Jinder Mahal def. Xavier Woods in a United States Championship Tournament Semifinal Match
Finally, something not involving SmackDown Live's authority figures kicking off the show for a change! That said, the promo we received instead from The New Day wasn't very good, and in fact, it was quite annoying. Woods should have been all business given what was on the line here. Nevertheless, Woods has proven in the past he can hang with the best of them in the ring, but Mahal isn't exactly the most exciting or versatile performer, so I wasn't surprised that this didn't light the world on fire. They were given plenty of time, but they didn't pick up the pace until the final few minutes. The end result was what we all expected it to be.
Bobby Roode def. Mojo Rawley in a United States Championship Tournament Semifinal Match
Similar to the previous match, this was fine for what it was and Rawley had a decent showing, but there wasn't anything out of the ordinary about it. And again, the fact we knew Roode was winning didn't help matters, either, but as noted, at least Rawley looked good in defeat. Here's hoping he can still stay on track as a heel in the midcard despite the loss here. The finals of the tourney were moved from the Royal Rumble to next Tuesday's episode (probably because the card for the pay-per-view is pretty loaded), but then Daniel Bryan announced the title match would happen on this show instead.
The Riott Squad def. SmackDown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair, Becky LYnch and Naomi
I questioned the decision for Lynch to beat Riott cleanly last week, so WWE followed that up by having The Riott Squad pick up the victory this week. I don't want to complain about the heel faction winning when they should have, but this 50/50 booking isn't doing anyone any favors. How can WWE expect fans to care about the division when nobody has momentum? By the way, the extremely brief promo they cut beforehand about winning the women's Rumble, albeit appreciated, did nothing to get me more excited about that match than I was before.
Bobby Roode def. Jinder Mahal to Win the United States Championship
Considering both guys already wrestled earlier in the evening, I was surprised the crowd was as invested in the action as they were. However, they didn't have much chemistry and a majority of the match simply dragged. They told a solid story with Mahal targeting Roode's ribs throughout, though, ultimately leading to Roode capturing the championship. I really thought Mahal was taking the title home, so I was pleasantly surprised that Roode won because he needs the belt more at the moment.
AJ Styles appeared in a backstage interview, but Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn did not appear in front of the live crowd. A video package hyping the WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble aired in their absence. The rest of the show was all about the United States Championship, so I liked the renewed focus on the midcard title and the attempt to make it feel important again. None of the four matches on this episode blew me away, but the night was newsworthy if only for the U.S. title changing hands.
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