The United States of Pancakes
To kick off the night, Jinder Mahal and Xavier Woods collided in the first semi-final of the United States Championship Tournament. Some context for you: The tournament happened in the first place because Dolph Ziggler relinquished the championship two nights after he won it (to everyone’s surprise) at Clash of Champions last month. Jinder Mahal won the encounter, and advanced to the finals to face either Bobby Roode or Mojo Rawley (this would be determined later in the night).
To begin with, any wrestling show that started with an ACTUAL WRESTLING match was always a plus. If you have followed WWE programming for a while, you would surely understand why we crave it so much. Technically, before the match, The New Day (with a focus on Woods) cut a lame promo on how the United States was like a pancake and all, but there was no sign of that Shane O’Mac – Daniel Bryan scuffle anywhere. We were pretty sure this would surface somewhere during the night, but good enough for now. The match itself was not anything too out of the ordinary – by this time, we had almost given up on Jinder Mahal’s ability to put on a good wrestling match. Both wrestlers delivered what was expected of them in the ring, and the Singh Brothers continued to assist his Maharaja to cheap victory.
Too Glorious for Mojo
The second match of the night was the other semifinal from the United States Championship Tournament between Mojo Rawley and Bobby Roode. Bobby Roode won, predictably, but we were surprised how much control Mojo had during the match – he essentially manhandled Bobby for over half the match. But one ugly Spinebuster and a Glorious DDT later, nd all was well in the world.
Oh…things got even better in the world…THE UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT FINALS WOULD BE HELD LATER TONIGHT!
We were genuinely surprised by the announcement from Daniel Bryan. This made for good, intriguing, and must-watch television. Everyone was expecting the winner to be crowned one week later, but now this happened? Boy oh boy, this surely glued some butts to seats during the second hour of the show to see a new champion being crowned, giving the company good ratings. We mean, who would have seen this one coming? Good company ratings, excited fans – it was a win-win situation.
We were about to compare how lame the first half-hour Smackdown Live had been compared to the destructive first half-hour brought to us by the red brand, but this changed our minds. Not as good as Braun being fired and wreaking havoc because of that, but still, unpredictable.
It Came Earlier Than We Expected
Aaaaand the nth part in the endless and tedious feud between Riott Squad and the babyface team consisting of Charlotte, Naomi, and Becky Lynch. For a second, we even thought this was a continuation of what happened between Absolution and the three babyfaces back on Monday *yawn*. But what they did right today was to put the new team over the division pillars, and to do so in such a manner that showed the solid teamwork among Riott Squad, but still protected the members of the babyface team.
One thing we did not like, though, was the timing of this match. When there is a feud between two stables, the logical climax would be an all-out 3-on-3, or 4-on-4, etc. tag team match between the two polars at one of the Big Four PPVs. Yet, there you have that very “climax” match happening right here, on what was seemingly another throw-away edition of Smackdown Live (as regards the progress for the women division’s storylines).
How will the feud progress from here? We already know which stable had better teamwork and won the match. Now what is the point of caring about them anymore? We would have expected the feud to be given more time and ideas to develop, simmering for a huge 3-on-3 encounter at WrestleMania, but that match had already been given away now. Another sad week for women’s stable feuds.