By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Daniel Bryan def. The Miz
Their United States Championship match from 2010's Night of Champions event is among my favorite matches, so I was rather disappointed this encounter didn't live up to that level. I didn't expect them to get more than ten minutes, but it would have been nice to get a competitive match between them. At the very least, the commentators acknowledged their history from the first season of NXT from almost exactly five years ago, so that helped give the match more meaning.
Ryback def. Kane
Kane has been so devalued over the years that crowds are automatically designed to not care about anything he's involved in. Thankfully, Ryback has gotten so over as a babyface that he saved this match from being a total disaster. It wasn't a technical masterpiece or anything, but they pulled together a decent bout with Ryback getting the quick win. It's a real shame they probably don't have substantial plans in place for Ryback at WrestleMania 31 as he deserves more for getting himself over again these last few months.
R-Truth def. Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett (Non-title)
This should have been an easy win for Barrett going into his title defense at the pay-per-view, but it was anything but. Far too much of the focus was on Dean Ambrose on commentary (though I can't complain) when it should have been on Barrett dominating Truth. Not only did Truth control most of the match, he won! And people ask me why I think the title is absolutely worthless. Why should I care if Ambrose wins on Sunday if the belt he's contending for is cursed?
The Ascension def. The New Day
Most people don't care about either tandem at the moment (though I consider myself an Ascension fan), so it was hardly a shock that the live crowd sat on their hands for most of it. Thankfully, the match was over relatively quickly and it ended with another decisive victory for The Ascension. If nothing else, these two teams hadn't clashed prior to this bout, so at least it wasn't something we have seen before. That said, hopefully they move The Ascension into a real feud (or the WWE Tag Team Championship picture) sooner rather than later.
Roman Reigns def. Luke Harper
Personally, I enjoyed their clash on Raw from a few weeks ago over this encounter, but this was still relatively good. It felt like it dragged at points and never found its rhythm, but they picked up the pace down the stretch and delivered a really fun finish. You'd think we'd hear from either Reigns or Bryan coming out of the big brawl that closed Raw, but it might be for the better than that we don't considering the depiction of their respective characters in recent weeks has been horrendous. On a side note, they could be doing do much more with Harper, but at least he's still being given a chance to showcase his skills.
Big Show def. Erick Rowan
This match brought back horrid memories of their train wreck of a match from TLC in December, and sadly, this was no different. It was a glorified squash for Show, which is sad seeing how they were pushing Rowan all of a few months ago. I feel so apathetic toward Show to the point where he isn't a good heel, I just want him off my TV. Seriously, what purpose does he even serve in 2015? I'm sure he's a great guy and all in real life, but the character is so overexposed and hasn't added anything to the product in years.
Paige def. Cameron
As much as I enjoy Paige, this entire feud between her and The Bella Twins has consisted of her wrestling two minute matches and The Bella Twins on commentary. There's only so much they can say before they start repeating themselves. The match was fine for what it was, but it was obviously just filler before the title match at Fastlane. I assume Nikki is still somewhat injured, which would explain why she hasn't wrestled at all since Royal Rumble.
WWE Tag Team Champion Jimmy Uso def. Tyson Kidd by Disqualification
The match barely got started before Rusev interfered, which was a pleasant surprise as it beat seeing another Uso singles match. That's not to say it would've been bad, it probably would have been quite good; rather, we've seen enough of these tag team guys in singles competition where who wins doesn't matter. At the very least, Rusev's attack on The Usos put heat back on him going into Sunday after being annihilated by John Cena on Raw.
Seth Rollins def. Dolph Ziggler
Unsurprisingly, Rollins and Ziggler contested another fast-paced enjoyable bout, though I must admit I thought their Raw encounter was slightly better. The big sell for this match was that J&J Security would be barred from ringside, but that proved to pointless since Big Show and Kane were out their in their place. It was a nice win for Rollins, but I feel he still would have maintained his momentum if he lost to Ziggler and still attacked the babyfaces afterward. The post-match beatdown made me loathe handicap scenarios and I'm sure we're in for a match between these guys in some fashion at Fastlane.
After receiving a main event match that went an hour long last week, this week's edition of SmackDown featured a total number of nine matches. Nine matches! That's ridiculous. With the exception of the main event (the only match from this show worth going out of your way to see), none of the matches got enough time, and as a result, they felt throwaway. Although I was already excited for Fastlane going into this show, it didn't do anything to enhance or hinder my anticipation for Sunday. In other words, it was a pointless show with no new developments and eight worthless matches with a solid main event.
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