By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Dean Ambrose Addressed WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins
I was glad Ambrose answered the million dollar question of how he escaped jail during Raw on Monday and got back in time for the end of the show. Most of it wasn't realistic, sure, but I appreciated the effort, nevertheless. It was also his last chance (on the mic, anyway) to hype the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Elimination Chamber and I thought he did so effectively. In a perfect world, I would have had him say of all of this in a backstage interview setting so we could kick off the show with in-ring action, but at least The Authority didn't interrupt. And is it just me or all this buddy-buddy talk from Ambrose about Roman Reigns strongly foreshadowing a feud between them sometime soon?
The Lucha Dragons def. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd in a Lumberjack Match
These were the two best teams in the Elimination Chamber to face off for a quality match, but I would have saved it for later down the line. Not only that, but both teams are babyfaces, so the crowd didn't have much of an incentive to cheer for one team over the other (they were relatively quiet throughout the bout, anyway). Still, I enjoyed it for what it was and the stuff that both of these teams can pull off is amazing. The Lumberjack stipulation was a total waste, but if they allow Kidd and Cesaro and the Dragons to go all out in a future encounter, they could without a doubt tear the house down.
R-Truth def. King Barrett
You can't not read the result of this match and not feel some frustration. Okay, you might not, but I just want to see Barrett succeeded and flourish as the top star he's destined to be, but he can't do that if he's losing to guys like Truth all the time. I didn't mind the loss to Ryback on Raw because Ryback needed the victory more, but the loss to Truth was completely pointless. I guess they wanted to build Truth up as a threat to win it, but that ship sailed long ago and no one honestly believes he has a chance in hell of winning. Sheamus attacking both men afterward essentially affirmed everyone's prediction that he wins the Intercontinental Championship on Sunday, but it very well could have been a red herring.
Ryback def. Rusev by Disqualification
While it lasted, the match Ryback and Rusev had was decent, but it wasn't as good as their last encounter on SmackDown and it wasn't allowed to get to the next gear before the abrupt finish happened. Yes, I realize that the match was cut short because of Rusev's legitimate injury and although the DQ finish looked sloppy, I don't blame the wrestlers because that wasn't originally planned. Hopefully Rusev is good to go for the Chamber match, but even if he is out for a little bit, he could use some time away after losing his title, streak, girl and feud to John Cena.
Paige def. Naomi
I liked how they promoted the match at start of SmackDown, making it feel more meaningful in the process. After all, it was Naomi who took Paige out of commission a month ago in her native England and Paige had yet to get her revenge. I wouldn't have given her the win so soon over Naomi because this is a feud they can stretch out for a month or two, but it was necessary coming off Paige's loss to Tamina on Raw. Despite that, the match was fine, though I'm sure they could do better with more time.
Michael Cole Interviewed NXT Champion Kevin Owens
I read complaints from some people that were hoping to hear from Owens on Raw, but I liked the way they waited until SmackDown to have him speak. They highlighted him to the Raw audience on Monday night and had him lay out John Cena again, so it was wise of them to wait until Thursday to have him do what he does best: talk. His response to Cole's questions were priceless and did an excellent job of driving home how he won't be the "rookie" in his match against Cena. I'm looking forward to that bout more than anything else on the card, so here's hoping it delivers and meets the lofty expectations of many.
Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns def. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins and Kane by Disqualification
Oh look, a Raw rematch on SmackDown. How original. In all seriousness, I actually thought this was a better bout than the one they had on Monday, but not by much. Everyone held their own and put forth a good effort, but other than that, the match was rather formulaic for the part. The disqualification finish was passable since it would have been damaging to Rollins to get pinned again before his upcoming title defense, though having Ambrose beat Kane would have sufficed. How stupid was it for The New Day to come to the aid of The Authority at the end when it was Kane who put them in a Handicap match on Raw only days earlier? Hell, The Ascension would've made more sense than them. It's like Creative doesn't even watch their own programming. That aside, Rollins close the show as the last man standing was smart in giving him his heat back from Raw.
For a go-home show, this was nothing special. I didn't come away from this show any more excited for Elimination Chamber than I was going in and there wasn't anything other than maybe Owens' promo was particularly worth watching. In fact, most of it felt like a repeat of Raw. That said, the pending pay-per-view is shaping up to be a strong show regardless and I'm looking forward to seeing if it can live up to the hype.