With universal champion Roman Reigns looking for a night off at the upcomingpay-per-view, he sent Jey Uso to try and take care of Daniel Bryan in a cage match on Friday's episode of SmackDown. Bryan, however, was able to pull off the submission victory in a thrilling match to earn the championship opportunity at Fastlane.
Along with the shot at Reigns' title is a chance to be in the power position as champion heading into WrestleMania weekend in early April. Reigns, meanwhile, now has to worry about managing to get past Bryan and a pending match with Royal Rumble winner Edge at WrestleMania.
CBS Sports was with you all night, bringing you recaps and highlights of all the action on this week's SmackDown.
Daniel Bryan secures Fastlane title shot
Bryan opened the show being interviewed in the ring by Michael Cole. Cole pointed out that the original Fastlane plans were for Bryan to team with Edge against Roman Reigns and Jey Uso, which Bryan took issue with for no one having asked him if he wanted to participate. Bryan said he wanted to face Reigns at Fastlane, win the championship and ruin the planned "dream match" between Reigns and Edge at WrestleMania. Bryan said he felt like a failure after losing to Reigns at Elimination Chamber before firing up and saying he found his ambition once again to be the best wrestler in the world. Reigns interrupted to say that Bryan is nothing more than an underdog and "our little guy," unlike his own style of taking what he wants. Reigns then claimed that he truly loves the wrestling business, while Bryan needs it.
Daniel Bryan def. Jey Uso via submission in a cage match with the Yes Lock. Uso immediately made a run to try to get out of the cage, but Bryan cut him off. From there, the grueling match was on with the men driving each other into the cage and ending up in high-impact scenarios. Eventually, things broke down into a full brawl with Bryan landing a series of heavy elbows on the ground before Uso fought back with a flurry of heavy ground-and-pound strikes of his own. Shortly after, Bryan locked in the Yes Lock in the center of the ring. Uso was able to scoot to the ropes, but without rope breaks, he was forced to tap out -- the win securing the Fastlane title shot for Bryan as Reigns watched on from ringside.
There's always a logic at play with a Daniel Bryan match. He worked over Uso's arm early, making it hard for Uso to climb the cage during the early sections of the match. Going for the finish with the Yes Lock multiple times -- and eventually getting it -- also locked Reigns out of being able to interfere with any attempt to escape the cage. Add that to brilliantly delivered promos in the open by both Bryan and Reigns, and everything worked wonderfully. If only this weren't just a stop on Reigns' road to defending his universal championship at WrestleMania. Grade: A
What else happened on WWE SmackDown?
- King Corbin def. Montez Ford via pinfall after End of Days. Corbin and Sami Zayn were set to face the Street Profits in tag action, leading Corbin to say he's a singles competitor and had no interest in being Zayn's teammate. This led to a pair of singles matches, the first of which was won by Corbin after distraction by Zayn.
- Angelo Dawkins def. Sami Zayn via pinfall after a roll-up. After Corbin abandoned Zayn, Ford returned the favor of causing a distraction.
- Carmella fired Reginald from his job as her sommelier for his flirtations with Sasha Banks. Banks would later deliver a slap to Reginald after his involvement ringside during Bianca Belair vs. Shayna Baszler. Nia Jax later took interest in Reginald, calling him "cute" after Shayna Baszler tried to insult him.
- Dominik Mysterio def. Chad Gable via pinfall with a roll-up.
- Bianca Belair def. Shayna Baszler via pinfall with the Kiss of Death.
- Cesaro def. Murphy via submission with the Sharpshooter. Earlier in the night, Murphy asked Rollins to let him handle Cesaro, seemingly wanting to rekindle their old messiah/disciple relationship, but Rollins blew him off.
- Apollo Crews cut a promo further explaining the embrace of his Nigerian ancestry. He also now is accompanied to the ring by "Nigerian Royal Guard" members and carries a large spear.