By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett Interrupted Daniel Bryan
Bryan cut a decent promo here, but his character has been acting strange these last few weeks. If a heel turn isn't in the works (and I pray to God it's not), then his odd behavior is pointless. Barrett's interruption was a pleasant surprise and it appears based off what went down here that Bryan will be involved in the Intercontinental Championship match at WrestleMania. Obviously, he deserves better than that, but on the bright side, it means he wouldn't be facing Sheamus for a third time, so that's a plus, isn't it?
Dean Ambrose def. The Miz
These two worked a very good match several months back and I was hoping for more of the same here, but they were really restricted for time. However, they made the most of the time they were allotted and had a nice match. Damien Mizdow was conspicuous by his absence, and although the commentators mentioned it, it was never explained. Nevertheless, the only purpose this match served was distracting Ambrose long enough so Barrett could get his belt back.
Natalya def. Naomi
It was hardly surprising that they were given only a few minutes, but compared to the Divas match from Monday's Raw, this was generous. Regardless, it was a fun match that told a good story with Natalya selling her injury from Raw (I appreciate the storyline consistency). She furthered her heel turn by playing possum which was cool to see, but I'm hoping she adds gold to the group by winning the Divas Championship eventually.
Jack Swagger Interrupted United States Champion Rusev and Lana
Lana's mocking of John Cena's loss from Fastlane was humorous and it was a logical follow-up to the events of Sunday and Monday. Swagger was the last person I expected to come out and brawl with Rusev, but at least he could take a beating and not take any damage from it since... well, how much more damage can honestly be done? Rusev denying Cena a rematch made sense for his character to do, but they'll have to confirm it sooner or later considering WrestleMania is in a little over four weeks.
Daniel Bryan def. Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett (Non-title)
I loved the match these two had at SummerSlam a few years back and this was somewhat reminiscent of it. It's just a shame Barrett has been so devalued since his return as this match would've meant more had he been booked better. Bryan's win was predictable, but they worked a really solid match that I enjoyed. Meanwhile, R-Truth wasn't distracting on commentary because he was bad but rather because he was hilarious. Him referring to Byron Saxton as The Coach had me dying of laughter, even though that's something he probably shouldn't be saying. I still couldn't care less about him, but his commentary was funny this time around. And how stupid did Barrett look for not suspecting took the belt? What else did he think it went?
Byron Saxton Interviewed Roman Reigns
This was one of the better promos I've heard Reigns cut in recent memory. Too bad all of his matches can't be in the pre-taped environment (like Brock Lesnar) as he'd shine every time. The material he was given to work with something fresh and I hope we get more of this Reigns on the road to WrestleMania. It was also encouraging he didn't close out the interview with "Believe that!" as he tends to do at times which can be unbearable.
Fandango def. Curtis Axel
Just as Axel was starting to build some momentum for himself with his #AxelMania shtick, he botched one line in his promo and he's already back to square one. Anyway, what was the point of this? I've been confused for weeks as to whether Fandango is supposed to be face or heel, and while it appears he's face, no one cares because he hasn't been established as one yet. What a waste of a match.
Goldust def. Adam Rose
I appreciate them annoucning some participants of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal beforehand, but Rose being among them isn't going to light the world on fire. The match was a complete squash, but the attack on Goldust from Stardust afterward was well done. Personally, I've been liking the development of their feud so far and I'm hoping a rematch between them is in the cards for WrestleMania.
Dolph Ziggler, Ryback and Erick Rowan def. Seth Rollins, Big Show and Kane
Perhaps it was because Rowan wasn't doing most of the selling for his team this time around and Show and Kane were kept limited, but I enjoyed this match more than I did their previous bout at Fastlane on Sunday. It wasn't anything great by any means, but with Ryback, Ziggler and Rollins in the ring for most of it, it was entertaining down the stretch. I was glad to see the babyfaces avenge their loss, but why did Rollins have to take the pin? There's a reason why Show and Kane are involved. I wasn't expecting Orton to get involved, so I wasn't disappointed he didn't show up.
SmackDown has been rather flat the last few weeks, but this was one of the better episodes in recent memory. The first hour was better than the second, and with the exception of a few meaningless matches, the show was solid on the whole with a lively Atlanta crowd. The Intercontinental Championship surprisingly took center stage tonight and I'm interested to see where that leads whereas the main event was the most enjoyable match on the show. There wasn't anything worth going out of your way to see, but watching it as it aired was fun for what it was.