The Usos (C) vs. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin – Smackdown Tag Team Championship (2 out of 3 Falls)
The Usos left their mark in 2017 as the class of the tag team division of Smackdown. Their next challenge came in the form of the team of Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin, otherwise known as American Alpha/Team Angle 2.0. The Usos continued their reign of dominance until one night, they lost the tag team titles to Gable and Benjamin. BUT WAIT! We were taken to the woodshed as it proved to be a Dusty Finish, as genetics proved to save The Usos from losing their titles. Gable had pinned the wrong Uso, and as a result, the match was restarted, and this time, The Usos got away with their titles to fight another day. Now, if Gable and Benjamin want to get the titles they once had in their hands, they have to beat The Usos twice.
What I love about this feud is that they subtly did a double turn with The Usos being the good guys and Gable/Benjamin being the bad guys, and I loved that The Usos have maintained their aggressiveness and gritty attitude despite the nature of their character being changed. In addition, the new look for Gable and Benjamin was a welcome change as they weren’t doing anything before. Since The Usos beat Gable and Benjamin at Clash of Champions and a couple of weeks ago, the law of reverse momentum dictates that American Alpha 2.0 gets the rub here. I can’t see The Usos beating them two more times after already defeating them twice. The Usos holding the titles is something I am more than okay with, but they really don’t have anyone prominent on the Smackdown LIVE roster left to beat, and with someone else holding the tag titles, it paves the way for new teams to get exposure. Let’s only hope that Gable and Benjamin can carry the momentum with the belts The Usos had.
Winners: Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin
Seth Rollins (C) and Jason Jordan (C) vs. Cesaro and Sheamus – RAW Tag Team Titles
I really thought WWE was going to make this a triple threat match, considering Cesaro and Sheamus have lost twice to Titus Worldwide. Nevertheless, this is what we got. The tag team of Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan was really only intended to get more heat onto Jason Jordan for the heel turn that’s coming for him, while Seth Rollins is pretty much going to be Marty Jannetty here. Meanwhile, Cesaro and Sheamus have been the thorns in their side, always insisting on making sure they have a mental edge. I personally haven’t been invested in this feud because it feels like Seth has been fighting Cesaro and Sheamus for 5 years now and Jordan is kind of just there. Maybe after Rollins inadvertently hit Jordan, reverse momentum gives this to Rollins and Jordan, but in order to continue the storyline that will lead to the breakup of Jordan and Rollins, Cesaro and Sheamus winning the titles back make a little more sense to me. I’ll go with The Bar here.
Winners: Cesaro and Sheamus
AJ Styles (C) vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn – WWE Championship (1 on 2 Handicap Match)
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn have been enjoying a very entertaining run as a tag team and AJ Styles is the WWE Champion and they’re all fighting at the Royal Rumble. So why am I not excited for it as I should be? First of all, the bigger focus is on one semi-active performer that shouldn’t be performing and another, for all intents and purposes as of this moment, a non-performer with the Smackdown leadership. Shane McMahon has been making it a point of emphasis to ensure that he gets back at Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens for the turmoil that they put Shane through in 2017, while Daniel Bryan sees them as assets to the Smackdown roster and has been seemingly doing everything in his power to stack the odds against AJ and directly/indirectly support Owens and Zayn, which leads everyone to believe that Daniel is turning heel.
According to previous reports, WWE is supposedly doing this intentionally to make fans view Daniel in a negative light so, in the scenario that he leaves, he’ll leave a sour taste in the fans’ mouth. Yeah, that plan will totally not backfire at all. No way. In addition, I just don’t like handicap matches because it’s almost always a lose-lose situation. If the individual wins, he looks overpowered and the team look like chumps. If the team wins, then they don’t gain anything from it. Seeing as how we have three of the best of their craft, I’m sure they’ll find a way to make it work, and I’m sure AJ Styles will find a way to retain, just as I’m sure Bryan or McMahon will make their presence felt here. AJ isn’t losing here, it’s just a matter of how he will retain. Bigger things may be in store for him on the horizon.
Winner: AJ Styles
Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Kane – Universal Championship Match
Is it bad that I forgot this match was taking place? Seriously, I really don’t know what I’m supposed to be getting out of all of this. Am I supposed to be heavy in doubt that Brock Lesnar can retain? WWE hasn’t ceased to remind us that he’s facing the “Monster Among Men” and the “Red Machine” and that he can lose the title without being involved in the decision as if the fans have yet to understand how multi-man matches work. The problem with how WWE is hyping this up (and I’ll go more in depth on this later) is that we are supposed to believe Brock’s chances of retaining are extremely slim, despite the fact that he’s not only beaten Braun Strowman but has beaten him, Samoa Joe and one of the favorites for this Sunday’s Royal Rumble match, Roman Reigns all at the same time while doing a stretcher job. And now we’re supposed to believe a guy who hasn’t proven he can win when the spotlight gets big in Braun Strowman, and a past-his-prime Kane poses any serious threat?