Date: March 27, 2018
Location: PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA
The Big Takeaway --
Daniel Bryan cut an impassioned promo announcing a tag match featuring himself and Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn at WrestleMania 34. If Owens and Zayn win, they get the re-hired.
Despite his long history and friendship with Owens and Zayn, Bryan was pissed at them for trying to take away his ability to wrestle again. He was sick of playing GM and is ready to fight them at WrestleMania.
Bryan acknowledged that Shane was at the hospital, placing the blame entirely on Owens and Zayn, but explained he had reason to believe Shane would be ready for the match. The announcers said they would keep us up to date on Shane’s status leading up to Mania.
Show Recap --
The announcers welcomed us to the show and they aired a video recap of Daniel Bryan’s return and the attack by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Corey Graves said we would find out tonight if Bryan would be able to fight through his injuries and address the Pittsburgh crowd tonight. The crowd chanted for Bryan in the background.
Jinder Mahal & Rusev (w/Sunil Singh & Aiden English) defeated U.S. Champion Randy Orton & Bobby Roode (18:16)
Sunil came out in a neck brace and his arm in a sling. Mahal blamed his injuries on the attack by Orton and Roode last week. Mahal said they would feel the wrath of the tiger, Sunil, one day but tonight they would face a lion instead. He introduced Rusev who was loudly cheered.
Sunil tried to get involved early on and Roode was going to deal with him, but Orton grabbed him and tossed him into the barricade. After a break, Orton and Roode weren’t on the same page and kept tagging themselves in until Rusev cut off Orton with a kick.
The heels worked over Orton and Mahal even did a chop(~!) off the middle rope. Roode made a hot tag and ran wild on Mahal. He nailed a spinebuster but Rusev broke up the cover. Rusev got ready for Orton to jump in but he didn’t. Roode tossed Rusev out of the ring but the distraction allowed Mahal knock him down and they went to a second commercial break.
They worked over Roode for a while until Orton tagged himself in (instead of waiting for the hot tag) and gave Rusev a powerslam and draping DDT. Mahal was about to attack him so Roode jumped in.
Mahal pushed Roode into Orton and Orton took it the wrong way (the spot looked bad, like Roode hit him on purpose). Orton gave Roode an RKO, then Rusev nailed a Machka Kick for the pinfall win over the champion.
They showed the Mario Lemieux statue outside of the arena.
Backstage, Mahal and Sunil were thrilled about their victory. They ran into Rusev and English, and Mahal invited them to his US Title celebration after Mania. Rusev said he was going to find Bryan and ask that he turn the title match into a fatal four way. English sang that it would be RusevMania. Mahal was pissed and commanded Sunil to take off his ridiculous neck brace.
Shinsuke Nakamura found AJ Styles in the locker room and asked if he was okay. Styles didn't know what he was talking about. Nakamura noted that Styles didn’t help him last week and wondered if he lost his confidence. Styles said his confidence is never an issue.
Nakamura wanted to ensure both men were at their best at Mania asked him to be in his corner tonight. Styles figured that would even the odds with Chad Gable in Shelton Benjamin’s corner and didn't want to risk their match, so he agreed.
Becky Lynch defeated Ruby Riott (w/Sarah Logan & Liv Morgan) (6:00)
Riott almost won via pinfall with her feet on the rope but the referee noticed and stopped on the count. Lynch tossed Riott into Morgan, who had jumped on the apron, and won with a cradle after a series of counters. Logan and Morgan tried to attack Lynch afterwards, but she tossed them both over the top as a preview of the Women’s Battle Royal.
A stern-looking Daniel Bryan (with a new t-shirt) was shown backstage. He’s next.
Bryan came out to huge chants of “Yes” and “Daniel Bryan.” Bryan said he loves being in Pittsburgh (me too) and the crowd chanted Yes. He remained on the stage for his interview. He said he had been waiting for last week for so long and was thankful for the fans. They chanted “You still got it,” but he got serious and cut them off saying he had a job to do.
He said Smackdown was the land of opportunity and was going to give Owens and Zayn just one more opportunity. The crowd booed. Bryan announced Owens and Zayn vs. Shane McMahon and himself at WrestleMania. The crowd cheered. Bryan said the attack on Shane has landed him in the hospital but has reason to believe that he’ll be ready for Mania.
