The Fastlane main event match will feature at least one more competitor while Bobby Roode issues another U.S. open challenge. Which superstars would earn the right to join Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens to face AJ Styles for the WWE Championship?
Since the previous episode Shane McMahon pushed to make the triple threat match at Fastlane a fatal four way. This can only be seen as a way to check the authority of Daniel Bryan. Bryan once again made a match that features Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn with a potentially unfair advantage over WWE Champion AJ Styles.
Management continues their power struggle as Smackdown Live comes to us from Bakersfield, CA this February 13th, 2018.
The Nope! Movement
This brings us to the opening match to determine the third potential challenger for the WWE Championship. Shane McMahon has chosen Dolph Ziggler who is in desperate need of any momentum after WWE failed to capitalize on his abdication of the United States Championship. Facing Ziggler will be Baron Corbin who continues to search for his place in WWE.
Ziggler seemed poised to seize the moment but his slated opponent Corbin would never make it to the ring as he was assaulted back stage by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.
Owens and Sami do not intend to have any additional competition at Fastlane. Owens and Zayn view the addition of a fourth participant as the latest in a string of biased decision making on the part of Smackdown Live management.
Shane McMahon has seemingly grown a back bone.
Although the actions of Owens and Zayn do no directly involve Daniel Bryan, he incurs the ire of McMahon. Bryan remains diplomatic as McMahon is finally laying into him with a contingency plan involving two qualification matches for Fastlane.
Ziggler or Corbin could each win their way into the WWE Championship match by defeating Zayn and Owens respectively. Any interference in these matches will result in Owens or Zayn being removed.
Charlotte Gets Backup
Charlotte continues her quest to defeat each member of the Riott Squad in singles competition. Tonight she faces Sarah Logan joined by her posse of Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott. Tonight the playing field would be leveled as Becky Lynch and Naomi would provide ringside back up for Charlotte.
I feel Lynch and Naomi are unnecessary in this story arc. This should be purely about making proper heels out of the Riott Squad while making Charlotte look strong. Charlotte may very well face Ronda Rousey at Wrestlemania and should not need her friends to back her up against greener wrestlers such as Logan.
Meanwhile it is hard to focus on the individual components of the Riott Squad with an entire team on the opposite side of the ring.
Flair of course wins this contest via pinfall. This was not an effective use of both parties as it does not utilize the Riott Squad as heels and does not give Charlotte an opportunity to overcome the odds.
Corbin vs Owens
Kevin Owens and Baron Corbin would pick up where they left off earlier in the night. A win for Corbin grants him the spot in the WWE Championship match at Fastlane.
The crowd reaction is demonstrative of how effective a heel Owens is. Corbin may legitimately be the most unlikable guy in the WWE but is still cheered when wrestling Owens in this match.
There was not much going on in this match as Owens would fall victim to End of Days from Corbin. The flow of the finish complimented the effort on Corbin’s part to hit his finishing move on Owens.
Corbin now looks forward to capitalizing on his new found opportunity at Fastlane. With this match in the books, one can only imagine the main event of Fastlane will turn into a fatal five way. Smackdown Live is competing with the Elimination Chamber which will now feature seven WWE Superstars in the signature match after which the pay per view is named.
A Glorious open challenge
Randy Orton would accept a United States Championship open challenge layed out by Bobby Roode. This comes after a sneak attack on last week’s Smackdown Live at the hands of Orton.
Jinder Mahal would also make an appearance to talk some trash to both Roode and Orton. The Glorious one and the Viper do not seem to care too much about Mahal’s opinion and the Modern Day Maharaja under-performed on the mic during this segment.
Words lead to fists as all three engaged in a brawl ending with Mahal gaining the upper hand on both and Roode and Orton. This looks like it is heading towards a triple threat match at Fastlane.
The WWE would be better served by building towards a United States title match at Wrestlemania between Orton and Roode. Hopefully a triple threat match does not derail this or give it away too soon. Also, the United States Championship should be more representative of one on one competition. Just like the Intercontinental Championship, the U.S. title can be used to elevate stars through incredible matches.
Roode vs Orton for the title would be an instant classic.
The New Day Feast On Pancakes
As Big E attempted to eat 150 pancakes in eight minutes, his attempt was cut short by Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin.
Gable and Benjamin continue their no nonsense heel run. Their disdain for comedy acts naturally lead them to loath the New Day. The pure athletes are perfect jock foils to the quirkiness of The New Day.
After ruining some perfectly good pancakes, Benjamin and Gable face the wrath of The New Day.
Both teams put on a great match which culminated in a mistake on the part of Gable who failed to make a tag to Benjamin. The New Day came away with a victory.
No telling if this match was a one off or if this will continue as a full on feud.
Zayn vs Ziggler
Before making his way to the ring, Sami Zayn would tell Kevin Owens that their match at Fastlane would be every man for himself.
It seems as though their friendship is on the rocks after failing to capitalize on opportunities. Their on and off friendship continues to be an angle that keeps fans guessing. It remains one of the more compelling aspects of Smackdown Live.
Dolph Ziggler is walking into yet another “last chance” scenario. At this point it is hard to suspend disbelief and assume anything major will develop for Ziggler leading to Wrestlemania.
No surprise here that these two put on an epic match.
Ziggler would earn a hard fought victory with a super kick counter to Zayn’s Helluva Kick. The crowd seem genuinely behind Ziggler here as he has always had core fan support.
WWE would have a better quality match at Fastlane without the addition of Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler. The caliber of talent contained in the original three superstars would be more than enough to carry the match. The five way seems forced and rushed.
Depending on what rules are enforced during the match there are some compelling in ring stories to be told. The WWE needs to wrap up the management vs the Yep! movement angle or perform a swerve to keep things interesting. As of now this story is unresolved and stagnant. We still have a while before Wrestlemania and things cannot get stale. AJ Styles fought Shane McMahon almost a year ago in Orlando and they are still somewhat involved in an angle. The chaotic nature of a fatal five way would be a great time to pull the trigger on something, anything.
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