After an episode of Raw on Monday that left the fans angry with Kurt Angle’s WrestleMania matchup and overall an underwhelming show, many fans had hope as heading into SmackDown LIVE last night, it would once again all be about Kofi Kingston as he would have to run the gauntlet once again, but this time with a WWE Championship match on the line. So how did he and the rest of the show fare? Here’s the rundown.
The Boss N Hug Connection come to SD to face The IIconics
For weeks now, The IIconics have chirped at the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions in Bayley and Sasha Banks for giving Raw teams chances and even going to NXT, but seemingly avoiding SmackDown LIVE and the IIconics. After weeks of getting called out, Bayley and Sasha went to SmackDown LIVE to take on the IIconics last night. Before the match would even start, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay would have their usual pre-match promo, calling themselves the best team in the entire Women’s Division. This would lead to the match, which was rather quick for the most part. The tag champs would control a lot of the match, however the IIconics would take advantage of Bayley due to a Lacey Evans distraction before the ultimate tag in of Sasha Banks. As the match was coming to the close, it became messy. Peyton and Sasha were the legal competitors, and Billie Kay would hit Sasha from the outside to get her attention. This would lead to the finish as Kay would take out Bayley who tried to come over and stop her, leading to a neat roll up on Sasha by Royce where she would receive help from Billie Kay to win the match, as the IIconics pinned the tag team champions. Could they get their championship match at WrestleMania? Very much a possibility.
The Kevin Owens Show Returns
Kevin Owens has been back for a month now and he seems to be having a lot of fun. Last night, his show returned and he would joke about how it looks a lot better now than in the past, with new graphics and how he dressed up. However, what he would not joke about was his guests, “The Man” Becky Lynch and “The Queen” Charlotte Flair, two key parts of the presumed WrestleMania main event. As both his guests came to the ring, he would do all the talking, bringing up Ronda Rousey but also trying to get them both to fight. Owens would say how its usually “Fight Owens Fight” but not last night, as it was instead “Fight Becky Fight” and “Fight Charlotte Fight”. Both guests would get to their feet, as Charlotte would say she’d destroy Becky, and Becky answered with a fist to Charlotte’s face. The two would brawl around the ring, taking out security and referees to get to each other, much like Ronda Rousey has been doing for past weeks. The pull-apart brawl was a good change from the recent events in this feud, and with two weeks to go, its easy to believe we will see all three in the ring at the same time very soon.
SmackDown LIVE MVP: Kofi Kingston
The story of Kofi Kingston remains the hottest story in the company since the SmackDown before the Elimination Chamber PPV. And last week, Vince McMahon told Kofi he would just have to run the gauntlet to go to WrestleMania to face Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. Throughout the night, superstars like AJ Styles and The Miz would wish Kofi luck. Before the match, Bryan would go to the ring to discuss that Kofi Kingston didn’t earn his opportunity to be in the original gauntlet match, which he lost. He didn’t earn being in the Elimination Chamber, which he also lost. He would bring up that Kofi is a B+ player and that will never change because he earned nothing. He will be that forever and you have to accept it. The New Day would finally come out as the gauntlet match was prepared to start.
Kingston would face off with Sheamus to start off the gauntlet match. This one was a fight from the beginning, as the two WWE vets went at it inside the ring for possibly the longest bout of the gauntlet match. Sheamus would put Kofi through a ton during this match, with multiple knees to the head, and a grueling cloverleaf that would leave Kofi in plenty of pain. As it got down towards the end of the match, Kofi would dodge a brogue kick, turning that into a school boy where Sheamus would kick out at two. Kofi would get to his feet immediately, connecting with the Trouble in Paradise for the victory.
Following Sheamus would be his partner of The Bar, Cesaro. Cesaro would dominate most of this one as well, as he would mangle Kofi’s body in a number of holds, including the cloverleaf as well. It became clear that the competitors in the gauntlet match would be focusing on the back of Kingston from here on out. Kofi would continue to fight back. As the end drew near, Cesaro set Kofi up for the Neutralizer, where he would get revered by Kofi, but land on his feet. Yet, Kofi would hit Cesaro with an SOS to get the pinfall, leaving Kofi two steps closer to his hopeful WrestleMania championship match.
Next, Bryan’s security blanket, Rowan, would come out to face the hopeful Kofi. The fans would continue to get louder as the match went on. Kofi would try to get the advantage but would quickly be denied as Rowan would take the fight to Kofi. The hopeful fan favorite would continue to be decimated by Rowan. As they head out to the floor, Rowan would continue to destroy Kofi, leaving him grounded. Rowan would purposely be disqualified as he would nail Kofi with a chair. Rowan wasn’t done however, as he would put Kofi in the bear hug and drive him into the LED post back first. Kofi would then be palm slammed through the announce table, leaving his possibilities of winning in question more than ever.
Once the music of Samoa Joe hit, it was almost that time where you thought there would be no chance for Kofi to survive. The United States Champion had the edge the entire match, as it seemed Kofi had zero left in the tank. Every time Kofi would try to fight back, it would be to no avail. Samoa Joe would go for the Coquina Clutch mid match, but it seemed Kofi’s legs would just go out and Joe couldn’t hold on. As Joe would go for the kill, he would attempt for his signature Muscle Buster, which Kofi would reverse into a roll up and another victory. After the match, Joe was enraged, putting Kofi to sleep in the process, leaving his drained body out cold for the final competitor.
Finally, it would all come around. Kofi would face the man who held him back in 2009 from reaching another level, “The Viper” Randy Orton. It would remain more of the same as Orton would control the bout, calling Kofi “stupid”, reminding us of the memorable moment back in ’09. As the match came to a close, Orton would go for an RKO, getting reversed and hit with a Trouble in Paradise. Orton would be too far from Kingston, rolling out of the ring. The match would continue on, with Orton planting Kofi with his signature hanging DDT. As Orton would go for the RKO once again, Kofi would roll up Orton to win the gauntlet match and guarantee his opportunity at WrestleMania. The New Day would come out to celebrate and all was right in the world, until it wasn’t.
Vince McMahon would come out to congratulate Kofi but tell him he has to beat one more man to guarantee his spot. And that man would be the holder of the WWE Championship, “The Planet’s Champion” Daniel Bryan. Bryan is the man who experienced being stopped by The Authority years prior, yet he is now the one who will do everything in his power to stop Kofi Kingston from achieving his dream. Kofi would hit Bryan with the SOS, but it would only be good for the two. Towards the end of the match, Bryan would hit Kofi with a huge back slam from the top rope, leading to the awful end, as Bryan finished off Kofi with the flying knee for the victory, ending the opportunity that Kofi thought he achieved.
In a interview after the show, Kofi, with Big E and Xavier Woods by his side, would sit distraught, reconsidering their futures and if someone like them will ever get to achieve their potential, or will they continue to be held back.
SmackDown LIVE continues to be compelling week to week, leaving fans wondering if Kofi Kingston will actually get his match or not. The New Day pledge to make someone pay next week as they rethink their careers. It is only a matter of time before the popular Kofi gets what he deserves.