SmackDown Tag Team Champions The New Day Interrupted The Miz and John Morrison on Miz TV; Miz def. SmackDown Tag Team Champion Kofi Kingston
Between the slo-man and the pyro, seeing Morrison's WWE entrance again was a real treat. That said, it's clear it's going going to take time for Morrison to get used to cutting scripted promos again. He improved as a talker in his absence from WWE, and he is infinitely better as a heel, so hopefully he'll find his footing again working with Miz. The match that followed between Miz and Kingston was as well-wrestled as their encounter last week and it had the right result with Miz winning (his first televised victory in four months). I'm very much looking forward to this Miz and Morrison reunion as heels.
Elias Sang About the Royal Rumble
Elias' songs over the past several weeks haven't served much of a purpose aside from killing television time, but this may have been his best one yet. Granted, the lyrics were weak, but that line about Brock Lesnar never being around was perfect. That leads me to believe Elias will be the first one tossed from the Rumble by Lesnar, but we shall see. If nothing else, the crowd clapped along and seemed to enjoy it, so I can't complain too much.
Mandy Rose def. Alexa Bliss
As much as I'm digging this angle with with Otis and Mandy, I feel like there's a disconnect with Mandy's character. She came across as completely likable backstage when giving Otis a cake that "I'm Sorry" on it, but then acted liked a total heel while facing Bliss. Perhaps that's the point and we'll eventually find out that Mandy is using Otis to help her win matches, but either way, I hope they don't blow this thing off any time soon. It's easily been the best storyline on SmackDown in recent weeks and should last as long as possible. The match itself was nothing special.
SmackDown Women's Champion Bayley and Lacey Evans Brawled Backstage
Evans was advertised to take on Sasha Banks one-on-one, but Bayley appeared on the Titantron to tell Evans that Banks was actually in Los Angeles recording a rap album and thus the match wouldn't be happening. Evans and Bayley traded verbal jabs back and forth before brawling backstage. It was a solid segment on the whole that effectively furthered their feud. Neither of their promos were anything anything, but both of them continue to do well in their respective roles.
Braun Strowman def. Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura (Non-Title)
You had to figure this match was inevitable after Strowman pinned Nakamura in tag team action a few weeks ago. It was a good match that the crowd was into, but it's difficult to care about Strowman after he's lost whenever it has mattered most so many times over the years. I assume he'll end up capturing the championship at the Royal Rumble or sometime soon after, but does it even matter at this point? Especially Nakamura has been a complete afterthought as champion?
The Usos def. King Corbin and Dolph Ziggler by Disqualification
The Usos don't look like they've missed a beat in the ring at all despite being out of action for almost five months. This was a pretty standard main event for the most part with a nice pace and the expected interference from Roman Reigns (who confirmed beforehand that he wants Corbin in a singles match at the Rumble) and The Revival. The disqualification finish was lame, but I liked what they did afterward with Robert Roode returning to lay out Reigns and The Usos. Expect a six-man tag team affair between The Bloodline and Corbin, Ziggler and Roode next week.
It was going to be tough to top last week's installment, which featured three newsworthy returns, but this wound up being a solid show on the whole. In addition to Roode returning from suspension, we saw the start of a few different storylines and the progression of others. The two hours flew by a bit faster than usual and Morrison's in-ring return against Big E was advertised for next week's episode. It wasn't an amazing episode, but it was an improvement over what we were getting in the final few months of 2020 and the road to the Rumble has been fun to follow on the SmackDown side of things so far.