WWE SmackDown
March 26th
Staples Center
Los Angeles, California

Introduction: While WWE is busy with WrestleMania AXXESS they are here to give us a subpar go home/throwaway Smackdown show complete with inconsequential matches that were taped after Monday Night Raw! Stay tuned after the review (at the bottom of the page) for some awesome WrestleMania YouTube videos that build up this Sunday’s PPV better than the WWE has done for the last 12 weeks.

Jimmy Uso vs. Big E vs. Cesaro vs. Fernando: This is a Fatal Fourway singles match to preview the preshow Fatal Fourway tag team match. All wrestlers are joined ringside by their firsts and seconds except for Big E who is only joined by his first, Xavier. No Kofi in sight. Maybe he was busy visiting with the seamstress to make sure the New Day’s WrestleMania Pre-show gear was going to be ready in time.

It is always refreshing to see an established tag team in singles action. It’d be great to see the Uso’s in more singles matches. It helps the performers add layers to their arsenal when they can’t rely on their tag partner in a match.

This match was filled with plenty of high flying action and wrestlers countering signature moves. It was an exciting TV match. ***

WrestleMania AXXESS Studio: Renee Young introduces the “dapper” Byron Saxton (her words, not mine). Byron then mentions how there will be over 100 Superstars that will be signing autographs. Byron then throws to ESPN’s coverage of Brock Lesnar announcing he re-signed with WWE. What a great sit-down interview. Brock didn’t break kayfabe, but still came off realistic. Then the following video is shown to preview Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match hype: Renee and Byron take a few moments to berate and belittle anyone spending $65 on WrestleMania thus promoting the WWE Network. Then they throw to the following video to preview the IC Ladder Match which is the 11th ladder match in WrestleMania history. This video also mentions that it’s been 14 years since an IC champion has successfully defended their title at WrestleMania (Chris Jericho successfully defended the title over William Regal at WrestleMania X-7)

Rusev vs. John Cena hype: The following video is then showcased, but be sure to stick around to the end of the review if you want to see a GREAT Rusev video which is easily one of the best videos WWE has ever produced.

Major Announcement about who is singing “America the Beautiful”: Aloe Blacc is singing America the Beautiful at WrestleMania. Who? This sounds like something you would buy if you were severely sunburnt. (Editor’s Note: Aloe Blacc is the man and you will all find out Sunday. -Rich) And why do we have three musical guests/groups for WrestleMania? I am okay with one for America the Beautiful and one more for the spectacle/atmosphere, but do we really need Kid Ink and LL Cool J to both get different performances? That is, unless LL is going to be rapping someone’s entrance. Maybe John Cena and him will collaborate on an Anti-Russian rap?

AJ Lee promo: AJ starts off with “You guys have known me for a long time as Diva’s champion, everybody’s girlfriend…” AJ then says that at WrestleMania she is going to step up to the plastic mannequins and defeat them. AJ then says that she will succeed by herself or with Paige. AJ then tells Paige it’s up to her if she wants to join her.

Paige then comes out and tells AJ she can’t skip past what happened on Raw. Paige then reminds AJ that it’s been nearly a year that Paige won the Divas Championship from AJ the night after WrestleMania XXX.

AJ then tells Paige that she wants the Divas title, but so long as they are at odds they won’t succeed at WrestleMania. Paige then tells AJ that she doesn’t believe AJ won’t turn on her.

The Bella Twins come out. Nikki then insults the both of them and Brie tells them the Twins have a special bond. Brie mentions that Nikki has done hurtful things to her, but she has forgiven her. Nikki then says that she has been running this Divas division for the last year while AJ was on vacation. Nikki then says Brock Lesnar worked more days then AJ.

Paige comes back with “We are okay with being freaks.” AJ adds “This is what real women look like. And at WrestleMania we are going to kick your ass.”

