By Steven Flora
The one-on-one main event between WWE Champion AJ Styles and Dolph Ziggler took an unexpected turn after The “Yep!” Movement injected themselves with a surprise attack. Elsewhere, Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal rekindled their epic rivalry, as United States Champion Bobby Roode watched on from the announce desk.
Sami Zayn proves it's every man for themselves this Sunday
Non-Title Fatal 5-Way Match: Sami Zayn def. WWE Champion A.J. Styles, Baron Corbin, Kevin Owens & Dolph Ziggler
With AJ Styles and Dolph Ziggler already having gone through a hellacious one-on-one contest, five of the six Superstars in Sunday’s WWE Title Match collided in this impromptu main event on SmackDown.
In a preview of the thrilling action to come Sunday, anarchy ruled, as all five Superstars went to great lengths to seize a monumental win en route to Fastlane.
After a flurry of activity that resembled a Nor’easter, Sami Zayn connected flush onto his best friend (maybe “best friend”?) Kevin Owens with a jaw-jacking Helluva Kick to claim the monumental win before the WWE Title Six-Pack Challenge at Fastlane.
Owens was in disbelief after the match, but Zayn had a very concise reason for his actions: to prove he was the absolute best on SmackDown. Winner: Sami Zayn.
Side Note: I'm really confused why WWE would give away their PPV main event on TV for free. Yes, I understand it's not technically the match locked in for Fastlane, but they essentially booked the Fastlane main event for this episode of SmackDown. Lazy booking. Zayn deserved a win at least seeing as though he won't get it on a PPV soon enough. He is slightly right, he is underrated and ever since moving to SmackDown, he hasn't been given a chance to … WAIT I'm wrong he's been given chance after chance after chance. He's failed.
Charlotte Flair and Ruby Riott exchange heated words ahead of Fastlane
With their highly-anticipated SmackDown Women’s Championship Match at Fastlane only five days away, Charlotte Flair and Ruby Riott met in the ring for a heated interview conducted by Dasha Fuentes.
Ever since The Riott Squad handed Flair one of the most vicious beatdowns of her career several weeks ago, the two Superstars have gone back and forth in a game of one-upmanship. The Queen has defeated Squad members Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan, while Riott has taken down Charlotte’s friends, Becky Lynch and Naomi.
With so much on the line this Sunday, Charlotte and Ruby did not mince words ahead of their high-stakes showdown. Riott made it clear she was aiming to destroy the “myth” of Charlotte Flair at Fastlane, while The Queen confidently chirped back she was every bit as good as advertised. Riott, determined to have the last word, looked Flair dead in the eyes and boldly declared that not only would she take Charlotte’s title, but she would be the reason her entire reality crumbled.
Morgan and Logan, who had been at ringside, climbed into the ring, and Flair appeared to be in a bit of trouble, but combat would have to wait until Sunday, as United States Champion Bobby Roode’s music hit, de-escalating the situation between the two Superstars as The Glorious One prepared to do commentary for the next contest.
Side Note: Sometimes you know when promos are scripted and forced, at times they become blatantly obvious. Such was the case here as both Riott and Flair seemed very forced in the delivery of their words. I have no doubt Riott will give Flair a run for her money this Sunday but at the moment, there is no one that can touch Flair,, with the exception of her friend, Becky Lynch.
Roode sends a message to the Viper
Jinder Mahal def. Randy Orton
With his first-ever clash against Randy Orton occurring at Fastlane on Sunday, United States Champion Bobby Roode took his seat at ringside to scout The Viper from the announce desk. In Orton’s way, however, was the man who caused the initial rift between The Apex Predator and The Glorious One and the Superstar who thought he was being deprived of the United States Title opportunity this Sunday, Jinder Mahal.
The Viper and The Modern Day Maharaja rekindled their rivalry with a hard-hitting contest. Roode unwillingly became involved in the bout when Orton hurled Mahal right into the United States Champion at the announce table, knocking him to the floor.
Back in the ring moments later, Orton looked ready to strike and finish off The Modern Day Maharaja with an RKO, but an angry Roode hopped onto the ring apron to take issue with Orton, allowing Mahal to shove The Viper into Roode before finishing him off with a ring-shaking Khallas for a statement win.
Side Note: This smells like a triple threat match, at WrestleMania. Jinder Mahal has lost the fresh air about him now and is officially boring. Orton has been boring for the better part of 5 years now, so I'm firmly in the corner of a retaining champ, Roode.
Other Notable Moments:
Becky Lynch def. Carmella: After she mocked Becky Lynch and Naomi during a Twitter Q&A with the WWE Universe last week, Carmella found herself squaring off one-on-one against a none-too-pleased Irish Lass Kicker on SmackDown. Ms. Money in the Bank certainly began to regret some of her virtual words, as Lynch’s straight fire was on full display against The Princess of Staten Island. No amount of moonwalking or trash-talking could save the F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S Superstar, as Lynch cinched in the painful Dis-arm-her to claim the tapout victory.
AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler ended in a no-contest after The “Yep!” Movement interfered: With adrenaline and animosity now flowing through their veins, Styles and Ziggler squared off on SmackDown. The two Superstars dazzled the WWE Universe with an awe-inspiring display of athleticism and competitiveness. At the contest’s most critical moment, Owens & Zayn ran down to the ring and tried to get the jump on Styles and Ziggler, leading to the match being thrown out by the official. The “Yep!” Movement’s plan was also thwarted when The Phenomenal One & The Showoff put their differences aside and worked together to clear the ring of the meddlesome duo. The chaos prompted the arrival of SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon, who was flabbergasted with KO & Sami. Shane-O-Mac toyed with the idea of putting together a conventional tag team match, pitting Styles & Ziggler against Owens & Zayn, but he instead opted for a more unique path: A Fatal 5-Way Match between the four men involved in the melee and Baron Corbin. Oh, and that match? Yep, it would be next!
Overall SmackDown Live Rating: D
Things to look forward to next week
Hopefully seeing some tag teams in action
The Burial of Rusev Day
More Becky Lynch? Criminally underrated performer
Will the SmackDown Live tag-team championships be defended on the main card of WrestleMania?