Date: February 6, 2018
Location: Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO
The Big Takeaway --
The number one contenders match between Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens ended in a no contest after AJ Styles attacked both men. This, of course, led to Daniel Bryan announcing a triple threat match for the WWE Title at Fastlane.
Bobby Roode successfully defended his US Title against Rusev. Both men were laid out afterwards by Randy Orton.
They scaled way back on all of the graphics they had last week, though they aren’t completely gone.
Show Recap --
They started with a cold open plugging Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens. Shane McMahon was in the ring to open the show.
McMahon wanted to say he’s excited about tonight’s main event, but he isn’t. He doesn’t think those two men deserve another opportunity (which was booed). He doesn’t respect them but does respect Daniel Bryan, who he called to the ring.
Bryan came out to a big reaction. His hair is getting pretty long. (Like, when he was wrestling kind of long.) McMahon talked about their shared vision for Smackdown and giving opportunities. The crowd chanted for Rusev Day and McMahon made a note of it. He asked if the crowd would like to see someone new get an opportunity.
Bryan said we saw what happened at Royal Rumble and he decided to turn a negative into a positive. He thought McMahon would like the idea of Owens and Zayn tearing each other apart. Bryan joked that he thought he would get a raise for this decision and the crowd chanted Yes.
McMahon went on and on, again wondering why Bryan was giving them an opportunity. (McMahon seemed out of breath just talking here.) He said Bryan changed everything with the Yes movement, but the Yep movement is just a cheap imitation, and he was being manipulated by Owens and Zayn.
McMahon said he knows Bryan would like to compete in this ring (the crowd chanted Yes), and accused him of living vicariously through Owens and Zayn. Bryan was offended, but before he could respond, AJ Styles came out. Big reaction for Styles.
Styles said he has traveled 10,000 miles defending his title. He was put on this (presumably flat) planet to be phenomenal. He could deal with the bumps and bruises and cancelled flights, but he couldn’t deal with management obsessing with Owens and Zayn.
Styles didn’t care who won tonight, he just wanted Bryan and Shane to stay out of it. Styles said he would go to WrestleMania as champion. He left and that was it for the segment.
In the locker room, the New Day played with pancakes and finger puppets. They were answering Twitter questions, and fans were told they can interact with them all night. What a gig. The first question, apparently, asked if Corey Graves has a better jab or left hook. They concluded we would find out one way or another. Poor Booker.
They plugged tonight’s Mixed Match Challenge match.
Shinsuke Nakamura approached Styles backstage and said, “I’m going to beat you at WrestleMania.” Nakamura exited the frame and Styles just shook his head.
Non-title: Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair defeated Liv Morgan (w/Ruby Riott & Sarah Logan) (7:59)
They went to commercial 36 seconds into the match. Morgan had control after the break. She got a couple of two counts on Charlotte but Charlotte came back with a neckbreaker and spear. The referee caught Riott helping Morgan out of the ring so he tossed her and Logan from ringside. Charlotte nailed a big boot and won with the Figure Eight.
Not much of a match. Afterwards, Charlotte indicated to the announcers that she intends on beating the other two Riott Squad members.
Renee Young interviewed Kevin Owens, who was annoyed to see her. She wondered if tonight’s match would impact his friendship with Zayn. Owens said this was a great question, but she was asking the wrong person. He said it’s up to Zayn and if he can handle losing.
The Bludgeon Brothers defeated two jobbers (1:22)
Harper and Rowan destroyed two unnamed men and won with the double crucifix bomb. The crowd seems into them.
The Usos came out as Harper and Rowan were about to leave. The Usos starred them down as they passed by but Harper and Rowan let them pass without budging.
After a break, Jimmy and Jey cut a promo, letting us know what it’s like to be locked down. They also talked about going from face paint to snapbacks, from rainbow colours to white and black, from being alright to having the match of the night, from Samoan drops to superkicks. They were very good here.
Backstage, Daniel Bryan counted down the top ten list:
10. Tye Dillinger
9. Randy Orton
8. Becky Lynch
7. Tag Team Champions The Usos
6. The New Day
5. US Champion Bobby Roode
3. Shinsuke Nakamura
2. Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair
1. WWE Champion AJ Styles
Corey Graves wondered how Orton fell so far down the list and how the New Day could be ahead of the Usos. He also wondered where Rusev was. Owens and Zayn, the two top contenders, were also nowhere to be found. They cut to New Day backstage reacting to being named #6. They also gave Corey Graves a 6% chance of winning a street fight.
