SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment: The show got off to a good start with Daniel Bryan making an appearance. At first, I was concerned that this was just going to be about Bryan & Shane, so I was very pleased with the focus on other matters, including the U.S. & Tag Team Titles. I also liked Gable & Benjamin interrupting as they did have a valid point with regards to their one-on-one championship opportunity. The remaining teams coming out added some fun to the segment, which led to….
Gable/Benjamin vs. Rusev/English vs. New Day: The announcement of this match was at first groan inducing, as it felt repetitive, but it is not a knock at all on the quality of the contest. It was given a good amount of time, and I feel that the correct competitors won. I was also glad to see Big E take the pinfall, as it didn’t hurt the New Day at all, and keeps Rusev & English strong for the future.
U.S. Championship Tournament: I was excited when Daniel Bryan announced the noted tournament, as I think these can be fun, and something for the fans to look forward to. I applauded the decision to open with Baron vs. Roode as it (hopefully) guarantees a fresh final match up, and didn’t go the possible predictable route of having the same 2 men facing off at the end. The Jinder-Tye match up was okay, with the expected outcome occurring. My only slight disappointment is that with a month to go until the Rumble, it would have been nice to see a 16-man tournament instead of an eight-man, as there is plenty of time and it allows more wrestlers to get exposure.
Main Event: This was a good match between the two that had the crowd invested and went back and forth throughout its duration. I continue to enjoy KO & Sami’s partnership, and liked how Zayn was at ringside. It of course would lead to Shane arriving, and while I was unimpressed with him earlier (more below), I didn’t mind the decision to have him unintentionally cost A.J. the match. It served its purpose, and truthfully would’ve have told a better story if that was Shane’s only appearance in the show.
Shane/Daniel Bryan: While I mentioned earlier my relief that the Shane/Bryan saga didn’t open the show, it obviously didn’t last long, as they focused on that right after the tag match. This storyline is continuing at a gradual pace, so one week of not having Shane wouldn’t be a bad thing. This was further proven by the oddity of the acting and the unintentional awkwardness of the segment. In addition, I thought Shane questioning the validity of a U.S. Championship tournament was silly. In WWE’s history, when a title is relinquished/stripped, the most common decision is a tournament, so the General Manager is not far off base with that one. It just felt like they were trying too hard this week to come up with some issues between the two, and with Shane’s later appearance in the main event, I questioned why this segment was even necessary.
Pre & Post Women’s Segment: The match between Ruby & Naomi was quick, but effective, in that it allowed the squad to take advantage and didn’t waste time. What I didn’t care for was Ruby’s pre-match promo & the arrival of the women after the match. With regards to the promo, I just shook my head at the continuation of these forced and cheesy lines that all members of the Riott Squad seem to enjoy. If it’s not a “firecracker on the Fourth of July” it’s a “Glow has got to go” comment. Then you have the heel women arriving to take out the heel stable. From a fan standpoint it looks like again, the WWE is doing this because the Royal Rumble is conveniently on the schedule, and it’s every women for herself. Whether true or not, it’s unnecessary and really doesn’t add much to the story.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: WWE SMACKDOWN HITS & MISSES 12/19: Ziggler walks away from U.S. Title belt, Rusev & English, Usos vs. Benjamin & Gable, Charlotte & Naomi
Jeff Indelicato has been a fan of professional wrestling since he was knee high to a grasshopper (little kid) after coming across the Wrestling Challenge episode after WrestleMania 7. He has not looked back. His passion has led him to winning wrestling trivia contests in his city, and even won him his Senior Talent Show by dancing to Shawn Michaels’ theme song. When not annoying others with wrestling talk, he loves spending time with his family and friends, and focuses on his other passion: movies. Follow him on Twitter @the_Indel or send him an email at email@example.com.