It’s the go-home SmackDown Live to WrestleMania and now all of the chips have to be on the table. The Blue Brand needs to pick up some slack in all reality because Raw has so many gaping holes. From The Undertaker not doing something to Braun Strowman’s mysterious tag team partner, The Red Team has certainly left us wondering what’s really going to happen on the Grandest Stage Of Them All.

SmackDown Live was still a loaded show as Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn reacted to the fact that they now have to face Shane McMahon who is in need of a surgery and Daniel Bryan who is freshly cleared. That match at Mania could be frightening on a couple levels.

Shinsuke Nakamura is still trying his best to get into AJ Styles’ head as the two are set to do battle for the WWE World Championship in NOLA. That match is a dream match come true in a WWE ring on an appropriate stage.

Charlotte Flair is also a-okay and ready to play in the ring as she will take on Natalya in a SmackDown rematch that isn’t for the title even though Nattie defeated Charlotte a couple weeks ago. But for whatever reason, Charlotte Flair is fine and only time will tell if Asuka shows up to turn things up a notch?

Opening Segment

Daniel Bryan came to the ring and there were plenty of Yes fingers all around in Nashville, TN. A huge Daniel Bryan chant broke out and he loved it.

Bryan welcomed everyone to SmackDown Live and promptly introduced Shane McMahon who came out doing his usual stutter stepping entrance, although he did hold his stomach a little bit each time to indicate that he was in pain. If that hurt him then I can’t imagine how a pop-up powerbomb will feel.

Shane called Bryan a role model because he fought so hard in something he believed in which is competing in the ring. It’s ironic that McMahon is congratulating Bryan for being medically cleared when he’s the one with a hernia in need of an operation and under any other circumstances, had he not been a McMahon he wouldn’t be cleared to compete at all.

McMahon said his diverticulitis was due to the Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn attack and he’s also been medically cleared which makes me chuckle.

Bryan said he’s made a lot of mistakes in the last few months and he let his old friendships led him where he didn’t need to go. Bryan said Shane was right all along and he truly deeply apologized.

Then Shane said he knows he can be stubborn and Bryan said, “a McMahon stubborn? Noooo!” then it got awkward for a second while Shane played with the windsock on his microphone.

Then Daniel Bryan said there’s only one way to resolve their problem and the crowd started chanting, “hug it out!” to which Daniel Bryan extended his arms for a hug. Then Shane said he’s been hot-headed and extended a handshake.

Daniel said he just shook his hand two minutes and Nashville doesn’t want to see them shake hands because Nashville wants them to hug it out. Shane said he’s not much of a hugger but he appreciated it.

“Hug it out!” chants barreled toward the ring and then the two hugged it out like bros. “That actually kinda worked,” Shane said, “we’re on the same page now!”

Daniel said they’re going to get their payback on KO and SZ for everything they’ve done to them and Shane thanked Bryan for reinstating Kevin and Sami so they can rid themselves of those two “cancers” and they will never be seen in a SmackDown ring again.

“So are you guys ready to see Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon beat the holy hell out of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn at WrestleMania?!” Daniel Bryan asked the crowd. As the crowd continued with huge “yes” chants, the two hugged it out once more.

Charlotte Flair vs Natalya

These two have faced each other many times before and this match was no different. They brought it and took each other to the limits.

After brawling inside the ring and trading some shots back and forth, the action spilled onto the floor where Charlotte Flair took a ring post to the head courtesy of Nattie.

They moved back to the ring and Charlotte kept taking damage from The Queen Of Harts for awhile. Nattie nailed a boot to the gut followed by choking Charlotte with the middle rope.

But when Nattie charged into the corner, Flair raised her knee and caught Neidhart in the head. The two fought on where Nattie maintained the advantage and topped everything off by stepping on Flair and doing a little pose for the crowd.

Nattie backed Flair into the corner and went to work until Flair countered and sent Neidhart’s head into the turnbuckle sending her to the floor. Nattie turned things around on Flair and sent her into the barricade while she got back in the ring to pose for the crowd once again.

Nattie stomped on Flair’s back as soon as she got back in the ring and tried to latch on an abdominal stretch but Char Char reversed it.

Flair ended up on the top rope but Nattie slammed The Nature Girl off the top just took the bump just like her dear old daddy. Nattie followed this up with a surfboard stretch and we really don’t see enough of that move.

They started trading chops back and forth and Flair won it out with a boot to the face. She took a moment and covered for a two count. Nattie jumped on Flair’s back and locked in a sleeper hold but Flair dropped to a seated position to bust Nattie’s tailbone.

Charlotte went for a moonsault but Nattie got her knees up and they followed that up by clotheslining each other to the mat. Suddenly, Carmella’s music went off and she came running out to the ring with an official.

Mella reached her briefcase out and Flair jumped up to kick it out of her hand. Then Flair squared off with Carm and she kicked The Princess Of Staten Island in the head which sent her out of the ring. Carmella never cashed in but Nattie snuck up behind Charlotte and tried for a roll-up pin but it was countered into a Figure 8 for the win.

Winner: Charlotte Flair via submission

Flair didn’t have much time to celebrate though because Asuka soon came dancing out in full entrance attire.

