-Batista and Triple H kick off the show with some verbal jousting. While Daniel Bryan is the subject of everyone's affections and there will always be YES chants that take over any segment where he's part of the storyline, even when he isn't there, I like how they've tried to make things so personal between the ex-Evolution members. It's a nice touch and it does add another layer to the headline bouts at Wrestlemania. All eyes will be on Bryan in the end and what happens with him, but by going down this route you're also interested to see how things transpire with the others.
Sin Cara Def. Damien Sandow
Just a vehicle for Sin Cara to pick up a win and maybe shift some more masks in the run up to Wrestlemania. Sandow might be low on WWE's priority list right now, but he has the talent and eventually things will pick up for him again.
Rating: 4/10. - A nothing match which may as well not have aired in truth.
- Big Show starts off his interview with a goofy smile before getting all serious on us about the Wyatt's and how they get into your head. The smile aside, this was good.
The Shield Def. 3MB/Ryback & Curtis Axel
Decent little back to back matches with Ambrose & Rollins working well together despite the odds thrown at them. After The Shield got worked over last week, this was a good way to re-emphasize their dominance and build further intrigue for the 6-man with Kane and the Corporate Outlaws (digging that). The Shield's transition into a babyface faction is very welcome, and as I've stressed before I think there's still mileage in all three as a group before they go their separate ways.
Rating: 7.5/10. - Best in-ring action of the night. Rollins in particular is a delight to watch.
Fandango Def. Goldust
Crowd were pretty lifeless for this, which I found surprising because these two on paper are great, colourful characters. Match itself lacked any spark from the start really, but Summer Raye continues to prove her chops as a great heel valet, helping out with the end result and the cheap victory for Fandango.
Rating: 6/0 - Solid but the dull crowd didn't help.
Sheamus Def. Batista via DQ
I think there's a better match in their arsenal somewhere from an in-ring viewpoint, but the posturing and time wasting from Batista was excellent and he gets 10/10 for smarmy heel skullduggery. I like heels who time-waste because it's such an easy way to get the crowd baying for your blood and to just wind people up. Dave showing "The Animal" at the end with the chair shots was effective, made more so by the fact it was against one of the top babyfaces in Sheamus.
Rating: 7/10. - Match itself could've been better, but Dave's overall characteristics are fantastic and he's born to play that Hollywood heel type role. Good beatdown at the conclusion.
- Bray delivers another message to Cena and also Big Show, and sings "He's got the whole world in his hands." Which incidentally has been stuck in my head ever since.
The Bella Twins Def. AJ Lee & Tamina
Really clunky tag bout. Not the best diva bout on Smackdown in recent times and the Bella's in particular seemed to be having an off night. This was solely here to promote the Diva title invitational at Wrestlemania and to tease the tension with Tamina and AJ. In that respect it wasn't a wasted section of TV time.
Rating: 6/10. - Story/promotional wise: fine. In-ring stuff: Could be much better.
Jack Swagger Def. Jimmy Uso
These two had good chemistry together and it bodes well for the tag title match at Wrestlemania in terms of these two teams interacting. Swagger getting the win – after all he's the more accomplished singles wrestler – makes sense and Uso doesn't lose face as a result as long as they prosper in the tag matches going forward.
Rating: 6.5/10. - Could've gone longer but there was some good work here.
- Razor Ramon in the Hall of Fame. Excellent.
Mark Henry Def. The Miz
Like most matches tonight the crowd just didn't give a shit about this one, and they did little to shift their viewpoint. Essentially it was there to plug the Andre battle royal. Which is fine, but there's more effective ways to go about it. This just dragged. Also, has Miz shifted his alignment again? The more turns he has, the less people will care.
Rating: 5/10. - Very, very average and ran too long.
Bray Wyatt Def. Big Show
To wrap up the broadcast, this little showcase for Bray gave him some extra steam going into his big Wrestlemania bout and in that respect it was good. I was actually enjoying it, though probably not as a main event bout. It just felt like there was something missing to round off the show. Cena (who I think appeared at the tapings) coming out would've closed things nicely, as a result though it felt a little flat without him. Still, good big man dynamic here.
Rating: 6.5/10 Ended a bit flat but a good showcase for Bray.
There was some good promotion for Wrestlemania here, and The Shield's bouts were great to watch. But aside from The Shield's bouts, the in-ring action was below par tonight and you get the impression a lot of the guys are trying to wrestle smarter with Wrestlemania coming up. I don't blame them, but I think it says something about the overall character (the workers, not the TV personalities) of the guys who DID bust their backsides tonight (Shield, Swagger/Uso) that they'll give everything for the cause whether it's for Wrestlemania or even for a filler addition of Smackdown.
Mainly though, the promotion for the various Wrestlemania matches and the show itself was very good, and that cancelled out most of the filler they provided.
Rating: 7/10. - Thumbs up for marketing, thumbs down for the majority of the in-ring stuff barring another great Shield performance and Swagger/Uso.