WWE Champion Daniel Bryan def. R-Truth (Non-title)
As I've said before, Bryan has been an absolute blast in his new heel role and I love how WWE switched things up by having him come through the crowd and talk down to them while making his way to the ring. Truth attacking him was his way of getting revenge for what Bryan did to him back on Christmas night, so setting up a bout between the two was logical. It was nothing to write home about, mind you, but it served as a simple showcase for Bryan and gave him an easy win. AJ Styles brawling with Bryan afterward helped heat up their feud and showed off Styles' newfound aggression.
Andrade "Cien" Almas and Samoa Joe def. Rey Mysterio and Mustafa Ali
It's interesting Jeff Hardy wasn't involved in this match, if only because he and Joe have been feuding for the past month, but perhaps Joe's victory last week was designed to be the blow-off. At any rate, this was a very fun tag team affair with excellent action throughout and solid showings from all four Superstars. Almas pinning Mysterio for the win was huge, so here's hoping that's a sign a singles push is on the horizon for him.
Shinsuke Nakamura Attacked United States Champion Rusev
Although they work well together in the ring, I must admit that this Rusev vs. Nakamura has been pretty paint-by-numbers so far. Nakamura blaming Lana getting hurt last week on Rusev is one way to make things feel more personal between the two, but I'm just not buying it, and the material they were given here lacked spark. I'm sure their next match will be entertaining, but it's clear promos are not their strong suit. If nothing else, I appreciate the attempt to get fans to care about this program and the title.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Bar def. The Usos (Non-title)
The Bar and The Usos never cease to rip it up whenever they face each other, though I wish WWE would take a bit of a break from their matches so they don't feel as overexposed as they do (see: The Bar vs. The New Day). Despite that, this was very enjoyable for as long as it lasted and the Mandy Rose-Naomi stuff playing into the finish was a pleasant surprise. I haven't been the biggest fan of that feud, but that was well done. The Miz confronted The Bar afterward and made a challenge for him and Shane McMahon to challenge for the SamckDown Tag Team Championship at the Royal Rumble, which The Bar accepted.
Becky Lynch def. Carmella and Charlotte Flair in a SmackDown Women's Championship No. 1 Contender's Triple Threat Match
Carmella is a competent wrestler at best in my opinion, having failed to deliver memorable matches with the likes of Asuka, Flair and Lynch this past summer. That said, I didn't have the high hopes for her performance in this high-stakes main event, but I thought she held her own and put forth an exceptional effort along with Flair and Lynch. The pace never slowed down, the crowd was into everything they did, and realistically any one of them could have come out on top. Lynch vs. Asuka at the Rumble should be a barn-burner, but if Lynch doesn't end up entering the women's Rumble by the end of the evening, WWE is doing wrestling wrong.
WWE has announced multiple matches for the Royal Rumble as well as new names for both the men's and women's Rumbles later this month, which was necessary with the pay-per-view coming up in less than three weeks. Despite not having as much advertised in advance, this was a significantly better show than Raw on the whole with several matchups delivering, storylines progressing, and the two hours largely flying by. It was far from a home run, but it was an entertaining episode all things considered.
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