Sheamus Attacked Jeff Hardy
I don't think anyone actually thought Hardy was behind the wheel last week when Elias was found laid out in the parking lot, but this was a logical explanation from him. As I said last month, here's hoping he stays true to his word this time and remains sober, but I realize that's a lot easier said than done. Sheamus laying out Hardy here sets the stage for them to collide one-on-one again next Sunday at Backlash.
Otis def. King Corbin by Disqualification
This is a feud that makes sense seeing as how Otis is Mr. Money in the Bank, Corbin is an upper-echelon heel, and both guys have nothing to do at the moment. The matches aren't going to be instant classics, mind you, it has potential in my opinion. There wasn't a ton to this due to it being so short, but what we got was decent and the non-finish keeps the rivalry alive. By the way, where the hell has Tucker been lately?
Lacey Evans def. Sonya Deville
Deville and Evans exceeded my expectations with their match last week and this was terrific, too. Deville ambushing Evans before the bell was a nice touch and the intensity was appreciated. I'm all for a rematch between Deville and Mandy Rose at Backlash, but Rose distracting her with a video on the big screen to allow Evans to pick up the victory was weak because it's been done to death. It also made Rose look like the heel in the feud. Hopefully the rematch is as enjoyable as their original encounter.
Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles Went Face-to-Face; Drew Gulak def. Styles
This was very effective in actually making the Intercontinental Championship feel important for a change. Bryan and Styles both spoke about it with such reverence and made a number of good points on the mic. The match that followed between Styles and Gulak was as hard-hitting and technically proficient as you'd expect. Gulak winning was a pleasant surprise, though the timing was odd with Styles vying for the vacant Intercontinental Championship next week on SmackDown. Perhaps Gulak will be Styles' first challenger if he ends up winning the title.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Big E) and Shorty G def. Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro and Mojo Rawley
I honestly forgot about Rawley on SmackDown since we haven't seen Rob Gronkowski appear on the brand since before WrestleMania 36. That said, this was a fine use of him as he put over Chad Gable and was kept fairly limited. I'm all for Gable getting another shot at super stardom, but WWE needs to remain committed to him this time and not give up on his push after a few weeks. I'm still hoping he'll square off with Nakamura in singles competition before long. By the way, it couldn't be any more apparent that WWE has no clue what to do with New Day at the moment. After what Jaxson Ryker tweeted this week, don't expect The Forgotten Sons to be getting the next title opportunity.
Smackdown Women's Champion Bayley and Sasha Banks def. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross to Win the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship
I fully expected Bliss and Cross to retain the titles since they're currently feuding with The IIconics right now on Raw. Thus, Bayley and Banks stealing the win and the straps shocked me, but not in a bad way. Bliss and Cross are an entertaining duo, but they aren't incredibly interesting and their title reign hasn't been too special. With Banks and Bayley, however, they're teasing tension and are obviously headed toward a split sooner rather than later. I'd rather they get another run with the titles, do what they can with them, and then have Bayley blame their loss of the titles on Banks. As a match, this was better than I thought it would be.
I don't want to jinx it, but SmackDown has been noticeably better the past few weeks than it has been for its entire stint on FOX dating back to early October. I'm not sure if it's a change in Creative for the show or what, but I applaud them for making an effort with the blue brand finally and injecting some much-needed life into it. In addition to everything I wrote about above, another vignette for the soon-to-be-debuting Matt Riddle aired (which I'm looking forward to) and The Miz and John Morrison tried to make life a living hell for Braun Strowman (which was stupid and unfunny). WWE is clearly focused on improving ratings with SmackDown these days seeing as how Bryan vs. Styles is happening next Friday night and not at the Backlash pay-per-view. It should be a blast, if nothing else.
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