Date: February 26, 2019
Location: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, North Carolina
Commentators: Corey Graves, Byron Saxton, Tom Phillips
We’re less than two weeks away from Fastlane and you actually know a thing or two about that on this show. The big story continues to be Kofimania, which has you believing that the title could actually change hands at the pay per view. Tonight is the contract signing, where Kofi needs to get in a great promo to really push this forward. Let’s get to it.
We open with the contract signing, as Daniel Bryan and Rowan are in the ring with Shane McMahon and Stephanie McMahon (twice in a week). Shane hypes up the match and shows us some of Kofi’s career highlights in a really good package (including his first match on ECW, which is the worst debut I’ve ever seen for a future star). With that out of the way, Stephanie talks about Kofi’s recent history in that weird way of hers, such as saying approximately two weeks ago (it was two weeks ago), Kofi lasted over an hour in the gauntlet match with a “globally trending” victory over Bryan.
This brings out New Day (Stephanie gets to dance of course because she’s fun that way) with Kofi saying that he’s been here for eleven years and he’s FINALLY getting a chance. He wouldn’t be here without Big E. and Xavier Woods and we stop for a YOU DESERVE IT chant. There’s only one thing left for him to do now, and he’ll do it at Fastlane when he beats Bryan to become WWE Champion. They both sign….and here’s Vince McMahon.
Vince thanks Kofi for everything but it’s his job to give the fans the biggest matches they can get. That’s why Kofi is being replaced at Fastlane with a returning superstar who will face Bryan instead. That man is…..Kevin Owens (who once destroyed Vince). Kevin comes out and signs as New Day protests, though Kofi is devastated.
That gives me way, way more hope about Kofi winning the title. There was next to no way he was walking into Wrestlemania as champion, but now Kofi walking out as champion is a very real possibility, maybe after a triple threat with Bryan and Owens? It would be a heck of a moment, and it could be incredible.
Post break Owens comes in to see Shane and Stephanie, saying that even though they had nothing to do with the title shot, he’s very thankful. As for tonight, he’d like to team with Kofi against Rowan and Bryan. It’s officially under advisement.
The Bar vs. Hardy Boyz
So much for Gargano vs. Cesaro. Or Matt’s retirement. Jeff works on Cesaro’s arm to start and it’s off to a MUCH slimmer Matt to stay on that arm. The Bar is sent outside for a dive from Jeff and we take a break. Back with Jeff getting clotheslined down but managing the tag off to Matt anyway. Matt drops a quick middle rope elbow but telegraphs the Twist of Fate, allowing Cesaro to send him into the ropes instead. Sheamus adds a kick to the face for two but Jeff grabs the Twisting Stunner on Sheamus to give Matt two. The Twist of Fate takes him down again and the Swanton gives Jeff the pin at 8:14.
Rating: C-. This was entertaining while it lasted but a lot of it was during the break. That being said, they didn’t need to advertise Gargano vs. Cesaro over the weekend if they had something like this set up. Now that being said, I doubt they actually had anything set up because they get through this stuff that fast anymore.
Ricochet and Aleister Black are in the back when Lana comes up to say they’re nothing special. Ricochet is nothing special but he says Rusev can’t crush what he can’t catch. Black says Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura will fade to black tonight. Lana smiles and leaves. Black and Ricochet don’t need to be talking.
Honky Tonk Man Hall of Fame video. Long overdue.
Here are R-Truth and Carmella for a chat. Ever since he was a little tyke, he’s wanted to be like his hero: John Cena. That’s why he’s following a tradition and issuing a US Open Challenge….after this Dance Break. Cue Andrade but Rey Mysterio jumps him from behind and slides in the ring first. Andrade gets in as well but Truth says he’s at a crossroads and doesn’t know who to face right now. He asks himself what John Cena would do so Carmella suggests the triple threat. Truth: “He would face both of them? D*** he brave.” The triple threat is on anyway.
US Title: R-Truth vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade
Truth is defending. Andrade kicks Rey in the face at the bell but gets hurricanranaed out to the floor. Truth is right back with the Lie Detector for two on Rey but Andrade powerbombs him off the apron instead. The sliding splash is dropkicked out of the air though and we take a break. Back with Andrade getting caught in a Doomsday hurricanrana, followed by Truth and Mysterio hitting stereo crossbodies.
Andrade is somehow back up and gets caught by Truth hitting John Cena’s finishing sequence with the Five Knuckle Shuffle getting two. Zelina Vega breaks up the AA and Andrade sends him into the post. Rey is right back up with a headscissors but the 619 misses. A hard spinning back elbow to the mask gives Andrade two. Truth gets back in and ducks a 619 which hits Andrade instead, allowing Andrade to roll Mysterio up to retain at 6:49.
