There are very few times that SmackDown LIVE leaves you feeling empty, and that continues this week as SmackDown LIVE came to Wilkes Barre, PA for yet another exciting show as the go home episode heading into WWE Fastlane on Sunday. And following another eventful Monday Night Raw, could SmackDown top the red brand this week? Let us take a look.
Aleister Black and Ricochet Lower The Bar
Since being called up to the main roster from NXT, Aleister Black and Ricochet have yet to be stopped, regardless of it being in singles competition or teamed with each other, these two have been certainly impressive since making the step up on both Raw and SmackDown LIVE. So much so that yesterday afternoon, it was announced that the duo would face the team of Bobby Roode and Chad Gable, as well as the Raw Tag Team Champions, The Revival, in a three-way tag team match for the championships at Fastlane. However, Black and Ricochet remain brand less, so they were on SmackDown LIVE to face the five-time tag team champions, The Bar.
As the match got going, it continues to be surreal how good Ricochet is inside the square circle. The continuous jaw dropping athleticism by “The One and Only” continues to show that while tag team championships may be nice, a singles championship is certainly in his future. And like Ricochet, Aleister Black has the same future ahead. When Ricochet finally hit Black for the hot tag, he showed his kick boxing background that is so devastating. Towards the end of the match, “The Dutch Destroyer” would reverse Cesaro’s powerbomb attempt, turning it into a Black Mass kick, leaving Cesaro to Fade to Black. As Sheamus would come to try and stop Aleister from getting the pin, he would get flipped over the top rope, in which Ricochet would tag back in, as Aleister would hit a splash to the outside, Ricochet would climb up top to hit is patented 630 Splash for the 1, 2, 3. As the team remains undefeated, Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev would attack from behind, as they were still sour about the loss last week. However, Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy would come out to make the save, showing that all of a sudden SmackDown LIVE has plenty of worthy tag teams, but you want to be involved in any match that involves the NXT stars. A great showing for both Aleister Black and Ricochet.
Mustafa Ali Returns in the Aid of Kevin Owens
As we head right into Fastlane, Kevin Owens will be taking on Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship in a match we have yet to see one on one in the WWE. And to start off SmackDown LIVE, Daniel Bryan was out to break his silence following all of last week’s events, including a tag team match where Kevin Owens pinned the champion. So, last night, Daniel Bryan started off the show making a point that Owens isn’t any better than facing Kofi Kingston. Bryan would start joking about Owens’ weight and laziness, until finally Kevin Owens had enough and head to the ring. Owens laughed off the idea of the not so original weight jokes, but then as he got closer to getting in the ring, Bryan made a good point. Owens has no more friends in the WWE, as he has ruined every single one he has had. And while Kevin agreed, that didn’t stop him from trying to fight both Rowan and the WWE Champion. Owens would try to hit his new signature Stunner, but was reversed by Bryan and thrown to Rowan where he would be laid out by the palm slam Rowan has been using lately. This would leave the “The Planet’s Champion” and his seven-foot friend standing tall, leading to match later on between Rowan and KO.
Once the match got going, there was a lot of domination by Rowan, and the most interesting part of the match was when KO rolled out of the ring and Bryan stood up yelling at him from commentary. Bryan would call Owens a lazy coward, which would be enough for him to go after the champion. Rowan would come to make the save and lay out Owens. Bryan would finally put the fists to Owens, ending the match in a DQ. Bryan would instruct Rowan to get the announce table ready to put Owens through, and finally, Mustafa Ali’s music would hit, as he would make his return from injury to save Kevin Owens. Ali would lay out Daniel Bryan, then go for Rowan with a suicide dive where he would be caught. Rowan went for his palm slam into the announce table, but Ali landed on his feet on the table, kicking Rowan in the face, then sending him into the ring post with a hurricarana for good measure. Bryan would come behind and lay out Mustafa, rolling him into the ring, but KO would finally get back, nailing Bryan with a Stunner and having the upper hand on Bryan heading into Fastlane.
SmackDown LIVE MVP: Samoa Joe
Following a successful defense last week, R-Truth welcomed back his US Open Challenge for his hero, John Cena. And while Lacey Evans did her usual fake out, who would actually answer the call came to the excitement of the crowd. Samoa Joe stormed his way down to the ring, with “JOE JOE JOE” pouring through the arena as it looked like Truth’s United States Championship reign was certainly in jeopardy. But what followed was Rey Mysterio, and once again like last week, Andrade. To R-Truth’s surprise, it was announced that this would be a Fatal Four Way for the United States Championship. The action in this one, as expected, was fantastic. On a week to week basis, it remains incredible what Rey Mysterio can still do inside the squared circle. And even more so, what he and Andrade continue to show with their chemistry. And while all that is good, Samoa Joe was on a mission last night, laying out Andrade with an incredible suicide dive. The action never stopped between these four, as it seemed someone was always taking over at an opportune time but not being able to capitalize completely. One point in the match, R-Truth went for and delivered Cena’s signature Five Knuckle Shuffle on both Joe and Rey. Andrade would come to the seen to screw up the chance Truth thought he had, throwing him out of the ring, leading to Zelina Vega laying him out with a wonderful hurricarana from the apron. Ultimately, Carmella would come to lay out Vega with a superkick, but it was still wonderful. Inside the ring, Andrade would go for a powerbomb on Mysterio, which would be reversed into the Canadian Destroyer, which Rey would quickly follow up with the 619 and a frog splash from the top. Samoa Joe would return to the scene however, laying Rey to waste with a senton to his back, lifting up Andrade, planting him with a thunderous Uranage to finally win his first championship since being called up to the main roster. Finally, Samoa Joe was a champion. Your NEW United States Champion.
After the match, Joe would cut a thunderous promo, letting everyone know they’re simply put on notice and seemingly called out John Cena. A match they’ve held in their deck for a while now, maybe it is on the way.
Once again, SmackDown LIVE was a can’t miss show with an exciting Fatal Four Way match that crowed a new champion, a clash between Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch, Ricochet and Black’s continuous run, and the next chapter in the run of Daniel Bryan. Tune back next week for the Fastlane review and the usual Raw and SmackDown Rundown’s as we inch closer and closer to WrestleMania.