AJ Styles Confronted Daniel Bryan
Bryan cut the same solid promo he did last week about winning the men's Royal Rumble and was interrupted by Styles. I hate the "quarterly" Brand-to-Brand Invitational, but at least Styles and Omos acknowledged its existence and didn't just blow off the fact they were on SmackDown despite being Raw Superstars. This was a decent verbal exchange that served to set up their match for later in the night.
Bianca Belair def. Bayley
These two proved last time that they had good chemistry together and that was once again the case here. I was glad that they were given an ample amount of time to work with and it was an entertaining affair. Belair winning clean was the right call heading into the women's Royal Rumble match on Sunday. She's still my pick to win (all roads should lead to her challenging Sasha Banks for the SmackDown Women's Championship at WrestleMania 37), but I could certainly see WWE going into a different direction to swerve fans.
King Corbin def. Dominik Mysterio
Does anyone know what these two are even feuding over? And where the hell are Corbin's "knights" (Wesley Blake and Steve Cutler)? Corbin works well with the smaller Superstars and this was perfectly fine for what it was, but it also didn't serve much of a purpose. Here's hoping this is only filler and WWE has something bigger in mind for WrestleMania season, but I'm not holding breath. I'm not sure why the company wouldn't just put the Mysterios in the tag team title picture considering how depleted that division is at the moment.
Universal Champion Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens Engaged in a War of Words
It's a shame that it's fairly predictable that Reigns is winning at the Rumble because this feud has been a joy to watch. Both guys have been killing it on the mic lately and this was no exception. The material was excellent and their deliver was even better. Reigns turning off his camera out of frustration was a nice touch. I expected Owens to find him in the arena and brawl with him, but apparently not. That said, this back-and-forth was enough to get me excited for what should be the blow-off to their feud on Sunday.
Daniel Bryan def. AJ Styles by Disqualification; Bryan, Intercontinental Champion Big E and Shinsuke Nakamura def. Styles, Sami Zayn and Cesaro by Disqualification; Sheamus, Big E, Bryan, Nakamura and Otis def. The Miz, John Morrison, Zayn, Cesaro and Styles
I'll never complain about getting Bryan against Styles. All of their matches have ranged from good to great to outstanding, and because they've faced off so much since 2018, I didn't have a problem with WWE giving it away on free TV. I also didn't have a problem with the non-finish as both guys should be protected right now. The subsequent six-man tag team match was also well-wrestled but shouldn't have ended in similar fashion. The five-on-four Handicap match was pure overkill and was an obvious attempt to kill as much television time as possible. Props to the wrestlers for making the most of the time, but it was complete chaos and hard to follow at certain points. I realize that was done by design to preview the Rumble, but I feel they should have saved the intermingling of the brands until the pay-per-view. Braun Strowman returning after a two-month hiatus was cool, but I've lost almost all interest in his character over the last year.
I guess WWE felt the need to end SmackDown with the brawl we tend to get every year before Royal Rumble because we didn't get it on Monday's Raw. Did it make you more excited for the pay-per-view than you were previously? Not for me, though I was already excited and this show didn't really move the needle. That isn't to say it was bad because there was some strong wrestling, especially in the second hour, though those final three matches only existed to kill time. However, between Styles vs. Bryan, Belair vs. Bayley and the Reigns and Owens exchange, this was a thumbs-up show.