Becky LYnch def. Peyton Royce; SmackDown Women's Champion Asuka def. Billie Kay (Non-title)
All right, there's a lot to unpack here. Firstly, the promos from all four women beforehand were fine, but Lynch's was easily the best of the bunch. It's just a shame it took her so long to beat Royce. It wasn't a particularly good match, and Lynch struggling to beat one-half of The IIconics was somewhat sad, especially considering Asuka proceeded to dominate Kay in the matter of a minute. That is how to make someone out to look badass. If nothing else, the build to their bout at the Royal Rumble so far has been well done on the whole.
WWE Champion Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles Brawled
The transition into this was strange, because Styles' music cut the Lynch and Asuka face-off short and then Styles made his way to the ring before walking up to the arena concourse. There, he called out Bryan, who emerged and brawled with his Rumble opponent. It was a fine way to further their feud, but it wasn't much different than what we saw from them last week. That said, I can't say I'm surprised they're running out of material at this point in the program and now they're just killing time ahead of the pay-per-view.
Samoa Joe vs. Mustafa Ali Went to a No Contest
This would have been a blast of a bout if their interaction in last week's tag team affair was any indication, but before it could get underway, Ali was ambushed by Joe, who was relentless in his assault on the former Cruiserweight competitor. It was an awesome angle that accomplished two things: make Joe look like a total beast and give fans a reason to rally behind Ali. Joe noted afterward that this was his way of sending a message to the rest of the Rumble participants, but I'd be all for this becoming a full-fledged feud as well (and I assume it will).
Andrade def. Rey Mysterio
Unfortunately, it appears the former Andrade "Cien" Almas is the latest victim of getting his name shortened, because there was no mention of his nickname or his surname here. That aside, this was an absolutely exceptional outing. Both of these guys have been lacking that one truly memorable match since showing up on SmackDown Live, but this was it. They gradually built toward a terrific second half that was filled with thrilling action, innovative maneuvers, a hot crowd and dramatic nearfalls. Andrade's victory was merely the icing on the cake, and I didn't mind that it came after interference from Zelina Vega because that protected Mysterio in defeat. Needless to say, the chemistry these two have is off the charts and I'm eagerly anticipating their next encounter.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Bar Crashed The Miz's "Bestie Birthday Bash" for Shane McMahon; Miz def. SmackDown Tag Team Champion Sheamus
I wasn't looking forward to the "birthday bash" coming into this show, but honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining it ended up being. As for the match, it came together on a whim, and since Miz was wearing his street clothes, I didn't expect it to be much of note, anyway. It was perfectly serviceable and Miz's fluke victory gives him and Shane a small boost of momentum before they challenge for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship at the Rumble. They seem to be on the same page for the time being, but one turning on the other is only inevitable.
I didn't write about them above, but the segments that took place over the course of the night with Mandy Rose, Jimmy Uso and Naomi were way too predictable and corny for my liking. We've seen storylines like this before, and the endgame is always the same. The acting wasn't too stellar, either, and I'm sure no one actually thought Jimmy would cheat on his wife (or that WWE would really show Rose wearing something revealing). The rest of the show was solid, though Mysterio vs. Almas was far and away the best thing on the entire show. The Rumble build has been decent on the SmackDown side thus far, but they desperately need to kick it up a notch for next week's go-home episode.
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