By Graham "GSM" Matthews
League of Nations def. Dolph Ziggler and The Lucha Dragons
We've seen so many variations of this match with The Lucha Dragons and League of Nations in recent weeks that I didn't expect it to go long at all, so I was pleasantly surprised they were given an ample amount of time. Ziggler's involvement was random, but at least it was an excuse to get Kevin Owens on commentary, which is always a treat. The match itself was a treat and everyone worked well together, but Sheamus beating Ziggler was confusing. Granted, it came after Owens distracted him on the apron, but what sense does it make to have the championship challenger get pinned by someone who won't be wrestling at Fastlane?
Sasha Banks def. Tamina
After last week's excellent matchup between Banks and Naomi, this match was much more of a letdown, but then again, I didn't have high expectations because Tamina isn't nearly as good of a worker as Naomi. In that case, I was somewhat glad the bout was kept relatively short and sweet. More importantly, the ongoing angle with Team B.A.D., Banks and Becky Lynch was well furthered with the tension teased between Banks and Lynch afterward.
Chris Jericho def. The Miz
I remember these two having their first ever one-on-one televised match back in the summer of 2014, but have they faced off since then? I ask because they have such great chemistry together that I'm surprised they haven't clashed more often. Although Miz hasn't won a televised singles match in almost eight months (fact!), I like how he has been holding his own against the likes of AJ Styles and Jericho as of late. They contested an entertaining match that led to a solid segment between Jericho and Styles. Jericho initially turning down the Fastlane challenge only to be lured into accepting by AJ was brilliant. That was Y2J's heel persona shining through and their third encounter should be exceptional.
Divas Champion Charlotte def. Natalya (Non-title)
If you watched their match from NXT TakeOver from May 2014, you were likely disappointed by this affair, and rightfully so. The match didn't last nearly as long as it should have given who was involved. Banks vs. Naomi last week went a lot longer than I thought it would, so it isn't out of the ordinary for the women. Nevertheless, they made decent use of the time they were allotted and Brie Bella attacking Charlotte post-match was a good way to head into their pending title match on Sunday.
Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose def. The Dudley Boyz by Disqualification
Coming off of what we saw from them on Raw, I assumed Reigns and Ambrose not being on the same page would be the focal point of this matchup, but they appeared to be a cohesive unit throughout and wrestled a pretty standard tag bout. The non-finish was logical in protecting the newly turned Dudley Boyz and the brawl that broke out was awesome. Brock Lesnar being back on SmackDown was simply surreal, even for a few minutes, and I was glad he was the last man standing. Ambrose and Lesnar have been coming out on top more often recently than Reigns, which leads me to believe The Big Dog is winning at Fastlane, but I don't think that was ever too much in doubt to begin with.
Once again, SmackDown delivered an extremely enjoyable show and my only regret is that Mauro Ranallo wasn't there to call the action. He revealed on Twitter he was sent home from the tapings with the flu, so he should be back next week. At any rate, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but this was a far better go-home show than Raw. The stuff surrounding the Fastlane main event was exciting and the rest of the two hours fell into place nicely. I'm anticipating the event coming out of this episode much more than I was on Monday night and I hope the high quality of the blue brand will remain consistent in the weeks ahead.
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