Seth "Freakin" Rollins Interrupted Roman Reigns' Universal Championship Milestone Celebration
The Bloodline celebrated Reigns breaking the record for longest-reigning Universal Champion this past week and the video package that aired highlighting his reign was excellent. I should've expected that Rollins would crash the party, but it was a pleasant surprise in that he wasn't advertised in advance for this show like he was last week. Kevin Owens showing up was an even bigger surprise, but I suppose the Brand Split is all but dead at this point. This was a much better verbal exchange from Reigns and Rollins compared to last week. Rollins has basically been the babyface of the feud, but it remains to be seen whether he'll become a full-fledged feud coming out of it.
Kofi Kingston def. Madcap Moss
This was a rematch I definitely could have done without. I realize it was designed to give Kingston his win back over Moss, but Moss should have never beaten Kingston (a former WWE champion of six months, mind you) in the first place. The match was decent and Moss isn't awful, but he's mediocre at best and he can't be taken seriously with this goofy character of his. Kingston got some backup wit Big E coming from Raw and Michael Cole's explanation was that it's Royal Rumble season. I'll talk more about this and Owens' appearances at the end of my review. On a side note, Cole mentioned that Happy Corbin hasn't been pinned or submitted since his character change over the summer, which makes me fearful that we are indeed headed for Drew McIntyre vs. Corbin at WrestleMania 38.
Aliyah def. Natalya by Disqualification
Needless to say, this was yet another match where I had zero desire to see them run it back from last week. I realize that was three seconds long and this was more competitive, but I truly couldn't care less about either woman. It was fine for what it was but way too short to really mean anything. The best part about any of this was Xia Li finally resurfacing afterward to come to Aliyah's aid. Oh, and Summer Rae was sitting ringside because she's from Nashville (where this episode emanated from) and will be in the women's Royal Rumble next weekend.
The Viking Raiders def. Los Lotharios
Angel and Humberto were getting a pretty aggressive push upon moving to SmackDown in the fall, but they haven't a lot of luck lately. I'm all for Viking Raiders becoming the number one contenders to the SmackDown Tag Team Championship considering The Usos are heels, but I wish they had been booked more consistently prior to this point. I enjoyed this outing while it lasted, but it deserved more than a few minutes to reach that next gear these two teams are capable of.
SmackDown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair def. Naomi (Non-Title)
This was far from the match these two had two weeks ago, which was actually given an ample amount of time. Rather, this was more of an angle with Sonya Deville taking over as the referee from the get-go, not being there when Naomi had Flair pinned for a three count, and calling for the bell when Naomi never tapped. All signs point to Naomi vs. Deville being saved for WrestleMania (though I know they're advertising it yet again for next week), but it's obvious they're running out of ideas and I don't know how long they can prolong this program for another two months.
Johnny Knoxville Crashed In-Zayn with Sami Zayn
Bless Zayn for reportedly re-signing with WWE recently if this is the type of stuff he's going to be involved in going forward. He always makes the most of whatever he's given, but him attempting to electrocute himself when it clearly wasn't real was painfully bad and went on for much longer than it should have. It's cool that Knoxville is making appearances on WWE TV ahead of the Rumble (probably to promote his new movie), but whatever they were going for here fell flat for me.
Sheamus def. Ricochet
I'm not joking when I say that this was the third rematch from last week's show. They work well together, but Sheamus won decisively that night, so I don't know why they needed to face each other again from a storyline standpoint other than to kill television time. This wasn't as much of a banger and, again, too short to be what it could have been. At least they didn't fall victim to 50/50 booking and instead Sheamus got to keep his momentum going. I got a good laugh out of Cole saying that the Intercontinental Championship is the only title in WWE that Sheamus hasn't held while completely neglecting the Universal Championship.
Seth "Freakin" Rollins and Kevin Owens def. SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos by Disqualification (Non-Title)
If Rollins and Owens won, The Usos would be barred from ringside at the Royal Rumble. If The Usos won, Rollins vs. Reigns would've been called off for the Rumble. The stipulations made it obvious who was winning, but I appreciated the added stakes, nonetheless. Rollins and Owens played the role of babyfaces in this bout and the crowd ate it up. The action was very entertaining and everyone had strong showings. Disqualifications in the main event are always lame, but it's better than The Usos taking a pinfall loss when it's not necessary. They managed to heat up the Reigns vs. Rollins rivalry here and they still have one more week to drive it home before the pay-per-view.
Between the appearances of Rollins, Owens and Big E on this show and the constant rematches, do you need any more evidence that SmackDown is struggling in the depth department at the moment? I mean, it's really rough. The Reigns and Rollins stuff kept this episode afloat, but everything else in the middle was "meh." I know the Rumble is next Saturday, but I honestly believe the end of the Brand Split is near because they can't fill two hours with the roster they have right now. Only the main event stood out on this show because the rest of the matches were cut short for whatever reason. There aren't many feuds worth getting invested in, either. It's sad to see how far the blue brand has fallen from where it was pre-Draft.