Date: March 20, 2018
Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
And then, Daniel Bryan was cleared to medically return to the ring. I’m really not sure what else there is to say here as now we wait to see what this means for Bryan at Wrestlemania. There’s a good chance that he gets the spot in a tag match with Shane McMahon against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn but maybe it’s something else. Let’s get to it.
We open with a look at Daniel Bryan’s retirement in February 2016 in an emotional moment. Then news broke today that Bryan was cleared to return to the ring after FINALLY being medically cleared. I think we have a theme for tonight.
Here’s Bryan to open things up. He needs to address the actions of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens from last week….but they’re not here yet so we need to talk about something else. Bryan talks about being grateful for everything he has, which was the theme of his retirement speech. He has the greatest fans in the world and an amazing, beautiful wife who stood by him the entire way. It was her who told him to keep going to see specialist after specialist to get him back in the ring. Fans: “THANK YOU BRIE!”
Then when he got depressed, he decided to fight and it was Brie who told him to fight for his dreams. Eventually he was told he was cleared and those dreams became a reality. Next, Bryan needs to thank all of the doctors who kept giving him clearances until the WWE doctors finally did the same. Bryan isn’t sure when he’ll be back in the ring so here’s a WRESTLEMANIA chant to give him an idea. No announcement is made but the fans (including myself) are thrilled.
Bryan is looking for Sami and Owens but finds Ziggler, who is rather condescending about the return. Ziggler can’t wait to beat him and Bryan wishes him luck trying.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Rusev
AJ Styles is on commentary. They waste no time in trading the hard kicks with Rusev throwing him into the corner and unloading. A spinwheel kick drops Nakamura for two and we take a break. Back with Nakamura firing off kicks, including one to the side of a kneeling Rusev’s head. Rusev gets in a kick to the head of his own for two so Nakamura goes for a cross armbreaker. That’s rolled through but Nakamura grabs the leg for the rollup pin at 7:50.
Rating: C. It’s nice to have Nakamura get a pin but they haven’t exactly put their foot on the gas to get him to Wrestlemania. That and having him win in less than eight minutes with nearly half of that being in a commercial isn’t your traditional build. At least Nakamura is in the ring though and that helps a lot.
Post match Rusev and Aiden English beat Nakamura down and AJ takes his time getting up. Nakamura saves himself and stares down at AJ.
Video on Asuka.
Charlotte is in the back when Natalya comes in to say she knows how scared Charlotte is. A match is set up for later. I know I mention this a lot but Natalya is one of the weakest talkers in the company today. It’s like a bad high school play.
Styles and Nakamura run into each other with AJ mocking him for saying he’ll win. Nakamura says he’ll win with a knee to the face.
Baron Corbin vs. Tye Dillinger
Both are in the Andre battle royal. Dillinger chops away but gets knocked down with one hard shot. Graves buries Dillinger on commentary, asking about why he wastes every opportunity he receives. Corbin slides under the ropes but gets caught with a kick to the face. Back up and Corbin can’t hit End of Days (as in couldn’t pick Dillinger up for it in a nasty looking botch). Instead he sends Dillinger outside and then tries again a few seconds later, this time connecting for the pin at 2:31.
Charlotte vs. Natalya
Non-title. Charlotte gets two off an early suplex and a bridging rollup gets the same. The Figure Four necklock rolling flips keep Natalya in trouble and a kick to the chest puts her on the floor. Back from a break with Charlotte fighting out of an abdominal stretch and throwing her over with a t-bone suplex. A big boot looks to set up the Figure Eight but Natalya crawls into the corner.
That earns her a Downward Spiral into the buckle, only to have Natalya come back with a Batista Bomb out of the corner for a close two. The Sharpshooter is broken up in a hurry so it’s the discus lariat for two on Charlotte instead. They head outside where the spear connects and Charlotte slaps on the Figure Four back inside.
That’s rolled over though and Charlotte lands in the ropes but bends backwards over the apron to really crank on the leg. It’s fine enough to superplex Charlotte down for a big crash….and here’s Carmella! Charlotte is up with a boot to Carmella though, allowing Natalya to roll her up for the pin at 13:09. The cash-in was never official.
Rating: B. These two were beating the heck out of each other and then that stupid briefcase brought me right back down. I’m so sick of the thing hanging over everything because Heaven forbid we don’t do it every single year. Anyway, Charlotte losing doesn’t make sense here as it’s NATALYA of all people. She’s lost to Charlotte time after time but needs to get a pin here? Really?
