By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Roman Reigns def. Fandango
I'm a sucker for a show that kicks off with in-ring action. It's a small thing, but surprisingly, we don't see it much nowadays on Raw or SmackDown. Fandango was a logical first opponent for Reigns given what happened on Raw this week and Fandango could absorb the loss because... well, what else is he doing right now? Reigns didn't seem to have lost a step in his time away from the ring. Personally, I don't find him to be as bad in the ring as some people perceive him to be, but he'll only improve going into WrestleMania season.
Bray Wyatt Responded to Dean Ambrose
Ambrose's promo was a logical follow-up to the events of TLC but nothing special. The same can be said for Wyatt's subsequent response. It was a decent verbal exchange but not much more than a placeholder promo leading into their match at Tribute to the Troops. I don't mind this feud continuing past TLC, but it shouldn't carry on until the Royal Rumble. I'd rather they blow it off before then, and it's possible they do so at Tribute to the Troops.
Erick Rowan and The Usos def. Luke Harper and WWE Tag Team Champions The Miz and Damien Mizdow
We see six-man tag team matches so much nowadays that they lost their luster a long time ago, but this was still solid. Everyone in the match played their role well and the final few minutes were fun. It was also encouraging to see Rowan bounce back from his two losses on Raw and TLC. And, as always, Mizdow was entertaining in mimicking both Miz and even Harper at times.
United States Champion Rusev Attacked Ryback
I wish they would do more stuff like this. Rusev's attack on Ryback came completely out of nowhere and was unexpected. Most important, it put real heat on Rusev and made him look like a true heel. When was the last time he did something truly dastardly? I am highly anticipating the feud between these two and hope they take their time with it.
Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler Interrupted Seth Rollins
Rollins cut another great promo about his win over John Cena from Raw and it was so fitting of his character to leave out how Brock Lesnar aided him to victory. Ziggler was also very good here and I thoroughly enjoyed their exchange on the mic. It set up their match in the main event nicely, making for an effective segment on the whole.
Divas Champion Nikki Bella def. Naomi
The match itself was nothing special, but both ladies deserve credit for having nice outings. It wasn't their fault, but the presentation of the Divas has been lackluster for so long that I can't blame the crowds for not getting into their matches. Jimmy Uso's interference at ringside was predictable, but it was well done. As I noted in my Raw review, I'm curious as to where all of this is leading to, but I'm so sure WWE Creative even has a clue, either.
Kane def. Adam Rose
Needless to say, this was no different than their Raw encounter from Monday night. Kane squashed Rose, and it continues to annoy me that Rose still isn't fully face or heel. Have him be one or the other or take the character off TV all together. It was also bothersome to see The Bunny still at ringside. I hoped Kane's attack on him the first time would write him off TV and I don't have hope this attack will do the trick. Reveal who is under the mask and just get it over with, please.
Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler def. Seth Rollins (Non-title)
Ziggler and Rollins worked a great match as only they could. The action was entertaining and there was a lot of suspenseful back-and-forth down the stretch. The most impressive part of all of this was Rollins even wrestling at all. The dude went through a Tables match on Sunday and a Steel Cage on Monday, so he deserves a bonus for going through with this bout. It was nice to see Ziggler score a non-title win for a change and it doesn't do any damage to Rollins.
I'm always entertained by these live SmackDown shows and while this one was no different, I definitely would not want it to become a regular thing going forward. It feels special because it's done every once in a while. I wouldn't go so far to call this a great show, but I enjoyed it on the whole and there was quite a bit of storyline progression. The main event and Reign's return to the ring made this a more notable edition of SmackDown than usual, but why wasn't the fact it was the 800th episode promoted better going into the show?
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