Naomi Vacated the SmackDown Women's Championship
I hoped the injury Naomi discussed last week was a work, but apparently it's legitimate after all, which is a massive shame. She finally won the belt and then had it taken away from her because she got hurt. Bummer. She also must be out for a while if they're taking the title off her now and not waiting until WrestleMania. The emotion she showed here was real and was easily the best promo she has cut in her career. Alexa Bliss attempting to convince Daniel Bryan to simply hand her the belt back only for Bryan to put her in a match with Becky Lynch was well done.
Alexa Bliss def. Becky Lynch to Win the SmackDown Women's Championship
These two work well together, so although this was a good match, I don't understand why this wasn't a Triple Threat match also involving Mickie James. Didn't James beat Lynch on last week's SmackDown Live, anyway? It's a bout we've seen countless times before, so while it was nothing new from them, their latest in-ring encounter was solid for what it was. Bliss regaining the gold was the right call since she's the strongest character in the division at the moment.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions American Alpha def. Breezango (Non-title)
It's unfortunate the match didn't last longer than it did because I truly believe these two teams could have a stellar series of matches against each other. That won't happen if Breezango continue to be beaten in the matter of a minute. Meanwhile, I don't know if it was necessary for The Usos to yell relentlessly during their post-match promo (they came across like Ring of Honor's The Briscoes), but it was great mic work from them, nevertheless. They have felt really rejuvenated since their heel late last year.
Natalya def. Nikki Bella in a Falls Count Anywhere Match
From their promos to their brawls to their matches, everything about this rivalry has exceeded my expectations and this was no exception. I appreciated how they wasted no time in taking their fight all over the arena instead of staying in the ring like we tend to see in most Falls Count Anywhere matches. Both women put forth an excellent effort and I loved the set-up for the rumored mixed tag team match at WrestleMania with Nikki inadvertently bumping into Maryse backstage and then Maryse costing her the matchup, even if the "lead" pipe shots were weak.
The WWE Championship No. 1 Contender's Battle Royal Ended in a Draw Between AJ Styles and Luke Harper
Battle Royals are usually hit or miss depending on who's involved and what's at stake, and considering the winner of this match would advance to the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania, it wasn't surprising that this fell in the former category. The eliminations played out almost exactly as I thought they would with Mojo Rawley out first (thank the lord) and then Dolph Ziggler, Apollo Crews and Kalisto keeping their program alive. John Cena tossing out The Miz all but confirms that aforementioned mixed tag team match for 'Mania, while Baron Corbin and Dean Ambrose furthered their feud as well. The final stretch was fun and Harper going on to contend for the WWE title at WrestleMania is the route they're likely headed in, but I'm fine with them dragging this out another week with him and Styles considering there is plenty of time between now and WrestleMania.
I thoroughly enjoy these type of shows where there aren't many matches yet of the few that are held, each matchup is meaningful. The main event received a good chunk of time and rightfully so, the Falls Count Anywhere match lived up to the hype, a story was progressed in the tag team division, and a new SmackDown Women's champion was crowned in light of Naomi's injury. That's a pretty newsworthy night to me, making this an extremely entertaining episode on the whole. The road to WrestleMania on the SmackDown side has been promising thus far and I'm looking forward to seeing what else they have in store in the weeks ahead.
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