By: Jamie Henry –
With the Royal Rumble come and gone, this week’s episode of Smackdown Live at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ushered in not just the aftermath of the PPV but the road to Wrestlemania itself. The show started with Royal Rumble winner Shinsuke Nakamura coming out, who had announced that he would face off AJ Styles at Wrestlemania 34 in New Orleans. However, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn spoiled the celebration – the duo lost at the Rumble when the referee allowed Styles to pin Owens even though he wasn’t the legal man in the ring. Owens and Zayn argued that Nakamura should face them at Wrestlemania 34 because of how the duo were screwed out of winning the title and they deserve another opportunity. With this said, AJ Styles comes out and offered Owens and Zayn a rematch with Nakamura as his partner. Owens and Zayn walk away, before returning to the ring to decline the match and then getting attacked by Nakamura and Styles. When we see Owens and Zayn next, the pair are confronting Smackdown Live GM Daniel Bryan, who agrees that their loss was unfortunate – and says the two of them will get another chance next week, when they face one another for a chance at Styles at Fastlane. This news, alongside the news that Owens and Zayn will face Nakamura and Styles tonight allows the viewer to see the beginnings of a falling out between the two best friends.
Next up we have Kofi Kingston of The New Day vs Zack Ryder vs Jinder Mahal vs Rusev for an opportunity at Bobby Roode’s US Championship Title next week. Roode defended his title in an open challenge during the pre-show of the Rumble against Mojo Rawley, and Rusev won the match, earning an opportunity against the Champion next week.
Next up are The Uso’s, who come out still wearing their championship belts. The twins cut a promo stating the tag teams they have beaten and that they are the best team in the company before leaving – and being interrupted by The Bludgeon Brothers, who come out for a match against a local indie tag team and win.
We are quickly shown Daniel Bryan, who announces a Top Tens List of Smackdown before becoming interrupted by Tye Dillinger, who was originally 10th in the Rumble but never made it out due to Owens and Zayn attacking him backstage when his music hit and Zayn taking his place. Baron Corbin appears, and he and Dillinger have some words before Daniel Bryan creates a match between them.
Charlotte comes out to talk about the Rumble – how she wishes that for once, she was not the champion, so she could have been in the historic Women’s Rumble and how no matter what, she will still be champion at Wrestlemania, even if she is going against Ronda Rousey. Rousey had appeared after the woman’s rumble, when the winner, RAW’s Asuka, had been in the ring, before pointing to the Wrestlemania sign. The Riot Squad comes out after this and attacks Charlotte. The Riot Squad had been eliminated during the Rumble – Sarah Logan by Molly Holly, Liv Morgan by Michelle McCool and Ruby Riott by Nia Jax. When they’re done attacking her, Carmella, who was eliminated by Nikki Bella in the Rumble, comes out to cash in on her. During the moments of confirmation by the referee, Charlotte stirs awake and Carmella goes to kick her down, knocking the referee out of the ring. Realizing that her chance has gone, Carmella does not cash in and leaves before cutting a promo with Renee Young saying she’ll cash in soon enough.
We are then shown Corbin vs Dillinger, where Corbin wins the match with the end of days and no interruptions. After the match is over, we see a promo between Rusev and Roode filmed on phone cameras about their match the following week and then a promo between Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable with Tyler Breeze and Fandango, who have a match occurring. The match goes on for a little bit with Benjamin and Gable winning.
The main event of the night is Nakamura and Styles vs Owens and Zayn. There had been a segment earlier between Owens and Zayn that caused tension, as Owens had blamed Zayn for losing in the Rumble and Zayn had blamed Owens for losing their match. The two stated that the other would lose their match the following week, and this tension still clearly shows throughout their match with Nakamura and Styles. Owens and Zayn dominate early while fighting verbally with one another before Zayn is attacked off the ring during a move and Owens, upset, begins asking why he’s not around. Zayn, tired of fighting with Owens, walks out of the match and backstage. Owens tries his hardest to wrestle against Nakamura and Styles but is eventually failing, in which Zayn comes back and helps him out before getting attacked once more; physically by Nakamura and Styles and verbally by Owens, which causes him to walk out on the man again and Nakamura and Styles to grab the win. Backstage, Renee Young asks Zayn if his friendship is over with Owens and Zayn denies it but also cuts a promo stating that he’ll be known as the man who beat Owens, then Styles and will then be known as the champion.
This of course, leads the fans to wondering what happens next week – both with the friendship of the two men and Nakamura and Styles, who had a truce tonight.