SMACKDOWN is a vision of awesomeness

By: 
Joshua Waddles
Staff Writer

Shane McMahon put it beautifully at the top of the program on Tuesday night’s SMACKDOWN. When they split the brands, they had a vision of great talent having a chance to shine without interference from the corporate office.

Yesterday was the best example yet of why SMACKDOWN’s approach is better. Even John Cena, the guy who spent his entire career as the guy Vince chose over more talented wrestlers, got a huge positive reaction last night.

There are a couple of reasons for the fans feeling better about Cena. A big part of it, I believe, is because he’s taken a step back. Throughout most of his career, he’s been the guy that Vince McMahon pushed harder than anyone else because kids buy his toys. That meant he couldn’t lose, at least not clean; he couldn’t turn heel and pretty much everyone else’s job was to lose to him to make him look stronger.

But he’s got retirement on the radar, now, and he’s been easing himself into the mid card. Last time he was in the world title picture, according to an insider, Cena insisted on being the one to get pinned by Bray Wyatt during a triple-threat match in order to make Bray Wyatt look better. As a Bray Wyatt fan and mentally conflicted Cena hater, this makes me feel a world and a half better about him.

But there’s another reason why Cena got such a positive pop from the fans last night, and it’s a big one. It’s because his opponent, The Miz, does his job as a heel very well.

The comedy was good. But toward the end of that last little vignette, it got heavy. Doing his impression of John Cena, he got loud and said things like “I am a lie!” and “You can’t see me because there’s nothing left to see.” and when he dropped the hat and slapped off the arm bands, he stared daggers at the camera. I could practically feel the hate through my TV screen.

The neat trick here is that I, and probably most of the fans, agree with every word The Miz said about Cena. But he was just so vicious about it that he got the fans on Cena’s side.

I absolutely love the sort of villain that tells the truth.

The SMACKDOWN Women’s Title feud

This week was better for the SMACKDOWN Women’s Division due to one thing: Naomi is back.

Naomi was the SMACKDOWN Women’s Champion, but had to give it up due to an injury. She got a very good reaction from the fans when she showed up and cleared out all of the others who are fighting over the championship.

Naomi will be the one to raise the bar for the SMACKDOWN women’s division. She really stands out, not just because of her neon light entrance, but because of her energy in the ring. I don’t remember what Alexa Bliss did last night, but I can easily remember Naomi’s rapid fire kicks from one of her matches before she gave up her title on Feb. 21.

The SMACKDOWN Tag Team Division
SMACKDOWN has a problem of limited time to showcase its Tag Team and Women’s divisions talent. They seem to be trying to make up for that by having as many of the wrestlers out as possible. For the Tag Team Division, they had a six-team tag match of American Alpha, Heath Slater and Rhyno and Mojo Rawley against The Usos, Breezango and Dolph Ziggler. American Alpha, Slater and Rhyno and Mojo Rawley came out the winners in that brawl and it’s been confirmed that all of them will be in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania.

Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper

Now this is what I’d been waiting to see!

I’ve written about how much Luke Harper has been impressing me in the ring and he showed that again last night. The crowd got into it in a big way with the “This is awesome!” chants.

I was surprised that Bray won clean. I knew the World Champion was never going to lose clean one week before a title defense at WrestleMania, but I figured Randy Orton would run out and cost him the match.

In hindsight, I see why they didn’t. Early on in the feud, Orton interfered and cause Bray Wyatt to get pinned by Kane. Kane hadn’t won a match since the day The Wyatt Family debuted and that was against Christian.

Outside interference or not, loss to The Devil’s Favorite Jobber discredited Bray Wyatt to the WWE Universe and absolutely enraged Bray Wyatt’s fans.

The difference is that Luke Harper doesn’t have the same jobber reputation as Kane, so it wouldn’t have had the same reaction. Even so, I’m glad WWE is finally putting in a little more effort in caution with how they’re presenting Wyatt.

And I don’t think Luke Harper’s push will suffer much from a clean loss against the World Champion, especially with how they presented it. Harper was going in for his finisher, but hesitated. The announcers really hammered in that he had this moment of doubt.

His whole storyline is about this internal struggle, trying to break free of Bray Wyatt’s psychological hold. This is a very interesting angle to me and presents a sort of depth that you don’t see very often in the WWE.

As for Randy, they had an ok little vignette with him driving some stick into the ground and trying to exorcize Sister Abigail.

The pattern, as most fans understand it, is that the guy who gets the last one over before Wrestlemania is the guy who usually loses that match. That’s not always true, though. So we’ll see. I’m really hoping Bray gets a good title reign, like Kevin Owens did on RAW. Considering Shane McMahon’s vision, as he stated it at the beginning of SMACKDOWN, I think there might be a good chance of Bray getting that.

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