By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Roman Reigns Interrupted Rusev
As I said in my Raw review when he defeated Rob Van Dam, Rusev's rise to the top of the card feels rushed. He was squashing enhancement talent only a few weeks ago and for him to be featured in the main event of SmackDown felt premature. That said, him and Lana handled their promo in the opening segment well and Reigns' promo was decent enough. It wasn't his best showing on the mic in recent memory, but it hyped his match with Rusev for later in the night nicely.
Divas Champion AJ Lee def. Cameron (Non-title)
First Eva Marie, now Cameron. What's with AJ being given crappy opponents on SmackDown? Thankfully, this match wasn't nearly as bad as the Divas match from last Friday night, nor was it unnecessarily long. It served its purpose in furthering the feud between Naomi and Cameron, so there's that. AJ still needs some mic time to explain why she's any different than she was before she left a few months back.
Adam Rose def. Fandango by Count-out
Obviously, this wasn't much of a match at all and was more of a joke than anything else. Rose has became an afterthought already and he's only been on the main roster for a little over two months. I didn't have much desire to see these two face off to begin with, so maybe it was for the better than the match never surfaced. I hated the involvement of Summer Rae and Layla at ringside because I haven't been a fan of their feud since the get-go, but at least it set up their match for later in the show.
WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos def. Heath Slater and Titus O'Neil (Non-title)
You know the tag team division is in a depleted state when two random wrestlers that have nothing in common aside from dumping their "incompetent former tag team partners" are paired up to face the WWE Tag Team Champions. It was a quick win for The Usos to give them a boost going into their title defense against Luke Harper and Erick Rowan at Battleground. The announcement of said match in the post-match promo was the most newsworthy thing about this segment and that 2-out-of-3 Falls match has the potential to be fantastic.
Randy Orton def. Chris Jericho
I was very glad to hear that the history between these two was brought up since there's so much of it dating back several years. They're also two great veteran workers, so you knew this was going to be a good match going in. The pace was slow at some points, but they pulled together a solid matchup with a fun finishing sequence. Bray Wyatt's "distraction" protected Jericho in defeat and gave Orton another much-needed victory as he prepares to contend for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Battleground.
Summer Rae vs. Layla with Fandango as the Special Guest Referee Went to a No Contest
This is exactly what I expected to go down when Layla and Summer first faced off at Money in the Bank a few weeks ago, so why didn't it? Was there really a point to dragging the feud out two more weeks just to build to this one moment? I must admit that I was happy to see Summer and Layla team up against Fandango if only because it indicates that this program is finally over... or so I hope. I don't know what purpose any of this was supposed to serve, but it's not like I care anyway so whatever.
Goldust def. Curtis Axel
It was a fine match for what it was, but I still don't find myself getting behind the Stardust character. I've spoken my peace on it all in the past and don't want to beat a dead horse, but I just don't see it having any lasting power. Crowds appear to enjoy it, but it won't be anything more than a comedy act once Goldust (reportedly) leaves next month. If anything, their feud with Rybaxel needs to come to an end because it has been going on far longer than it ever should have.
Bo Dallas def. Diego and El Torito in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match
One had to assume this match was coming at some point after Dallas beat both Diego and Torito in singles competition in the last week and I'm just glad it didn't happen at Battleground. The match itself was exactly what you'd expect and didn't overstay its welcome. Once again, Dallas' promo was hilarious and his post-match attack on Torito firmly established him as a heel. Dallas has been an entertaining act to watch develop these last few weeks, but I'm ready for him to move into his first real feud with someone.
Roman Reigns def. Rusev by Disqualification
Surprisingly enough, this match lacked the big fight feel that I thought it would have. The fans were hyped to see them go to war in that Battle Royal last month on Raw, but Rusev and Reigns didn't develop good chemistry together in this match. While it was very physical and hard-hitting and not a bad match by any means, it wasn't what I expected it to be. Orton's interference was logical and predictable in protecting both Reigns and Rusev from taking a loss and it also gave him more heat in his ongoing feud with Reigns. This is the strongest Orton has looked in months and I'm glad he's being booked as a threat to the title even though everyone with a bran knows he won't win next Sunday.
Although it had less matches, I found last week's edition of SmackDown to be far more entertaining this one. That's surprising given that it fell on a holiday and usually phones in those kind of shows. This edition, on the other hand, only had one gem of a match in Jericho and Orton. Everything else either fell flat or wasn't memorable enough that fans will be talking about it tomorrow. At least a few exciting matches were announced for Battleground, adding to the strong card and making it look like a must-see pay-per-view on paper.