By Graham "GSM" Matthews
United States Champion Sheamus def. Dean Ambrose
I was glad to see Ambrose receive a rematch for the title after losing it on this week's Raw. He and Sheamus worked a great, physical match that was given very good time and made the title feel important in the process. Ambrose also looked strong in defeat despite taking the clean pinfall. Sheamus didn't show any heel tendencies during the match, but I still get the feeling that he'll be turning heel sooner rather than later. It will take a lot to make the strap mean something again, but was a nice first step in the right direction. This was a refreshing change of pace to open the show with.
Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett and Cesaro def. Rob Van Dam and Big E
Seeing Barrett and Cesaro team up was cool for me personally, as I look at the two as a dream team. Anyway, it was a nice match while it lasted that furthered the feuds involved. Barrett and Cesaro are on rolls at the moment, so it was smart to give them the win, but Big E couldn't feel more like an afterthought right now. Either way, I'm happy that there's actual stories in the midcard for once. This match was an example of the talent that the midcard has and how they can be utilized properly if given stories to work with.
Rusev def. Kofi Kingston
Did anyone else noticed that Lana and Rusev's Titantron's are solely compromised of pictures of Russia? I couldn't tell if the boos they were getting was piped in or not (this is SmackDown after all), but if it wasn't, they garnered great heat, so the Russia shtick is working. It was the same match we saw on Raw, except Kingston got more offense over Rusev this time around, which might not have been the smartest idea. It didn't make Rusev look all that weak, but Kingston getting the upper hand more than Rusev was unnecessary.
Fandango and Layla def. Santino Marella and Emma
I rolled my eyes upon seeing this match on tap for this edition of SmackDown. It's the feud that'll never end! The action itself is never terrible, but the attempts at comedy are and it's yet another reminder how much Emma is being wasted in this pairing with Santino. What was the big deal with Fandango and Layla kissing? What significance was it supposed to have? Maybe it's setting up something for when Summer Rae returns. I couldn't care less who wins at this point, just end the rivalry already!
Roman Reigns def. Mark Henry
Henry portrayed a heel here, which was interesting. I don't know if this was his official heel turn, but I guess only time will tell. The match was slow and plodding with Henry dominating most of it only for Reigns to come back for the win. It was a nice win for Reigns and it made him look like an underdog for once, but it wasn't the best match either guy has had in recent memory.
Los Matadores def. 3MB
Copy and paste everything I wrote about the mixed tag team match and apply it here. Unlike that feud, however, this one has been going on since September. I'll give credit where credit is due in saying that I enjoyed the WeeLC match at Extreme Rules, but WWE is making me regret saying that by continuing this feud with these pointless tag team matches. What's worse is that they're stretching across all their shows in an attempt to kill time. If you're going to continue to do this garbage, at least relegate it to Superstars where it won't be seen by the masses.
Batista def. Seth Rollins by Count-out
Much like the Reigns vs. Henry match, this bout mostly consisted of Batista getting the better of Rollins. That was only logical considering the size difference between the two and it established Batista's dominance in the process. It was also designed to make Rollins (as well as the rest of The Shield look vulnerable), so they told a solid story throughout. Rollins took a nasty bump on the outside when he hit the commentary table and the count-out loss protected him in defeat.
The Wyatt Family def. John Cena and WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos
The singles matches between Cena and Bray Wyatt have been pretty mediocre, but they have great chemistry when they collide in tag team action. A lot of the entertaining action can be attributed to The Usos who made this match fun and meshed well with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. The finishing sequence was chaotic (in a good way) and it was a nice win for The Wyatt Family. I still desperately want the feud between Cena and Wyatt to end, but I'd like to see Harper and Rowan step up as challengers for the tag titles sometime soon.
There was hardly anything on this show that was middle-of-the-road, as it was mostly a mixed bag of great matches and terrible matches. I wouldn't at all go back and watch this show in its entirety, but in chunks, check out the opener, Batista vs. Rollins and the main event. Everything else was pure filler and made the two hours drag. Not much of what was featured on this show furthered my interest in any of the storylines, but the focus on The Shield throughout the night was intriguing and I look forward to what the next chapter is in their feud with Evolution.