This week’s episode of SmackDown Live got much more exciting once the news broke that Daniel Bryan was medically cleared for an in-ring return. Now we are on the verge of something new where D-Bry could come in and mix it up with any number of new competitors.

As we continue down the Road To WrestleMania, WWE is stacking a huge card for the Show Of Shows. The cemented the US Title match which will defend in a triple threat encounter where Randy Orton will defend his title against both Bobby Roode and Jinder Mahal which is a match everyone was asking for, right?

Exciting things are happening across the board, especially in the SmackDown Women’s Title picture since Asuka decided to jump over to the Blue Brand.

The SmackDown Tag Team Titles are another matter entirely as The Bludgeon Brothers continue to run roughshod over the entire roster. But let’s just swing back around to Daniel Bryan for a second because that’s all anyone will be talking about for a while.

Opening Segment

They aired a nice little promo package before the show started featuring Daniel Bryan’s retirement speech mixed with footage from the news of his in-ring clearance.

Naturally, Daniel Bryan kicked off the show and he came out with a huge smile on his face for sure. While soaking in the moment, he received a standing ovation from the announce team as the entire WWE Universe threw up their “yes fingers.”

Bryan took a moment to let the crowd cheer and chant “welcome back” even though he never really went anywhere. Then they started chanting “Daniel Bryan” which was more appropriate.

Daniel thanked the fans and addressed the horrific events that happened to Shane McMahon last week but Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn aren’t there yet. So he talked about something else.

He said when he was forced to retire it was one of the hardest days of his life but he focused on being grateful. He was depressed but he focused on being grateful and this helped him make it through. Bryan said he has a lot to be thankful for including his family, friends, and fans. Then he started to get choked up when speaking about his wife Brie Bella.

He said Brie told him that it’s wonderful that he’s grateful but he needed to fight so she encouraged him to see specialists. “Thank you, Brie,” chants started to ring out before Bryan continued telling the story about his medical clearance because Daniel Bryan fights for his dreams.

Daniel said there was a time when he wanted to quit but Brie wouldn’t let him and told him to fight. She said if you fight for your dreams your dreams will fight for you. “Because every hard thing seems impossible until it becomes real.”

Bryan said he’s asked WWE to look at his case again for months and every doctor he’s seen said the same thing: “you are cleared.”

Bryan started thanking people including WWE and their doctors because they looked at him as a person and not a wrestler. He also thanked them for giving his case a second look. He thanked every fan for supporting him giving him so many chants. “Lastly but not leastly, I would like to say thank you to Brie. I don’t think any of you truly understand how much she supported me for the last two years and for that I’m incredibly grateful.”

“So now, on to the fun stuff, right? I don’t exactly when or where I will get back in this ring,” he began as they intentionally showed the WrestleMania sign hanging above his head as the crowd broke out in a huge “WrestleMania” chant.

“Does that sound like a good idea?” he asked the crowd who responded in a very loud “yes” chant.

“I’m not sure if that’s gonna happen but will Daniel Bryan compete in a WWE ring again?” he asked before throwing up yes fingers once more.

Then the Bearded GOAT turned to leave with a huge smile on his face after not saying much but throwing out a slew of well-deserved thank yous.

Daniel Bryan was walking backstage after the segment and he ran into referee Charles Robinson. D-Bry asked him if he’s seen KO or SZ and he said no.

Then Daniel ran into Dolph Ziggler who said he can’t wait to beat him. “Well, you can certainly try,” Bryan responded.

Rusev vs Shinsuke Nakamura

This is a rematch from Fastlane which stole the show for many people so naturally, WWE was going to oversaturate things with another match right away.

Rusev might not be in a key Mania match but at least he’s wrestling the guys in SmackDown’s top match on Tuesday nights. Rusev’s opponent from last week, WWE Champion AJ Styles sat at commentary so he could get a better view of the match.

Shinsuke played with Rusev a little bit by kicking him in the head in the middle of a lockup, then he told him to “come on.” Rusev went at Nakamura and beat him down in the corner before landing a back heel kick for a two count.

Rusev used some brute force to keep Nakamura down until Shinsuke started to mount a comeback. Nakamura brought in plenty of knees but when he was going for the Kinshasa, Rusv came back with a kick of his own and scored a near fall.

As Aiden English rooted on the Lion Of Bulgaria from ringside, Rusev missed a Machka Kick and suddenly Nakamura had an armbar for a two count. Then Rusev reversed the pin for a near fall of his own. Suddenly Nakamura rolled him up once again for the win.

Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura via pinfall

After the match was over, Rusev Day started to attack Nakamura. AJ Styles took his time taking his jacket off and stood at ringside while he watched Nakamura take both Rusev and Aiden English out on his own.

So AJ Styles didn’t get physical which could lend more credence to the rumor that he could be suffering from some kind of an injury. Either way, it’s probably for the best if he played it safe on the way to Mania.

