By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Titus O'Neil, Dolph Ziggler and The Usos def. The Miz and WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day
Although this was a random assortment of wrestlers that aren't feuding at the moment (aside from New Day and The Usos), I can't complain about an enjoyable eight-man tag team match to kick off the show. I would usually complain about this type of match not serving a purpose, but it's been a damn good week in wrestling, so I'll give it a pass. If you didn't like it, well, all I can say is to get used to it as we're bound to see more of this as WrestleMania draws near and these lower-midcarders are involved in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. It was refreshing to see O'Neil score the win for his team, but as I've said several times as of late, WWE needs to give fans a reason to care about him beyond his recent winning streak.
United States Champion Kalisto def. Neville
I'm not exactly sure what Neville did to earn an opportunity to contend for the championship, but I'd be damned if this match wasn't fun to watch. I'm just surprised it wasn't advertised ahead of time as promoting title matches always lead to a bump in the ratings. Kalisto and Neville are such perfect opponents for each other that I'd love to see them mix it up in a Best of Five or Seven Series over the star-spangled prize. It would certainly help elevate the title as well as both aerial artists, but the commentators brought up Alberto Del Rio during this bout, leading me to believe their feud isn't yet over.
The Wyatt Family Challenged Roman Reigns, Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho on 'The Highlight Reel'
I was really hoping for one of the three men to mention how Jericho ditched them in their six-man tag team match against The Wyatt Family at Night of Champions last September, but I guess that would be expecting too much from WWE Creative. Other than that, the back-and-forth between them was well done and it was successful in establishing that there is tension with Reigns and Ambrose going into the Triple Threat match at Fastlane in addition to setting up the main event of the show with The Wyatt Family.
AJ Styles def. Curtis Axel
I loved the logic of Axel wanting to avenge his Royal Rumble elimination by taking on the man who tossed him out, AJ Styles. It is such simple booking but we rarely see it this day and age on the main roster that I appreciate it whenever it's done. Similar to his showings at the Royal Rumble and on Raw, Styles looked great in this contest, hitting all of his signature spots and finishing off Axel with the Styles Clash. My only gripe is that the commentators should have made a bigger deal out of Styles hitting the Styles Clash for the first time in WWE after failing to connect with it earlier in the week.
Divas Champion Charlotte def. Natalya (Non-title)
Anyone who watched the classic contest between Charlotte and Natalya from NXT TakeOver in May 2014 knows what these two are truly capable of, but I was glad they were given at least some time to showcase their skills. Granted, the match could have gone significantly longer, but they more than made the most of the time they were allotted. Charlotte scored a credible victory and furthered her feud with Becky Lynch by dodging an attack from the Lasskicker afterward. It's nice that Lynch won't be afterthought now that Sasha Banks is back and she will remain in the title picture for a while longer.
Roman Reigns, Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho def. The Wyatt Family by Disqualification
Despite not being on the same page earlier in the evening, Reigns and Ambrose seemed to be quite the cohesive unit in this match. Add in the fact that Jericho isn't involved with The Wyatt Family right now and this match was virtually meaningless. Unlike the opener, it didn't make me excited for what's next for anyone involved. It was a solid six-man tag team match and The Wyatt Family thankfully weren't beaten, but they were attacked afterward anyway and the babyfaces reigned supreme for no apparent reason. Plus, I could have done without Big Show laying out The Wyatt Family. Please don't tell me he is their filler feud before they transition into a program with Brock Lesnar going into WrestleMania. If so, ugh.
The high quality of the blue brand has remained consistent since the show's move to USA Network earlier this month and this was another strong edition of SmackDown. The main event didn't do much for me, but it was rather decent. Everything else was entertaining in my opinion with Styles making his SmackDown debut and the U.S. title being defended, so these two hours are certainly worth checking out.
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