Date: March 3, 2018
Location: Resch Center in Green Bay, WI
The Big Takeaway --
Sami Zayn won a Fatal 5-way main event, pinning Kevin Owens after a Helluva Kick. It wasn’t necessarily a face turn for Zayn, as he still cut a heelish promo afterwards. The other story of the match was AJ Styles breaking up every pinfall attempt he could but still losing in the end.
Also, Jinder Mahal beat Randy Orton thanks to a distraction from Bobby Roode.
Daniel Bryan was not on the show and there was no follow-up to last week’s angle.
Show Recap --
No intro again this week. Dasha Fuentes was in the ring and welcomed us to SmackDown before introducing Charlotte Flair and Ruby Riott (with Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan). Fuentes asked Riott a question, but Riott grabbed the mic and told her to leave.
Riott said this all started back when Charlotte first won the title. She said Charlotte has been set up for this her whole life because she’s tall, athletic, and the daughter of Ric Flair. She said Charlotte was the first woman to win the NXT, Raw and Smackdown women’s titles and Riott watched as a myth grew around her. Riott formed her squad to take down that myth.
Charlotte said she’s had to work harder because of who she is. She said any failure reflected on her whole family and her accomplishments have shown she has transcended any myth about her. Riott said Charlotte was on a pedestal and she was going to take that away from her and Charlotte would become another bleach blonde failure with a famous last name.
Charlotte got in her face so Logan and Morgan jumped in the ring. Bobby Roode interrupted. Charlotte was especially delighted to see him. The announcers explained Roode was just there to do commentary for the next match but the timing worked out for Charlotte. They kept cutting to her and, again, she seemed quite happy. (The announcers did mention that the two of them were friends.) The Riott Squad disappeared and they went to commercial. Weird way to end this segment.
Jinder Mahal (w/Sunil Singh) defeated Randy Orton (10:01)
Orton was in control before a break (90 seconds into the match), Mahal was in control after the break. Byron Saxton claimed to have sources that suggested Orton actually is peeved that he isn't on the Top 10 list, whereas Roode is on the list despite only being here a few months.
Orton made his comeback but Mahal escaped the ring before he could hit a draping DDT. Mahal pushed Sunil into him so Orton backdropped Sunil onto the announce table in hilarious fashion. Mahal tried to catch Orton off guard but Orton countered and tossed him into Roode at the announce table.
Orton set up for an RKO in the ring when Roode jumped on the apron to yell at him. Orton was distracted, so Mahal kneed him into Roode and nailed a Khallas for the win. Yikes. Tom Phillips played this off like Mahal has Orton’s number.
Kevin Owens approached Sami Zayn backstage. Owens was surprised Zayn said he would lie down for him at Fastlane. Owens then sucked up to Zayn, calling him an amazing guy and competitor. Zayn credited Owens for his success. Zayn knew his time would come, but now it’s Owens’ time, and Owens would become grand slam champion if he wins the WWE Title. Zayn said he will lie down for him at Fastlane. Owens hugged him. This was good.
Baron Corbin cut a selfie promo with colourful closed captioning plastered on the screen. He’s glad John Cena was added to the title match because he owes him one for costing him the Money in the Bank contract.
They aired a video package for The Usos vs. New Day.
Fuentes asked Shinsuke Nakamura if he was worried that his dream match against AJ Styles was in jeopardy. Nakamura said yes, but he hopes Styles wins so he can beat him with a knee to face. Before he could quite finish that sentence, he was interrupted by Rusev and Aiden English.
English couldn’t speak or sing and Rusev claimed it was because of Nakamura's knee to throat last week. Rusev challenged Nakamura to a match at Fastlane and he accepted. Nakamura said that after he wins, Sunday will be “Nakamura Day,” which he sang in a voice that sounded almost identical to English’s singing voice. Crowd popped for that. After Nakamura left, Rusev said you can’t just make up your own holiday. This was great.
Becky Lynch defeated Carmella (5:15)
They set this up showing a website video from last week where they argued about Twitter or whatever as more words flashed on the screen. During the match, they cut backstage to Naomi and, remarkably, she watched TV at a perfectly normal angle like a real person.
Carmella thought she had the match won with a kick but Lynch got her foot on the rope. Carmella freaked out so Lynch gave her an Exploder. Lynch won with the Disarmer after they attempted an unnecessarily complicated sequence which they just barely got through.
Natalya confronted Naomi backstage and warned her not to be friends with Lynch because all her friends get burned. Naomi claimed Natalya didn’t have any friends. Natalya said he had plenty of friends and Naomi responded, “Name one that’s not a cat.” Anyway, Naomi challenged her to a tag match at Fastlane and she accepted. (Naomi & Lynch vs. Natalya & Carmella.)
