2) Tag Team Match, Playa! - After promos by Cena, Bray, and Randy, we saw Luke Harper join the fight, only this time it was against his former brothers, which was a refreshing change of pace for the guy who has always been in Bray's shadow. Luke is one of those highly underappreciated talents, both in the ring and when he speaks, hopefully WWE keeps him in a solid program against Bray and Randy, as I'm still holding out hope for a triple threat match between these three superstars.
In the tag match, the crowd seemed to really take to Harper and his rebellion, which was only against Orton, Harper couldn't bring himself to actually wrestle Bray, clearly, Harper is still brainwashed. They finished up with an interesting call to have Orton pin the champ, kind of cuts out Cena at the knees right after winning the title though.
3) A Fiery Glow – Once Mickie James returned to team up with Alexa Bliss, WWE could have just let the duo run wild on the division. Instead, they got Naomi not only in the mix, but she's going to be the next challenger for Alexa's title. With how well Bliss has done, it's unlikely Naomi will win the title, but she definitely deserves a championship match or two. With Raw playing hot potato with their Women's Championship it would be nice to see Alexa have a dominate run before dropping the strap. Fun tag match that really put Naomi over as a solid contender, yet another champion took a pin though!
4) Top Guys...Not Out – American Alpha cut a promo basically begging someone to come after their titles. It seemed like a perfect setup for The Revival to debut, instead, WWE sent out every other tag team they had on the SmackDown roster and a brawl ensued. As much as I would love Dash and Dawson to head to SmackDown, part of me thinks Raw's tag division needs them even more. Getting back to the segment, basically nothing was solved. Rhyno and Slater were the last of the teams in the ring with American Alpha, which didn't really equate to anything as every team was booked into a title match later in the night on Talking Smack.
5) Main...Events? – Even though Styles has the ability to put on amazing matches with anyone, can't say I was super excited to see him and Ambrose go at it again. In reality, the main event took place at commentary, first with The Miz, and then with Baron Corbin joining in on the fun. If anything, this segment was simply meant to build some tension between the upcoming Elimination Chamber participants.
6) We have one show left – Amazingly, SmackDown has only one more episode to get fans ready for the Elimination Chamber, and if we don't count Talking Smack (which booked Naomi vs. Alexa and a huge tag team turmoil match), we only saw two matches put together. There really was no time to waste and it felt like this show had a bit too much filler, considering the tight schedule.
Naomi – After Bliss shredded Naomi last week saying she was "nothing" and "not worth her time," Naomi has been able to pick up a win over the champ on Sunday, and yet again, on SmackDown. As athletic as Naomi is, she has always been a bit sloppy in the ring, but that looks to be non-issue these days. After Becky took a lengthy beating in their tag match, Naomi got the (super) hot tag and absolutely wrecked house in a flurry of smooth attacks that finished with a win.
James Ellsworth – He might become a staple in this section, can't say I've ever been a fans of his, and thanks to all the support he got early on, now we're stuck with him. Thought he was annoying as a sad sack chasing after Dean Ambrose, now he's even worse as a heel chasing after Carmella. He could barely get a reaction from the crowd when he introduced Carmella, which could be more of Carmella's fault than Ellsworth.
JBL – Maybe I was just paying more attention this week, but man, JBL was incredibly annoying on tonight's show. I know, most of you will say "He's like that every week!" but this week it seemed like he turned it up to "11." Specifically, his yelling during Carmella's match made me just want it to be over as fast as possible.
Kalisto – He lost in under a minute to Ziggler last week, and then this week he lost yet again to Ziggler. His downhill slide continues on with Dolph attempting to rip his mask off post-match, which kind of makes me want to see a hair vs. mask match! Unlikely though as Ziggler looks to be on a collision course with Apollo Crews in the near future. Will Crews finally win a feud?
This Week's MVP
The Miz – Granted, it was a bit silly how many people were at the announcer table, but Miz did a heck of a job not only talking trash with both David Otunga and Baron Corbin, he was able to put over the action, as well. I found myself focusing more on what was being said than what was going on in the ring, which is extremely rare. Even though Miz wasn't quite standing tall by the end of the show, he continues to show why he's one of the most talented pieces to the SmackDown roster.
Much like Raw is doing with their upcoming feuds, last night's episode set the table for what was to come at Elimination Chamber, but didn't do it quite as well with some strange moments including Carmella's match, the tag brawl, and Ziggler/Kalisto. While the last segment was meant for the Elimination Chamber participants to start feuding with each other, the main event match didn't really keep my focus. In terms of grades, this is the first week I've given Raw (slightly) higher marks. To be fair, I think the combination of expecting more from a post-Rumble show and being a bit burned out from WWE wrestling contributed to this mark.
Grade (out of 10): 6.5 (Last Week: 8)
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