Backstage Segment

Charlotte was in the locker room when Natalya walked in and told her that Flair is scared. Charlotte told her to lay off the catnip and she’s excited for the challenge. Nattie said she’s better than both of them and Asuka is only undefeated because she hasn’t faced her yet.

“You won’t be facing me at WrestleMania,” Charlotte responded, “but you can face me tonight Nattie.”

“Good,” Nattie said before walking away. Great, with Shane McMahon no longer around and Daniel Bryan, cleared for in-ring action once again Charlotte can book her own matches.

AJ Styles was walking with his title in tow when Shinsuke Nakamura walked up to tell him that he didn’t need him out there and he said there’s another thing. “Let me guess you’re gonna beat me at WrestleMania?” AJ asked.

“You should have more confidence,” Nakamura replied, “but yes… I will beat you at WrestleMania with a knee to face.” Then he walked off with a big smile on his face.

Baron Corbin vs Tye Dillinger

Apparently, both of these guys are going to be in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Baron Corbin will be looking to win his second Andre Battle Royal while Tye Dillinger will be looking to just win something.

Although Dillinger tried his best in this match, The Lone Wolf hammered away at Dillinger early on. Tye did have a nice rally where he clotheslined Corbin over the top rope, but Baron caught him and tried for an End Of Days but he botched the move big time.

Baron just tossed Dillinger out of the ring, went out to retrieve him and roll him back in. Then Baron Corbin hit another End Of Days. That was not the best thing for Corbin to mess up his finisher like that.

Winner: Baron Corbin via pinfall

Charlotte Flair vs Natalya

These two have an amazing history together as they’re not only both second generation Superstars but they also know each other very well.

Charlotte and Nattie traded moves for a big until Charlotte started hitting slam after slam but Natalya kept kicking out.  Flair rolled Nattie up for a nice bridging pin for another two count before grapevining Nattie’s head and tossing her around the ring using her legs.

Nattie soon ended up outside the ring so she could recollect herself.

The Queen Of Harts locked on an abdominal stretch for a moment before Flair broke it up with a boot to the face. Then Nattie backed Flair into the corner to lay on some offense.

Flair and Nattie met in the center of the ring where The Nature Girl lit her opponent up with some chops that would make her father proud. She hit an exploded suplex which bounced Nattie off the ropes in the process. When Flair walked over to get her, Nattie pulled Flair into the turnbuckle but it didn’t stop her for long because Flair came back with a big boot.

Charlotte tried to lock on the Figure 8 but Nattie crawled to safety. The two found for a bit until Nattie caught Flair on the top rope and hit a spinning powerbomb for a two count. Natalya locked in the Sharpshooter and Charlotte immediately started crawling to the ropes to break up the submission. Nattie hit a slingshot on Flair which rocked her against the bottom rope.

Nattie hit a discus clothesline for a two count. Nattie sent Flair to the floor when she tried to pull off a quick Figure 8. Nattie followed her and Flair nearly cut her in half her with a spear. They returned to the ring and Flair locked on a Figure 4 and Nattie rolled to the ropes sending Flair over the apron but she held on to the move.

Once she broke free, Charlotte went to the top rope and Natalya met her to land a superplex. Suddenly, Carmella’s music hit and she came running down with the Money In The Bank contract.

Mella handed the briefcase to the referee but turned around to get decapitated with a big boot. Nattie then rolled Flair up for the win. But Mella never really cashed in her briefcase because the bell never rang and an announcement was never made. Therefore, Carmella was still Miss Money In The Bank… for now.

Winner: Natalya via pinfall

Jimmy Uso vs Harper

The Usos got some time on the microphone before this match started and they were fire as always. They talked about the match at Fastlane that was interrupted by the Bludgeon Brothers and they weren’t too happy with Harper and Rowan’s tactics.

In spite of support from the WWE Universe, Jimmy Uso had a hard time containing Harper. Just as Uce looked like he was mounting a comeback, he bounced off the ropes to see Rowan which shook him. Harper tried to capitalize on him but Jimmy reversed.

Jey nailed a Superkick on Harper while the ref was distracted but he kicked out at two when Jimmy pinned him. Jimmy climbed to the top rope but Harper knocked him down and nailed a sick lariat. 1-2-3 and that was it.

Winner: Harper via pinfall

United States Title Match Intensifies

Jinder Mahal and Sunil Singh were in the ring when we came back from commercial break. Those long entrances were nice while they lasted, Maharaja.

Mahal said he graces us with his presence because he could be the greatest star in Bollywood due to his good looks and talent. Yet fans still shower him with their hatred. He said people claim to want change but all they care about is maintaining the status quo with men like Randy Orton. Then Bobby Roode made his Glorious entrance.

Roode said the only hypocrite in the arena right now was Mahal and you need to show respect to get respect. He said the only thing Jinder deserves at Mania is him beating Mahal in the middle of the ring for the US Title, “oh and when I do, it’s going to be absolutely–” then Randy Orton came out with his US Title.

