And, just like that, we’re back to a promo opening the show as Braun Strowman kicked things off to threaten Brock Lesnar. You know what the worst part about feuding with Lesnar is? Beyond how, like John Cena, Brock always laughs off his opponents, the fact that he is never there means that his challengers are just a load of hot air and words. Anyway, Baron Corbin interrupted and ended up getting chased off by Braun, who attacked a limo thinking that Lesnar was inside but, instead, it was Vince McMahon. Obviously a bit shaken by the whole experience, he first fines Braun $100,000 and then calls off his title match at Royal Rumble. Strowman was so pissed off that he flipped the limo over, which was totally not a stunt, and ended up being escorted out of the arena. Oh, the drama!
Ronda Rousey decided that teaming up with her bestest ever buddy, Natalya, was getting boring and, instead, teamed up with Sasha Banks to take on Tamina and Nia Jax but the issues between these girls just won’t ever end. Anyway, things went pretty much exactly as they always have since these girls started teaming up and Tamina tapped out to the Banks Statement. Afterwards, Ronda gushes over Sasha and says she’d love to defend the belt against her, just in case you forgot that the WWE has a hard-on for Sasha.
Speaking of going back to form, the Revival’s current storyline was derailed slightly as they once again took on the Lucha House Party, only this time it was actually a fair fight as it was just Kalisto and Gran Metalik on the lucha side. Oddly, the match got completely interrupted for a random backstage segment in which a bunch of jobbers and EC3 were lined up outside Vince’s office for a shot against Brock…okay then…anyway, the Revival actually won the match but who really cares because Vince came out to the ring immediately after the match and was, in turn, immediately interrupted by John Cena, who basically demanded that, simply through virtue of his past accomplishments, he get the title shot against Lesnar. Luckily, Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin, and Finn Balor all took issue with that and a big brawl ensued, resulting in Vince booking them all into a fatal-four-way to determine the number one contender. Fuckin’ Cena, man; they don’t make it easy to like or cheer the guy when he constantly forces his way into the main event and title matches without doing anything to earn them!
The Riott Squad went up against Bayley, Natalya, and Nikki Cross because, apparently, Nikki can float across all three brands now? This was mainly an exhibition for Nikki but, if you really believe that the WWE has actual plans for her when she goes full-time on the main roster then you may be disappointed, and her contributions helped the faces get the win.
Jinder Mahal, who whined about being left out of the fatal-four-way, went up against Finn Balor next with the stipulation being that, if Jinder won, he would get Balor’s spot in the Royal Rumble…even though Balor doesn’t have a number yet so it’s unclear how good that will actually be. Anyway, it was all academic, as, despite Jinder’s best efforts (and I use the term loosely), Balor got the win after the Coup De Grâce.
The Intercontinental Championship was on the line next as Dean Ambrose defended against Seth Rollins and, randomly, Bobby Lashley; I guess we’re not completely done with Rollins/Ambrose just yet then, though I don’t see how Lashley’s issues with Rollins really translate into a title shot. However, luckily for him, this translated into a title victory as Rollins and Ambrose ended up beating each other senseless and, when Lio Rush caused Seth to fall to the outside, Lashley hit the Spear and won the match, and the belt, which was totally unexpected and random.
Afterwards, Alexa Bliss showed off the WWE Women’s Tag team Championships and announced that three teams from both brands will compete for the belts inside the Elimination Chamber; she then interviewed Paul Heyman and they got distracted/interrupted by Otis from Heavy Machinery, which was really weird.
Anyway, Finn Balor was back in action for the main event, the fatal-four-way match to decide who will be slaughtered by Lesnar at Royal Rumble (although, after Lashley’s sudden title win, I kind of think Lesnar might not actually lose that match!) Drew went right after Cena before he (as in Cena) briefly teamed up with Finn to take on the heels; when Corbin tried to pin Finn after the End of Days, though, Drew stopped the count and they started going at it. Things eventually fell apart and a finisher-fest ensued; Cena hit Corbin with the Attitude Adjustment, Drew laid out Cena with the Claymore, but Finn dropped Drew with a DDT, hit the Coup De Grâce on Corbin and…won the match! Finally! What? Two years later? We finally get Finn Balor vs. Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at Royal Rumble!
Becky Lynch got accosted backstage at the top of the show and basically vowed to defeat Asuka at Royal Rumble. At the same time, the New Day and Heavy Machinery were involved in one of those “hilarious” backstage skits, before Becky came out to the ring to basically repeat her vow and yell about being “The Man”. Asuka eventually came out to shut her up but they got interrupted by the Iiconics, which eventually led to the first match of the night, in which Becky faced off against Peyton Royce.
As you might expect, this mainly existed to remind people that Becky is a complete ass-kicker and, despite something resembling an effort by Peyton, Becky one without much issue. Afterwards, Asuka stepped up to show she’s no slouch either and defeated Billie Kay in literally no time at all. I am sure that the Iiconics will make a big splash once the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships float their way…
Anyway, this all bled seamlessly into AJ Styles coming out for his time in the spotlight; he tried to hand out fast food and fizzy drinks to fans at a concession stand so Daniel Bryan attacked him and security had to hold them both back because these guys are ready to explode!!
Mustafa Ali came out to have a match but, before he could even think about getting in the ring, Samoa Joe attacked him and basically murdered him. Referees tried to stop him and hold him back but Joe was having none of it, smashing Mustafa into the ring post and the barricade; I guess they’re trying for an underdog story with Ali but you could also interpret this as a complete burial. Time will tell and how Mustafa holds his own in a feud with Joe could dictate his future on SmackDown! Live.
Rey Mysterio took on SmackDown! Live’s newest Superstar, Andrade, afterwards. Oh, no, wait, that’s Andrade “Cien” Almas but without his middle and last name because the WWE hates guys having last names these days. I’m not too annoyed, because I hate typing out Andrade’s name in full, but this never happened to Alberto Del Rio and “Andrade” by itself sounds pretty weak. This sort of thing wouldn’t be a problem if the commentary team didn’t constantly have to refer to wrestlers by their full names all the bloody time; seriously, watch a Kevin Owens match. He’s always called “kevinowens”, never just “Kevin” or “Owens”; the same is true for nearly every competitor. It gets a bit old. Anyway, these guys had a great, fast-paced match; there was a brilliant spot where Rey tossed Andrade over the top rope but he landed on his feet with Rey still on his shoulders and simply hit a Powerbomb. Rey showed no signs of quit or fatigue as he even hit a bit Hurricanrana off the top rope down to the outside, followed by a Senton Splash. Andrade followed suit by landing on his feet after missing a Moonsault and then immediately hitting a standing Moonsault; Mysterio busted out the Canadian Destroyer again but he had no answer for Zelina Vega distracting the referee, which allowed Andrade to hit the Hammerlock DDT and get the win.
The Miz sucked up to Shane McMahon with a special tribute segment; it took forever but the Bar eventually interrupted them, which led to Miz and Sheamus squaring off. This one was largely all Sheamus until Cesaro tried to interfere; he ended up getting pushed into a cake, which was enough to distract Sheamus and allow Miz to win with a roll-up. When the Bar tried to take their frustrations out on the Miz, Shane came to his rescue and the two of them (a weedy little asshole heel and an old man who never had any business in the ring in the first place) took out the Bar, with Shane hitting the Coast-To-Coast. I cannot wait for Shane to hold that tag belt…