Daniel Bryan opens this week's Smackdown, by cutting a promo about how he main evented WrestleMania last year, but failed to repeat the feat this year. He promises that the "Yes Movement" isn't dead and he says that he has big plans for WrestleMania this year. Before he can tell us what, Bad News Barrett interrupts. Barrett tells him that he's a loser so he doesn't get a spot at WrestleMania. As he threatens Bryan, out comes Dean Ambrose, carrying Barrett's Interconinental Title. Ambrose immediately brawls with Barrett outside, leaving the title inside. Bryan picks it up and stares at it until Ambrose comes in and they both nail the champion. On the WWE App, it was announced that at WrestleMania, Barrett will defend his belt in a multi-man ladder match. It's a big step down for Bryan for sure, especially since I feel that Ambrose HAS to win because he just keeps losing at PPVs constantly. The top two faces in the company, Bryan and John Cena, look like they will be in mid-card title matches at the biggest show of the year. While that's good for those titles, it says something about Roman Reigns being in the big title match over them.
Dean Ambrose stayed in the ring for a match against the Miz. Damien Mizdow was not around because he's reportedly off shooting the commercial that he was offered. The match it around three minutes and Bad News Barrett comes back out to take back his title. Ambrose beats Miz with Dirty Deeds and isn't happy about Barrett having his gold back. After some recaps of the Randy Orton return and Raw main event, it's time for Divas action. Naomi, with the Usos, would take on Natalya, with Tyson Kidd and Cesaro. The girls have a nice little athletic contest that actually goes longer than the opener. Granted, it was only about 10 seconds longer but still much better than the 30 seconds he ladies got on Raw. After the guys go at it, Nattie wins after pulling a Bret Hart and playing possum with the ankle she hurt on Raw. I am absolutely loving Nattie's descent into heeldom. She adds something to the already great tandem of Kidd and Cesaro.
Rusev and Lana are now out, to discuss the John Cena situation. They rightfully discuss how Cena doesn't really deserve a rematch. I liked how it started but hated them going back to the Vladimir Puin stuff as Lana read an e-mail from him, praising Rusev. Jack Swagger, obviously forgetting what went down during the summer and at TLC, comes out to confront Rusev. It ends the same way it always does. With Rusev killing him. The segment was disappointing. Rusev and Lana have been on point lately but the Putin and Swagger stuff is tired for sure. Next, we get a non-title match as Bad News Barrett faces Daniel Bryan. R-Truth is on commentary again, and hilariously keeps calling Byron Saxton "Coach". Insane R-Truth is almost always fun. He even tells him that he loved his work on Sportscenter. This is our longest match of the night so far, spanning a commercial break and going nearly ten minutes. During the bout, Truth sneaks up and hides the IC Title under his shirt. BNB is frantically searching for it and questions Truth, who denies knowing anything. He looks so sad and deflated. Oh, and he lost. At least this is a loss that makes some sense for the IC Champion. Barrett is like 0-8 since winning the belt.
Byron Saxton conducted a sit-down interview with Roman Reigns earlier in the day. Like Brock Lesnar, he's better in these situations but still not very good. He says that he will bear Brock at WrestleMania. Backstage, R-Truth gives the Intercontinental Title to Dean Ambrose. Strange that he'd do that if he wants the belt. Hold it hostage for a shot at Barrett. Anyway, Fandango is in the ring before we're joined by Curtis Axel. #AxelMania! He brags about having never been eliminated from the Royal Rumble and even has a giant clock now that shows how long he's been in the Rumble. We are now at around 32 days and 7 hours. He botches the promo, and commentary shits on him even though they're worse a their jobs. Unfortunately, he loses to Fandango in a minute. I have enjoyed the AxelMania stuff and feel he could be a solid mid-carder but he's booked as a joke. We see a clip of Daniem Sandow filming his commercial until the Miz interrupts. The director wants Miz instead, even though he tosses the script aside. Miz dismisses Sandow and takes his spotlight.
After highlights of the Sting/Triple H confrontation, we get a match between Adam Rose and Goldust. Again, this is kept rather short and Goldust wins. As he's leaving, a Rosebud attacks him, and reveals himself to be Stardust. He finishes off his brother with Cross Rhodes. If you aren't Cody anymore, then why do his finisher? Bray Wyatt cuts another promo on the Undertaker. He wonders when Undertaker will stop dodging him. I wonder if he's actually going to show before WrestleMania. Our main event is a Fast Lane rematch as Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan and Ryback take on Seth Rollins, Kane and Big Show. It's similar to the match at Fast Lane and goes for about the same of time too. J&J Security get involved but it doesn't matter. A superkick and ShellShock is enough to put down Seth Rollins and give the faces the win this time around. I liked this, but didn't see why Seth had to take the pin. Maybe it's punishment for the nude photo stuff. I don't know.
Another solid yet unspectacular episode of Smackdown. They've gone back to the format of solid wrestling but not much storyline advancement, which is not the way to go if you want people to tune in. You could miss Smackdown and not really miss anything important. The wrestling portion was pretty good though, which made this episode rather fly by. 6.5/10.