The Empress Of Tomorrow took off her robe and mask to grab a microphone, “at WrestleMania the queen will bow down to the empress” and she really stretched out the last syllable of empress which was great.

Flair took the microphone in the middle of hearing that nobody’s ready for Asuka. Charlotte said, “yes I’m ready, the question is are you ready?!” Then the stared at each other until Flair’s music played them off.

Jinder Mahal vs Rusev

Sunil Singh came out before Mahal and said he could sing better than Jinder while doing his best to sing and it was awful… just awful.

Bobby Roode sat on commentary to provide some Glorious input in this contest as well. But nobody was more over than Rusev. As soon as Eiden English started clearing his throat in his harmonizing way, people started to blast “Rusev Day” in the arena. Aiden actually laid down some freestyle rapping mixed with classical singing to throw a jab at the remaining Singh Brother and Jinder Mahal… it makes me really hope that Aiden English is going to change up his singing gimmick into more of a Hamilton thing.

The two guys who will meet in the US Title match fought back and forth and worked very well with each other. Sunil Singh got involved and Mahal nearly stole a victory but it didn’t work.

Then Rusev pulled off a Machka Kick and picked up the win to build some strong momentum while he headed toward the Show Of Shows.

Winner: Rusev via pinfall

Suddenly, Randy Orton leaped in the ring and hit an RKO outa nowhere on Rusev as he celebrated. Orton took out Aiden English and while Orton was distracted, English jumped to the second turnbuckle and dove onto Randy who pulled out an RKO out of midair.

Bobby Roode walked in the ring and picked up the US Title, he looked at it and handed it over to Randy Orton while the crowd chanted “Rusev Day!” the entire time.

Breezango, Tye Dillinger, Zack Ryder vs Mojo Rawley, Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Primo Colon

This eight-man tag team match was thrown in there to hype the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal which really isn’t necessary because that match is available for free on social media because it will be a part of the kickoff show.

They featured plenty of over the top rope spots and they said “that would be an elimination” every time. Each Superstar bested each other until Baron Corbin finally launched Tyler Breeze over the top rope and everyone caught him.

Then Baron Corbin his an End Of Days on Fandango and won the match for his team.

Winners: The Heels via pinfall

After the match was over, Baron Corbin walked over to the big trophy and held up two fingers to signify that he plans on winning the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal for the second time this year. It’s important to have goals, even though Corbin might be best utilized on a higher profile match on the card, but there’s always next year for The Lone Wolf. After all, Baron Corbin might be hated but that’s a good thing because it’s his job and he’s likely to be doing it for a very long time as long as he stays healthy.

Kevin and Sami Take Over

Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens jumped up on the announce table after a nothing promo from Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable.

KO said this was still the Kevin And Sami Show and Zayn apologized to Birdie Bee, Daniel Bryan’s daughter for her not getting to see her daddy’s WrestleMania comeback. He also apologized to Brie Bella because she will have to put his body back together.

They said it is their job to obliterate Bryan and that will be their WrestleMania moment.

Sami tried to get a “we deserve it” chant going as Daniel and Shane were watching backstage. McMahon said they deserve a whole lot more than that and then they both left.

Owens said he was going to send Shane back to Titan Towers to cry in his daddy’s lap because he would have failed and then they cut off his microphone. As security led Kevin and Sami off and they headed up the crowd, Daniel and Shane came out to McMahon’s Money Money Money Money Money music.

Daniel told everyone to turn their cameras on and get their videos on Kevin and Sami because this is the very last time we will see Zayn and Owens on SmackDown Live… it’s a historic moment.

Shane then started the Na Na Na Na Goodbye song because everyone loves to sing the Na Na Na Na song.

AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura vs Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin

This is an interesting match but it’s the two guys who will battle on Sunday teaming up to face a heel tag team so that works.

Gable and Benjamin gained an early advantage and booted both top babyfaces in the corner. Once things finally settled down, AJ got the tag to Nakamura who took his boots to the bad guys.

Nakamura laid a knee into Benjamin’s ribs and Gable got the tag and held Shinsuke while Shelton returned the favor with a knee of his own to Shinsuke. Gable followed it up with a nice splash and transitioned to a submission hold after a failed pin attempt.

Benjamin got the tag and laid into Shinsuke as well where he kept him on the mat with another submission hold. They were just wasting time until the match needed to end, after all, even though everyone could have done more with this match, it was best to keep it safe because Mania was less than a week away.

Nakamura jumped off the middle turnbuckle and landed a kick to Benjamin and crawled to make the tag which he did. Styles lit up Chad Gable with some kicks and landed a Pele Kick to the back of Benjamin’s neck.

AJ hit the fireman’s carry neckbreaker on Gable and then he stopped and looked at Nakamura. AJ walked over to Nakamura and jumped over the apron to stare his Mania opponent down before launching himself into the air to land a perfect Phenomonal Forearm on Chad Gable to pick up the win.

Winners: AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura via pinfall

After the match was over, Benjamin and Gable jumped in the ring and started to beat down Nakamura and then AJ jumped in to save him. After clearing out the ring, AJ jumped over the hit the springboard to nail a Phenomenal Forearm on Nakamura, but he stopped short and simply tapped Shinsuke on the head instead.

 

 

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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