SmackDown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair and Sonya Deville Attacked Ronda Rousey
Rousey is still rough on the mic, but I appreciated that she spoke like an actual human being this time compared to when she first came back last month. If she can continue to come off as likeable, I think she'll largely be cheered, but then again, fans booed her against Charlotte at Survivor Series back in 2018, so it's tough to say for sure. This was a fine segment to further the feud between Flair and Rousey and set up Rousey vs. Deville for next week's SmackDown. That will be Rousey's first TV match since before WrestleMania 35.
The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) def. Los Lotharios
This was the rubber match between the two teams. Considering the first two matches were fun, I had no issue with them running it back here. They once again had an entertaining outing that the crowd was into. I don't like how Big E and Kingston, two former WWE Champions, are completely directionless at the moment, and transitioning them into a feud with Sheamus and Ridge Holland does nothing for anyone involved. Having them chase the SmackDown Tag Team Championship would be a step backward as well, even though I'm expecting some lazy multi-team affair for the belts at WrestleMania 38 per usual.
Xia Li def. Natalya
It's about damn time Li had her debut match on SmackDown. Vignettes started to air for her in October or November and she officially debuted in December, but she's barely appeared on the program since then. She's come a long way from when I first saw her in NXT years ago. She's not completely polished, but she had a successful debut here and her offense looked cool. It's a shame the crowd chanted "Hershey's Chocolate" as opposed to giving a crap about the actual match. I couldn't care less about Natalya, but Li deserved better.
Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn Attacked Johnny Knoxville During His Championship Celebration
Zayn is an absolute treasure. He's been killing it in this role for a while and it's nice to see him rewarded in the form of another reign as Intercontinental Champion. Him going off about the "conspiracy" against him was great stuff and Knoxville confronting him was logical given it looked like they still had bad blood coming out of the Royal Rumble. I'm not too thrilled about there being two celebrity matches at 'Mania this year, and this likely being for the Intercontinental Championship is a joke, but whatever. It can easily exceed expectations because it's actually been a fun program so far.
Sasha Banks def. Shotzi
Remember when Shotzi turned heel on Banks shortly after the Draft and there were those that thought Shotzi would actually benefit from it? Yeah, that's pretty comical in retrospect. She's barely been on TV and she didn't even receive a televised entrance here. That's sad. The match was total throwaway to set up Naomi's post-match announcement: she and Banks are going to be gunning for the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship. Uhm, that came out of nowhere, but I guess it gets them on the WrestleMania card, if nothing else. Plus, they have history as part of Team B.A.D., so I suppose it could be worse.
Drew McIntyre def. Madcap Moss
I remember seeing McIntyre vs. Moss being advertised at one point for this show, but then it was later changed to McIntyre vs. Happy Corbin. Before the bout, however, Corbin claimed that McIntyre vs. Corbin was "WrestleMania worthy" and therefore he ordered Moss to take his place instead. I got a good laugh out of that, though I knew that was coming as soon as they announced McIntyre vs. Moss at Elimination Chamber. I'm tired of seeing these two work together and of this feud in general, but at least they kept it brief. I'm glad Moss is okay after that scary Alabama Slam bump at the pay-per-view.
Universal Champion Roman Reigns and WWE Champion Brock Lesnar Signed the Contract for Their Winner Take All Championship Unification Match at WrestleMania 38
It seemed like a whole 20 minutes would be dedicated to this contract signing, but between commercials and Lesnar taking his time coming to the ring, they only went face-to-face for about four or five minutes before the show ended. That was disappointing, but I can't say I'm surprised. WWE has done this before, and not only that, there's another five or six weeks to go until WrestleMania. It's possible they don't want the program to peak too early, but then again, WWE rarely ever thinks that way. Lesnar's rampage was terrific, though.
As I've said time and time again, SmackDown has lost a lot of its luster lately, but this wasn't necessarily a bad show. Rather, I thought it was solid on the whole and did an effective job of setting up several things for WrestleMania. Granted, I'm not invested in all of it, but at least more people have direction. I also liked how they set up Rousey vs. Deville, Zayn vs. Ricochet for the Intercontinental Championship, The Usos vs. The Viking Raiders for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship for next week's show.