Standout Moments

1) Family Issues Really nice touch having both Randy Orton and Luke Harper come out together (along with Bray), not something we see often, or ever? Bray found his comfy rocking chair and for the first part of the match didn't even acknowledge anything was going on, just let the family figure things out. Nice detail work in the match with Harper dodging Orton's first couple RKO attempts, he's been around Orton for months, so his awareness level should be higher than most opponents.

Unfortunately for Harper, the third time was a charm as Orton hit an RKO and got the win. Bray gave Orton a post-match handshake and a Sister Abigail to Harper (after initially helping him up), it seems very likely we'll see a triple threat between these guys in the future; Orton will eventually turn on him, right?

2) The Reinvention of Mickie James She hasn't been in the WWE for seven years, so there's a number of fans out there who probably have no idea who she is, her promo did a solid job of filling them in. It looks like along with this "I'm awesome" veteran presence, there's still a hint of "Crazy" that we all remember and love. Not only did she stay in the ring to initially fight with Becky (take note, Strowman), but she pulled off a crafty move taking Becky towards the crowd where Alexa Bliss was waiting. Overall, this segment worked well to get some heat on Mickie.

3) Hyped Battle Royal In typical fashion, SmackDown worked on making every match matter, even when the participants are at the bottom of the food chain. Things kicked off with Rhyno instantly trying to throw Slater out of the ring with The Vaudevillians going out together almost as quickly. Could those guys be any lower on the card? At some point it might be worth getting them back to NXT for a remake. Mojo then went on a tear getting rid of Curt Hawkins, Rhyno, Konnor, Fandango (well, he pulled him in front of Breeze's superkick) and finally, Breeze himself. Gaining entry to the Royal Rumble, I look forward to Mojo coming out when it's just Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, and Goldberg in the ring.

4) Is Styles Still Breathing? Because Cena left him standing dead in the ring. Let's back up a bit though. WWE used footage from the Today Show with Cena was both a slick way to get some mainstream plugs (not to mention, some Super Bowl talk) and get Styles all hot under the collar. "Guy from Atlanta" went on to tell Cena how he was holding down the show when he was gone and that nobody missed him. Cena then got on the mic and went off on Styles, calling him "Just a guy" and that he's holding a title because Cena "let" him.

Cena basically left him standing silently in the ring, and it was so perfect because Styles has been cutting off Cena for the past few weeks, finally Cena got his say and laid the champ out verbally.

5) Feel The Glow Even though she's been healthy for some time now, Naomi finally got back on TV to face Natalya- oh, never mind, Nikki Bella decided to continue the sneak attacks. Alexa coming out was a bit confusing at first, but then a 6-woman tag match was booked for the Royal Rumble, so I'm guessing Naomi will help out Becky Lynch against Mickie and Alexa going forward. Bliss basically told Naomi, she's nothing and not worth her time, which hopefully will get a storyline for Naomi (which she has yet to have since the brand split), maybe she will work her way up the ladder to get Bliss' attention.

6) Lumberjacks Attack! At the top of the show, Miz made sure to let everyone know his star power was the reason the other Superstars were making big money. That came back to bite him in his match against Dean Ambrose as the Lumberjacks made sure to beat the heck out of Miz before tossing him back into the ring. Lumberjacks were an aggressive bunch, at one point actually pulling Ambrose out of the ring to beat him up, come on guys, have some decorum here.

Enjoyed how Ambrose sent Baron Corbin into the ring post and Corbin later entered the ring to go after Ambrose which then started a massive brawl. Corbin versus Ambrose could be a fun feud, potentially Corbin's way to a title reign, as well. Haven't been big on Ambrose, but between Miz and everyone surrounding the ring (including Maryse), it made for an fun main event as we headed into the Royal Rumble.

Trending Up

Natalya A few weeks ago I mentioned she was trending up, well, the climb continues as she taunted and then tossed Nikki (who attacked her first, WWE) right into a trailer. Continue being that highly aggressive jerk, Natalya, it's working with this fan.

AJ Styles I didn't really think it's possible for him to go up any higher, but having Styles call out his position on the Royal Rumble poster was the best! That match against Cena will be something special, if the rumble wasn't so loaded, I would be most excited for these two going at it.

Trending Down

Carmella/James Ellsworth Was hoping SmackDown would just forget about the shopping trip, but that wasn't the case as we saw Ellsworth go through a number of random outfits before Carmella dressed him in something horrendous. I have no idea where these two are going, but after their previous stories, this is definitely a downgrade. I will give props to Carmella's Sami Zayn line and Dante's continual shade.

This Week's MVP

John Cena That promo he put together was something special, letting Styles continue to complain about the small stuff, Cena dropped some knowledge on the WWE Champ. Cena's promo even managed to take a little dig at the indies, "I wasn't built for the indies, I was built for the WWE." So good, just stop reading this and watch the promo again.

Overall Thoughts

Another solid show, not much to complain about this week, while it didn't have an epic match like Zayn/Rollins, Styles and especially, Cena, was the "must-see" segment from last night. Thought Raw had a chance at winning this week, but for me, SmackDown is going to edge them out yet again.

Grade (out of 10): 8 (Last Week: 8)

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