Bryan said if Owens and Zayn lose, they’ll remain fired, but they win, they’ll be reinstated. He said people wonder why he kept giving them opportunities. He spoke of their history together as friends, wrestling together, and whenever he needed a place to stay, they were there for him.
Bryan said it was part of his job to give opportunities, but he has a lot of other duties, like attending meetings, doing paperwork and wearing blazers (the crowd booed these things). Bryan was sick of all of those things and threw down his blazer. He wanted to wrestle and Owens and Zayn tried to take that away from him, but he’s back and will fight at WrestleMania.
He said there are things he is not supposed to say as a GM and role model and underdog. But this was the Daniel Bryan who was fighting for his dreams and wouldn’t take no for an answer. This was the Daniel Bryan would fight Owens and Zayn at WrestleMania and kick their ass. The crowd cheered. Yeah, Bryan is pretty great.
Benjamin and Gable cut a selfie pop-up video promo backstage. They complained about not having a match at Mania despite being the brand’s best athletes and Benjamin said he would take his opportunity tonight against Nakamura.
They did a promo for Mixed Match Challenge tonight. Charlotte isn’t there tonight, so Roode said he would have a new partner.
The US Title match at Mania is officially a four-way.
Bludgeon Brothers defeated Big E & Xavier Woods (w/Kofi Kingston) via DQ
New Day cut a pre-match promo. Kingston stated that their road to WrestleMania was littered with garbage thanks to the large, smelly, disgusting, sweaty, hairy, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad pieces of trash Bludgeon Brothers. Woods said they made the mistake of leaving the New Day the ability to walk and they would run through them tonight and get back on the road to winning the tag team titles.
The match only went a couple of minutes before the Usos ran down to attack the Bludgeon Brothers (who had taken control and attacked Kingston on the outside) and the referee called for the bell (tough a DQ was not officially announced). My feed cut out, but the segment ended with New Day and the Usos standing together on the aisle staring down Harper and Rowan.
Dolph Ziggler defeated Tyler Breeze (w/Fandango) (2:09)
Ziggler won quickly with a Zig-Zag. There was a funny spot where Ziggler ran away from Breeze around the ring, but Fandango was also running because he presumably thought Ziggler was chasing him. Fandango kept running even after the participants got back in the ring. Ziggler gave Fandango a superkick after the match. All three of these men will be in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal.
They’re letting fans vote between Lynch, Lana, and Carmella to determine Charlotte’s temporary replacement as Roode’s partner tonight.
The Usos vs. New Day vs. Bludgeon Brothers for the tag titles was announced for Mania. There was a video package earlier for Charlotte vs. Asuka.
Shinsuke Nakamura (w/WWE Champion AJ Styles) defeated Shelton Benjamin (w/Chad Gable) (9:26)
They made sure to mention this was the first match between these two in WWE, but not ever. The last time was more than 3 years ago in New Japan.
After a break, Nakamura made a comeback as Gable tried distracting him. Styles yanked Gable off the apron, but Benjamin managed to hit a Northern Lights suplex for two. Benjamin tried Pay Dirt but Nakamura countered into an armbar and eventually a triangle choke. Benjamin powered out and hit an enziguri, but Nakamura came back with a knee off the top and Kinshasa for the win.
Styles applauded the win. Nakamura grabbed a mic and asked him to enter the ring. Nakamura thanked him for being at ringside, but he didn’t need his help. Nakamura only wanted to show Styles how he would beat him at Mania.
Styles said Nakamura was playing games, but he wasn’t. It was a dream match for the fans, but it was a dream match for him too, because outside of himself, Nakamura was considered the best and Styles would prove he was the best by defeating him.
After Nakamura left, Benjamin and Gable jumped Styles. Nakamura ran in to make the save. Styles was left in a prone position so Nakamura set up for the Kinshasa. He ran at Styles but stopped himself before hitting the move. He shouted “knee-to-face” and patted Styles on the head.
I thought this was good and the crowd got up for it. Nakamura is amusing, although at this point, it’s probably perfectly acceptable for Styles to just punch him in the face.