Welcome to the first SmackDown Review of 2017 where we'll discuss what and who stood out on last night's show. Since this is the first go around, I'll run through each of the article's sections real quick and if you guys rather me focus on something else, jump into the "Comments" below and let me know.
Kicking things off will be "Standout Moments," where I'll pull out some of the bigger segments that were either enjoyable or terrible. Next, I'll pick out a few wrestlers who moved up or down in the "Trending Up/Down" sections. "This Week's MVP" will be one individual who made the biggest impact and "Overall Thoughts" will be simply what I thought of the show in its entirety. Finally, there is "Grade," 1-10, keep it simple. Okay, enough with the intro, let's move on!
1) Miz Asylum – Dean Ambrose and The Miz kicked the segment off by declaring both of their entries into the Royal Rumble match. Miz focused his aim at Ambrose by saying that he "taints" not only the rumble, but the Intercontinental title, as well, he then stayed true to his sleazy ways by demanding the title be handed back to him (or threaten legal action), instead Ambrose offered a "Miz Participation Award."
Miz was sent into a rage and jumped Ambrose, but after a missed slap by Maryse, Ambrose turned things around and handed the award to Maryse instead. She threw it down on the mat with the strength of 1,000 Total Divas! Crowd was totally into this segment, cheering basically every single thing Ambrose said, I find it difficult to get into his laid back, goofy vibe. Much like Rusev, Miz should be in he main event scene on SmackDown.
2) Wyatt Family Dissension – A well-paced tag match erupted into chaos in the closing moments as Randy Orton bumped Luke Harper off the apron, when going for his elevated DDT. Harper got up on the apron yet again (which was kind of weird) as Gable threw Orton into Harper, Gable was able to roll-up the distracted Orton for the victory. Orton and Harper were at their wit's end with each other when Bray attempted to play peacemaker and got mistakenly superkicked by Harper. He angrily got in the faces of both wrestlers before walking out to the back on his own.
It was a nice wrinkle as now Bray is none too happy with either family member; could we see a triple threat out of this group? Even singles matches between any of these guys should be a good time.
3) "Broken" Ziggler – The WWE Draft has done wonders for Dolph Ziggler, with the overarching story of not being able to win the big match, other than the one that saved his career. Aside from that match, Ziggler has missed out on a bunch of opportunities and now he's just simply lost it. Losing to Kalisto, who hasn't exactly been on a tear himself, caused Ziggler to go mad. I look forward to seeing where he goes as this new change in attitude gives him a fresh look.
4) Video Packages – This is not a new thing, but the video packages last night throughout the show were all absolutely fantastic.
5) STEEL CAGE! – Becky vs. Alexa next week! I can't stop yelling!
6) T-e-r-r-i-b-l-e – I almost thought I'd go through the entire show without a truly bad segment to talk about, but thankfully CJ Lunde (and her...interesting...throwback look) showed up to face Carmela. The match itself was sloppy with Lunde badly botching the setup to Carmella's Code of Silence. Also, James Ellsworth was hovering around, which makes any segment that much worse. Soon after, a backstage promo was done with Carmella and Ellsworth, who revealed he's never been kissed and they are going shopping later. Fantastic.
7) Participation Award For Corbin? – That match against John Cena did nothing for Corbin, Cena went on a tear at the end and pinned him clean, no big deal. Then all the focus just went to Cena and Styles to close out the night. Don't get me wrong, it's good to see some new blood in the main event, but that was the best they had for him? I guess the story is, he's at a very high level early on in his career, but he's not quite at Cena's level.
Natalya – I think it's fair to say Natalya was at the bottom of the Women's Division since the WWE Draft, I know for me she was dead last. This feud with Nikki has helped things and tonight was probably the best heel work I've seen from Natalya in a long time. Attacking Nikki backstage followed up by a lengthy brawl before the match (with Natalya standing tall) bumped her up a few notches. Natalya just needs to find a consistent gimmick to work with and being a highly aggressive jerk should do just fine.
Kalisto – It's unfair to put Kalisto here since he won his match last night, but more people will probably remember the beat-down he received at the hands of Dolph after the match. Since the brand split, Kalisto has really stalled out with losing his U.S. title, that awful "Lucha things" promo, a legit injury that kept him out of action for a bit, while also getting destroyed by Corbin. With 205 Live up and running, it's weird that WWE won't move him to the Cruiserweight division, it's not like he's setting the main roster on fire.
Carmella – "Let's Go Jobber" is never something you want to hear, that match she had was atrocious. Losing Nikki and adding Ellsworth is not going to help her at all going forward.
This Week's MVP
Dolph Ziggler – Yes, even losers can win this award, it was the performance he put on afterwards that got him here. After losing to Kalisto, Ziggler landed a number of massive chairshots on not only Kalisto, but Apollo Crews, who attempted to help out and just got blasted a bunch of times for his troubles. Ziggler then returned to Kalisto (as he lay lifeless against the bottom ropes) to give him one final shot to the back. The frustration Ziggler exemplified here was fantastic, you want to boo the man because he's being an awful person, while at the same time can understand the frustration of losing time and time again.
The WWE's most consistent product continued its streak this week with yet another solid showing. Aside from Carmella's match and the lackluster ending to the main event, every other segment ranged from good to great and that's the reason fans have picked this as the better show for months. Looking forward to where the Wyatt Family goes, and, of course, that massive steel cage match between Alexa and Becky for the SmackDown Women's Championship, WWE is putting a lot of faith in Bliss early on in her career. Raw may have had the bigger moments (Undertaker, Jericho winning the U.S. title) but SmackDown was so much easier to sit through overall.
Grade (out of 10): 7.5