By Graham "GSM" Matthews
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day def. League of Nations
I'll hold off on calling this an official face turn from New Day until we see more, but if they do go that route with them, they wouldn't have to change much about their characters. The audience already loves their pre-match shtick, so all they'd have to do is turn their insults toward their opponents. I enjoyed New Day's match with Sheamus and King Barrett from Roadblock more than this matchup with Rusev and Alberto Del Rio, but it was still solid and I appreciated Xavier Woods scoring the pinfall win for his team since he's typically the one getting pinned. It looks like this feud is not yet over if League of Nations' post-match attack on New Day was any indication.
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman Interrupted Dean Ambrose
I'm glad they're back on track in building this bout for WrestleMania after taking a few weeks off to focus on Triple H vs. Ambrose at Roadblock. Ambrose's promo discussed his match with HHH before setting his sights on Lesnar, leading to a good back-and-forth between Ambrose and Heyman on the mic. Lesnar teasing a brawl with Ambrose only to back down was a great way to leave viewers wanting to see them go at it at 'Mania. And no, this wasn't a "heel turn" by Lesnar; he's just Brock Lesnar.
Ryback def. Sin Cara
Sin Cara's new look was, er, interesting. It brought back bad, bad memories of the awful Sin Cara Negro character from five years ago. I guess it's good they're trying to separate Sin Cara and Kalisto, though, instead of keeping them together as a tandem. The match was sloppy in spots and the crowd sat on their hands for most of it, but it was another dominant win for Ryback that helped further his momentum en route to his United States Championship match with Kalisto.
Dolph Ziggler Confronted WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
I liked how Triple H switched up the cadence of his promo from what he usually does and it made what he was saying more engaging as a result. Having him run down the audience by calling them all failures was simple yet effective, and Ziggler coming out certainly sparked my interest. I figured his beef with Stephanie last week was only for that one night, but it was nice they kept their feud alive going into this week. I realize it isn't saying much, but this was the best promo Ziggler has cut in some time. He showed excellent passion and actually got me excited for his main event match with Triple H despite being so damaged as a babyface.
Sami Zayn def. The Miz
Although Zayn vs. Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental Championship is the most logical route going into WrestleMania, it appears we'll be getting a multi-man match of some sort also involving Miz and Neville based off how the commentators discussed their championship aspirations. But why? Neither of them have done anything to earn a title opportunity while at least Zayn scored a win here following a well-wrestled match with Miz. Who the hell is going to be in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal?
Naomi and Tamina def. Brie Bella and Alicia Fox
It might have been better that Lana came out before the bout even began so fans weren't waiting for her to interfere. Ultimately, she did anyway, so it's not like it mattered much. It was a pretty standard tag match for the most part, but they were limited in the few minutes they were allotted. I assume we'll see some sort of mutli-Diva tag team match at WrestleMania with Team Brie (Brie, Fox, Paige and Natalya) vs. Team Lana (Lana, Naomi, Tamina and Summer Rae) as it has been rumored.
The Usos def. The Social Outcasts
Well, this didn't last long, and I'm actually happy it was so short-lived. I get a kick out of The Social Outcasts, but they don't do anything for me as wrestlers, so it was better that this match didn't overstay its welcome. Because the match was brief, Bubba Ray Dudley didn't have a ton of time to talk on commentary, but he made the most of the time he was given. I'm pleasantly surprised they're saving the first match between Usos and Dudleyz for WrestleMania and not giving it away ahead of time. There's still three weeks left, so hopefully I'm not speaking too soon.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H def. Dolph Ziggler (Non-title)
As soon as Ziggler made his entrance at the 10 o'clock mark, it became apparent Ziggler wasn't winning, but they contested a competitive match, regardless. The early goings if the matchup were similar to what we saw from HHH and Ambrose at Roadblock, but they picked up the pace nicely down the stretch. Triple H winning clean didn't shock me, but why wouldn't Roman Reigns have helped Ziggler win and not wait until afterward to return? The post-match brawl between the two was all right, but I preferred Triple H's attack on Reigns from three weeks ago.
Neville def. Chris Jericho by Disqualification
Jericho continues to kill it in the heel role with his pre- and post-match promos. He really knows how to get under the skin of a crowd no matter how much they cheer for him. It was cool of the commentators to acknowledge their match from The Beast in the East from last July and they were on their way to having an entertaining match before the abrupt finish. My initial reaction was that it was disappointing, but apparently Neville got hurt so they improvised. Wouldn't AJ Styles have wanted to exact more revenge on Y2J than executing just a flying elbow after he was blindsided with three Codebreakers last week?
Shane McMahon and The Undertaker Came Face-to-Face
The hype for this match fell by the wayside in recent weeks, but it picked back up in a big way with this segment. You had to know it wasn't going to run long given it started around 11 o'clock, but everyone played their roles well and it was a significant improvement over Undertaker's appearance two weeks ago. At the same time, I figured if there was any time to add an extra stipulation to the match, it would have been here, but they failed to do so. I'm looking forward to the match regardless, but it feels like it's missing something. I can't place exactly what that something is, but hopefully they give the match that much-needed push in the next three weeks.
Coming off Saturday's Roadblock special, this was a key night for WWE in putting the WrestleMania hype into high gear and I thought they do so very effectively. The previously announced 'Mania matches were well built and there were several matches that were heavily teased for the event as well. The three hours dragged as they usually do, but there were enough strong segments on this show to get a thumbs up from me. Three weeks remain!
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