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WWE SmackDown live results: John Cena's road to WrestleMania


Date: February 27, 2018
Location: Staples Centre in Los Angeles, CA

The Big Takeaway --

John Cena beat AJ Styles clean in a non-title match and will now be in a 6-pack challenge for the WWE title at Fastlane (along with Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler).

There was also a great promo segment with The Usos and New Day.

Show Recap -- 

No intro again this week. John Cena came out to a big reaction and people singing “John Cena sucks.” Tom Phillips said this was Cena’s first Smackdown appearance in 6 months. I think Byron Saxton claimed tonight was Cena’s final opportunity to find something for WrestleMania.

Cena was in a good mood and said he was like 99.9% of the Smackdown roster, trying to find his way to WrestleMania. He said Shinsuke Nakamura was the only one with a guaranteed match at the show. Cena wanted in the Fatal 5-Way match for the WWE Title at Fastlane and wanted to know how he could make that happen. That brought out Shane McMahon.

Shane welcomed him to Smackdown and shook his hand. As Shane spoke, the crowd started dueling chants for Cena. Shane was sweating as he explained what it would mean if Cena won. Again the crowd interrupted, this time to chant “Rusev Day.” Shane reminded us that if Cena won the title, he would become 17-time champion.

He called Smackdown the land of opportunity when Daniel Bryan interrupted. Bryan shook the hands of both men. Bryan said he and Shane were on the same page for once. He said every guy who was in the title match earned their opportunity, and Cena could do the same if he won in the main event tonight. Cena was in and wanted to know his opponent.

Bryan booked Cena vs. AJ Styles which got a big reaction. Cena visibly gulped and took a serious look at the WrestleMania sign as Bryan led a Yes chant.

Baron Corbin defeated Sami Zayn (9:40)

They’ve been doing this for a few weeks now, but instead of showing a video replay of Corbin laying out Zayn and Kevin Owens last week, they showed still pictures as if it happened on PPV.

Owens was on commentary and he made a crack about Corbin’s hairline. He also completely buried Saxton. After Zayn backdropped Corbin over the barricade, they cut to Bryan and Shane watching the match backstage. Shane questioned Bryan allowing Owens to be on commentary. Bryan said Owens was great on commentary, but Shane argued that he was likely to interfere. Bryan smirked as he said there was no reason for Owens to interfere.

After a break, Zayn had Corbin in a headlock as the crowd chanted Rusev Day. Again they cut backstage. Shane reappeared after retrieving popcorn and Bryan tried to convince him Owens has been entertaining on commentary so far. He was. After Corbin fell to the outside, Owens remarked, “too bad he didn’t twist his ankle.”

After Zayn got a two count on a tornado DDT, Dolph Ziggler suddenly appeared and kicked Owens right in the back of the head (payback from last week). Zayn was distracted, so Corbin hit End of Days for the win. Afterwards, Ziggler jumped in the ring and hit Corbin with a Zig-Zag.

Backstage, Shane told Bryan that “his boys” got what was coming to them and wryly suggested he go check on them. Bryan said Shane seemed to have everything under control tonight and asked if he could go home and be with his wife and kid (as if he has a normal commute to work). Shane was happy to oblige and Bryan left.

After a break, Zayn ranted about what happened, then complained to Shane who showed up still eating popcorn. Shane said maybe they should follow Bryan home and joked that Brie hates it when they’re late for dinner. Zayn flipped out.

Ruby Riott (w/Sarah Logan & Liv Morgan) defeated Naomi (w/Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch) (6:47)

Naomi, Lynch and Charlotte received separate entrances. Naomi slapped Riott in the face, then all six women had a staredown outside the ring leading a commercial break a minute into the match.

After the break, the heel had the face in a rest hold. They cut backstage again mid-match to let us know that Carmella would be taking Twitter questions. They showed Carmella staring at her phone. She said nothing. There’s a match happening.

Back to the match, Riott and Naomi each ducked kick attempts, then they hit each other at the same time. Naomi followed with a Disaster kick for two. Riott later countered a bulldog and hit a Riott Kick for the clean win.

Breezango were backstage looking pictures of all the cases they’ve solved when Josh Duhamel (an actor) showed up. They made jokes about him being on a show called Unsolved. Duhamel plugged an upcoming episode about Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. This led to New Day showing up and Fandango thinking the show was about Big E, not Biggie. Anyway, Breezango were disappointed to learn Duhamel wasn’t a real detective. Fandango was amusing here but this segment wasn’t good.

The New Day came out for a promo. Phillips said they had a “heart-stopping” rivalry against the Usos. Big E said their rivalry was hotter than his inner thighs during the summer… and winter. He asked Kofi Kingston to spritz his thighs, so he did. Xavier Woods tried to continue the promo, but Big E twice asked Kingston to spritz him again. The crowd didn’t react to any of this.