Rating: B. This was all action with some great spots and an ending that isn’t annoying me as much as it should. Truth is fine as champion, though I can’t imagine he makes it through Wrestlemania as champion. What we got here was a heck of a match though and I’d assume that either of these two would take the title from Truth in a singles match. Perhaps to set up a Lucha de Apuesta at Wrestlemania?
Post match Andrade goes after Rey but has to duck another 619. Mask vs. Title at Wrestlemania perhaps after Andrade wins the title at Fastlane?
We look back at the opening sequence.
We look back at Ronda Rousey laying down the Raw Women’s Title last night.
Here’s Charlotte to talk about what happened on Raw. She compares herself to Kevin Owens earlier tonight because she’s here to save Wrestlemania. Charlotte isn’t scared of Wrestlemania and shows us a clip of Ronda from November where she says if you can’t do your job as champion you need to step aside. She’ll be on Raw to see what Ronda thinks about Wrestlemania.
Aleister Black/Ricochet vs. Shinsuke Nakamura/Rusev
Of note: Black and Ricochet’s name graphics both say NXT. Black and Nakamura start things off with some grappling against the ropes, followed by a quick tag to Ricochet. That means a sliding dropkick to Nakamura’s head but Rusev comes in with a suplex to take over. It doesn’t last long again though as Ricochet rolls over and makes the tag off to Black, who is kicked straight out to the floor for a running clothesline from Rusev.
Back from a break with Rusev kicking Black in the spine and telling the rookie (even though Black debuted nearly seven years before Rusev) to hit him. A bearhug goes on and Black can’t do much to fight back. A belly to back suplex finally gets Black out of trouble and the hot tag brings in Ricochet to clean house.
The springboard elbow to the face sets up a running shooting star press for two on Rusev, who catches a spinning crossbody. Everything breaks down and Rusev gets sent to the floor for the Fosbury Flop from Ricochet. The legal Black comes in and takes the reverse exploder from Nakamura, who loads up Kinshasa….which is countered by Black Mass for the pin at 10:10.
Rating: C. This is more of a match where the big appeal is the amount of cool matchups you got in ten minutes. Any of these combinations is interesting and at least they didn’t put the rookies over more Tag Team Champions. At this point I’m half expecting a Tag Team Title unification match at Wrestlemania (PLEASE let that be the case) as none of the champions are exactly looking strong.
AJ Styles is glad that Roman Reigns is in remission but doesn’t want to hear about being in a slump. He sets his own standards but he didn’t succeed in stopping the reign of Daniel Bryan. Nothing was given to him and he’s going to stop listening to the critics. He’s ready for the next challenger and is ready to prove that this is the house that AJ Styles built. Randy Orton comes in and doesn’t seem impressed.
Lacey Evans cameo.
Recap of Roman Reigns’ return last night. Still very cool.
Before the break, we were told the Usos would be out here. The following is not the Usos.
Kofi Kingston/Kevin Owens vs. Daniel Bryan/Rowan
Rowan shoves the upset Kofi down to start so it’s off to Owens to try his luck. Owens slugs away but gets caught with a dropkick of all things for two. It’s off to Bryan who gets elbowed in the face to send him outside. That means the big running flip dive from Owens and we take a break.
Back with Rowan cranking on Kofi’s neck before it’s back to Bryan for some nose ripping. Rowan comes back in to drive Kofi ribs first into the corner, setting up Bryan’s top rope superplex for two. The LeBell Lock goes on but a boot on the rope gives Kofi a breather. Kofi hits the double stomp out of the corner and brings Owens in to beat up both villains.
A superkick knocks Owens off the apron and the Pop Up (sitout this time) powerbomb gets two on Bryan. Owens leans over the ropes so Rowan can hit him in the face. Kofi dives onto Rowan and posts him though, allowing Owens to avoid a charge and Stun Bryan for the pin at 16:20.
Rating: C. The ending is the right call for the story they’re going with but another loss for the champ is rather annoying. WWE has become obsessed with having the champs lose lately and it’s going to become an even bigger problem as we move towards Wrestlemania. This continues to set up Kingston as a challenger for after Fastlane, and that has me rather interested.
Overall Rating: B-. Much like last night’s show, this was a very energetic evening but in this case, the difference between two and three hours is far more obvious. This show never felt like it was dragging and when there was an hour left, I was surprised by how fast the show had gone. On Monday, you’re drained by the time two hours is up and the third hour feels like it goes on forever. This show moved along very nicely and I had a fun time with it as I have hope for Kofi going forward.
Hardy Boyz b. The Bar – Swanton Bomb to Sheamus
R-Truth b. Rey Mysterio and Andrade – Rollup to Mysterio
Aleister Black/Ricochet b. Shinsuke Nakamura/Rusev – Black Mass to Nakamura
Kofi Kingston/Kevin Owens b. Daniel Bryan/Rowan – Stunner to Bryan
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