Charlotte Flair Addressed Replacing Becky Lynch Against Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania 35
WWE has been flirting with the idea of Flair as a full-fledged heel, and coming off the announcement that she'll face Rousey for the Raw Women's Championship at WrestleMania, it was smart to go all the way with the turn. Needless to say, that's the role she's most comfortable in and I thought this was a hell of a promo from her. I know people are upset about Lynch being bumped from the 'Mania main event, but of course, it's all a part of the storyline and she'll be added back in eventually. Now the question is if Charlotte's presence in the match will be permanent.
Naomi & Carmella def. Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville and The IIConics in a Triple Threat Match
We saw the same exact match last week, though this had the twist of the losers having to enter first in Sunday's WWE Women's Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber. Sasha Banks and Bayley will enter first for Raw, and as a result of their loss here, Rose and Deville will enter first for SmackDown Live. The in-ring work was noticeably better this time around as everyone played their roles well. Naomi scored a measure of revenge in her rivalry with Rose by pinning her to win, and seeing as how she and Carmella are a makeshift team, it was the right call for them to go over.
The Usos Attacked SmackDown Tag Team Champions Shane McMahon and The Miz on McMiz TV
This feud hasn't had much time to develop, but they managed to get me invested with their verbal exchange here. Granted, they probably should have been more serious than they were instead of going for comedy, but I was thoroughly entertained. Plus, The Usos were the last men standing in the end when they laid out Miz and Shane, so they have momentum on their side going into Elimination Chamber.
Randy Orton def. AJ Styles, Kofi Kingston, Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy and WWE Champion Daniel Bryan in a Gauntlet Match (Non-title)
I love Gauntlet matches that last over an hour and aren't rushed. This had a similar layout to the Gantlet match we witnessed last year on Raw that took place before Elimination Chamber with Kingston pulling a Seth Rollins as the ultimate iron man. His clean win over Bryan was a pleasant surprise, not to mention how he went on to beat Hardy and Joe as well. That's how you make a championship contender out of someone in one night. I'd be in full favor of his singles push continuing after the pay-per-view. Styles submitted Kingston only to be hit with an RKO from behind, leading to Orton picking up the victory. That was the perfect way to end the matchup in my opinion.
The Gauntlet main event took up a majority of the show, and rightfully so because it was a blast and very well executed. Furthermore, it did an excellent job of hyping up the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber main event, and on the whole, this was a strong go-home show from SmackDown. Even Charlotte's promo tied back to Elimination Chamber because she mentioned how she'll have a front row seat for Rousey vs. Ruby Riott on Sunday. The two hours flew by and were infinitely more enjoyable than Raw.