Mahal tried to suck up to Randy but he just told him to shut up. Orton said nobody respects Mahal because, without the help of his “little stooge, you suck.”

As the “you suck” chants started to ring out, Mahal took off his jacket, threw it in Orton’s face, and ran leaving Sunil Singh alone in the ring in a very bad place. Singh soon took a draping DDT from Orton and a Glorious DDT from Roode.

Then Roode and Orton had a bit of a standoff before turning their attention back to Jinder Mahal who was busy pointing to the WrestleMania sign.

Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan vs Becky Lynch and Naomi

These two teams work well together at this point. There was a nice spot where Logan was tossed outside but Ruby heaved her back inside to give her the momentum to stop Naomi from making the tag.

But The Glow soon made the hot tag to Becky Lynch who locked on the Dis Arm Her. Naomi hit the Rear View to stop Liv Morgan from getting involved and Sarah Logan had no choice but to tap out.

Winners: Becky Lynch and Naomi via submission

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn Meet A Medically Cleared Daniel Bryan

Meanwhile backstage, Daniel Bryan was on his cell phone talking away because he’s still an authority figure in WWE after all. Then someone came in and told him Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn just arrived. “Great,” Bryan responded, “tell them I’ll meet them in the ring.”

Bryan went to the ring and received a ton of “Yes” chants once again. He promptly brought Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn out to the ring and they came out clapping their hands and beaming with happiness.

Owens hugged Daniel Bryan and so did Sami Zayn which was nice. Owens said they were thrilled for Bryan. He said they didn’t plan on being there because Shane McMahon wasn’t there but they heard the good news about Daniel so they decided to show up. Owens said he would have been there earlier because they got pulled over by Walker Texas Ranger but they talked their way out of it because “everything’s dumber in Texas.”

Zayn said D-Bry has been their biggest supporter since day one and put him over for being fair when everyone else was jealous. Zayn said any roster that has Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, and Daniel Bryan on it is a dream show and it also sounds like a dream team.

“I really, really appreciate that, but that’s not why I brought you guys out here” Bryan replied. Then they showed the footage of KO and SZ’s brutal attack on Shane McMahon from last week’s show. Owens loved seeing that as he chuckled into the microphone.

“So you guys think that was funny?” Bryan asked.

They said it looked extreme but Shane deserved it. Daniel said they’re acting like this is no big deal but it really is. He said that KO and SZ are two of the best performers of this generation and when Shane McMahon said he was living vicariously through them he was right. But when they said that things might have gotten carried away that’s more than getting carried away, that’s assaulting their boss.

Bryan said what confused him the most is that they won and still did that. McMahon gave them a match at WrestleMania and the assault still took place. Daniel told them to think back 10 years ago when they were at an armoury somewhere imagining facing each other at Mania.

Then Daniel said Shane was right, “I really don’t want to have to do this. Listen, I have been fired from this company twice and I came back a better man. You can learn and you can grow. And I hate that I have to do this but Sami, Kevin you’re fired.” People erupted in cheers and threw up huge “Yes” chants.

Daniel said it doesn’t mean they’re gone forever, just gone for now. Bryan said that he’s sorry and extended his hand but all Sami could do was hold his hat and Kevin looked rather shocked and pissed off.

Fans started the na na na na goodbye song as Kevin Owens shook Daniel Bryan’s hand and then came back with a right hand to floor D-Bry. Owens stood over Bryan and screamed “you did this!” as Sami Zayn mounted him to fire off some shots.

Daniel fought back and landed a ton of kicks in the corner on Kevin and then he took out Sami Zayn. ZO and SZ were in each corner and he hit them both with dropkick after dropkick. Then Daniel laid in some Yes Kicks to Owens before Zayn blindsided him to take him down.

KO set D-Bry up in the corner and Sami hit him with a Helluva Kick to lay him out as the “you suck” chants exploded toward the ring. But they were still fired and as it began to sink in, Kevin Owens screamed in fury.

Daniel Started to get up using Sami’s legs and he tossed him out of the ring. Then Kevin Owens and Sami hit Daniel Bryan with a double powerbomb on the ring apron. Daniel Bryan was helpless on the mat as the officials surrounded Kevin and Sami to send them to the back.

Kevin screamed in anger again and pounded on the ring as the crowd chanted “you’re still fired” at them as they left up the ramp and medical staff tended to Daniel Bryan at ringside. That was amazing although it was rather odd seeing Daniel Bryan take bumps once again. All I can say is they better not break him as soon as they get him back.

 

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Aaron Varble hasn’t just been writing for more than a decade in various formats including sketch comedy, stand up, television, radio, and other various projects; nor is he just another professional wrestling fan with a master's degree in journalism and Tourette’s syndrome. He's always looking to explore the why not with the why and the how come along with the how. Follow on Twitter @TheVarble