The complicated twists and turns of WWE's Road to WrestleMania have been on display since this past Sunday's Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. On Friday night, SmackDown almost sent Roman Reigns on a detour to defend his universal championship against Daniel Bryan at March's Fastlane event, but Jey Uso was able to handle the situation for Reigns, delaying -- if not outright denying -- Bryan's attempt to win the title.
Also on the show, Bianca Belair finally called her own shot for WrestleMania. The women's Royal Rumble winner has waited patiently to decide between SmackDown women's champion Sasha Banks and Raw women's champ Asuka, but finally made it clear that she would challenge Banks on the biggest stage in wrestling.
CBS Sports was with you all night, bringing you recaps and highlights of all the action from the ThunderDome.
Daniel Bryan comes up short in bid for title shot
Roman Reigns opened the show with an in-ring promo after clips of Edge attacking him at Elimination Chamber. Reigns bragged about easily handling Daniel Bryan seconds after Bryan won the Chamber match before saying Edge ruined his "perfect" night. He then gave Edge an opportunity to back out of his challenge for the universal championship at WrestleMania, saying he didn't want to hurt Edge at the event. Reigns was then interrupted by Daniel Bryan, who ran down Reigns for his "cowardly" decision to defend his title seconds after the conclusion of the Elimination Chamber match before questioning why Reigns wasn't the main event that night. Bryan closed by throwing down a challenge for a match at Fastlane, but Jey Uso told Bryan he was now at the back of the line before attacking.
Edge confronted WWE's Adam Pearce, saying he had been told they wanted a tag match for Fastlane, with him teaming with Bryan against Uso and Edge. Pearce said that if Bryan beat Uso later in the night, he would get a title match with Reigns at the event instead, which Edge seemed to see as disrespectful before walking off.
Daniel Bryan vs. Jey Uso ended in a double count out. Uso targeted Bryan's knee throughout the match, trying to take advantage of damage done to Bryan in the Elimination Chamber. After Bryan tried to lock up a Yes Lock, Uso got to the ropes and the action spilled outside. Uso drove Bryan's knee into the ring steps and continued to attack until both men were counted out. Reigns attacked Bryan after the match but Bryan locked him in the Yes Lock until Uso made the save with a kick to the head. Reigns then hit a spear and choked Bryan out with a guillotine as the show went off the air.
Hopefully, WWE stays away from a real Reigns vs. Bryan match because that should be a leading program for SmackDown for months sometime in the future. If they settle into this tag match for Fastlane, that should be fine, but a straight Byran vs. Reigns match should be held off on until sometime down the road. Bryan and Uso put on a very good main event with a finish that didn't feel entirely cheap. Keeping Edge out of the in-ring mix was a smart decision as he and Reigns shouldn't be making much contact until the final few weeks prior to WrestleMania. Grade: B
Bianca Belair makes WrestleMania match official
Bianca Belair was welcomed to the ring by Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville to announce her choice for her WrestleMania title shot. Before she could answer, she was interrupted by Reginald, who told Belair that she had been elevated by Sasha Banks' genius after teaming with her at Elimination Chamber. After Reginald told Belair that her decision would be a bad one if she challenged Banks, Banks came to the ring. Banks told Belair she can't be the "EST" of WWE, because she is the best, which makes Belair "second best." Belair promised to make Banks eat her words, making the challenge to Banks official with a point at the WrestleMania sign.
Belair vs. Banks at WrestleMania has been a match most fans have wanted to see. The two women are outstanding wrestlers with big personalities and the match should be tremendous -- and absolutely should main event one of the two nights of WrestleMania. That said, Banks' promo came off a bit awkward and this is a pairing that does not need the inclusion of Reginald. Reginald is a fun minor character for the show, but Banks and Belair are more than capable of carrying the program without a goofy third wheel. Grade: B-
What else happened on WWE SmackDown?
- Otis & Chad Gable def. Rey & Dominik Mysterio via pinfall after Otis hit Rey with a splash from the second rope.
- Apollo Crews def. Shinsuke Nakamura via pinfall after an Olympic slam variation. Before the match, Crews said Big E's disrespect caused him to reflect on his roots as a man of Nigerian descent, calling himself a "real African American" and talking about his Nigerian ancestors.
- Tamina def. Liv Morgan via pinfall with a swinging urinage suplex.
- The Street Profits def. Sami Zayn & King Corbin via pinfall when Montez Ford hit Sami Zayn with a frog splash.
- Seth Rollins and Cesaro came face-to-face. Rollins told Cesaro that he always seems to come up short and that they could take over if they would join forces. Rollins told Cesaro to think it over, but Cesaro took him down and executed a Cesaro Swing.