After the trashy Throwback edition of SmackDown last week we’re back to normal this week, apart from poor Pat McAfee and his baby looking face. I do wonder how long it’ll take him to grow that beard back and all because he was going to do an old school Vince McMahon impression that basically got cut. Poor guy. I wonder if he’s having regrets now?

So we’re apparently on the last stop on the road to WrestleMania Backlash (still a stupid name) so let’s see if Jimmy Uso is getting in trouble with cousin Roman and if Tamina Snuka can finally win important gold nearly 11 years after her main roster debut. I think we all know what I’m hoping the answer is to that last point.

Nobody’s Bitch

Instead of opening with the Universal Champion this week, of course, he got Jey to big him up on the microphone first. Not only did it send a message to Cesaro for this Sunday but also to Jimmy who disrespected Reigns last week and caused unnecessary friction in the family. Roman’s the Head of the Table after all and everyone needs to fall in line and acknowledge him. And we all have more than enough time to do that because his entrance every week seems to take longer and longer and eventually it’ll fill a whole episode and we won’t have any time for actual wrestling.

Jey and Paul Heyman looked on as Roman ran his mouth about Cesaro, showing him a little respect and saying he’s a good worker but he still doesn’t have a chance to win. Jimmy then interrupted him again like he’s got some kind of death wish. He didn’t want his brother to be Roman’s bitch anymore and he thought they should be dominating the tag division instead. In fact, he didn’t even think Reigns will be able to beat Cesaro because so much of his success came down to Jey. I think someone hit Jimmy round the head one too many times last week because he then ended up challenging Cesaro to a match which he happily accepted. So are they the Main Event Usos now?

Women’s Tag Team Championship Match – Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler(c) vs Natalya & Tamina

Oh no. Every worst nightmare I’ve ever had is now coming true. Imagine being in a company for 11 years, being pretty much useless for all of those 11 years, and then ending up in a story where people have apparently been disrespecting you. Have they? Or have you just always been nowhere near as good as others? Anyway, here we are. An all-time low for the women’s tag division where there are no true winners at the end of this match. I bet whoever upset Natalya on Twitter via the FOX account is feeling bad now because they caused this.

After a fairly decent back and forth match Tamina managed to pick up the win with a Superfly splash in tribute to her dad and new champs were crowned. We’re reminded that it’s Tamina’s first championship in WWE like that’s something to be proud of after so long. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason why she hasn’t won anything up until now. But hey the only hope I hold onto is that Natalya and Tamina can start to rebuild the titles into something meaningful because they certainly deserve a lot more than how they’ve been treated in recent times. We’ll see. I at least appreciated the emotion at the end as it made the win seem like a big deal which all title wins should be.

Medal of Honor

How do you follow the disappointment of Tamina winning a title? Stick big ass Commander Azeez on a box to make him look even bigger. Honestly, if it’d been a Money in the Bank match, he would’ve won right there without even getting a ladder. What a beast. Apollo Crews is a big fan of the Commander and why wouldn’t he be? He’s massive and likes spiking people and eliminating them. His rage is clear and it probably stems from no one remembering when he was on Raw still. I’d understand if he was a tiny guy but how do you forget someone that big?

So I think we’re about 4/5 months into this Apollo and Big E feud now which is starting to test my patience a little. Although if you break it down into pre-Nigerian and post-Nigerian then I suppose it’s not been quite so long. All Apollo wanted to do this week was show some love to his Commander with a medal but Big E was having none of it, interrupting on the big screen. Then obviously Sami Zayn had to get involved because he’s still obsessed with the Intercontinental title being his, and surprise surprise wherever Sami goes Kevin Owens follows. One brawl later and we’re getting a title match between all four guys next week on SmackDown. I’m good with that but could we maybe use that as a blow-off to Apollo and Big E finally? I can dream.

Rey Mysterio (with Dominik Mysterio) vs Dolph Ziggler (with Robert Roode)

Out of curiosity, I had a look online to see what the oldest Mysterio vs Ziggler match was that I could find and it was a Raw in 2008 where Cryme Tyme, John Cena, Kofi Kingston and Rey Mysterio defeated Ziggler, John Morrison, Kane, Mike Knox and The Miz. What a combination that was. Credit to both men that they’re still performing at the level they are, but also funny to think that Dominik would’ve been about 11 at the time and Roode was just getting started with another well-known tag team in Beer Money in TNA. Man, I loved Beer Money so much that there’s absolutely no chance the Dirty Dawgs are ever getting to that level.

Rey and Dolph just work so well together, don’t they? Hardly a classic match this week but just enough to give a preview of how good the tag title match could be this Sunday at WrestleMania Backlash. Did we mention that Rey and Dominik could be the first father and son team to win the titles in WWE? I think we might have a few times. It’s nice to have a nice, simple babyface vs heel feud where there’s no real grey area. I like knowing who to support. With Rey stealing the win this week the Mysterios absolutely have momentum on their side and hopefully, we’re days away from a huge feel-good moment. These guys have a chance to really steal the show at the PPV.

