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WWE SmackDown results, recap, reactions (Jan. 22, 2015): RUMBLE

Last night's episode of SmackDown was the second week WWE offered the show on its new night. If we're to believe Daniel Bryan, the star for the second consecutive week, we can get used to the company putting an emphasis on the blue brand.

There's no telling how long exactly that will last, but, at the very least, we know they kept it up for at least two weeks running considering they booked big returns for both shows. Last week, it was Bryan's return to wrestling. This week, it was Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, and Erick Rowan's reintroduction.

Funny how it was Bryan bringing them out, stepping aside to give them promo time, and assuming the leadership role John Cena failed so miserably in (despite the narrative they've attempted to push in that regard).

So how did things work out for each of the major players? Let's run 'em down:

Daniel Bryan: Remember when Bryan won the WWE world heavyweight championship at SummerSlam 2013 before losing it immediately and chasing it for months only to get bumped from the main event picture by Big Show? Remember how he was constantly being talked down about and booked to look like he could compete but never quite get over the hump? Think of that compared to what you see now. They booked the odds against him and he overcame. He's the guy. If Roman Reigns was winning the Royal Rumble this weekend, don't you think they would have given him more than a simple interview and late entrance? He's the imposing figure looming large but Bryan has beaten bigger shadows.

Dolph Ziggler: His promo was spot on. He was inching closer and closer to being a top dog just before the whole firing angle happened, and tonight was his first shot at getting somewhere closer to that goal. So he's booked to beat Bad News Barrett in a non-title match to gain entrance into the Royal Rumble but he takes a beating the entire way. Do they put the belt back on him? Would it be a good thing if they did considering how Barrett has been booked since he got the title? Ziggler is in No Man's Land right now because he's a babyface at a time when the company needs top heels more than ever but the timing couldn't be worse to turn him. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see where he goes from here.

Ryback: I have no idea what it is but THE BIG GUY has a certain charm to him that I can't quite put my finger on. He's a big galoot, but it's somehow endearing. I have no idea if it was planned or not but when he took the mic and responded to a "FEED ME MORE" chant with "sounds like we got a bunch of hungry people here in Austin, Texas" and started laughing like an idiot, with Dolph Ziggler corpsing behind him, I couldn't have been more entertained in a "this guy is so dumb but I'm still smiling and into it" way. He even had a damn good match with Rusev, which may have more to do with Rusev being one of the best wrestlers on the roster, but THE BIG GUY gets the rub. I'm aboard the Ryback train ... for now.

Erick Rowan: At first, I thought his promo at the top of the show was awkward and uncomfortable because he doesn't have any talent but our friend Scott Christ alerted me to the possibility that perhaps his performance was on point. Maybe he was playing the role of sheltered former brainwashed backwoods buzzard and there will be an adjustment period. In that case, he did very well. His match later in the evening with Luke Harper was average at best, however, and his doing the job doesn't bode well for his future prospects.

All in all, these three helped put together a solid show in their return.

The rest of the evening's activities

- Roman Reigns gave an interview blasting Big Show for continuously reminding us that he's a giant while saying, and this is a direct quote, "You want to know who didn't have to remind us every single week he was a giant? Andre the Giant." I'm going to step aside to put over our followers on Twitter here:

- It's so painfully obvious that Paige is far and away the most talented woman on the WWE roster. Naomi and Brie Bella had a match that was fine for what it was but I can hardly remember it at all. I can certainly remember Paige on commentary, though.

- Did it feel somewhat odd to anyone else that a bigger emphasis wasn't put on wrestlers picking their numbers for the Rumble match? Why do it at all if it amounts to just a couple throwaway backstage bits that no one will remember anyway?

- The seeds have been planted by The Usos and while many have suggested it, they have to do the break up between Miz and Damien Mizdow at the Rumble, right? Miz gets tossed and turns to wait for Mizdow to toss himself but Mizdow thinks about it and holds back. Miz, in a fit of rage, jumps the ring and eliminates him, leading to a feud between the two. It's easy booking that makes sense considering how long they've let this simmer. Philadelphia will destroy Miz for his actions and Mizdow will be treated like the biggest hero on the card.

This was a good show.

Grade: B-

That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show. How did you like it, if you liked it at all?

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