By Steven Flora
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn tried to take control of their own destiny by ambushing Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin before the latter's match to see who would advance to the WWE Title Match alongside them and Champion AJ Styles at Fastlane. However, their plan would ultimately backfire when SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon flipped the script and gave both Ziggler and Corbin an opportunity to join the title match.
Ziggler added to WWE Championship match at Fastlane
Dolph Ziggler def. Sami Zayn
In their hard-hitting singles bout earlier in the evening, Kevin Owens was unsuccessful in preventing Baron Corbin from being added to the WWE Title Match at Fastlane. Now, the spotlight was on Sami Zayn and the returning Dolph Ziggler as they faced off in a match where Ziggler could win his way into the WWE Title Match at Fastlane.
Ziggler, who made it clear he was only back on SmackDown with the goal of main-eventing WrestleMania, performed at his best. He looked as crisp as ever, even against the determined Zayn. After a ferocious battle, Ziggler overcame Zayn with a pinpoint superkick, clinching his place in the WWE Championship Fatal 5-Way Match at Fastlane. Winner: Dolph Ziggler.
Side Note: I approve of this, simply because it's not all about "Kami,” as Styles likes to put it. Finally we get some fresh talent involved in the title picture, though we know Styles is the favorite to win to push the match with Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania. Corbin & Ziggler both have something to prove as their careers might not be where they expected. They hope to kickstart their road to WrestleMania with a championship victory at Fastlane.
Corbin added to WWE Championship match at Fastlane
Baron Corbin def. Kevin Owens
Following a heinous attack by Owens & Zayn that called off the Ziggler vs. Corbin match earlier, SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon decreed The Lone Wolf would face off against KO, and Ziggler would battle Zayn, and if Corbin and/or Ziggler were to win, then the WWE Title Match at Fastlane would either become a Fatal 4- or 5-Way Match. Oh, and if Zayn or Owens tried to interfere in the other’s match, they would be promptly removed from the title bout.
First up was The Lone Wolf facing off with KO, and although Corbin was bruised from the attack by The “Yep!” Movement earlier in the night, he was also more than a little enraged. Owens tried to use every resource at his disposal, seemingly desperate to keep Corbin out of the contest, but The Lone Wolf prevailed by dropping KO with the End of Days to advance to the WWE Title Match at Fastlane, much to the chagrin of both Zayn (who was watching backstage) and the fallen Owens. Winner: Baron Corbin.
Side Note: Quite a fun match to watch with Corbin getting in most of the onslaught, getting payback for earlier in the night. Corbin wrestled a safe but impressive match, easily lifting up Owens multiple times, including an impressive deep six. Corbin has under-performed for a number of years and this match at Fastlane will be his biggest test to date.
Chaos ensues as both Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal attempt to answer Bobby Roode’s United States Open Challenge
United States Champion Bobby Roode looked to continue a long-standing tradition by holding a United States Open Challenge on SmackDown, but he got a little more than he bargained for.
Still peeved over being struck with an RKO (outta nowhere) last week, Roode made it clear this was an open challenge, but he had one specific Superstar in mind. The Glorious One seemed to get his wish when Randy Orton arrived, but right as The Viper entered the ring, Jinder Mahal interrupted to berate Orton over his placement on the first-ever SmackDown Top 10 List, suggesting his spot at No. 9 was embarrassing and that his career has peaked.
The Apex Predator seemed indifferent to his placement on the list, but the one thing he did care about was Roode’s comment that The Glorious One didn’t like his tendency to attack Superstars out of nowhere, specifically referencing the RKO he felt last week. Orton did not take kindly to this, swiftly RKOing Sunil Singh and kicking off a melee between all three. Roode landed a wicked haymaker on Orton, but that left him open to receiving a ring-rattling Khallas from Mahal, who took down the staggered Viper with the same move to stand tall.
Side Note: I don't see Mahal's role in this scenario, only that he's a filler that prevents creative from pulling the trigger on a match between Orton & Roode. Mahal came off predictable and forced and the fact he stood tall was almost as shocking as his WWE title victory at Backlash last year.
Other Notable Moments:
Charlotte Flair vs. Sarah Logan: Two weeks ago, SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair fell to a chilling three-on-one attack by The Riott Squad that left The Queen down and out - something the titleholder had never experienced in her career. Because of this unprecedented attack, Flair demanded to face off against Liv Morgan last week on SmackDown, and she scored the win after the referee ejected Ruby Riott & Sarah Logan. After the champion defeated Morgan, she emphatically declared “one down, two to go!” However, the question quickly became whether Flair would be able to consistently overcome the odds against The Riott Squad — a question that was answered =when Becky Lynch and Naomi joined The Queen’s side as she took on Logan. With the playing field leveled, Charlotte competed freely, and despite taking her lumps throughout the contest, she defeated the scrappy Logan with a head-pounding Natural Selection before making sure to indicate “one to go” after the bout. In the words of soon-to-be WWE Hall of Famer Goldberg, it sure sounds like Ruby Riott is “next.” Winner: Charlotte Flair.
The New Day vs. Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable: The New Day got the win over Benjamin and Gable in a solid match. Winner: The New Day.
Overall SmackDown Live Rating: D
Things to look forward to next week
How will Owens & Zayn react to Corbin & Ziggler's wins that advance them into the WWE title picture at Fastlane?
HOPEFULLY RUSEV DAY!
What's next for Jinder Mahal and the U.S. Championship?
What happened to Mike Kanellis and the power of love?
When will the Bludgeon Brothers go after the SmackDown Live Tag Team Titles?