Charlotte had an uphill climb to the top based on her last name alone. History has shown us that lineage can be a blessing or a curse depending on one’s ability to get over as a star. Charlotte shattered expectations and became one of the most decorated champions of all-time which is not a myth or fluke.
· Ruby signaled Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan to get in the ring to help her triple team Charlotte, but Bobby Roode made the save as the opening segment came to an end.
· This was an okay way to start the show. The fans weren’t hot for the segment and there were a few vocal assholes who tried to rattle Charlotte early on, but she managed to maintain her composure. The SmackDown Women’s Title match at Fastlane should be good despite the lack of an emotional hook to push things over the top.
· Jinder Mahal defeated Randy Orton with the Khallas thanks to an unlikely assist from Bobby Roode. After Orton almost killed Sunil Singh with a Belly-to-Back Suplex on the announce table, he tossed Mahal into Roode who was doing guest commentary at ringside.
· Orton nailed Mahal with the Draping DDT and was about to finish him off with an RKO when Roode climbed on the ring apron to confront The Viper.
· Both men exchanged words which gave Mahal enough time to shove Orton into Roode which set up the finish moments later. I have a feeling that Mahal will be added to the United States Championship Match in order to further tension between Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan because Bryan wanted to add him to the match a few weeks ago until McMahon overruled his decision.
· Rusev is going to avenge the vocal chords of Aiden English by challenging Shinsuke Nakamura to a match at Fastlane. Nakamura agreed and vowed that Sunday would be Nakamura Day as he hit that high note like a boss. Very impressive!
· Becky Lynch made Carmella tap out to the Dis-Arm-Her in a decent match. Carmella dominated the action for the most part, but the outcome was never in doubt because it is an unwritten rule that all Money in the Bank winners must go on a losing streak before cashing in the contract.
· Another match is set for Fastlane as Natalya and Carmella will team up to face Naomi and Becky Lynch. It’s a random match, but it’s a fine way to get more people on the card since the lineup was paper thin until now.
· AJ Styles’ Road to WrestleMania has been a bumpy ride so far as he’s been put in matches that have put him at a disadvantage due to the numbers game. However, Styles overcame the odds and will jump through one more hurdle in order to face Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE Championship at Mania. Styles scoffed at Cena’s offer to invoke his rematch clause in order to main event WM in a Triple Threat Match because fans have been clamoring to see Styles vs. Nakamura since both men arrived in WWE two years ago.
· Dolph Ziggler made his way down to the ring to confirm that he was still a heel after straddling the fence over the past couple of weeks. Ziggler claimed that Styles was wasting his time doing things for the fans because they will turn on him the moment he slips up. Ziggler learned that lesson the hard way and promised to do things for himself because he’s the only one that matters.
· Ziggler has been in WWE for thirteen years, but he’s never had a singles match at WrestleMania. That would change on Sunday when he walks out of Fastlane WWE Champion.
· Since Ziggler was already in the ring, Styles wanted to get down to business. Ziggler agreed as the match took place after the commercial break.
· AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler ended via disqualification when Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn ran down to the ring and attacked both men. Styles and Ziggler were having a good match, but it was pretty one-sided as Ziggler dominated the action for the most part. Styles took some crazy bumps which had me fearing for his safety because he does so much in order to put over his opponent’s offense that it looks a little too real at times. That’s why Styles is my favorite wrestler in WWE today. He goes above and beyond in order to get the job done.
· Shane McMahon appeared on the main stage and booked a Fatal 5-Way match featuring Styles vs. Ziggler vs. Owens vs. Zayn vs. Corbin which took place after the commercial break.
· In what has to be considered a shocking turn of events, Sami Zayn defeated Kevin Owens with the Helluva Kick to solidify that it’s every man for himself at Fastlane. Zayn was elated that he beat his best friend while Owens looked on in shock that he got duped by a man that claimed he would lie down for him at the PPV on Sunday.
· The Fatal 5-Way Match was a total spot fest in the best possible way. The action was fast-paced and frenetic throughout as everyone got a chance to shine. The fans woke up down the stretch as they got a sneak preview of what’s to come during the Six-Pack Challenge once John Cena is added to the mix.
· For the second week in a row, SD Live ended on a weird note as Zayn was in the middle of cutting a promo when the show went off the air. I don’t know if Billy Kidman is still in charge when it comes to timing out the broadcast, but someone needs to get his or her shit together because WWE doesn’t have the luxury of using an overrun on Tuesday nights. Outside of that, this was a good way to end the show as the march towards WrestleMania continues. Five weeks and counting…
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was decent at best. The second hour saved the show from a wrestling standpoint while the first hour set up a couple of mid-card matches for Fastlane which should boost the overall quality of the PPV.
· Like Elimination Chamber, Fastlane is going to feature good wrestling action with predictable finishes because WWE already has a game plan in mind for WrestleMania. That’s one of the drawbacks of having a PPV in March because the company isn’t going to deviate from the formula unless something unforeseen happens. After Sunday’s PPV, every episode of SD Live should feel special because we heading into the home stretch of Mania season.
· The show has been stagnant from a creative standpoint over the past few months. Is the E waiting for the right time to pop the trunk or is the blue brand doomed to wallow in its own self-pity until the next Superstar Shakeup after WM? Here’s hoping the answer is the former because I believe SD Live is still a good show when it’s firing on all cylinders. We shall find out if that’s the case when the broadcast emanates from Indianapolis next week.
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next week with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!