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Smackdown Thoughts- The Phenomenal One Gets A Money Match

-Big time focus on AJ and Shane O Mac having a backstage confrontation after SD last week (first shown on Talking Smack). An irate Styles first confronts Bryan backstage, then goes to the ring to recap/air his grievances and promises to talk to Shane about his career- if he still has one.

-Becky vs Natalya is the opening match on the show, and there's more quality wrestling action in it than anything from Raw the previous night. Nattie is embracing the heel role really well, and Becky responds with a stiff looking slap. The finish comes with a really creative Disarmer, where Becky did a flying/rolling takedown off the top rope into the submission. Well done, ladies.

-Miz TV, where Maryse actually gets a lot of mic time. Plenty of plugs for Total Divas/Total Bellas, but damn Maryse, that promo was fire! So much passion. Cena and Nikki, instead of refuting Miz and Maryse's claims, storm the ring and cause the A List couple to retreat. Not a very babyface thing for Cena and Nikki to do. Nikki gets the mic time, but couldn't hold a candle to Maryse's sublime work, sorry. Daniel Bryan enters, and after lamenting his inability to punch Miz in the face, books Cena/Nikki vs. Miz/Maryse for Wrestlemania.

-Alexa vs. Mickie. Mickie blew a couple of kisses to the crowd, so I guess she's a face now? This match had some fluidity issues, where the action would stop and start at odd times. Wasn't terrible though, and Mickie got a credibility building win as a missed Insult to Injury lead to the Mick Kick- which was a very cool looking finish.

-AJ is waiting for Shane in the parking lot. He then brutally attacks and sends Shane's head through a car window. Major bad guy thing to do, and everyone sells it like AJ shot Shane. Despicable to be sure, but will it be enough for Styles to be the heel and Shane the face at Mania? Crowds love AJ, and beyond that, all his gripes in his earlier promo were totally valid. Ooh, Shane's bleeding. Cool. A furious Bryan fires AJ. Let's see how long that lasts.

-Ziggler vs. Mojo. More of an angle where Mojo threw Ziggler out of the ring multiple times to show his proficiency in... err, throwing people out of the ring, and a frustrated Dolph takes the count-out L. Although it hasn't been made official yet, we'll have to assume that Ziggles is in the Dre. The Dre looks to be having some star power this year.

-The Orton/Wyatt segment was weird. Randy didn't say anything new, recapped the "join 'em, then screw 'em thing. Wyatt apparently rubbed the ashes of Abigail on himself. Oh, and apparently the WWE title will be on the line. This segment missed the mark. Interestingly, the commentators continue to explicitly call Orton vs. Wyatt the Wrestlemania main event. I really can't see it going on last after Lesnar vs. Goldberg.

-Quick interview with Baron Corbin where he expresses his desire to take the Intercontinental Championship from Dean Ambrose. So excited. This'll be only the second singles match for the IC title at Mania since 2002.

-SD main event- tag champs American Alpha vs. The Usos. Glad to see the tag champs get a prominent spot, and glad to see this feud re-heated. We cut backstage throughout the match to see a bloody Shane O Mac wandering around. The tag teams wrestle well, but are clearly holding back, both for a future match and also with the realisation that the focus isn't really on them as much as it should be. Usos counter the electric chair flying bulldog with a super kick and roll up pin. Really cool finish that sets the Usos up for a title shot. See you on the Mania pre-show, boys!

-With SD in Pittsburgh this week, and American Alpha in a prominent spot for one of the first times, the crowd chant, "We want Angle!" The commentators ignore it. They should have expected that reaction, really. They even compared Alpha to Kurt earlier in the match! It would be cool to see.

-Shane walks out and says, "AJ Styles wanted an opponent for Wrestlemania, now he's got one." The show abruptly cuts off there.

Better than Raw in the sense that they built effectively to Mania and had some good wrestling matches. They need to get their shit together for the WWE Title feud, though.


Before I go, some quick thoughts on the AJ vs. Shane match at Wrestlemania. There's a ton of online negativity about it in the various forums I visit, so I'd like to counter some of that. There's a feeling that AJ deserves better, that he should be facing Nakamura or someone of that ilk to showcase his tremendous wrestling ability.

AJ has plenty of classic matches in his resume, and plenty more to come in his WWE run. We've seen him knock it out of the park with Cena, Reigns and Ambrose, now for Mania he gets to engage in a stunt show with Shane O Mac. Too many purists/close minded people have a problem with this, seeing it as a big waste of the current top wrestler challenging for GOAT status in AJ Styles. I feel the exact opposite, I think it is a perfect use of Styles, as it demonstrates his versatility. He can have a classic with Cena at the Rumble, and have an amazing spectacle with Shane at Wrestlemania. Unless you have a fear of AJ Styles retiring in the next 12 months, you shouldn't be worried about AJ vs Shane. Next year's Mania will likely afford AJ the opportunity to face a top level opponent in a straight wrestling match. Samoa Joe will be fully established on the main roster, making him a viable opponent. Nakamura is probably showing up on the post-Mania Raw. They may decide to flesh out AJ vs. Orton as a big time feud. Hell, they may even go to AJ vs. Brock. A multitude of possibilities. People angry about it either lack patience, or feel like AJ doesn't have any more Mania matches in him. To that, I refer to Chris Jericho, who is 6 or 7 years older than Styles, and can still perform at a level worthy of a Wrestlemania singles match.

The other main argument is that Shane doesn't deserve a Mania match. You know what? That's totally right. But, nepotism exists everywhere. Deal with it. The Shane vs. Undertaker match was bad, but that was a 50+ year old Taker against a 46 year old Shane, trying to fill 15 minutes before getting to the big spot with faux-MMA holds. AJ Styles is younger, more athletic and a totally different style. Shane always has gimmick matches, and this could steal the show. Give it a chance.

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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