Nikki retorts “You want to talk real women? Real women stop talking and do something about it.” Brie restrains her from going down to the ring. Nikki then calls out “We will see you bitches at WrestleMania”

This was a GREAT segment. It had fire and passion. It put these Divas in a similar spot light as a men’s angle that has heat. This might be the first Divas promo from the main roster that has made me even remotely excited to see the match to follow.

Renee Young has a big announcement about the WrestleMania Kick Off Show: Renee makes the announcement that the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal will be in the second hour of the WrestleMania Pre Show. This is confusing. Wasn’t the whole point of the Battle Royal to give more wrestlers a WrestleMania spotlight and an excuse to have more wrestlers to pay their WrestleMania bonus to since the Network provides a smaller pay out?

John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Mark Henry & Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt, The Big Show, Corporate Kane & Seth Rollins: This match is wrestled at a very slow and plodding pace. It is clear that none of these guys gave a full effort possibly in attempt to keep it safe before their big pay days this coming Sunday.

John Cena and Seth Rollins had a small interaction in the middle part of the match that continues to give off the impression that these two could have a great singles feud against one another. Cena gets beat down by Bray + Authority and as Cena stretches out for the hot tag we get a great camera angle of his team reaching their arms out from the new turnbuckle post camera. This was the first time that camera angle seemed to add something to a match.

Cena eventually makes his way to the corner to tag in Daniel Bryan. Off of the hot tag Daniel Bryan cycles through his signature spots on Seth Rollins finally getting the crowd into this match. Seth Rollins counters the kick to his head with an Superkick. Both men are down. Big Show and Roman Reigns are tagged in.

This is when things get crazy. Reigns spears Bray, then spears Kane, then Superman punches Big Show. Cena delivers the AA to Big Show. Daniel Bryan then sets Big Show up for the Busaiku Knee for the win. Daniel Bryan’s music plays as the four babyfaces celebrate. It was interesting that they didn’t go with Roman Reigns coming out of this last episode of WWE TV with the big win.

Taylor C. Mitchell’s WrestleMania Build up!

Rusev’s WrestleMania Workout: This is a GREAT video. Rusev looks legitimately scary as he is speaking in Russian about how he is going to destroy John Cena. It is great when Rusev mentions “John Cena works out for looks. This isn’t about looks.” And when Rusev is pacing back and forth talking about WrestleMania he looks absolutely terrifying. Rusev gets his character. Every little action, reaction, emotion, movement Rusev makes just makes sense for his character. Not a second is wasted with this guy.

Ryback’s WrestleMania Workout: Ryback in this video talks about his injury this past Summer/Fall that put him out of action for a few months. There is raw emotion shown here from Ryback even to the point that he is choked up behind watery eyes talking about this. Ryback then talks about people who have criticized him and how he is going to prove them wrong. It is unknown whether he was referring to him or not, this had to make you think he was referring to CM Punk’s insults that were thrown at Ryback on the “Art of Wrestling” Podcast this past November. It was as if this really got to Ryback and hurt him, but he was strong enough to overcome that.

Dean Ambrose Climbs Mountains: The video starts off with Dean Ambrose backstage warming up and trying to get pumped for a match with Bad News Barrett. Then we go to a shot of Dean Ambrose climbing a mountain as he is on a hiking trip. This was very much akin to his scenes running through the desert in The Shield’s WWE Network special, but this was great imagery of him preparing for climbing ladders at WrestleMania. Anytime you get to see Dean Ambrose in his authentic environment as he is isolated and training in his own unique way it just makes this guy stand out in a way he doesn’t when he is throwing mustard at people.

NXT Superstar in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal: What a great moment for Hideo Itami this was. Hideo Itami defeated Finn Balor in the finals of the NXT Tournament to grant Itami a spot in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Corey Graves catches up with Itami backstage to get his thoughts on his victor. Itami is still obviously working on his English speaking skills, but he just looked happy and proud to be a part of WrestleMania. Itami came off as legitimately honored that Tatsumi Fujinami joined him in the ring to congratulate him on his victory.