By Scott Strandberg
Titus O’Neil def. Jack Swagger by pinfall
Swagger hit a belly-to-back suplex. Titus fought back with an uppercut, but Swagger clotheslined him out of the ring. Back in the ring, Titus hit a big boot for a two-count, followed by a back bodydrop for another near-fall. Titus hit lots and lots of chops and slaps, in a very slow and boring portion of the match. Titus hit a clothesline and locked in an abdominal stretch, because apparently he was transported back to 1984 a few minutes ago.
Swagger hit a belly-to-belly to break up Titus’ unintentional nostalgia, following up with a clothesline and a big boot. Swagger hit a Swagger Bomb and pinned Titus. The referee could have counted to five, but stopped counting and gave Titus time to squirm his way over to the bottom rope. Wow. At any rate, Titus drove Swagger into the ring post, then hit a big boot and Clash of the Titus for the pinfall.
Scott’s Thoughts: At least the announcers acknowledged the ridiculous botch. Honestly, Titus O’Neil is just not ever going to be the kind of guy who can consistently wrestle watchable singles matches. It’s a shame, because he has athleticism and charm, but he just can’t wrestle well enough to be a WWE singles competitor. Even if the extremely bizarre rope-break botch wasn’t his fault, his 1980’s moveset and inability to tell a story in the ring will always stand out.
Paige (w/Natalya) def. Nikki Bella (w/Brie Bella) by pinfall
Nikki started off with a shoulder tackle and a springboard thrust kick for a near-fall. Paige hit a superkick and repeated knees to the gut. Nikki tossed Paige off the apron, doing push-ups in the ring to mock her as Natalya helped Paige back to the ring. Nikki went to work on Paige’s left arm, following up with a clothesline.
Paige fought back with a Thesz press, but Nikki immediately hit another clothesline. Nikki locked in various armbar variations, but Paige hit an arm drag and three clotheslines of her own. Paige followed up with a dropkick, but Nikki took advantage of a Brie distraction to hit an arm drag from the second rope. Natalya took out Brie on the floor with a discus clothesline.
Paige rolled Nikki up, but Nikki rolled through, earning a two-count of her own. Paige recovered to hit a superkick, followed by the RamPaige for the pinfall victory.
Scott’s Thoughts: This wasn’t a bad match, and inserting Paige into the Natalya/Nikki feud can’t be anything other than a good thing for the Divas title match at the Royal Rumble. On a side note, Nikki might need some shorts with a little bit better coverage, as she fell victim to “wardrobe malfunctions” both in front and in back during this match. That was a tad distracting, and not very PG…
Fandango (w/Rosa Mendes) def. R-Truth by pinfall
Fandango said that 2015 will be the year of love and hostility, which is about the most Fandango thing anyone could ever write. He started off with a shoulder tackle, but Truth fought back with a nice arm drag and a splash into the corner. Truth rolled Fandango up for a two-count, then hit a clothesline and a thrust kick for a near-fall. Fandango hit a sitout brainbuster, followed by a top-rope leg drop for the pinfall.
Scott’s Thoughts: Every time Fandango does his top-rope leg drop, I think about how many hip replacements he’ll require over the course of his life. Here’s hoping I’m wrong about that, but good god, he really goes all-out with that move.
Rusev declares for the Royal Rumble
Lana said that the embarrassment Ryback felt at getting fired was better than the humiliation he would have gotten if he had stayed. Rusev said that he would have mopped the floor with Ryback, like a janitor in the locker room. Rusev declared himself for the Royal Rumble match, saying that he will be proud to represent Russia in the main event of WrestleMania.