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SmackDown In A Nutshell: Next Stop, Fastlane!

Tonight is the go home show as SmackDown heads toward Fastlane. We are set to have a United States title match, and there is final Fastlane hype too!

Hello again everyone, and welcome to another Nutshell! Sometimes we are better off just cutting through the chit chat and getting right to the fighting. Tonight is as good a night for that as any. Next stop, Fastlane, and the blue brand roster is fully getting themselves prepared for that show. That, and there’s a plenty of hype to be had for WrestleMania too. Are you ready to crack open this Nutshell?!

Best Match of the night:

There is absolutely no doubt, nor any debate. This one is all about the fatal fourway. Each of the four did a great job in the bout, and the absolute highlight was Samoa Joe claiming his first main roster gold.

Worst match of the night:

Sadly, there were several options. Look, I get it, they wanted to get a lot of action into a two hour show…and they wanted to further some narratives…but…really? The Naomi/Mandy Rose match was a farce. Over in a blink, and after her loss, Naomi was able to sit up in the ring and watch Asuka assault both Mandy Rose and Sonya DeVille-with a smile on her face. Sure looked like she was “beaten”.

And then there was Kevin Owens and Rowan, which didn’t go on much longer and ended in a DQ. I get it, designed and intended to further the narrative ahead of Sunday…but yikes.

Crowd Chants of the Night:

This is awesome

NXT

Owens

Sami

Becky

Star of the Night

I shall give this nod to the new United States Champion, Samoa Joe. I am honestly surprised it took this long for Joe to get a belt on the main roster, though I suspect that was at least partly due to his injuries interrupting pushes. He may be a heel, but fans were happy to see him get the win, and so am I.

Spot of the Night:

Some crazy good ones in the tag match. Ricochet is crazy good, and when the Hardy Boyz came to make the same, the ring damn near needed an air traffic controller. Lots of flying Superstars.

Jobber of the Night:

I have to say this one is all about Naomi. She was flat out jobbed out. Got like no offense in against Mandy Rose…and I really don’t consider Mandy to be a credible contender. Having a decent match against a former women’s champion would have gone a long way to fix that perception, but nope, we went with a squash instead.

Holy Sh** Moment of the Night:

Usually a title change this close to WrestleMania is a bit of a shock…except that it was always a shock that R-Truth actually won the United States Title in the first place. While people were hoping or thinking a Truth-Cena program could happen for WrestleMania, that might have only been half right. Based on Samoa Joe’s backstage comments, it looks like we might be setting up a John Cena-Samoa Joe match.

Nice return for Mustafa Ali. As Kevin Owens was getting beat down during the abbreviated match, fans were chanting for Sami Zayn. As I opined last week, with Zayn basically cleared to return, it would not be all that shocking if Zayn did return soon-perhaps as soon as this weekend-to help out his best buddy Kevin Owens. Ali was still a nice consolation prize.

Image Credit: provided via wwe.com

LOL Moment of the night:

I think we were supposed to be laughing for some of the New Day’s segment? Maybe? For the most part, it seemed a bit…I don’t know…wasted? Yes, keep Kofi in the spotlight…however, I think a quick bit with angry Kofi would have made a lot more sense.

Noteworthy Moment:

The big two would be the United States title change and the Mustafa Ali return.

Also a nice win for Aleister Black and Ricochet. Makes me think they have a real shot to win on Sunday…which would really have to frustrate The Revival, I would think.

Speaking of Samoa Joe…if you have any doubt about how hard-hitting a match he was in, did you see his post-match backstage interview? Chest was quite red, and he had a nice cut or welt by his left eye.

Overall lowlights:

Using Naomi like that was such a waste. If they want to remind us of Mandy and Asuka for Sunday, there has to be a better way…one that does not involve wasting Naomi as a jobber.

Kind of a bummer to see Kevin Owens and Rowan be so short. Again, I get the idea that it was intended to really further the Daniel Bryan/Kevin Owens program, but I can still be bummed we didn’t get much of a match here.

Overall highlights:

The show-stealing fatal fourway. The match gave Samoa Joe his first main roster gold and earned the crowd chants of “this is awesome”.

Good closing segment for Becky and Charlotte…though I think there isn’t a person on Earth who could possibly think Becky isn’t winning.

Image Credit: provided via wwe.com

After the final bell:

Tonight’s show felt a bit less awesome than the last couple Monday and Tuesday efforts…but it was not a complete abomination. Good enough as a go-home show for Fastlane, with some wrinkles eyeing WrestleMania too. Sunday should be an interesting show.

Samoa Joe’s win was the moment of the night.

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