WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Daniel Bryan's Fastlane challenger, NXT stars shine again
Another solid SmackDown on Tuesday gave us a WWE championship challenger
Although Elimination Chamber has just passed, the final pay-per-view stop on the Road to WrestleMania 35, WWE Fastlane, is just a little under three weeks away. During a cluttered Raw on Monday night, we didn't learn much in regards to how the red brand side of the card is shaping up, but yet another solid outing from the SmackDown Live crew on Tuesday night got right to work in helping put the Fastlane pieces in place.
In addition to learning who Daniel Bryan will be putting the WWE title up against in Cleveland on March 10, SmackDown on Tuesday night in New Orleans also showcased the biggest stars from the NXT brand for the second night in a row. SmackDown has consistently been putting out the better main roster product week in and week out, and having the four NXT stars in action only added to the excitement of another Tuesday evening blue brand experience.
Let's take a look at everything that went down on another entertaining SmackDown this week.
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Kofi Kingston earns his one-on-one shot
Commissioner Shane McMahon opened the show, and following a video package running back the highlights from the closing sequence of the WWE championship Elimination Chamber match, it was announced that a six-man tag match was slated for later in the show featuring Daniel Bryan, Samoa Joe & Randy Orton teaming up to take on AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy & Kofi Kingston. Hardy and Styles met up backstage and they were joined by the New Day. Instead of an olive branch before they team up, Kingston offered them up a pancake branch. Styles and Hardy each took a pancake for themselves. In the heel backstage segment, Bryan (with Rowan), Joe and Orton merely just stared at one another.
Prior to the main event, New Day were interviewed in Gorilla position. Kingston said this past week has been special and pointed out how the fans started the #KofiMania hashtag on Twitter. He said none of this would be possible without the support of Xavier Woods and Big E and how they pushed for him to represent them at Elimination Chamber in the title match. During his entrance, Bryan cut another promo on the fans being ignorant, but he serves a higher purpose, and that's to educate. Bryan said he knows who he's facing at Fastlane, and it's not any of the men in the match tonight because he's already defeated all of them on Sunday.
Kofi Kingston, AJ Styles & Jeff Hardy def. Daniel Bryan (via pinfall), Randy Orton & Samoa Joe: Kingston got the hot tag from Styles and laid out both Bryan and Rowan on the outside with the trust fall. From there, Kingston rolled Bryan back into the ring and connected with Trouble in Paradise for the pinfall.
After the bout, McMahon emerged on the stage and revealed that Kingston had now earned the right to challenge Bryan at Fastlane for the WWE championship.
This is what we all have wanted for the better part of the last week: Kingston getting a one-on-one opportunity at the WWE championship. The thing is, though, a good portion of the crowd would have liked to see this take place at WrestleMania rather than Fastlane, myself included. While we could always be wrong and plans could change with much time left until WrestleMania, this will likely be the final shot -- at least for a while -- the veteran Kingston gets at the biggest prize before Bryan moves on to a bigger name for MetLife Stadium on April 7. Should absolutely be a fun encounter with Bryan and Kingston, it's just happening at the wrong time. Grade: C+
NXT superstars showcased again
During the show-opening promo, McMahon said that he was so impressed with what the four top NXT talents brought to the table Monday night during Raw that they would all be in action Tuesday night on SmackDown. After McMahon left the ring following the promo, we got things kicked off with a bang by running back the NXT championship match from NXT TakeOver: New Orleans in April 2018.
Aleister Black def. Andrade via pinfall: In a short yet entertaining match, Black picked up another main roster victory after he was able to use the snake eyes into the corner on Andrade to set up the Black Mass.
Backstage, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa were interviewed by Kayla Braxton, and Gargano recalled how crazy it is that one year ago the two of them were at each other's throats at NXT TakeOver before WrestleMania. They were interrupted by The Bar, and Cesaro told them to go back to Raw or NXT, but stay away from SmackDown. Gargano finished off the confrontation by stating that he and Ciampa aren't there to set the bar, they're there to break the bar.
Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano def. The Bar via pinfall: On Monday night it was reigning tag team champions who were defeated by the former #DIY team, and on Tuesday, it was former tag team champions. Following a blind tag, Ciampa rolled up Cesaro for the victory. There was a scary moment during the bout in which it appeared Ciampa seriously injured his knee attempting a sunset flip from the top where the entire weight of Sheamus fell on his kneecap, but he returned to the bout and appeared fine.
Ricochet def. Eric Young via pinfall: Ricochet was able to fight off the interference attempts from SAnitY from the outside and put Young away with the 630 for the 1-2-3.
The appearances of the NXT stars Monday night on Raw was puzzling, to say the least, as they came very suddenly and without little explanation. But then came the news on Tuesday that there is a significant announcement set to take place on Wednesday night's edition of weekly NXT television and you began to realize that featuring the top stars on the main roster may come with an explanation within the next 24 hours, so their activity on SmackDown wasn't all that stunning. Whatever the case, whether they're permanent call-ups or not, it was fun to see the top dogs of the third brand get to shine -- especially on Tuesday night in front of a New Orleans crowd that actually had a pulse. Grade: A-
What else happened on SmackDown?
- Shane McMahon orders a rematch: The Miz came out to offer up his apology to McMahon after losing the SmackDown tag team titles. He said that while he knows there are no more automatic rematch clauses, he'd like for McMahon to just book a rematch so they could have one more chance. The Usos interrupted and told McMahon he could have the shot if he finds a new partner as they ran down Miz for being a crybaby, but McMahon went ahead and booked the title rematch anyway -- and it'll take place in Miz's hometown of Cleveland at Fastlane. Backstage later in the show, Miz informed McMahon that his father would be sitting ringside at Fastlane.
- Mandy Rose def. Asuka via pinfall: The SmackDown women's champion was out for an in-ring promo and was asked about all the attention being on the Raw women's championship. Asuka pointed out that she's beaten both Charlotte and Becky Lynch, and she's ready for a new challenge. Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville interrupted, and Rose decided to take her chances with the champ right then and there. Rose feigned an eye injury near the end of the match, threw Asuka into the second rope and rolled her up for the sneaky victory.
- Charlotte Flair promo: Backstage, Flair was asked whether Lynch was going to haunt her all the way down the Road to WrestleMania given the attack at Elimination Chamber. Flair said that if she does it again, she's going to press charges and have her thrown in jail. She said no matter what, she and Ronda Rousey are the main event at WrestleMania simply because she's in the match.
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