By: Jamie Henry –
We start off last night’s Smackdown Live at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MI with Shane McMahon, who is out to talk about Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn and how they don’t deserve another opportunity. McMahon invites Daniel Bryan out, as Bryan believes the two do deserve another chance, and their relationship has been strained during this storyline, leaving fans wondering if Bryan will return to ring action against McMahon. McMahon states that Bryan isn’t listening to the fans when they ask for what it is what they want, with chants of “Rusev Day” interrupting and McMahon saying, ‘duly noted’ as Bryan gives the two superstars opportunity after opportunity. When asked if the fans want Owens or Zayn to go after the title, the fans boo, which is a shame as both are deserved for a title run, Zayn especially. McMahon tells Bryan that Owens and Zayn are not Bryan and that the YEP! Movement is a cheap imitation of the YES! Movement and that Bryan is being manipulated and needs to stop living vicariously through them. Overall the segment was good and left fans wondering just how the storyline will unfold and whether or not tonight would be the end of the friendship we see on television between Owens and Zayn and the start of something new.
We’re then given a clip of The New Day eating pancakes and answering tweets to one another on their phones, which is a promo for #AskTheNewDay. After a commercial break, we see AJ Styles walking backstage and Shinsuke Nakamura come up telling him he’ll beat him at Wrestlemania, which leaves Styles confused for a few moments.
Next up is Charlotte Flair vs Liv Morgan of the Riott Squad. Flair takes the immediate offense, attacking Morgan relentlessly. Morgan doesn’t really get any hits, relying mostly on the Riott Squad member’s helping her out to get her out of tough spots until the referee removes them from ringside, which fans and myself both enjoyed. Morgan taps out when Flair puts her in the figure eight shortly after. The match had good moments, such as Flair on the offense immediately and spearing Morgan, but it would have been nice to see Morgan able to get in more offence. Flair then announced that she’s planning on taking down the other members of the Riott Squad.
With Renee Young’s interview with Kevin Owens, she asks if the friendship between him and Zayn will be affected and Owens says that Zayn needs to be asked that, since it’s up to him if he can handle losing to Owens, in which the crowd remains silent but eager. Young is left alone and contemplative as the camera pans away towards The Bludgeon Brothers who dominate their match with local jobbers, which is really no surprise as the company doesn’t know what else to do with them and they win the match within five minutes. The USOs come out during their celebrations to steal the spotlight, walking by the Bludgeon Brothers and eyeing them warily. Their promo is full of passion and fire, as they always are, where they talk about themselves as faces to themselves now, as heels, to cheers from the crowd. This is obvious as they mention the differences in them from face paint to wearing all black, to doing their Siva Tau dance when they came out to now coming out with attitude. They also brought back the line that helped them become who they are, “It’s not paranoia, it’s the USOS.’
We see Bryan showing the first ever top ten superstars list, who is Tye Dillinger, at 10. Randy Orton is number 9, 8th is Becky Lynch, 7th is The Uso’s, 6th is The New Day, 5th is Bobby Roode, 4th is Naomi, 3rd is Shinsuke Nakamura, 2nd is Charlotte and 1st is AJ Styles. The list is… well, interesting and not exactly agreeable.
Rusev and Aiden English are next up with a promo filmed on a smartphone, which WWE seems to be enjoying doing lately. The segment was interesting, simply because it’s nice to see how over English and Rusev are now since the first started working together.
As Rusev and Bobby Roode face off for their match for the United States Championship, it begins a little slow but eventually the crowd gets into the match with opposing chants throughout. Both men have their moments with close calls with Roode retaining after the crowd begins to get really into it and Rusev wrestles his hardest. Randy Orton comes out of nowhere after the match, attacking the three men one by one with an RKO, to multiple cheers. The match however was a stellar due to the back and forth between the two men and proves that Rusev’s booking isn’t just another strong man booking anymore.
A promo between Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable, who admit to targeting The Ascension after targeting Tyler Breeze and Fandango the previous week. The four come out for their match, which is a solid with Benjamin and Gable dominating most of the matchup with The Ascension getting in a few good moments. While the crowd didn’t seem all that into the match, Benjamin and Gable showed numerous spots of true athleticism by being able to flip the Ascension into interesting maneuvers and pins, making the match an interesting one before winning.
We are once again shown The New Day backstage, answering questions for a quick minute, which is funny, as always, and then Renee Young interviewing Zayn, who drops some truth bombs which make fans cheer even harder for him in the upcoming match. AJ Styles is out on commentary with Zayn staring at him until Owens comes out. Both men dominate equally throughout the match but Zayn has an early edge when he truly allows his anger to let loose on his friend. The match goes on with intense spots and moments, earning a ‘this is awesome’ chant. Both Owens and Zayn go back and forth, with Owens’ vindictive side making a return when Zayn continues to get up. This occurs continuously until Zayn, exhausted, lands near AJ Styles and begins goading him until Styles attacks Zayn, causing both men bafflement before Styles punches them, causing a disqualification. Daniel Bryan comes out after Styles complains in the ring, how he had just wanted a winner, declaring that both Owens and Zayn will face Styles at Fastlane in a triple threat match as it is clear both Canadians put their utmost effort into the match. With that, the show ended and the viewers are left wondering not only what happens between the friendship of the two men but if it will continue to deteriorate before or after Fastlane.