The road to WrestleMania continues as tonight's SmackDown takes place in Charlotte, North Carolina.
WWE Champion Daniel Bryan defends against Kofi Kingston at Fastlane on March 10. Kingston pinned Bryan in a six-man tag match last week. Shane McMahon then announced Kingston as the next challenger for Bryan's title. Tonight, Bryan and Kingston come face-to-face for the official contract signing for their match.
Johnny Gargano takes on Cesaro tonight. NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa and Gargano defeated The Bar in their SmackDown debuts last week. Ciampa and Sheamus will be in their partner’s corners for the match.
NXT stars Ricochet and Aleister Black also made their debuts last week. Tonight, Ricochet & Black team up to take on Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev.
Mandy Rose pinned SmackDown Woman’s Champion Asuka in a non-title match last Tuesday. Both Rose and Asuka are scheduled to appear tonight, and we'll see if Rose pinning Asuka leads to her getting a title shot.
Our live coverage begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
WWE Champion Daniel Bryan, Rowan, Stephanie, and Shane McMahon were already in the ring for the contract signing. Shane called Kofi Kingston an overnight success over eleven years.
Shane showed clips of Kingston’s debut in 2008 and his classic Royal Rumble moments. It also included clips of him winning the Intercontinental title, the U.S. title and as a member of The New Day. Stephanie discussed Kingston pinning Bryan on two occasions and his performance in the Elimination Chamber. Shane said that’s why Kingston gets the next title shot. Shane noted this is Kingston’s first one-on-one title shot.
The New Day came down to the ring. Kingston ran around ringside to a huge “Kofi” chant. Kingston noted he couldn’t do it without Xavier Woods and Big E. He also said he couldn’t do it without the WWE Universe. Kingston promised to defeat Bryan and win the title.
Bryan remained seated and never spoke this entire time. Bryan signed the contract first. Kingston was about to sign the contract with Vince McMahon’s music hit. Vince praised Kingston and his ability in the ring. He said it’s up to him to present the highest caliber talent and big box office.
Vince announced that he’s replacing Kingston with somebody more talented and qualified. Woods and Big E. were furious. Kingston remained silent. Vince introduced Bryan’s new Fastlane opponent Kevin Owens.
This actually got a mixed reaction. The fans popped for Owens’ return but were unhappy that Kingston lost his title shot. The fans broke into a “Kofi” chant. Owens sat down in the seat. Kingston and The New Day walked away. Woods and Big E were furious and yelling as they left. Kingston remained silent.
Backstage, Kevin Owens met with Shane and Stephanie McMahon. Owens understands that Kofi Kingston is upset. He also believes that Kingston deserves a title shot. Shane and Stephanie had no idea Vince was going to replace Kingston with Owens. They wondered how long Owens knew about this. Owens asked to team with Kingston to face Daniel Bryan and Rowan. Shane and Stephanie are going to let him know their answer later.
The Hardys defeated The Bar
There was no explanation why this was changed from Cesaro vs. Johnny Gargano to this match. The commentators might have mentioned it in passing. The Bar was surprised when The Hardys came out. This is Matt’s first match back.
The Hardys were firmly in control and had the early advantage. Jeff jumped off of Matt’s back and landed on The Bar on the floor. Back from commercial, The Bar took over and gained control.
Jeff fought back and hit a whisper in the wind. Matt got the got hot tag and ran wild on Cesaro. He hit a side effect for a near fall. The finish came when Matt hit the twist of fate on Sheamus and Jeff hit the Swanton Bomb for the win.
In the back, Aleister Black and Ricochet were watching. Lana interrupted. She doesn’t see anything special with Ricochet and thinks Black looks ordinary. They promised to prove her wrong and defeat Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev later.
Honky Tonk Man was announced as the next entrant into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2019.
United States Champion R. Truth and Carmella came down to the ring. Truth said since he was a kid he always wanted to be like his hero John Cena. Truth is going to continue the U.S. Championship open challenge. It starts after a short dance break.
Andrade and Zelina Vega came down to ringside to accept the challenge. Suddenly, Rey Mysterio’s music hit and he ran down to the ring. Truth was at a crossroads and doesn’t know who to face. Truth noted when he faces a dilemma like this he thinks to himself, “What Would John Cena Do?” Carmella noted Cena would face both in a triple threat match. Truth finally agreed to face both.
