With WWE Fastlane on the horizon this Sunday, Tuesday night's edition of SmackDown served as the final PPV go-home show before WrestleMania 34 next month.
Fastlane is shaping up to be a pretty good card with plenty of WrestleMania implications, including a big six-pack challenge match for the WWE championship. Who will go into the biggest show of the year as the champion: AJ Styles, John Cena, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin, or Dolph Ziggler?
Fastlane will also feature a U.S. title match, the rekindling of an old tag team feud, and a women's title match that has been built up for several weeks.
So as we head into the PPV in just a few short days, here's what we learned on this week's edition of SmackDown Live.
1. Ruby Thinks Charlotte Is A 'Myth'
The women's division opened the show this week as the final build to the title match between Charlotte and Ruby Riott at Fastlane took place in the middle of the ring. Riott did a great job on the microphone alluding to Charlotte being given her spot due to her family heritage. She spoke about her reputation as one of the best at NXT, as well as being the first woman to capture the NXT, RAW, and SmackDown women's titles.
However, Riott argued that it's a myth that Charlotte embodies the women's revolution. She said she formed the Riott Squad right after Charlotte won the SmackDown women's title in order to conquer that myth once and for all.
Charlotte countered by pointing out that she has to work harder than most due to the high expectations placed on her. Ruby told her that when she's finished with her, she'll just be another failed bleach blonde with a famous last name. Just when it looked we might get a fight, the segment awkward cut into segment number two.
2. 2017 Came Back With A Vengeance
That opening segment came to an awkward end when Bobby Roode's entrance theme came on. This, of course, held off the Squad from attacking Charlotte, because nothing gets people to back down like a long entrance.
The confrontation between the women was never mentioned again as Roode came down to do guest commentary on Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton, due to the fact that Roode is defending the U.S. title against Orton this Sunday at Fastlane.
Of course, we saw Orton vs. Mahal at least 535 times over the course of 2017, so this wasn't exactly the most exciting way to kick off Tuesday night's in-ring action. The match itself also featured another 2017 throwback as at one point, Orton tossed a Singh brother on top of a table with no regard for his safety. Remember that? Yeah, because it happened in every single Orton/Mahal match last year.
Orton eventually got into it on the outside with Roode, who later jumped up to the ring apron, distracting Orton. This allowed Mahal to approach from behind and hit the Khallas for the pinfall.
3. AJ Is Doing It For Shinsuke
Prior to wrestling Dolph Ziggler, Styles came out to talk about John Cena's promo on RAW and his title defense in the six-way match this Sunday at Fastlane. Similar to his interview earlier in the day on Busted Open Radio, Styles reiterated that he's going to carry the title into WrestleMania and has no interest (nor do we) in his WrestleMania match becoming a triple threat with Cena and Nakamura.
"I want my #WrestleMania moment... I want YOU, @ShinsukeN!" @AJStylesOrg is eager to have his DREAM MATCH against The #KingOfStrongStyle on The #GrandestStageOfThemAll! #SDLive pic.twitter.com/JtOKP11Ueg— WWE (@WWE) March 7, 2018
Styles also got the fans involved, as they cheered that they also would rather see Styles vs. Nakamura than have Cena thrown into the match. Styles mentioned briefly his past with Nakamura (WrestleKingdom 10), noting most would have thought that they'd never see this match in WWE. He said he wants the best at WrestleMania and noted that is Nakamura. Styles said when he retains his title at Fastlane, he's doing it for "them."
This brought out Ziggler, who bashed the fans like he does, mentioned he won the title in the past despite everyone doubting him and yada yada yada. They had a match, a really good television match even, but we didn't end up getting a clean finish. Instead, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn came out and attacked both men in an attempt to weaken their PPV opponents.
This lead to Shane McMahon coming out and announcing an impromptu fatal five-way match to end SmackDown, featuring Styles, Owens, Ziggler, Zayn, and Baron Corbin.
4. The Dry Run For Sunday
John Cena wasn't at SmackDown this week (and it doesn't look like he'll be at SmackDown again before WrestleMania), but all of the rest of the members of this Sunday's fatal six-way (err, I'm sorry, the Six-Pack Challenge) title match had a practice run to close out SmackDown.
It was your typical WWE multi-person match. Two wrestlers get after it while the others are laid out in the ring or on the outside. It's hard for the cameras to keep up with too much action, after all. The real shock was the finish.
While three of the competitors exited the ring, it left Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens between the ropes. And what happened? Zayn nailed Owens with a Helluva Kick for the pinfall.
SAMI WHY pic.twitter.com/1QVuUMAcR8— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) March 7, 2018
This leads us to...
5. This Friendship Just Hit A Wall
Earlier in the show, Sami and Kevin had a moment backstage. Zayn emphasized to Owens once again that he would lay down for him Sunday at the PPV, allowing Kevin to become a rare WWE grand slam champion. They even embraced in a big, loving hug backstage, and then later in the main event as well.0comments
That was all ended with that big Helluva Kick to close the main event, and Sami followed that up with an interview on the ramp. He spoke about how he's been the best thing on SmackDown ever since coming over from RAW, as well as pointing out that he has been under-utilized. Owens was great with his facial reactions in the ring during this segment.
Though this week's show, like many SmackDowns in recent weeks, felt a little bit like we were just going through the motions, the Zayn angle at the end woke everyone up and will make the main event this Sunday all the more interesting. We look to be heading to Owens vs. Zayn at WrestleMania.
Other Thoughts On This Week's Show
- Rusev, one of the most over members of the SmackDown roster, was again hardly featured on the show. He was in a backstage segment where Nakamura ended up singing "Nakamura Day" to him. The only thing more questionable than not utilizing the mega-popular Rusev is thinking Nakamura should be singing on camera or even struggling through forced backstage interviews. He doesn't need to talk (or sing) at all.
- Becky Lynch defeated Carmella. The women's Money in the Bank holder continues to slide down the card. Immediately following WrestleMania should be her time to shine.
- After asking to go home last week, that's apparently where Daniel Bryan still is.