SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon and SmackDown General manager Daniel Bryan Confronted John Cena
"Desperate John Cena" is a great new character for Cena, if only because he's delusional to think that he won't have a road to WrestleMania. Everyone expected him to be apart of the WWE Championship picture somehow, but I'm glad he wasn't just handed a match with Shinsuke Nakamrua at Fastlane simply because he's John Cena. That said, I understand that SmackDown Live is the "land of opportunity," but a Six-Pack Challenge WWE title match? Really? Worse yet, with Cena vs. AJ Styles being as big as it is, that should have been advertised at least one week out, not thrown together at the last minute for the night's main event.
Baron Corbin def. Sami Zayn
The commercial break dominated a majority of this match and Kevin Owens was more entertaining on commentary than the action was, but what we did see was good. It's just hard to care about anyone in this WWE Championship match coming up at Fastlane when no one can win consistently. For example, Corbin won two weeks ago, lost last week, and picked up a victory this week. 50/50 is what's killing SmackDown right now. Also, how obnoxious were those cut-ins from Shane and Bryan from the back?
Akira Tozawa def. Ariya Daivari
It never ceases to amaze me how hot Tozawa was last summer during his feud with Neville over the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, and then how he completely fell off the face of the earth. He's still a lot of fun to watch in the ring, but the crowd sat on their hands for this. I partially blame Daivari, not because he's bad in the ring but rather because he's the ultimate enhancement talent in the Cruiserweight division. Thus, it's hard to care about anything he's involved in, no matter how decent it might be.
Goldust def. Curt Hawkins
We have seen this match a handful of times in recent months, so while it was nothing new, this mostly consisted of comedy that I enjoyed. For example, I got a good chuckle out of Hawkins laying down for Goldust only to reveal he was playing possum (to no avail, of course). I've seen that spot from them before, but it always makes me laugh. This was hardly anything worth going out of your way to see, but for the time it was allotted, it was a nice little matchup.
Asuka, Sasha Banks and Bayley def. Raw Women's Champion Alexa Bliss, Mickie James and Nia JAx
Bliss' pre-match promo was excellent as usual as she ran down her opponents at Elimination Chamber and played up her partnership with James. I thought she would turn on James right then and there, or at least during/after the subsequent six-woman tag team match, but apparently not. James is a heel now despite never actually turning, so I'm interested to see if their alliance sticks or if it'll be short-lived. The match itself was super solid and furthered several storylines with Jax and Asuka as well as Bayley and Banks with Bayley refusing to take the tag from Banks. No, Bayley didn't turn heel, but I guess she didn't understand that it was every woman for themselves inside the Chamber and that Banks was merely doing what had to be done.
John Cena Challenged The Undertaker to a Match at WrestleMania 34
The notion that Cena doesn't have a road to WrestleMania even though he hasn't missed an installment in a decade a half is absolutely ridiculous. The match with Undertaker has been rumored for many months, so it was hardly a surprise when Cena brought up his name as a potential opponent for the show. He then said it would be "impossible" for that to come to fruition before announcing that as a "free agent," he will be appearing on Tuesday's SmackDown Live to find a different route to WrestleMania. He is currently advertised for Fastlane after all, but 'Taker will resurface at some point to make that 'Mania match official.
Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows def. The Miztourage (Kickoff Match)
I'm all for giving Anderson and Gallows some wins, but this belonged on Raw. It was beyond basic and, quite frankly, a waste of time, especially when you consider The Revival wasn't on this card and they have been feuding with The Balor Club for weeks. There wasn't anything technically wrong with this match and the crowd was behind Gallows and Anderson throughout for the most part, but it's not worth going out of your way to watch.
Raw Women's Champion Alexa Bliss def. Sasha Banks, Bayley, Mickie James, Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose in an Elimination Chamber Match
I felt like the ladies almost had to deliver given this was the first-ever women's Elimination Chamber match, and similar to at the Royal Rumble, they definitely did. This was laid out wonderfully with Absolution dominating Bayley early on and Banks evening the odds once she entered the fray. The rest of the match was equally entertaining, especially when it came down to Bliss, Bayley and Banks. Banks turned on Bayley as expected, but since it was every women for themselves anyway, I wouldn't consider it a full-blown heel turn just yet. Bliss retaining her title was pretty predictable, but she did it in perfect fashion. She nearly got me during her post-match promo when she embraced the audience and "thanked" them before reverting back to her evil core. This was fantastic all around and evidence that it should be brought next year.
United States Champion and Unified Tag Team Champion The Miz Interrupted Daniel Bryan
Quite honestly, when Bryan said during his debut promo that he would one day headline WrestleMania and win a world title, I laughed, never thinking that would actually happen. To be fair, I wasn't aware of him whatsoever before he arrived in WWE. Nevertheless, Bryan mentioned in his book years later that almost everything that happened promo-wise on NXT was a shoot, so if Bryan's dialogue wasn't scripted, then he did fairly well for himself here. I enjoyed his interaction with his pro Miz, and those two would have far and away the most compelling story on this season of NXT.
Christian and Heath Slater def. Carlito and Michael Tarver
I liked the video packages that aired before the bout highlighting both Tarver and Slater. It gave us a good albeit brief look at what they were all about, and Tarver's vignette impressed me more. That said, neither of them did anything to impress me in the ring here, but it did help that they had seasoned veterans Christian and Carlito to fall back on. It was a nice little matchup on the whole, but Christian pinning Tarver in Tarver's debut match may not have been the best booking decision.
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