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Smackdown Thoughts- Chambers and Cages

Smackdown this week is one of those shows that looks great on paper, but in practice... yeah, not so much. It wasn't a total washout- just didn't meet the heights that the matches could have.

-So, we kick things off with one of my favourite theme songs- "Here Comes The Money!" and Shane O Mac dances his way out to greet the adoring Memphis crowd. Shane doesn't appear on Smackdown for no good reason- like Steph does every week on Raw- so antici...

...pation is high for what he might say. Sure enough, Vince's spawn delivers, 2 weeks after the Rumble, Smackdown presents the Elimination Chamber. We skipped that in 2016, and it's one of my favourite gimmick matches. Awesome. I can't wait to see what AJ Styles does in the Chamber.

-Speaking of AJ Styles, his music hits and we are graced by the presence of the WWE Champion. He calls Shane stupid for putting the WWE title on the line in the Chamber, which brings out... JOHN CENA!!! ... No, really, he's here, not an unexpected meme. I've become so used to his part time status that it was a surprise to see him.

-Miz interrupts. That is a little surprising, but not unwanted. Looks like he's stepping up to the WWE title scene after an excellent 2016, or at least, he's going to make up the numbers in the Chamber match. He goes after AJ with a passionate promo, and AJ retorts with, "Last time we were in Memphis, I knocked your teeth out. "Nice call back/burn. Cena amusingly jumps around stirring the pot, "Ooh, you gonna let him talk to you like that, bro?" With that, we have our opening match.

-AJ Styles vs. The Miz. Hmm, they've had better chemistry before. This was somewhat of a slow, dull match, technically between two heels (even though AJ gets better face pops than anyone on SD). Cena was ringside plugging the various shit he's doing, and through some shenanigans got to lay both Styles and Miz out with AAs. Okay, Cena beat Corbin decisively last week, takes out Miz and the WWE champ this week... he looks strong enough now. Let AJ get one over on him next week before the Rumble!

-Nattie is a terrible actor, and Nikki isn't much better. After some of the most awkward, unconvincing dialogue I've heard in a long time, the ladies brawled by the merch stand. I'm sure their eventual match will be pretty good, but it's a painful process getting there.

-Randy Orton vs. Dean Ambrose. Another example of "these guys have had better". Super slow and boring, before going to the predictable finish of Harper costing Orton and Ambrose getting a quick roll up victory. At least the dissolution of the Wyatt Family is being advanced, and I'm intrigued to see what they do next week with Harper vs. Orton. Look for the positives, people!

-Side note, it was pretty hilarious watching Mauro almost jump over the barricade when the wrestlers came near the announce table while Phillips, Otunga and JBL didn't flinch.

-Jerry Lawler is back with the King's Court! Good to see him again, he looks in great spirits to have a TV role again, especially in his hometown on Memphis. He does look like he's put on a good amount of weight since I last saw him on TV though, especially in the face.

-Dolph Ziggler comes out and gives no answer to King's questions about his new attitude. This WWE trope really annoys me, probably one of those things that it's just best to not think about too much. If you're not willing to say a word, why agree to the interview time in the first place?

-Ah, there we go. Dolph's got something to say. and as I expected, it doesn't take him long to talk about giving King a heart attack, complete with footage from that horrible night in September 2012. Fortunately, they just show Ziggler's elbows on King in the match, not the horrible scenes of him collapsing during a Prime Time Players match and getting medical attention. Dolph lays it on thick and angers King, prompting Lawler to refer to Ziggler as a loser. Ziggler retaliates with a super kick to the chest! Wow, I can't believe WWE went there, I thought Jerry Lawler would never have a moment of physicality in a WWE ring again. If that doesn't get Ziggler over as a heel, nothing will.

-In the midst of a serious angle, JBL runs to King's aid, trips and falls face-first over a cable. Funny announcer moment #2. The idiotic David Otunga makes mention of this while the commentators are selling the severity of the Lawler situation. I thought Harvard lawyers were smart?

-WWE run a Kurt Angle video package again. It seems like a longer version than the one on Raw, but maybe I just have memory issues. But then again, maybe I just have memory issues. Still so psyched to see Kurt Angle back in WWE in some capacity.

-Bliss vs. Lynch in a steel cage! This was the best match of the night. Both ladies worked hard, no botches as best as I could tell, and a wicked spot with the top rope T-Bone. Wasn't a classic, but hey, shits all over the botch-filled Sasha vs. Charlotte HIAC, and the boring as shit Nakamura vs. Joe cage match.

-La Luchadora is Mickie James! Very cool! Rumours of that kind went around, but you never really know until it happens. I wasn't totally sure if Mickie would go with Raw, or Smackdown, or even if she would take a NXT trainer's job. Always liked Mickie a lot. Looking forward to seeing Becky vs. Mickie. If Mickie wants to go back to her Wrestlemania 22 tactics, I won't be complaining!

The first hour and a half of the show was a bit below expectations, but after some thought, that last half hour was very strong- the latter part of King's Court, the cage match and the reveal of Mickie James were all great. Plus, the opening segment with the Chamber announcement was exciting. Not enough for a thumbs up, but the strong finish puts it at a "thumbs in the middle".

Until next time, take care,


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Image of Mick Robson, founder of The Arena Media

Mick Robson is a freelance writer from Australia. A lifelong fan of pro wrestling and MMA, he endeavours to bring that passion through his coverage in news, reviews and opinion pieces.

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