Jimmy Uso vs. Harper
Jey is back and before the match, the brothers talk about their match with New Day going well…until New Day got involved. They put a beating on the Usos but they’re still here. They’re not backing down with three weeks before Wrestlemania because the Bludgeon Brothers are welcomed to the Uso Penitentiary. Joined in progress with Harper hammering him down until some chops give Jimmy a breather. Harper gets sent outside and a Rowan distraction fails. Back to back superkicks have Harper in trouble but he crotches Jimmy on top. The discus lariat gives Harper the pin at 3:29.
Rating: D+. This was the right call again as the Usos continue to get closer but still can’t beat the Brothers. Harper and Rowan look like the most awesome monsters in years, but they need to actually announce the match already. We’re two weeks away and the title match still isn’t set. What are they waiting on anymore?
Here are Jinder Mahal and Sunil Singh to talk about Mahal being added to…..ok I give up. As I type this, Mahal is bragging about being added to the match and OH DEAR GOODNESS I DO NOT CARE! It’s the same horrible promo he’s cut every single week about how rich and awesome he is and how he deserves this and I cannot even pretend to care anymore. Roode and Orton come out, they talk a lot, a brawl nearly breaks out but they all stare at each other.
Sarah Logan/Liv Morgan vs. Naomi/Becky Lynch
All four are in the battle royal. Becky gets double teamed in the corner to start and Logan adds a running knee to the face for two. It’s off to a cobra clutch for a bit before a spinebuster has Lynch in more trouble. She’s fine enough to throw Logan over the top but Ruby Riott tosses her back inside. Not that it matters as the Disarm-Her makes Logan tap at 2:35 as Naomi cuts Morgan off.
Bryan is told that Zayn and Owens are here so he’ll meet them in the ring.
Back from a break and Bryan is in the ring to see Owens and Zayn. Owens talks about taking their time getting here but Shane McMahon wasn’t going to be here so it wasn’t a big deal. Then they heard what happened and got over here as soon as they could. They had to get out of a speeding ticket but it was easy because everyone is dumber in Texas. Sami is happy with the news because Bryan has always been their biggest fan.
It’s a classic case of good things happening to good people and any show with the three of them on it is the dream show. It sounds like a dream team, but that’s not why Bryan wanted them out here. Bryan shows a clip of the two of them attacking Shane to end last week’s show, which they find funny. That’s not cool with Bryan but Sami says Shane deserved it. Bryan thinks they don’t get it.
Shane was right: Bryan was living vicariously through the two of them, but last week was more than getting a little carried away. The thing is Sami and Kevin won because Shane agreed that he had gone too far. They had a match set up for Wrestlemania, which was all they had ever wanted. Imagine the three of them being told that at an armory in front of 300 people ten years ago.
They would have had Bryan in his corner to run the show but they still assaulted Shane. Bryan doesn’t get it but he’s been fired from this company twice and grown from it each time. The two of them are fired and are so shocked that they can’t speak. Owens goes to leave but decks Bryan, followed by some screaming that Bryan did this.
Bryan fights back with kicks in the corner and a snap German suplex to Sami, followed by the running corner dropkicks. Referees come out as Owens takes the YES Kicks but Sami gets back up for the save. Bryan eats a Helluva Kick and the apron powerbomb makes things even worse to end the show.
Well that worked. This gives you a logical path to the tag match (Sami and Kevin have changed from the men Bryan knew years ago and the attack on Shane was unnecessary) and gives Sami and Kevin a ton of heat at the same time. It’s a good angle, but more than that it’s bizarre to see Bryan taking bumps after two years of just talking. Good segment though and I’m excited for the match.
Overall Rating: C+. This show did what it needed to do as it advanced a bunch of stories towards Wrestlemania. As mentioned though, there’s a lot of stuff you can pencil in but it’s high time to bust out the ink. Bryan being back is a huge deal, but there’s other stuff that needs to be done and WWE is dragging its feet like crazy right now. I don’t get it, but they need to get on with it already.
Shinsuke Nakamura b. Rusev – Rollup
Baron Corbin b. Tye Dillinger – End of Days
Natalya b. Charlotte – Rollup
Harper b. Jimmy Uso – Discus Lariat
Naomi/Becky Lynch b. Sarah Logan/Liv Morgan – Disarm-Her to Morgan
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