Welcome to the most must-see Vulture Hound weekly review in history; welcome to… The SmackDown Review

Last night’s episode of SmackDown continued to build on the matches set for WrestleMania but there was a rather large elephant in the room that became the biggest talking point of the night. Cast your mind back to the summer of 2016. WWE announced it was going to return to their old format of having separate rosters on Raw and SmackDown and with that came the draft. Shane McMahon, the returning prodigal son, promised that this was a new era; one less about the management and more about the talented men and women on their roster. Yet, here we are not even a year on and we find that, just like his Dad, Shane wants to be a part of the action.

No WrestleMania moment for AJ / wwe.com

A clearly frustrated AJ Styles opened the show, specifically highlighting his omission from the WrestleMania card. Pointing out that John Cena was able to walk back in and claim a championship match. Styles continued to blame the management for his mistreatment despite proving, every week, that he is the face of the new era on SmackDown. Styles was determined to speak with Shane McMahon about glad-handing the main event to Randy Orton despite burning down Bray Wyatt’s compound and facing no charges from the Authority (and the authorities).

The show was then sandwiched around segments of Styles waiting for McMahon Jr to arrive, and as soon as Shane did, Styles launched his attack. Slamming him around, and into garage doors, Styles smashed the SmackDown Commissioner head-first into the rear window of a car. As Styles made his way out he was confronted by GM, Daniel Bryan, who confessed he no longer had any respect left for the Phenomenal One. Still in an insubordinate fit of rage, Styles questioned Bryan’s authority, saying “what are you gonna do? Fire me?”… Well, as famous last words go, those are pretty good as Bryan responded “damn right I’m gonna fire you” and commanded security to march Styles out of the building.

Shane O’SMACK // wwe.com

Oh, it wasn’t done with yet. Adding further insult to injury, during the night’s main event, backstage footage showed Shane McMahon making his way to the stage to announce he will face AJ Styles at WrestleMania. So in short, this man who headed the Invasion angle at the end of the Attitude Era, announced after being covered in his own blood, that he will be taking on AJ Styles at WresleMania. The New Era has arrived people!

80% of the show that only felt like 5 minutes:

– Following another match between Becky Lynch and Natalya, the former was attacked post-match by Carmella, who announced her intentions to claim the Women’s title in the free-for-all match at WrestleMania. Becky won the match by the way. Not that anyone cares.

– A special edition of Miz TV once again saw the A-List couple berate John Cena and Nikki Bella for being a fraudulent couple. The pair were chased away by the Cena’s before Daniel Bryan announced the mixed tag match as official for WrestleMania claiming that if he could, he’d punch Miz in the face. Well, at least your sister-in-law can, eh?

Eugh // wwe.com

– A Mick Kick was enough to put away the Women’s Champion in a singles match which served little to no purpose. It looks as though the SmackDown Women’s Championship will be contested for by “every available woman on the roster”. So if that means a return for Naomi or hopefully Paige it could just about save this match.

– Mojo Rawley beat Dolph Ziggler by count out as the “show off” walked off. The less said about this the better.

– Baron Corbin wasn’t sorry one bit for crushing Dean Ambrose with a forklift truck last week. The battle for the Intercontinental Championship is beginning to look more like a return for the Hardcore Championship.

– The tag team division was back in action. And in the main event too! The Usos beat American Alpha but not much could be established as it was interlaced with backstage shots of Shane McMahon hobbling towards the stage for his aforementioned big announcement. I have no idea what is going on with this one and I don’t think WWE do either.

– Bray Wyatt responded to Orton’s betrayal by bathing himself in the rubble of his dilapidated compound and the ashes of Sister Abigail. Could this be the beginning of Wyatt’s transcendence into the footsteps of The Undertaker? I bloody hope so!

“Hello Springfield! It’s me, Homer” // wwe.com

From last night’s SmackDown all that has become clear is that who the babyfaces and heels are going into their respective WrestleMania feuds aren’t clear in the slightest. With Styles and the Miz speaking such home truths they’re fast becoming fan favourites and are doing well to increase the level of smark culture amongst the WWE Universe. On top of this, Orton and Wyatt are raising the insanity levels to near biblical proportions. I guess when WrestleMania does arrive we will just have to sit and enjoy it all as a neutral – just like your Dad does when he watches me plow your Mum.

By Bradley Tiernan

"Wrestling is better than the things you like" - John Oliver

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