With tension seemingly seeping through every single decision made on SmackDown LIVE, Commissioner Shane McMahon and General Manager Daniel Bryan attempted to once again hash out their differences in the ring, this time revolving around Bryan’s decision to give Kevin Owens or Sami Zayn another WWE Title opportunity.Shane-O-Mac could not get over the fact that he believes Bryan’s “Land of Opportunity” was now only granting opportunities to two Superstars: Owens and Zayn. Bryan retorted by saying that after the Royal Rumble controversy, he thought Shane would be delighted by the idea of his two least-favourite Superstars finally having to rip one another to shreds. Shane didn’t buy Bryan’s reasoning, suggesting that the former two-time WWE Champion was just trying to live vicariously through the leaders of The “Yep!” Movement. This accusation seemed to take Daniel back, but before he could respond, WWE Champion AJ Styles hit the scene to say his peace; he was frustrated with both Shane and Bryan for the way they’ve handled Owens & Zayn, but regardless of who he faces at WWE Fastlane, the WWE Champion fully intends to be Phenomenal and walk out with the gold before heading on to WrestleMania.
SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair once again found herself at a numbers disadvantage as she took on Liv Morgan, who was backed up by The Riott Squad. The Queen, who was speculated to have requested the match after The Riott Squad savagely attacked her last week, kept control in the early goings, but the feeling that Ruby Riott & Sarah Logan could interject never dissipated. Eventually, Logan hopped up on the ring apron to distract Flair and the official, and Riott saved Morgan by pulling her out of the ring. Their tactics would not pay their usual dividends this time, however, as Riott was caught in the act, and she and Logan were ejected from ringside. This allowed Flair to put Morgan down with a massive big boot before applying the Figure-Eight for the tap out victory. After the contest, Flair said “one down, two to go,” suggesting that she wasn’t quite done with The Riott Squad.
With The Bludgeon Brothers quickly rising up the ranks in the SmackDown Tag Team division, Harper & Rowan took on two local competitors with SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos certainly keeping an eye on the bout as Harper & Rowan decimated their competition yet again and picked up another devastating victory. After the match, The Bludgeon Brothers proceeded to exit up the ramp when they were interrupted by The Usos. Jimmy & Jay walked around Harper & Rowan, but the rough and tumble tag team barely acknowledged them, opting to instead just grab their hammers and walk away. And, although still confident, The Usos did appear to have a brief moment of uncertainty as they stared down the two behemoths.
Echoing their sentiments from last week, SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos took centre stage on SmackDown LIVE to remind every other tag team on the blue brand that they were still on lockdown in The Uso Penitentiary. Jimmy & Jey stated that their shouts of “Locked Down” mean they have turned their competitors’ minds into prisons … and, so far, they have not been proven wrong.
After his huge Fatal-4 Way Match victory last week earned him a title opportunity, Rusev took on United States Champion Bobby Roode for the star-spangled title on SmackDown LIVE. The Glorious One (who ranked No. 5 on the brand-new SmackDown LIVE Top 10 list) and The Bulgarian Brute battled it out in a competitive contest that saw momentum swing back and forth like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson dangling from the top of a building in the new “Skyscraper” trailer. Roode sullied Rusev Day when he deftly escaped the Accolade just before The Bulgarian Brute could get it synched in and immediately connected with the Glorious DDT for the win. However, the story wasn’t over there. As Roode began to celebrate after the match, he was met swiftly with an RKO out of nowhere from Randy Orton. The Viper then preyed on Aiden English and Rusev, putting them down with ring-rattling RKOs as well. The Apex Predator’s motives were unknown but undeniably effective.
Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable’s new motive: Take out all the “funny guys” of the SmackDown LIVE Tag Team division. Last week, they targeted and defeated Breezango; this week, they squared off against The Ascension.
Konnor & Viktor attempted to use their size and grit advantages to wear their opponents down with a unique flurry of offensive manoeuvres, but Benjamin & Gable persevered, connecting with their wicked powerbomb/bulldog combo for the win.
In a high-stakes main event, best friends Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn squared off with the chance to challenge WWE Champion AJ Styles (who was doing guest commentary) at WWE Fastlane on the line.
The two “Yep!” Movement members trod cautiously at the onset of the contest, with neither wanting to go full force against their buddy. As the action picked up and their respective onslaughts got more explosive, the action spilt to the outside. Once there, Zayn confronted Styles with a look suggesting that he was ready to brawl. The Phenomenal One, clearly fed up with both members of “Kami,” struck both Zayn and Owens, leading to the match being thrown out. Styles’ attack had Kevin & Sami reeling, allowing Styles to hit a Springboard Crossbody onto them on the outside. The chaos brought Daniel Bryan back out with a major announcement. Bryan, citing the superlative performances by Owens and Zayn and the outside interference by Styles, declared that The Phenomenal One will defend the WWE Title against Owens & Zayn at WWE Fastlane in a Triple Threat Match!