United States Champion R. Truth (w/ Carmella) defeated Andrade (w/Zelina Vega) and Rey Mysterio
Andrade nailed Mysterio with a dropkick to start the match. Mysterio attempted a sliding dive into a splash on the floor but Andrade caught him with a kick. Mysterio gave Andrade a hurricanrana off of Truth’s shoulders for a near fall. Andrade recovered and hit the double knees on Mysterio. He missed the double knees on Truth.
Truth gained control and hit a splash on Andrade. Truth then did Cena’s “You Can’t See Me” and hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle for a near fall. Vega tried to get involved but Carmella pulled her off the apron. Andrade avoided the 619 and hit a back elbow for a two count.
Mysterio set up both Truth and Andrade for the 619. He hit the move on Andrade but Truth avoided and rolled up Mysterio to retain the title.
After the match, Andrade tried to attack Mysterio. Mysterio countered into the 619 but Andrade escaped before he could hit the move.
Kevin Owens & Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan & Rowan in a tag team match is official for later.
Charlotte Flair came down to the ring. She noted that Vince McMahon changed the main event of Fastlane. She said he made it better by replacing Kofi Kingston with Kevin Owens.
That’s almost as important when Vince granted her the WrestleMania main event over Becky Lynch. She recapped Lynch getting arrested and Rousey laying down the belt at Stephanie’s feet. Flair said she knows her lane and does what she’s asked to do. She said she’d never lay down the title like Rousey did last night. Flair believes that Lynch and Rousey fear her. Flair fears no one.
Flair showed comments Rousey made in November. Rousey noted if a champion couldn’t defend the title they should step aside. Flair promised to show up to Raw on Monday so Vince can crown her the new Raw Woman’s Champion.
Ricochet & Aleister Black defeated Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev (w/Lana)
Black and Nakamura went back and forth trading moves. The heels took over and isolated Ricochet in their corner. Black was briefly in control until Rusev distracted him and Nakamura hit him from behind. Rusev rocked Black with a clothesline on the floor.
Ricochet got the hot tag and ran wild. He rocked Rusev with a springboard uppercut and hit a standing shooting star press for a near fall. Ricochet hit a somersault senton on Rusev on the floor. Nakamura went for the Kinshasa on Black but he countered with Black Mass for the win.
Kayla Braxton interviewed AJ Styles in the back. Styles is happy to hear that Roman Reigns is in remission. Braxton said people believe Styles is in a slump for the first time of his career. His standards keep pushing him to be the best. Recently, he wasn’t at his best. He noted he couldn’t stop Daniel Bryan’s reign as champion but he isn’t going to quit.
He’s going to pick himself up and take on the next challenger. He’s going to prove that this is the house AJ Styles built. Randy Orton interrupted. He questioned AJ Styles and walked away.
Lacey Evans walked down the ramp and walked back up.
Kofi Kingston & Kevin Owens defeated Daniel Bryan & Rowan
Kingston and Rowan started the match but Owens quickly tagged in. Kingston scored a two count on Bryan and sent him to the floor. He tagged in Owens who hit a dive to the floor.
Back from commercial, the heels were in control and isolated Kingston on their side of the ring. Bryan tied Kingston up in the ropes and hit a running dropkick to the back. Rowan hit a big splash on Kingston for a near fall. Bryan gave Kingston a huge superplex for another close near fall.
Kingston fought back and rolled up Bryan for a two count. Bryan applied the Labelle Lock but Kingston made the ropes. Bryan hit two running dropkicks in the corner but Kingston hit a double stomp on the third attempt.
Kingston crawled to his corner and Owens tagged himself in. Owen ran wild on Bryan and hit a senton. He then hit a cannonball on Bryan in the corner. Owens rocked Rowan hit a superkick and hit the pop-up powerbomb on Bryan for a near fall.
Owens climbed to the top but Rowan yanked him off and threw him over the announce table. Kingston then hit a huge dive on Rowan. Bryan missed the running knee on Owens. Owens fought back and hit the Stone Cold Stunner for the win.