WWE SmackDown this week came to us from the great state of California, Bakersfield to be exact.
As the WWE RAW brand continues to build toward Elimination Chamber in less than two weeks, SmackDown has the honor of holding the final PPV before WrestleMania. That will be Fastlane on March 11th in Cleveland, Ohio.
The main purpose of Tuesday night's show was providing a major shake-up to the main event for Fastlane. Though the previously announced triple threat between AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn had some intrigue due to the blossoming heat between friends Zayn and Owens, WWE has decided to insert one of their freshly signed talents into the title match, as well as an old face that was promised big things months ago.
In addition to the WWE title picture, we also got some clarification of where things with the tag team and U.S. titles. Read on for five things we learned from this week's WWE SmackDown Live.
1. Big Contract = Big Kick
Dolph Ziggler opened up this week's show, fresh off of signing a new long-term, big money contract with WWE. As he strolled down to the ring, smile on his face and old theme song once again playing, he expected to go one on one with Baron Corbin.
Instead, Corbin was shown being attacked backstage by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. The duo then came out to ringside and beat the snot out of Ziggler, including this epic Helluva Kick.
I mean, I'd probably take a kick like that if it meant getting paid. Well, maybe.
Later, Shane McMahon was ticked off that Bryan's "boys" (Owens and Zayn) are getting title shots when they have behave like this. He made two matches for the night, Owens vs. Corbin and Zayn vs. Ziggler, and if either emerged victorious, they would be inserted into the title match with AJ Styles at Fastlane. Likewise, if either Owens or Zayn involved themselves in the other's match, they would be removed from the Fastlane match.
2. Baron Corbin Is Going To Fastlane
The WWE title match at Fastlane quickly become a fatal five-way as Baron Corbin pinned Kevin Owens clean and in the middle of the ring. They had a good big man, television match that succeeded in ultimately establishing Corbin as a legitimate threat in the title mach at Fastlane.
Owens went for the pop-up powerbomb, but Corbin turned that right into the End of Days and got the pinfall. A disappointed and dejected Kevin Owens saw the odds that he or Zayn would walk out champion in Columbus get a little bit smaller, something that he would elaborate on to a not-so-sympathetic Sami Zayn (more on that later).
3. The U.S. Title Open Challenge Is...Not Quite Back
Bobby Roode came out this week and talked about how he wants to bring back the U.S. title open challenge, something started by someone who he wants to surpass (John Cena).
He then essentially challenged Orton to a match, so I guess so much for that whole surprise factor. He said he hoped that whoever answered the challenge would face him face to face rather than hitting an RKO out of nowhere (a nod to what happened last week).
As the match was about to begin, Jinder Mahal interrupted things. He insulted Orton about finishing #9 in the SmackDown top ten list last week (oh, you already forgot that exists?), which was voted on by his peers.
Poor Letterman. pic.twitter.com/citmSddKaa— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) February 14, 2018
The segment essentially turned into Mahal and Orton arguing amongst themselves while Roode listened. Roode eventually interjected into the conversation, but Mahal took out both he and Orton.
No match. No open challenge.
4. Former Tag Team Title Challengers Now Fighting Over Pancakes
One week after starting to re-establish themselves as serious contenders for the tag team titles following a loss to the Usos at Royal Rumble, Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable were inserted into a feud with the New Day.
This was supposed to be a comedic segment, but it really fell kind of flat. The New Day came out and talked about pancakes again, complete with Big E trying to chomp down as many as he could. They were interrupted by Gable and Benjamin, with Gable running down the segment by sarcastically declaring that when he was training for the Olympics he always hoped he would be fighting over pancakes.
After the two teams argued in the ring, we got a match between them. This match was won by the New Day clean and in the middle of the ring, so I guess it's going to be a while before we get another Usos/Gable and Benjamin match.
So how about we get to that Bludgeon Brothers vs. Usos match already? Speaking of which, the Bludgeons interrupted an Usos backstage segment by bashing a screen that was showing an Uso's promo. With their hammers. So yes, it's coming.
The Bludgeon Brothers are here to remind you to read a book. pic.twitter.com/F3iSGK5hls— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) February 14, 2018
5. The Fastlane Shake-Up Is Completed
Sami Zayn and Dolph Ziggler absolutely stole the show this week, having a fantastic 17 minute main event that saw Ziggler win cleanly.
Prior to the main event, Owens approached Zayn backstage and tried to fire him up that he needed to win so that they would each still have a decent shot at winning the WWE title at Fastlane. They sowed more seeds of discontent here, as Zayn eluded to the fact that each of them are out for themselves at Fastlane and Zayn said Owens already failed by losing to Corbin.
While a Royal Rumble rematch involving Zayn, Owens, and AJ Styles was appealing due to the evolving rivalry between friends (Owens and Zayn), making this a five-way has really made things crazy in advance of WrestleMania.
- Charlotte defeated Sarah Logan on the show, so she has now defeated 2/3 of the Riott Squad. They hyped the fact that only Ruby is left.
- No Shinsuke Nakamura on this week's broadcast, sadly.
- Apparently the Top Ten list will not be a weekly occurence.
- Daniel Bryan played a very minimal role this week, only participating in a backstage taped segment with Shane McMahon.