WWE SmackDown Location: Cincinnati, OH Date: March 17, 2016
Roman Reigns opens the show, taped in Cincinnati, Ohio, with a promo. He talks about the beatdown he tossed at Triple H on RAW and claims that he will take Triple H’s World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania. The promo was solid, and the reception was better than what he got RAW, not that it could’ve been much worse.
Reigns needs more of what he gave the fans on Monday when he was relentless and brutal in his pursuit of Triple H. If anything, he’s actually got room to go further because fans might actually receive him better if he were to fight off the faces like Jack Swagger who stopped him on Monday.
Really, though, the WWE creative team needs to realize that there’s not much they can do to get Roman over by Wrestlemania. It’s time to decide what he’s going to be and let him run with it, regardless of what the fans do in response.
This is a good, balanced match as Ziggler, unsurprisingly, gets his win back from losing to Triple H on RAW.
It’s been reported that the match with Triple H was a sign of respect from the Cerebral Assassin, but the fact remains that Ziggler is still left without a WrestleMania match. He’d be a logical fit for the rumored multi-man match for the Intercontinental Championship, but losing the match that was supposed to earn him his match puts a kink in things.
Next up is a backstage segment between Kevin Owens and AJ Styles, who will face off later in the evening. In all honesty, it’s hard to see why Styles isn’t getting a crack at Owens at Wrestlemania, but the writers seem to be really attached to Styles and Jericho.
Hometown hero Dean Ambrose cuts a promo on the big screen, as he is out on the town. The crowd, of course, loves him because crowds everywhere seem to.
Bubba Ray Dudley defeated Goldust
After the win, D-Von joins his brother in the ring to beat down Goldust, but R-Truth comes in to save his would-be tag team partner. The Usos also help get rid of the Dudleys.
It’s hard to say exactly where the Golden Truth stuff is going, but they need to get there. What started as a fun side story with potential has developed into something that is increasingly more difficult to watch with every week passing by.
Another talking segment up next, this time, a recorded interview between Michael Cole and United States Champion Kalisto from earlier in the day. Kalisto accepts Ryback’s challenge for Wrestlemania, in what could be an interesting match.
Hopefully, Ryback debuts some of the innovative offense he’s been using at house shows because that could help make this a surprisingly good title match.
The face-to-face-to-face discussion between Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks is up next, beginning with Charlotte and her father, Ric Flair. She introduces Becky, followed by Sasha. Trash talk eventually turns to a fight, and Charlotte escapes an attempt at a two-on-one attack.
Not much needs to be said about how spectacular this match could be at Wrestlemania. This is precisely what fans wanted to see, especially once these three talented women got called up from NXT on the same night. Hopefully, the WWE will give the Triple Threat the time it deserves, and the wise move in terms of fan reaction would be to make sure Sasha walks away with the Divas Championship.
For a third straight talking segment, New Day takes to the ring next for a promo targeting the League of Nations, or “League of Booty.” They accept the League’s Mania challenge, adding another title match to the card and leaving Owens’ Intercontinental title match as the only one not to be set. Further, it would seem that all three New Day members are going to participate in the match, which will be an interesting angle to watch develop.
At this point, it’s hard not to feel bad for Barrett. When he enters a match, it’s almost assumed that he’s taking the loss somehow. Naturally, this one ends in a brawl between the two teams.
Many people will yawn about this match for Wrestlemania, but the past week should be an indication that the bout will be a good one. The two groups put on solid matches at Roadblock and on RAW, and the added intrigue of more people could make for a solid contest.
Now we get to see Dean Ambrose, who has made his way to a local bar. He’s perfect for concepts like this one.
The poor Social Outcasts are up next, but only to be targets for Ambrose when he returns from his early – but not for television – St. Patrick’s Day celebration. He cleans the house with a kendo stick before addressing Brock Lesnar, who is set to return next week in Boston.
WWE Intercontinental champion Kevin Owens defeated AJ Styles in a non-title match
In a match that’s as good as would be expected, both men get a great reaction from the crowd. Styles teases but does not complete the Styles Clash, and Chris Jericho comes out later in the match for a distraction. That allows Owens to hit the pop-up powerbomb and collect the win. Then Jericho hits the ring for a Codebreaker on Styles and to taunt his foe until the show ends.
Styles and Jericho are pros, but they’re in an unenviable position for Wrestlemania to a degree. Everyone will be expecting a show stealer, but with several matches already behind us in this feud, that may be tough to accomplish.