This week on Smackdown Live, WWE United States Champion Bobby Roode defends against Rusev. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens put their friendship in jeopardy when they battle in a number one contenders match for the WWE Championship.
World Wrestling Entertainment presents Smackdown Live
From: Kansas City, MO
Shane McMahon opens the show to welcome everyone to the program. Shane isn’t excited about the main event between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn tonight since the winner gets a shot at WWE Champion AJ Styles at Fastlane. He doesn’t think they should get another shot, but he respects Daniel Bryan, who does think they do. That brings out Daniel Bryan to the ring. Shane says that they listen to the crowd and when the fans tell them a wrestler should get an opportunity it’s their job to do so. Shane doesn’t think Daniel Bryan is listening to the fans. The crowd begins to chant “Rusev Day” and McMahon tells them he has noted it. Shane thinks the fans want to see someone else challenge for the WWE Championship. Bryan is trying to turn a negative into a positive when the referee made a mistake. Bryan put two people that Shane hates into a match where they would rip into each other. Bryan was under the impression he’d get a huge pay raise. McMahon doesn’t like Bryan giving them multiple opportunities. Shane says he understands what Bryan has done in WWE. Shane credits Bryan for changing WWE forever with the Yes Movement. Shane tells Bryan that Sami and Owens aren’t Bryan. McMahon considers the Yep Movement to be a cheap ripoff and doesn’t want them to take advantage of Bryan anymore. McMahon knows that Bryan would love to compete in the ring more than anything. Bryan wants to know what he is exactly doing in Shane’s eyes. Shane thinks that Bryan is living through Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn since he can’t compete anymore.
WWE Champion AJ Styles makes his way out to join the party. AJ talks about defending the championship all over the world and he can deal with all the bumps and travel. AJ wants them both to stay out of his way tonight and he can make his own luck. He is confident that he’ll walk into and out of Fastlane as the WWE Champion.
Backstage, New Day is backstage playing on their phone. They are answering questions. “Does Corey Graves have a better jab or left hook.” Which, is in reference to Graves taking a shot on Booker T this past Monday on RAW.
Backstage, WWE Champion AJ Styles is walking when Shinsuke Nakamura walks over and tells Styles that he’s going to beat him at WrestleMania.
Opening Contest: Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte vs. Liv Morgan: Charlotte quickly works over Morgan in the corner with strikes and boots for the early advantage. Morgan rolls to the floor to regroup but Charlotte quickly follows as we get a split screen commercial.
During the majority of the split screen, Morgan controlled Charlotte with a rest hold. Morgan keeps control of Charlotte ramming her into the corner face first. Charlotte comes back with a kick to knock Morgan off her feet. Charlotte drops Morgan with several chops and tosses Morgan with an overhead suplex. Charlotte runs over Morgan with a boot to the chest. Charlotte gets yanked off the middle rope and falls flat on her face. Morgan keeps Charlotte on the mat with the same rest hold she used during the commercial break. Morgan counters an electric chair slam attempt with a rollup. Charlotte stops Morgan with a jaw breaker and a spear. Charlotte spears Sarah Logan off the apron. Ruby Riott pulls Morgan to the floor to save her. The referee ejects both Logan and Riott from ringside. Charlotte runs over Morgan with a big boot. Charlotte locks in the figure eight and Morgan submits. (*1/2. Charlotte is so much better than Morgan that is was very noticeable here. They got a decent amount of time, but it wasn’t all that entertaining or interesting for me. Morgan didn’t really do well with her offense and it hurt the flow of the match, I thought.)
Backstage, Renee Young interviews Kevin Owens regarding his match with Sami Zayn. Owens says it’s a great question to ask if his match with Zayn will impact his friendship. Owens says that depends if Zayn can handle losing to him tonight.
Second Contest: The Bludgeon Brothers (Erick Rowan & Luke Harper) vs. John & Joe Doe: As you could probably guess, the Bludgeon Brothers get another squash match on Smackdown Live. It’s a good idea to have them work smaller guys as it puts over their strength and power. Harper impressed with a quick dropkick, which seemed to surprise a few fans. They drive one of the jobbers with a double spinebuster for the win. These are entertaining and the ideal way to get them over and give them momentum.
Smackdown Tag Team Champions the Usos make their way out to confront Harper and Rowan. Well, they actually just walk by them but they stare them down. Harper and Rowan just stand there and take their hammers walking off. That’s pretty much makes it a given they will be entering a program. Usos remain in the ring after a commercial to cut a promo. They talk about people trying to get a taste of the spotlight and how they won’t be slept on anymore. They talk about their transformation through the years. They appear to be ready for whatever comes their way. I liked the promo as they are exactly right about their transformation through the years.
Daniel Bryan lists the Top Ten List for the first time. It was voted on by the Smackdown Live roster.
10.) Tye Dillinger
9.) Randy Orton
8.) Becky Lynch
7.) Smackdown Tag Team Champions Usos
6.) New Day
5.) WWE United States Champion Bobby Roode
3.) Shinsuke Nakamura
2.) WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair
1.) WWE Champion AJ Styles
I find it kind of weird that there aren’t any heels on the list.
Backstage, New Day are reacting to the list with Big E saying that he gives Corey Graves a 6% chance of surviving a street fight.
Aiden English cut a pre-tape promo for Rusev. English hypes up Rusev, who was working out. Rusev paces around in the background and he’s ready for his title shot.