Aiden English did a selfie promo backstage as Rusev worked out behind him.
Bobby Roode defeated Rusev (w/Aiden English) to retain the US Title (15:45)
English sang a new Rusev Day song before the match. He called Kansas City stupid, which the crowd booed. After Rusev came out, they chanted Rusev Day and English pumped his fists along with them.
They traded big moves after a break but the match slowed down after Rusev got the heat on Roode. The crowd chanted for both men but were louder for Rusev. Roode mounted a comeback with clotheslines, a neckbreaker and flying clothesline. English distracted Roode, allowing Rusev to hit a kick to the head for a nearfall.
After another break, Roode attempted a Glorious DDT but Rusev countered with an elevated knee to the gut. Roode came back with a spinebuster for a nearfall. Roode knocked English off the apron which led to a small package from Rusev for a nearfall. Rusev followed with a Machka Kick but didn’t make a cover.
Rusev went for an Accolade which led to a series of reversals until Roode managed to hit the Glorious DDT for the win. Pretty good match. The crowd popped for the win. It’s a good sign for Roode the crowd cheered him here against Rusev.
As Roode posed in his spotlight, Randy Orton rushed in and nailed him with an RKO. That was a great visual. Orton then gave RKOs to English and Rusev.
Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin mocked Breezango and the Fashion Files. Benjamin said they wanted to give prestige back to the tag division and Gable wondered how these clowns were still there. Gable called themselves “weapons of tag destruction” and Benjamin said their target was the Ascension tonight.
They decided to add graphics to this promo. Blue and white letters popped up on the screen as they spoke. Nothing says tough guy promo like bright blue word art. Also, this is starting to feel too similar to the Revival’s gimmick on Raw. (Though Benjamin and Gable are being positioned better than the Revival.)
Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin defeated The Ascension (3:47)
Gable hit a big German suplex on Viktor and they used their double team powerbomb/flying clothesline combo for the win.
Someone via Twitter asked New Day who they thought would win tonight’s main event. They didn’t care and hoped both guys lose. Someone else asked who the top member of New Day was. Xavier Woods and Big E teased they would say themselves, but then they both said it was actually Kofi Kingston, who acted surprised.
They ran down Kingston’s title reigns and Woods said Kingston would become WWE Champion in 2018. Kingston was flattered and said if he won the belt, he would split it in two and give it to them. They shoved pancakes in each other's faces.
Young asked Zayn for any final comments. Zayn said it was his chance to finally step out of Owens’ shadow. Zayn said when it came to becoming champion again, “Kevin will stop at nothing. But then again, neither will I.”
Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin was announced for next week. They mentioned Ziggler has been away for seven weeks.
Sami Zayn NC Kevin Owens (13:54)
They traded a few shots but Zayn lost his cool after a back elbow from Owens. He tacked Owens and wildly attacked him with strikes. Owens told Zayn to calm down but that didn’t work and Zayn did it again. After a break, they traded moves leading to Owens hitting a pumphandle neckbreaker for two. Zayn came back with a tornado DDT for a nearfall.
Owens tried a senton off the top but Zayn got his knees up. Owens spilled outside the ring, so Zayn nailed him with his diving tornado DDT through the ropes. Zayn went for a Helluva kick but Owens hit a superkick and followed with a frog splash for two. Styles was on commentary and was stunned Zayn kicked out.
Zayn slipped out of a pop-up powerbomb attempt, hit a half-and-half suplex and Blue Thunder Bomb for a nearfall. Owens fell out of the ring so Zayn went after him. Zayn decided to get in Styles face but Styles tried to ignore him. Zayn got in his face again so Styles shoved him into Owens. He punched both guys and the referee called for the bell.
Styles laid out both guys with a slingshot forearm to the outside. He shouted about how he wanted a winner tonight. Bryan came out and announced that, due to the superlative performances from Owens and Zayn, and due to Styles’ interference, the WWE title match at Fastlane would be a triple threat.
Owens and Zayn were happy about the announcement, though they weren’t necessarily back on the same side. Styles seemed mildly annoyed.
I'm fine with the idea of a triple threat but this was a lazy way to get there.