They plugged the 50-man Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia.
They aired a shot from outside the arena in Green Bay. A stagehand walked into the shot and he slipped and fell in the snow. The crowd laughed. The announcers laughed as they showed a replay.
AJ Styles came out for a promo. He talked about the tough road to becoming WWE Champion. He wasn’t going to complain about his upcoming title match being unfair, he just wants to fight. He moved on to John Cena (who the crowd booed) and showed a replay of Cena’s promo from Raw. They added colourful pop-ups to this, too.
Styles said Cena wasn’t the only one who had to win at Fastlane. Styles wasn’t interested in Cena’s idea for a threeway at Mania and neither was the crowd. Styles wanted his WrestleMania moment, which was defending his WWE Title against the best. Styles reiterated that he wanted Nakamura and asked who would have thought we would see this match in WWE. He was fighting for “us” because the match at WrestleMania would be nothing short of phenomenal.
Dolph Ziggler interrupted. Ziggler wondered what happened to the cool AJ Styles and called him desperate. Styles thought that was funny from a guy who was in WWE for 13 years and still hasn’t reached his potential. Ziggler said it took Styles a decade to get to the house that Ziggler built. Ziggler said Styles would lose on Sunday, not because the numbers were against him, but because he was doing it for the people who would just stab him in the back.
Ziggler said he was told to his face he would never be champion in WWE but he won Money in the Bank and won the title. When he cashed in, it felt like he did it with the people, but they didn’t deserve it. They watched from their couches as Ziggler worked his ass off, and after all these years, he has never had a singles match at Mania.
Ziggler told Styles to take his dream match and shove it. Styles was tired of Ziggler talking and suggested they have their match right now.
Non-title match: WWE Champion AJ Styles NC Dolph Ziggler (16:25)
Styles hit a slingshot forearm to the outside but Ziggler was in control after a break. Styles made a brief comeback but Ziggler raked him in the eyes (right in front of the referee), kicked his leg out of his leg and hit a Fameasser for two. With Styles standing on the apron, they traded vertical suplex attempts which eventually resulted in Ziggler slingshotting him into the ring post.
After a break, Ziggler set up for a Styles Clash but Styles slipped out of it. They traded counters leading to Ziggler hitting a Zig-Zag (with Styles hanging off the ropes) for a two count. With both guys down, Owens and Zayn jumped in the ring to attack both men and the ref called for the bell. Styles and Ziggler still managed to fight them off.
Before Owens and Zayn could leave, Shane McMahon came out. Shane knew we all figured he was going to make a tag match, so he instead made a fatal 5-way.
Non-title Fatal 5-Way: Sami Zayn defeated Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler, Baron Corbin and WWE Champion AJ Styles
The story early on was Owens and Zayn teaming up and Zayn allowing Owens to attempt pinfalls without breaking them up. Eventually, they did a spot where everyone traded moves (including Ziggler and Owens messing up a Famasser spot) ending with Styles giving Zayn a Pele kick. They were all down in time for a commercial break.
Immediately after the break, they did a tower of doom spot where Owens and Corbin powerbombed the combination of Styles, Ziggler and Zayn. The announcers didn’t mention that Zayn was on the wrong end of an Owens powerbomb.
Zayn hit Ziggler with a Blue Thunder Bomb but Styles broke it up and punched him right in the mouth. Owens gave Ziggler a German and followed with a cannonball. He gave Corbin an elbow drop and Styles broke up the cover again. Ziggler spiked Owens with a DDT then gave Corbin a Zig-Zag. Ziggler avoided a Zayn tornado DDT and nailed him with a superkick but again Styles broke up the cover.
The announcers were pushing how exhausted Styles must be. He tried a phenomenal forearm but Corbin knocked him down. Corbin gave Owens a Deep Six and Styles broke up the cover again. Styles gave Corbin an enziguri, hit Ziggler with a spinning heel kick, and gave Zayn an impressive springboard inverted DDT.
Zayn and Owens teamed up to knock Styles out of the ring. Suddenly, Zayn nailed Owens with a Helluva kick for the win. The crowd seemed pretty shocked.
After the match, Fuentes asked Zayn why he did what he did. Zayn thought that was a weird question. Zayn called himself the best in WWE and has been the most overlooked performer on the roster since coming to Smackdown. He told Fuentes not to ask him stupid questions and concluded, “Tonight wasn’t for the WWE Champion, tonight’s about one thing--who is the best, and I proved it that is Sami Zayn.” I think that’s what the title is for.
Final Thoughts --
This was a pretty dull go-home show right until the end. The finish was surprising but I’m not sure why, in storyline, Zayn wouldn’t have saved this for the title match. He’s been on Owens’ side since October and finally pulled the trigger in a match with nothing on the line.