With what might be his greatest challenge as WWE Champion fast approaching, AJ Styles kicked off SmackDown LIVE to discuss his Fatal 5-Way Match at WWE Fastlane, declaring that he is always in control of his own destiny (even in a match that doesn’t require him to be pinned or submitted to lose his title). The Phenomenal One reminded the WWE Universe that he has defeated Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Dolph Ziggler, and he seemed primed to mention Baron Corbin’s name … until The Lone Wolf hit the scene.
Corbin reminded Styles that he had come away victorious the last two times they competed and seemed confident in his ability to do it again (or claim a win over anyone else) to become the new champion at WWE Fastlane. Irritated by the claims made by Styles and Corbin, KO hit the scene and claimed that the issues between him and Zayn caused KO to lose to Corbin last week. Owens suggested that he would’ve come out on top if he had all night to prepare like Zayn did for Ziggler.
SmackDown LIVE Commissioner Shane McMahon then arrived to give KO that exact opportunity, first making Styles vs. Corbin in the main event and then Owens vs. Ziggler next on SmackDown LIVE
With chaos running rampant on SmackDown LIVE, Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler squared off, each wanting to carve out a stronger position with the WWE Championship Fatal 5-Way Match at WWE Fastlane on the horizon. Continuing to show no signs of ring rust after his multi-week absence, Ziggler appeared to have KO on the ropes several times. However, in a surprise to many, Owens snatched the victory when Sami Zayn ran out to distract Ziggler, allowing KO to hit a picture-perfect superkick right to The Showoff’s dome piece for the win.
After the match, Owens seemed somewhat surprised by Zayn’s assist, suggesting that all was not yet right within The “Yep!” Movement.
With the animosity between Jinder Mahal, United States Champion Bobby Roode and Randy Orton continuing to build, Mahal (flanked by Sunil Singh) arrived on SmackDown LIVE with a copy of what he claimed to be Roode’s SmackDown LIVE Top 10 Superstars List ballot. The Modern Day Maharaja declared that Roode voted for himself at number one and had neither Mahal nor Orton on it. Mahal used this piece of information to try and drive the wedge further between The Glorious One and The Viper, claiming that it’s clear that Roode has no respect for The Apex Predator. Not thrilled with these assertions, the United States Champion interrupted, suggesting that he saw through Mahal’s plan to pit him and Orton against each other simply as a means for Jinder to carve out an easier path to the United States Title. This led to a heated exchange between Roode and Mahal that Orton soon broke up with his arrival. Without saying a word, The Viper stepped to Roode, and a brawl soon erupted. Orton punched Mahal, which Roode followed up by clotheslining Mahal over the top rope. The Apex Predator then went to RKO The Glorious One, but Roode turned it around into a Glorious DDT. The United States Champion stood tall, but only for a moment, as The Modern Day Maharaja slid back into the ring and dropped Roode with the ring-shaking Khallas. For the second straight week, Mahal left his foes down. If Roode and Orton weren’t taking notice before, they surely are now. However, Mahal may not exactly have SmackDown LIVE management taking notice, or at least Shane McMahon, as after this dominant display, Shane decreed that it would be Roode vs. Orton for the U.S. Title at WWE Fastlane, overruling Daniel Bryan’s idea to give The Modern Day Maharaja a championship opportunity.
With SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair targeting the members of The Riott Squad and defeating Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan over the past several weeks, it appeared that Ruby Riott was the only one left for The Queen to conquer. However, it seems fair to ask whether Riott is displaying signs of brilliance or panic at the thought of facing Charlotte one-on-one. This Six-Woman Tag Team Match was a different story, as Riott had both Morgan & Logan by her side. Flair, Becky Lynch & Naomi did not hold back in attempting to unleash an onslaught on the always controversial Riott Squad, but Ruby picked up a point in her favor, defeating The Irish Lass Kicker with a wicked Riott Kick after a flurry of action. After the match, Charlotte rolled into the ring to tend to her fallen friend, and in a bit of role reversal, Ruby could be seen saying “One down, two to go.” Later in the evening it was made official that both Superstars would get their chance to face off against the other when Flair vs. Riott for the SmackDown Women’s Title was made official for WWE Fastlane.
Following a controversial loss last week, Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable demanded a rematch against The New Day tonight on SmackDown LIVE. The New Day did not waffle in the face of the challenge, accepting without hesitation. In announcing the rematch on Twitter, SmackDown LIVE General Manager Daniel Bryan acknowledged the interference by Xavier Woods last week and turned this match into an opportunity, with the winners earning the opportunity to face off against SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos at WWE Fastlane. As is always the case with these two squads, the bout was action-packed and seemingly never-ending, with both pairs looking as though they were closing in on victory several times. It appeared that Benjamin & Gable may have had the victory locked up when Benjamin & Gable caught Big E with their impressive double-team Powerbomb Bulldog. However, Kofi Kingston jumped up onto the apron, taking the referee’s attention. By the time the official turned back around to the action in the ring, Big E kicked out, and The New Day prevailed after Woods caught Benjamin flush with a vicious knee to the face. After the contest, The New Day’s celebration was temporarily halted when The Bludgeon Brothers hit the scene. The New Day couldn’t help but react to the sheer size of Harper & Rowan as the two behemoths walked past them. At one point, it appeared Rowan was ready to step to Big E, Kofi & Woods, but Harper stopped him, and the two then continued on to the ring to prepare for action. With making a statement to SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos (and now maybe The New Day as well) clearly on their minds, The Bludgeon Brothers continued to bludgeon their opposition in rare form, decimating their competition in short order for an emphatic and decisive victory.
An old rivalry was rekindled on SmackDown LIVE, as Baron Corbin attempted to make a major statement against WWE Champion AJ Styles in a non-title contest, with the Fatal-5 Way Match at WWE Fastlane casting a large shadow. Corbin, who had come out on top against Styles the last two times they faced, competed with confidence because of his track record. The Lone Wolf used his size and strength advantages to wear Styles down, making it difficult for the WWE Champion to get rolling with his explosive offense. However, as he always does, Styles rallied, breaking free from The Lone Wolf’s clutches, taking to the skies and putting him down for three following an utterly Phenomenal Forearm. The Phenomenal One would have no time to celebrate, however, as Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn hit the ring and pounced on Styles, knocking him out of the squared circle. KO followed Styles’ limp body to the outside, while Zayn stayed inside the ring. The tides quickly turned, though, when Corbin found a burst of energy and dropped an unsuspecting Zayn with End of Days. Owens, noticing this, hit the ring to attempt to avenge his best friend, but he felt a similar fate, also succumbing to The Lone Wolf’s End of Days.