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Credit: WWE.com

Tuesday's WWE SmackDown deepened an already massive WrestleMania 34.

By the end of the blue brand's night in Pittsburgh, the card boasted three new contests. Daniel Bryan issued a WrestleMania challenge. Rusev forced his way into the United States Championship tilt at the marquee event. And the tag team division added a show-stealer of a title bout.

The paths to all these announcements varied in entertainment value.

The end result is a net positive, however. The Show of Shows is more appealing following the latest SmackDown. 

Read on for a breakdown of the episode, complete with highlights and letter grades.

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Before the match, Jinder Mahal claimed Sunil Singh was too hurt to compete so Rusev would take his place.

Bobby Roode had Mahal reeling early. Rusev didn't fare much better, taking punishment from both Roode and the United States champion Randy Orton.

The heels were able to slow things down and beat on The Viper first and then on Roode.

Orton and Roode ended up fighting themselves, assuring themselves a loss. Rusev pounced on a distracted Orton to steal the win.

Rusev later asked to be added to the U.S. title clash and the SmackDown brass obliged.

Result

Rusev and Mahal win via pinfall.

Memorable Moments and Quotes

  • Orton hurls Singh into the security barricade.
  • "I had him!"—Roode to Orton.
  • Orton RKOs Roode.

Grade

C-

Analysis

SmackDown gets points for kicking off the show with in-ring action, but this was a match with little spark.  This was far longer than it needed to be with little in the way of highlights.

The fact that Rusev is now in the U.S. title mix is the most interesting development here. He has the most momentum of anyone in this group and will give the U.S. Championship match a much-needed burst of energy.

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Becky Lynch and Ruby Riott traded blows in the briskly paced opening moments.

The Riott Squad lurked as the faction's leader took control of Lynch. Riott methodically attacked her foe until The Irish Lass Kicker mounted a fiery comeback.

Lynch was able to fight off the distraction of The Riott Squad and roll up her opponent for the victory.

Result

Lynch wins via pinfall.

Memorable Moments and Quotes

  • Riott sweeps Lynch off her feet and onto the ring apron.
  • The referee catches Riott using the ring ropes for illegal leverage during a pin attempt.
  • Lynch hurls Riott into Liv Morgan.

Grade

B-

Analysis

Riott and Lynch have such good chemistry together. They need to eventually meet in a hyped, lengthy PPV match.

WWE hasn't presented The Riott Squad as a real threat. Babyfaces keep getting the best of them. The WrestleMania Battle Royal is a prime chance to shift things in the opposite direction.

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Bryan stood onstage, soaking up the love the crowd showered on him. He relished the fact that he's now cleared to compete before getting to his GM duties.

He proposed that he and Shane McMahon face Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn at WrestleMania. The heels' jobs would be on the line in the bout. 

Memorable Moments and Quotes

  • "I'm supposed to wear blazers, cardigans or whatever this is."—Bryan.
  • "Daniel Bryan will fight at WrestleMania!"—Bryan.

Grade

A

Analysis

Bryan's explanation for why has given Owens and Zayn so many chances felt authentic. As did his animosity toward them. On a show filled with guys clearly playing characters, it's refreshing to see someone simply pour their heart out each night.

His white-hot passion is just what this show needed. 

He and McMahon taking on KO and Zayn is the expected move. It adds to an already stacked card in a major way.  

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Credit: WWE.com

The New Day trashed The Bludgeon Brothers in a pre-match promo.

Once the bell rang, Xavier Woods used his speed and agility to frustrate the big men. The Bludgeon Brothers recovered and began to wail on him. Harper and Rowan ran over all three members of New Day. 

The Usos charged in to prevent The Bludgeon Brothers from attacking their foes with their trademark mallets. The New Day bickered with The Usos as a result as they cost them the match.

Result

The Bludgeon Brothers win via disqualification.

Memorable Moments and Quotes

  • "We found that the road to WrestleMania was littered with trash."—Big E.
  • Roman throws Kofi Kingston into Big E's legs. 
  • The Bludgeon Brothers narrowly miss The New Day with their mallets.

Grade

B-

Analysis

The animosity between these three teams is growing nicely. The babyface squads have revenge on their mind. Harper and Rowan are seemingly just out for blood.

The brief match here offered a glimpse of what the impending tag title clash will look like. 

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Credit: WWE.com

Fandango watched on from ringside as Tyler Breeze took on Dolph Ziggler.

Breeze was distracted by his partner, making him vulnerable against The Showoff. Ziggler hit a Zig-Zag to get a quick win.

Result

Ziggler wins via pinfall.

Memorable Moments and Quotes

  • Fandango runs laps around the ring thinking Ziggler is chasing him.
  • "The man's got cramps!"—Byron Saxton on Fandango.

Grade

D

Analysis

This was an attempt to get some hype for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and it didn't work.

The bout was worth a few chuckles and little else. The Battle Royal doesn't feel significant. Breezango's buzz has died down to a trickle.  

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Credit: WWE.com

Backstage, Nakamura told AJ Styles that he wants him at his best at WrestleMania. He asked the WWE champ to be in his corner to watch his back.

Nakamura controlled Shelton Benjamin to kick things off.

Benjamin responded with high-octane offense. The two men traded the advantage. Nakamura, though, used Kinshasa to finish things.

Nakamura then told Styles he wanted him in his corner to show him how he would beat him at WrestleMania. They bickered on the mic. When Benjamin and Gable soon attacked the WWE champ, Nakamura fought them off.

He teased hitting the Kinshasa on Styles.

Result

Nakamura wins via pinfall.

Memorable Moments and Quotes

  • Benjamin flies over the ring ropes to slam Nakamura's face onto the apron.
  • Nakamura counters a Paydirt attempt into an armbar.
  • Styles yanks Chad Gable off the ring apron.
  • "You and I, we're going to tear the house down."—Styles. 

Grade

B

Analysis

Nakamura vs. Benjamin featured some fun exchanges on the mat and an entertaining clash of styles. It didn't overstay its welcome, efficiently making the Royal Rumble winner look impressive.

The post-match promo felt unfinished and got weird, but it did add some needed tension to this bout. WWE has done reasonably well handling the babyface-against-babyrface dynamic.

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