Third Contest: WWE United States Champion Bobby Roode vs. Rusev: Rusev backs Roode into a corner and backs away to taunt Roode. Roode backs Rusev into a corner and does a taunt, as well. Rusev takes Roode down to the mat but his advantage doesn’t last long. Rusev drops Roode with a quick shoulder block and Roode goes to a corner to regroup. We go to commercial.
Roode hammers away on Rusev and boots a charging Rusev in the corner. Roode hits a middle rope blockbuster for a two count. Rusev tosses Roode with a fallaway slam. Rusev continues to work over Roode with strikes and a kick to the ribs. Rusev takes Roode over with a snap suplex for a two count. Rusev keeps control of Roode with a sleeper hold on the mat. Roode battles out of the hold with right hands. Roode comes off the ropes with a forearm smash and clothesline. Roode drives Rusev down with a neckbreaker. Roode heads to the top rope and leaps off hitting a flying clothesline. Aiden English gets on the apron to allow Rusev to deliver a kick to Roode’s head for a near fall. We go to a split screen commercial.
During the commercial, Rusev hit a superplex but couldn’t get a three count. Roode attempts the jumping DDT but Rusev counters with a knee to the gut. Roode plants Rusev with a spine buster for a two count. English distracts Roods on the apron leading to a near fall for Rusev with a rollup. Rusev connects with a kick on the chin of Roode after countering a tornado DDT attempt but can’t go for the cover. Rusev attempts the Accolade but Roode counters with a rollup. Rusev nearly wins with a rollup of his own but goes for the Accolade. Roode wiggles free and plants Rusev with the Glorious DDT for the win. (**1/4. I was kind of disappointed that Rusev didn’t win here, but a title change was very unlikely. It just doesn’t seem logical to have someone like Rusev jobbing.) After the match, Randy Orton takes out Roode with an RKO. Orton hits an RKO on English, too. Orton takes Rusev out with an RKO, too. I thought maybe this would be an Orton/Roode tease, but him doing it to everyone makes it seem like just RKOs out of nowhere for the hell of it.
Backstage, Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable call Fandango and Tyler Breeze buffoons and says they are to make the tag division serious and not a joke. They are focusing their attack on the Ascension this week.
Fourth Contest: Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable vs. The Ascension: Looks like we’re getting another squash match, or at least an extended squash match in favor of Benjamin and Gable to get momentum since their Royal Rumble loss to the Usos. Victor gets moment of fire to take out Gable and Benjamin, but there wasn’t any doubt as to how this match was going to play out. Gable hits a rolling German on Victor and that sets up the powerbomb/bulldog combo for the win. As I said, this was pretty much an extended squash. I like the tag team and hope we get more matches with Usos.
Backstage, New Day are asking more fan questions and they don’t care who wins before Owens and Zayn. They are ask who would rank highest if they were ranked as singles instead of a group.
Backstage, Renee Young interviews Sami Zayn regarding his upcoming match with Kevin Owens. Zayn says this is his moment to step out of Kevin’s shadow. He admits that he’s been in Kevin’s shadow since he’s been winning titles. Zayn will stop at nothing to be champion, just like Owens.
Main Event: Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens in a number one contenders match: Owens backs Zayn into the ropes and backs away cleanly. Owens controls Zayn on the mat briefly. Owens comes off the ropes delivering a shoulder block but Zayn quickly comes back with arm drags. Owens back elbows Zayn but Zayn takes Owens down and pummels him with right hands until Owens bails to the floor. Owens demands that Zayn calm down. Owens comes back in and is met with more right hands. Zayn decks Owens off the apron as we go to commercial.
Owens works over Zayn with chops in the corner. They trade big boots until Owens nails Zayn with a clothesline. Owens nails Zayn with a step up kick and drops Zayn over his knee with a neckbreaker for a two count. Owens attempts a cannonball splash but Zayn stops him looking for an exploder but Owens blocks it. Zayn manages to hit a tornado DDT for a two count. Zayn sits Owens on the top turnbuckle and looks for a superplex but Owens holds onto the top rope. Owens elbows Zayn to the canvas. Owens leaps off the top goes for a swanton but Zayn got his knees up. Zayn dives between the ropes to hit a tornado DDT on the floor. Zayn runs into a superkick from Owens. Owens hits a top rope frog splash for a near fall. Owens tells Zayn to stay down and they trade strikes. Owens attempts the popup powerbomb, but Zayn hits an overhead suplex and the Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall.
They go to the floor where Zayn taunts Styles and spins the chair around so Styles talks to him. Styles shoves Zayn away and attacks both men with right hands. The referee has called for the bell signaling a no contest. Styles hits a slingshot forearm onto both men on the floor. Styles says he wanted someone to win the match. We hear Daniel Bryan clearing his throat and he comes out. Bryan declares that Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens will get a title shot at Fastlane and it will be a triple threat match. (***. The action was pretty solid, but I felt really disappointed with the booking decision to make it a triple threat match. I had a feeling that it would end up being a triple threat match, which is what they should have done at Royal Rumble. I’m really just hoping we don’t get Owens/Zayn at Mania. It has been done to death. They have good matches, but it’s been done way too much to really be appreciated no matter how good.)
This felt like a filler episode of Smackdown Live with nothing really sticking out to me. I don’t have much interest in Owens/Zayn/Styles, though I’m sure it will be a good match. The angle just isn’t entertaining and has dragged on far too long. They are setting up some feuds for the future nicely, and I’m hoping Roode gets elevated to work with Orton and win the feud.
Thanks for reading.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.