New Day said they would win the titles and go on to WrestleMania. The Usos came out and reminded New Day what happened last time they faced off. The Usos said they used to be just like the New Day, dancing around looking like a box of Skittles. They said they’ve been working for nine years to get to WrestleMania, but every year they’ve been sidelined. They said this year was their time and the crowd cheered. This year they were the starters, they were the all-stars, and the New Day were on the sidelines.

Before they could finish, Big E cut them off. He said they hosted WrestleMania while the Usos hung out in catering. They didn’t get there because of their daddies, they took their spots instead of staying on the sidelines. He said they would take what belongs to the Usos and become 5-time tag champs. An Uso slapped the mic out of his hand on they got in each others’ faces.

The Bludgeon Brothers interrupted and entered the ring with their mallets. The Usos and New Day slowly backed off and that was it. The crowd taunted both teams for being scared. This segment was really good before Harper and Rowan showed up. I like them just fine, but they really should’ve ended with the promo by Big E (assuming this isn’t turning into a threeway, I guess).

They showed Aiden English and Rusev confronting Shane backstage earlier tonight (when Shane’s shirt was still dry). English complain about the two of them being left off the show for the past few weeks. Shane said English would have a match tonight. The crowd was disappointed it wasn’t Rusev, but cheered when Shane said the match was against Nakamura. English looked at Rusev who kind of smirked and shrugged, which was probably his genuine reaction.

Ziggler cut a selfie promo where he claimed he was the greatest athlete in WWE history and he would main event WrestleMania. Words popped up on the screen during his promo. So, are the wrestlers taping promos and submitting them to management so words can get added? What’s the explanation for this?

Renee Young interviewed Bobby Roode. Roode was excited for his first-ever match against Randy Orton. He wanted to be the greatest US champion ever and knew he’d have to go through a guy like Orton, who doesn’t appear to like him. Roode thought it might be because of the list.

Orton showed up and said it wasn’t the list, it was the title. Orton said the US title was the only one he hasn’t held in 16 years and would run through Roode to take it. This was simple and good. (Although, Roode needs to stop saying he wants to be the greatest US champion ever. He’s a babyface and has only been champion a short time.)

Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Aiden English (w/Rusev) (6:20)

English sang a song about L.A., calling it smog-filled and bland. He took a shot at Nakamura and said the fans didn’t deserve to celebrate Rusev Day. Rusev liked this song very much.

Nakamura won with Kinshasa. English took too much of the match, aided by some interference by Rusev. Nakamura made a comeback and won anyway. Rusev looked disappointed in English. The crowd liked Nakamura a lot but there were also big chants for Rusev Day.

As Nakamura exited, Cena entered for his match. They had a brief staredown, then they both pointed at the WrestleMania sign. A true universal language.

They showed “Youtube Superstar” Lilly Singh at ringside.

Non-title: John Cena defeated WWE Champion AJ Styles (21:55) 

The crowd chanted for Styles as the match began. Owens and Zayn watched from backstage. The announcers are hammering home the idea that if Cena doesn’t win, his streak of WrestleMania matches comes to an end.

The match got off to a clunky start with Cena in control. He hit the worst tornado DDT for a two count. After a break, Cena ducked a clothesline and hit five knuckle shuffle. Styles countered an AA attempt into a fireman’s carry neckbreaker for two. Cena followed with a TKO (sort of) for two, then Styles hit a rack bomb for two.

They cut backstage a few more times to show shirtless Baron Corbin watching the match, as well as Owens and Zayn again. Cena hit a big running clothesline for two. Cena charged at Styles but Styles knocked him down with an enziguri. Commercial break.

During commercial, Styles hit a Styles Clash for a nearfall, and Cena hit an AA for a nearfall. Yes, that all happened during the break. After the break, Styles hit a big clothesline for two. Styles tried lionsault, but Cena moved and used a Code Red for two. Cena then applied the STF but Styles rolled into a cover for two.

Styles again avoided a charge from Cena, who bounced off the turnbuckle. Styles hit the Phenomenal forearm but Cena kicked out. “This is awesome” chants. Styles went for a 450 splash but Cena got his knees up. Cena hit an AA, rolled through and went for another, but Styles managed to slip outside the ring.

Styles again dodged a charge from Cena who crashed into the steel steps. The referee started to count out Cena but Styles told him to stop counting and went after Cena. Cena grabbed him and gave him an AA through the table. Styles just barely made it back in the ring to avoid the countout.

Cena was stunned and went after him, but Styles grabbed him and applied the Calf Crusher. Cena slipped out of it and hit another AA for the pinfall win. Cena is in the Fastlane title match, which is now a 6-pack challenge.

After the match, Owens and Zayn came out. As Cena watched them enter, Corbin jumped him from behind. The three of them put the boots to Cena until Ziggler ran out for the save. Ziggler fended off the three heels and stood with Styles and Cena.

The referee yelled “twenty seconds!” at them as the clock approached 10:00pm eastern. I think Cena also yelled “Let’s go!” at Ziggler (or something along those lines). Ziggler clocked Styles with a punch, Cena gave Ziggler the quickest AA and they went off the air.