After SmackDown LIVE General Manager Daniel Bryan ordered best friends Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn to face off against one another last week with a WWE Title opportunity at WWE Fastlane on the line – a bout that saw both Superstars advance to the championship match after WWE Champion AJ Styles attacked and SmackDown LIVE General Manager Daniel Bryan made the controversial ruling – SmackDown LIVE Commissioner Shane McMahon fired back by announcing that the returning Dolph Ziggler would square off against Baron Corbin tonight on SmackDown LIVE. Additionally, the winner would be added to the WWE Title Match featuring Styles, Zayn and Owens at WWE Fastlane. However, before Corbin could hit the ring to face off with Ziggler in the high-stakes matchup, he was savagely attacked by The “Yep!” Movement in the backstage area. The Lone Wolf attempted to fight back, but the numbers game was too great for him to overcome. Ziggler, sensing he was next, took the battle to the deadly duo deep in the WWE Universe, but Owens & Zayn once again got the best of their outnumbered adversary. However, before they could rest on their laurels, The Lone Wolf re-emerged to get his licks in on Zayn & Owens at the top of the stage. Already battered, Corbin was once again left in a crumpled heap by Zayn & KO.
Two weeks ago, SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair fell to a chilling three-on-one attack by The Riott Squad that left The Queen down and out - something the titleholder had never experienced in her career. Because of this unprecedented attack, Flair demanded to face off against Liv Morgan last week on SmackDown LIVE, and she scored the win after the referee ejected Ruby Riott & Sarah Logan. After the champion defeated Morgan, she emphatically declared “one down, two to go!” However, the question quickly became whether Flair would be able to consistently overcome the odds against The Riott Squad — a question that was answered tonight when Becky Lynch and Naomi joined The Queen’s side as she took on Logan.
With the playing field levelled, Charlotte competed freely, and despite taking her lumps throughout the contest, she defeated the scrappy Logan with a head-pounding Natural Selection before making sure to indicate “one to go” after the bout. In the words of soon-to-be WWE Hall of Famer Goldberg, it sure sounds like Ruby Riott is “next.”
Following a heinous attack by Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn that called off the Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin match earlier this evening, SmackDown LIVE Commissioner Shane McMahon decreed that The Lone Wolf would face off against KO, and Ziggler would battle Zayn, and if Corbin and/or Ziggler were to win, then the WWE Title Match at WWE Fastlane would either become a Fatal 4- or 5-Way Match. Oh, and if Zayn or Owens tried to interfere in the other’s match tonight, then they would be promptly removed from the title bout.
First up was The Lone Wolf facing off with KO, and although Corbin was bruised from the attack by The “Yep!” Movement earlier in the night, he was also more than a little enraged. Owens tried to use every resource at his disposal, seemingly desperate to keep Corbin out of the contest, but The Lone Wolf prevailed by dropping KO with the End of Days to advance to the WWE Title Match at WWE Fastlane, much to the chagrin of both Sami Zayn (who was watching backstage) and the fallen Owens.
United States Champion Bobby Roode looked to continue a long-standing tradition by holding the United States Open Challenge tonight on SmackDown LIVE, but he got a little more than he bargained for. Still peeved over being struck with an RKO (outta nowhere) last week, Roode made it clear that this was an open challenge, but he had one specific Superstar in mind. The Glorious One seemed to get his wish when Randy Orton arrived, but right as The Viper entered the ring, Jinder Mahal interrupted to berate Orton over his placement on the first-ever SmackDown Top 10 List, suggesting that his spot at No. 9 was embarrassing and that his career has peaked. The Apex Predator seemed indifferent to his placement on the list, but the one thing he did care about was Roode’s comment that The Glorious One didn’t like his tendency to attack Superstars out of nowhere, specifically referencing the RKO he felt last week. Orton did not take kindly to this, swiftly RKOing Sunil Singh and kicking off a melee between all three. Roode landed a wicked haymaker on Orton, but that left him open to receiving a ring-rattling Khallas from Mahal, who took down the staggered Viper with the same move to stand tall.
With Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable still on a crusade to punish the SmackDown LIVE tag teams that they believe aren’t serious enough about in-ring competition, the mat-wrestling mavens faced off against their toughest challenge yet, The New Day. In a thrilling tag team contest that took place immediately after Big E tried to break the all-time pancake-eating record (much to Benjamin & Gable’s disgust), the self-declared “Weapons of Tag Destruction” took the fight to The New Day, but Big E & Kofi Kingston proved to be no laughing matter, waffling Gable with a picture-perfect Midnight Hour for the win.
In their hard-hitting singles bout earlier in the evening, Kevin Owens was unsuccessful in preventing Baron Corbin from being added to the WWE Title Match at WWE Fastlane. Now, the spotlight was on Sami Zayn and the returning Dolph Ziggler as they faced off in a match where Ziggler could win his way into the WWE Title Match at WWE Fastlane. Ziggler, who made it clear that he was only back on SmackDown LIVE with the goal of main-eventing WrestleMania, performed at his best. He looked as crisp as ever, even against the determined Zayn. After a ferocious battle, Ziggler overcame Zayn with a pinpoint superkick, clinching his place in the WWE Championship Fatal 5-Way Match at WWE Fastlane.