After a Raw that brought the top dogs of NXT into the fold, SmackDown LIVE followed up with welcoming the four to their own show. But while that was exciting to see, SmackDown LIVE’s stories moved forward as two championship matches were made for WWE Fastlane as a result of the night’s happenings. Let’s take a look at the highlights from last night’s show.
Ciampa and Gargano Shock The Bar
On Monday Night Raw, the NXT Champion and NXT North American Champion teamed up in a winning effort over the RAW Tag Team Champions, The Revival. Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano discussed how they felt that going from rivals last year to debuting on Raw and now SmackDown LIVE as a team was truly surreal. In a backstage confrontation, The Bar seemingly overlooked the NXT champions as they felt they really could not compete with them. Ciampa let them know they are here to takeover, with Gargano following up saying they were simply here to “break the bar”. They would go on to have a match, as the former #DIY would take on the five-time tag team champions. As the match went on, the tandem of Gargano and Ciampa would show off plenty as they showed no fear against their bigger opponents. Mid-match, Ciampa would go for a sunset flip powerbomb from the top rope on Sheamus, connecting but Sheamus would land on his knee and it looked bad. Ciampa showed he was in pain, but it did not slow him down. He would tag in Gargano and be missing for much of the match. As it seemingly became a 2 on 1 handicap match, Gargano was able to show his well-known resiliency and why he is known simply as “Johnny Wrestling”. He would continue to fight both Cesaro and Sheamus, hitting them with multiple high risk moves on the outside. Gargano would hit his springboard DDT for another close fall, but The Bar would eventually takeover. As the match continued, Gargano would hit a superkick right on the button, getting a chance to crawl to his corner, yet Cesaro ran at him and Ciampa would make the tag. Ciampa would hop over the rope into a schoolboy pin to win yet another match for the Gargano-Ciampa combination. With wins against The Revival and The Bar, big things are ahead for the duo.
Mandy Upsets the Champion
For the past few weeks, it may have been noticeable that the SmackDown Women’s Champion, Asuka, had seemingly been missing from television. However, she would be interviewed by Kayla Braxton this in the middle of the ring. Asuka wanted everyone to know that she has already beaten Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch, including making Becky tap at the Royal Rumble. Now it was time for a new challenge. Enter: Mandy Rose. Mandy told Asuka she could beat her and that it was time for “God’s Greatest Creation” to get her shot. This would lead to an impromptu match between the champion and the possible new challenger. As the match got going with Asuka in control, Lacey Evans’ music would hit, resulting in her walking all the way down to where Sonya Deville was, but once again turning around and walking to the back. It would lead to Mandy taking control, hitting a Russian Leg Sweep, but only getting a one count. As the match continued, Asuka would catch Mandy with a knee to the face, with Mandy saying it injured her eye. The ref would keep Asuka back while checking to see if she was truly hurt, and once Asuka wasn’t ready, Mandy would launch her into the rope, rolling her up for the shocking three count. And with this victory, it seems that Mandy Rose may be on her way to getting her first one on one championship match of her career with a victory over the SmackDown Women’s Champion.
SmackDown LIVE MVP: Kofi Kingston
#KofiMania continues to run wild as the main event of SmackDown LIVE featured the six man who entered the Elimination Chamber match this past Sunday, as the WWE Champion, Daniel Bryan, teamed with Randy Orton and Samoa Joe to take on AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, and the man who has stole the hearts of the WWE Universe, Kofi Kingston. Before the match, Kingston let his New Day brothers know that he continues to appreciate the support and they are his brothers, and he cannot wait to continue the momentum of the past week. Kingston was the favorite of the crowd last night, over the likes of Styles and Bryan even, as “KOFI, KOFI, KOFI” chants continued throughout the match. At one point in the match, Kofi got his revenge from so many years ago when Orton told Kofi he was “stupid”, doing the same to Orton last night. It was clear that this match was between Kofi and Bryan despite the lead up to who would face Bryan at WWE Fastlane. As the match furthered along, Styles would hit Kofi for the hot tag, as the crowd erupted when Kofi had his opportunity at the Planet’s Champion. Kofi would find a frenzy, getting flipped by Bryan to the outside but taking four of the competitors out, nailing Bryan with a missile dropkick, hitting his signature trust fall from the top to the outside on top of Bryan and Rowan, and finally hitting the Trouble in Paradise on Daniel to get the victory for his team and pin the WWE Champion. After the match, Shane McMahon would announce that at Fastlane, Daniel Bryan will defend his WWE Championship against Kofi Kingston. It is finally Kingston’s time to fully shine.
As the road to Fastlane continues, Kofi Kingston and Daniel Bryan should have plenty of opportunities to get inside each other’s heads heading into the PPV. And for the second week in a row, Kofi Kingston was the MVP of SmackDown LIVE, as his momentum continues to sky rocket and he continues his 11-year quest to the WWE Championship. With the NXT four on tap along with the rise of Kofi Kingston, SmackDown LIVE has become a can’t-miss show.