Date: March 27, 2018
Location: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
We’ve got two episodes of Smackdown Live left to go before Wrestlemania XXXIV and that means two episodes featuring Daniel Bryan. It’s not clear what he’s going to be doing in New Orleans but if the Shane McMahon health issues are true, a lot of things could be up in the air. Let’s get to it.
Before we get started, Happy Birthday Pop.
We open with a recap of Bryan’s announcement last week. That’s the most emotional moment WWE has had in a long time.
Bobby Roode/Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal/Sunil Singh
And hang on as Singh’s arm is banged up after Roode and Orton attacked him last week. Mahal has a replacement though.
Bobby Roode/Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal/Rusev
Mahal takes Roode into the corner to start as Orton still has his vest on. Roode elbows everyone down but Singh gets on the apron, earning himself a whip into the barricade. The vest comes off and we take a break. Back with Orton working Rusev over in the corner until a kick to the head rocks Orton again. The evil foreigners take turns stomping on Orton and it’s a chinlock from Mahal. Orton suplexes his way to freedom and the hot tag brings in Roode for the usual.
Roode’s spinebuster gets two on Mahal as Orton is calmly watching Roode deal with both of them. Mahal takes Roode down again and we take another break. Back with Roode fighting out of a chinlock but eating a jumping knee to the face to keep him down. Rusev’s chinlock has as much success and Roode starts his comeback but Orton tags himself in. The snap powerslam drops Rusev but everything breaks down with Roode hitting Orton by mistake. That earns him an RKO but the Machka Kick ends Orton at 18:26.
Rating: C. This was more long than good, though certainly not terrible. Hopefully this adds Rusev to the title match and gives us a little payoff for all of the RUSEV DAY stuff. It’s not the best thing in the world but at least there’s a logical reason to get us to the next match. That being said, I wish there was another way to get us there other than the champion getting pinned. But hey, that might require thought.
Post break an excited Mahal offers Rusev and Aiden English front row tickets to Wrestlemania. Rusev has another idea though: a spot in the US Title match. Mahal is no longer happy.
Shinsuke Nakamura comes in to see AJ Styles and says he helped him last week to keep AJ strong for Wrestlemania. Nakamura has Shelton Benjamin tonight and wants AJ in his corner. Styles agrees to protect the dream match.
Becky Lynch vs. Ruby Riott
Becky wastes no time in knocking Riott to the floor but an argument with the Squad allows Ruby to run her over. Back in and Ruby cranks on Becky’s arms but gets taken down by a forearm. Becky scores with the clotheslines until Ruby pulls her off the ropes. The rollup is called off due to feet on the ropes but the Riott Kick is blocked. Ruby is whipped into Logan and a rollup gives Becky the pin at 6:08.
Rating: C-. Very basic match here but Becky came off like a star, as always. I know Charlotte and Asuka are bigger deals and bigger stars, but they’re crazy if they don’t do something with Becky in the near future. The Squad continues to be the punching bags for the big names in the division, but at least they’re around to keep things moving.
Here’s Daniel Bryan for a chat on the stage. He loves being in Pittsburgh because he’s cleared to be back in the ring. However, tonight he has a job to do as General Manager. Bryan is willing to give Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn one more chance: in a tag match against Shane McMahon and himself at Wrestlemania. Shane should be back in time for Wrestlemania, so we have some stipulations. If Owens and Zayn lose, they stay fired. If they win, they’re back on Smackdown Live.
Bryan talks about opportunities, like the ones he’s given Owens and Zayn. He’s given them those opportunities because the two of them have always been there for him, whether it’s as a partner or if he needed a bed to sleep in. Bryan has a bunch of responsibilities as General Manager like going to meetings, filling out paperwork and wearing these blazers (CM Punk would not approve).
He’s sick of all of them because he fought for three years to get this spot. Owens and Zayn have held him back and now, it’s time for him to fight at Wrestlemania. Bryan goes on a rant about how this isn’t the Bryan on a disabled list or the General Manager. This is the Bryan coming to Wrestlemania to take out Owens and Zayn.
Here’s New Day for a chat before their match. Their path to Wrestlemania was so clear that they had put New Orleans in their GPS. But it turns out that the Road to Wrestlemania was bludgeoned with horribly ugly trash. They’re willing to adopt that highway though and clean up the Road to Wrestlemania.
New Day vs. Bludgeon Brothers
Joined in progress with Rowan cranking on Woods’ arm. Woods is thrown around with ease and Kofi gets beaten down as well, albeit this time on the outside. Not that it matters as the Usos come in to jump the Brothers for the DQ at 1:54.
Zayn and Owens have accepted the challenge.
Video on Charlotte vs. Asuka.
Tyler Breeze vs. Dolph Ziggler
They’re both in the Andre battle royal. Fandango gets on the apron for a dance so Ziggler dropkicks Breeze down. It’s time to run laps so Breeze’s superkick only gets two. They trade rollups for two each but the Zig Zag ends Breeze at 2:10.
At Wrestlemania, the Usos defend against New Day and the Bludgeon Brothers.
Shelton Benjamin vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
AJ and Chad Gable are the seconds. Nakamura starts with the knee to the ribs and Good Vibrations puts Benjamin on the floor as we take an early break. Back with Shelton holding Nakamura in a chinlock with a grapevine until Nakamura fights up. Kinshasa is loaded up but Gable offers a distraction, allowing Shelton to get two off a northern lights suplex. Paydirt is countered into a cross armbreaker and then a triangle choke. Benjamin powers out but gets kneed down, setting up Kinshasa for the pin at 9:28.
Rating: C. Shelton isn’t as good as he used to be but he’s still more than good enough to hold his own. Nakamura getting wins like this helps, but couldn’t he be beating some bigger names? Was Baron Corbin off getting new hair grease this week? Or was Ziggler too busy cutting the same promo over and over again? At least act like it’s a bigger deal.
Post match Nakamura says he brought AJ out here to show him how the match is going at Wrestlemania. AJ calls that playing games because Wrestlemania is a dream match for him too. His dream match ends a little differently though, like with AJ walking out as the undisputed best in the world. Nakamura laughs and says he’ll win because AJ is too emotional. Shinsuke leaves so Benjamin and Gable jump AJ with Nakamura making the save. Kinshasa is loaded up again but Nakamura stops in time, reaches to AJ’s heart, and puts it in his chest pocket to end the show.
Overall Rating: C+. I’m more excited for Wrestlemania tonight than I was coming in and that’s an accomplishment. They added two matches tonight and put someone else in a third, giving us all but Undertaker vs. Cena confirmed. You know, for those of you who need a fourteen match Wrestlemania. The wrestling was passable here, but the storytelling is what matters most and Bryan being back in the ring is all you could have wanted from this show. Good stuff tonight and the road to Wrestlemania is getting shorter and shorter.
Rusev/Jinder Mahal b. Randy Orton/Bobby Roode – Machka Kick to Orton
Becky Lynch b. Ruby Riott – Rollup
Bludgeon Brothers b. New Day via DQ when the Usos interfered
Dolph Ziggler b. Tyler Breeze – Zig Zag
Shinsuke Nakamura b. Shelton Benjamin – Kinshasa
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