By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Daniel Bryan Called Out Kane
I always enjoy seeing Bryan in a cheerful mood, but shouldn't he be more aggressive like he was when confronted The Authority last week? At least he upped his anger a little later in the promo. It was cool to see him acknowledge his history with Kane and the had a good verbal exchange, but I surely hope this doesn't mean we are getting a match between the two at WrestleMania. This segment help set up Bryan vs. Antonio Cesaro for later in the show as well.
United States Champion Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns def. Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston
It really pains me to write "United States Champion" before Ambrose's name, as he hasn't defended the title in over three months. What gives? At least JBL made mention of that commentary. Speaking of such, Seth Rollins performed well behind the booth and addressed the growing tension between Ambrose and Reigns nicely. Ziggler and Kingston make for an interesting tandem, but it is too bad they are nothing more than enhancement talent at the moment. It was a good match while it lasted with the crowd getting into the near-falls down the stretch. Bray Wyatt's post-match promo was also excellent.
Sheamus def. Ryback
I have been anticipating this first time ever match for quite a while now, and it surprisingly lived up to my expectations. The match consisted of hard-hitting action and their two very physical styles meshed perfectly. Granted, they weren't given much time, but they impressed in the small window of time they were given. Say what you will about Ryback's in-ring ability, but he can flat out go when working with the right opponent, and Sheamus is certainly that guy. This was Ryback's best performance in ages, and I surely hope I get my wish of these two working against each other at 'Mania.
Daniel Bryan def. Antonio Cesaro
Not counting their Gauntlet match from last August, this was the first one-on-one match between Bryan and Cesaro in WWE. That being said, I found their initial encounter to be slightly better, but this was still a very good matchup from both men. It had a slow start early on, but they picked up the pace down the stretch and delivered a fun final few minutes. It could have used some more time, but they made the most out of what they were allotted. Similar to Raw this week, Bryan picked up a nice win only to get left laying by Kane. What was the point of this if Bryan won't be feuding with Kane going into WrestleMania? This is why I fear we not be getting Bryan vs. Triple H at the event after all, but here's hoping I'm wrong.
Divas Champion AJ Lee def. Nikki Bella (Non-title)
It felt like the millionth time we have seen this match in the last few months, or AJ vs. any star of Total Divas for that matter. AJ carried Nikki to an exceptional match, which was thankfully kept short and relatively painless. Nikki has come a long way in bettering her in-ring skills over the years, but there is still room for improvement. It was a win for AJ, sure, but no storyline progression took place and it was essentially worthless.
Bray Wyatt def. Goldust
It was a nice match for what it was, but it was basically an extended squash for Wyatt. Goldust's pre-taped promo was fine, but it didn't explain the logic behind this match all that well. I fear that now the Rhodes brothers are out of the tag team title picture, they will reduced to enhancement talent for other stars. They were the best thing going just a few weeks ago, so I hope this doesn't become the norm for them. As I have stated in the past, I hope to see them turn on one another sooner rather than later to set up their rumored 'Mania match.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton def. Christian (Non-title)
Orton vs. Christian was one of my favorite feuds of 2011 (next to John Cena vs. CM Punk), so seeing them face off once again was a treat for me. It was a well worked match that was given good time and had the crowd engaged in the entertaining action. The finishing sequence was very well done and Orton hitting the RKO on Christian to win the match was a nice nod to their first world title match from three years ago. It was pretty predictable that The Viper was going to emerge victorious, but he needed the win more than Christian considering he lost to Bryan this week on Raw. I expect him to lose to John Cena and possibly Sheamus in coming weeks but beating Cesaro.
WWE television has been almost extruciating to watch as of late, so I saw this show as a nice, refreshing change of pace. The three top matches (Bryan/Cesaro, Ryback/Sheamus and Orton/Christian) definitely delivered and were well worth going out of your way to see. There wasn't much hype for the upcoming pay-per-view outside of the Elimination Chamber match, but at least the action was enjoyable enough to make the show feel somewhat meaningful.