With just five days to go until, Tuesday night's SmackDown Live brought us the final main roster offering before the biggest show of the year takes place in New Orleans. Of course, when you're discussing the blue brand, everyone is looking forward to the triumphant in-ring return of Daniel Bryan as he teams with Shane McMahon to take on Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, with the two best friends' jobs hanging in the balance. Given the past tension between Bryan and McMahon on SmackDown, though, could these two really be on the same page for WrestleMania? We didn't have to wait long to get that answer on Tuesday's go-home edition of SmackDown.
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Bryan and McMahon reconcile before New Orleans
Bryan got the final SmackDown before WrestleMania kicked off on Tuesday night. Immediately, he welcomed out McMahon who was making his first appearance on the show since being diagnosed with diverticulitis. McMahon congratulated Bryan on becoming medically cleared to compete in the ring again, before running down his own health issues that have plagued him over the past few weeks. McMahon did state that he, too, has been medically cleared and is ready for Sunday in New Orleans.
Bryan admitted to his commissioner that he was right all along in regards to letting his friendship with Owens and Zayn get in the way, and promptly apologized. McMahon followed up with an admission that he's recently been stubborn, seemingly putting the differences the two of them have had recently on the show behind them. They hugged it out in the middle of the ring before proclaiming they're going to rid SmackDown of Owens and Zayn at WrestleMania.
It seemed as if that would be all for this angle for the evening, but that was not the case. Prior to the main event, Owens and Zayn appeared through the crowd, jumped on the announce table and began running down Bryan and McMahon. The verbal onslaught even included Zayn taking personal shots at the SmackDown general manager by referencing his wife Brie Bella and his daughter Birdie.
Bryan and McMahon were watching this all take place backstage on the monitor, and they immediately had the microphones cut. As Owens and Zayn were exiting through the crowd, the SmackDown authority figures came out to the ramp and told everyone to get a good final look at the duo on the blue brand.
This would have been fine with just the opening segment of Bryan and McMahon sending that one final message, but with Owens and Zayn hijacking house shows recently, their appearance in this manner was a bit necessary. Bryan's in-ring return has really saved what once was an angle that was slowly killing the show, but you still can't shake the feeling that one is turning on the other come Sunday despite the reconciliation on the go-home SmackDown.
The champ turns the tables on the challenger
AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura def. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin via pinfall: The WrestleMania WWE championship match participants were teammates on Tuesday night's go-home show. The tension between Styles and Nakamura was high, naturally, but the two were able to get the victory following a Styles Phenomenal Forearm to Gable. Prior to hitting the forearm, Styles made it crystal clear to Nakamura that one was coming for him on Sunday in the Superdome.
The champ wasn't done sending messages, however.
As Styles was making his way up the ramp, Nakamura was attacked from behind by Benjamin. The WWE championship challenger was able to fend off the attack, but Styles hit the ring to fake out Namakura with a Phenomenal Forearm -- much like he was faked out last week by Nakamura's Kinshasa. To complete turning the tables on his opponent for Sunday, Styles then patted Nakamura on the head, before leaving the ring satisfied that he had gotten his point across while Nakamura stood in the ring furious.
Did this WWE championship feud get the build that it deserved? Probably not, but the last two weeks with these amazing performers have been just enough to hype you up that much more to see them face off with one another for the first time since their first matchup over two years ago. Build aside, there's no question this match has all the potential in the world to be the one die-hard wrestling fans remember the most coming out of a stacked card on Sunday.
What else happened on SmackDown?
- Charlotte Flair def. Natalya via submission: Flair made Natalya submit with the Figure Eight, and she even had to thwart yet another cash-in tease by Carmella by kicking the briefcase out of her grasp. Following the match, Asuka made her way out to the ring to confront her WrestleMania opponent just five days before they clash, but before she could ask Flair her signature question of whether she was ready, the champion actually pondered whether her challenger was the one who's ready.
- Rusev def. Jinder Mahal via pinfall: In his adopted hometown of Nashville and with Bobby Roode on commentary, the "Bulgarian Brute" got the 1-2-3 after a Machka Kick. As Rusev was celebrating, United States champion Randy Orton nailed tonight's victor with an RKO, before nailing Aiden English with one as well with the assistance of Roode.
- Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Primo Colon & Mojo Rawley def. Zack Ryder, Breezango & Tye Dillinger via pinfall: Corbin got the win for his team after hitting the End of Days on Fandango in a preview match for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal on Sunday.