Fairy Tale Ending?

I love Bianca Belair. I really do. I was surprised when they never ran with her as NXT champion at some point, and then she seemed to disappear into nothingness on the main roster for an age, but hey we got there eventually with her. That’s got to count for something right? Although I can’t help but feel like her big moment at WrestleMania hasn’t really been capitalised on. There’s just something missing although I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s Bayley the challenger. Maybe it’s Sasha going missing. Whatever it is, I just feel like that huge wave of Mania love and adulation has come back down again.

I love Bianca’s style. I love her attitude. I love her in-ring work. Yet her promos do fall a little flat for me. They don’t feel too real if that makes any sense. It might just be me but she’s not blown me away in that area anyway. It could just be bad promo writing for all I know. I just hope that after WrestleMania Backlash, where she’s obviously clearly retaining, she can move on to a deeper and more meaningful feud with someone that will bring out her best again. I wouldn’t be surprised if she beats Sasha again somewhere down the line to really solidify herself in that top spot. She deserves to be there but there’s still some work to be done.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs King Corbin

In what might be the weakest reason for a feud since Edge and Booker T feuded over a shampoo commercial, Shin and Corbin seem to be at each other now because one is the King of Strong Style and the other is King of the Ring. I wonder if we’ll see Jerry Lawler turn up at some point. In a few months, it’ll be two years since Corbin won King of the Ring. I’d be okay with another tournament actually, but they’ll never be as good as those ones back in the day with Bret Hart and Owen Hart. Give me multiple matches on the same night any day.

I’m not sure what they’re doing with Nakamura anymore but I’m fairly sure they got distracted by Cesaro and just completely forgot about Shinsuke sadly. So now he’s fighting with someone over a fake crown. If we’re going to be picky then Nakamura has been the King for far longer than Corbin has but hey let’s just ignore anything that happens in Japan right. This was a bit of a nothing match really with Corbin outsmarting his opponent and pinning him during a submission. That win didn’t matter though as Nakamura then knocked him out and stole his crown. Who needs the winner’s money when you can have that instead right?

Cesaro vs Jimmy Uso (w/ Jey Uso)

Cesaro really needs some punchier entrance music, doesn’t he? I need something to hype me up and it’s just not working. He’s had some really rubbish ones over the years. That stupid siren and music that sounded like it came off a Create A Wrestler WWE video game. The best entrance music he ever had was when he teamed with Jack Swagger and that wasn’t even his. The Usos on the other hand – as soon as that music hits I’m ready to beat someone down. DOWN SINCE DAY ONE ISH. It’s Jimmy’s turn this week to show the world he deserves to be in the main event but it’s also good to see Cesaro feature in such a prominent role lately. I feel like WrestleMania Backlash is either going to be make or break for him. The fans have often said he’s underappreciated so a PPV title opportunity is a real proving ground for someone like the Swiss Cyborg. Will he finally break through that glass ceiling?

Cesaro’s wrestling ability has never been in question and once again he put on a solid performance this week as did Jimmy in his return to in-ring action. But the match was never going to get the chance to get going as Roman interfered to attack his title challenger and Jimmy looked really disappointed. I’m definitely intrigued about Sunday and I guess having Jimmy’s loyalties unclear makes us a little more unclear as to the result at the PPV. Cesaro took his anger out on Jey to close SmackDown this week with not only one but two Neutralizers to taunt the champ. It’s now time for him to really step up and prove he belongs where the fans believe he does. Not long until we find out if he can truly hang with the best.

The best of SmackDown

  • Cesaro – grabbing some much-needed momentum going into his title opportunity
  • Rey Mysterio – still got it after all these years
  • Natalya and Tamina – a huge title win for both ladies

The worst of SmackDown

  • Nakamura/Corbin – feuding over a crown is stupid
  • Commander Azeez on a box – also stupid
  • Belair/Bayley – I’m just not into it sorry

In summary…

As a final step to WrestleMania Backlash, I suppose the show did its job this week but I can’t help but feel like SmackDown needs a little kick up the backside. Some things are feeling really stale and past their best and everything just needs to move on. That’s a feeling I often have after WrestleMania because so many years they focus on having rematches from the biggest PPV of the year and don’t really get their new feuds going quite yet. So I’m intrigued to see who comes out of WrestleMania Backlash as titleholders and which new challengers step up next week. The PPV is looking solid on paper and I’m really hoping Cesaro gets a proper opportunity to show what he’s made of and isn’t just another stepping stone for Reigns. I fully expect him to lose but, as we all know, stars can be made from losses just as much as they can from wins.

All photos and videos courtesy of WWE