SmackDown stormed into 2018 with plenty of promise.
Recent shows haven't delivered, but WWE stacked the deck with two potentially excellent bouts. The first was The Usos vs. Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable, which, given the tag division's 2017 form, could have blown the roof off, though it was overshadowed by the AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn main event. This clash between two of the company's most exciting in-ring talents should have gotten the year off to a tremendous start, but did it and the SD Tag Title bout deliver?
There was plenty to enjoy about both matches, but each was as inconsistent as SmackDown itself. A solid show overall, it delivered no real blow-away moments, but plenty of smart, logical developments, with Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon once again dominating the over-arching narrative.
The night brought another US Title Tournament match, a long-awaited women's division return, and the latest display of dominance from the Bludgeon Brothers.
Let's take a look at the segments that helped SmackDown start 2018 on the right foot, and those that dragged it back towards the previous year's nasty old habits...
Squash matches are an effective formula, but only for so long. Like anything else in wrestling, if the bookers go to the well one too many times, it's going to run dry. That's exactly what has is happening with The Bludgeon Brothers, who, for the third consecutive show, mercilessly slaughtered Breezango on the undercard, albeit before the bell even rang.
Harper and Rowan jumped the Fashion Police prior to their scheduled match starting. This drew out their sidekicks, The Ascension, who had their rear-ends handed to them as well, compounding the Bludgeons' all-out domination.
A short, simple segment, it presents Harper and Rowan well, but the repetition has become problematic. We're seeing a slight variation on the same thing every single week now. It's great that they're giving the Brothers a strong push, but it's impossible not to roll your eyes when everything's so formulaic, and it's about time WWE gave us something different.
Spare a thought for poor Breezango, too: once SmackDown's most popular midcard sideshow, they're now a set of two-minute jobbers.