As WrestleMania 35 approaches, SmackDown Live may actually have the most intriguing story playing out headed into the biggest event of the year with Kofi Kingston searching for his one-on-one WWE championship opportunity 11 years in the making. Unfortunately, Vince McMahon has been standing in his way the entire time, even going so far as to have Kingston brutalized at Fastlane by The Bar in a handicap match. Still, with his New Day brethren by his side, Kingston is unrelenting in seeking what he believes he’s earned over the course of his career.
Well, McMahon was feeling a little more giving on Tuesday night in regards to the veteran earning the right to challenge for the title, though that opportunity won’t come easy by any means.
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Let’s take a look at everything that went down Tuesday on another entertaining edition of SmackDown.
Vince McMahon gives Kofi Kingston his chance
The New Day made its presence felt early, as the trio spoiled the opening eight-man tag team bout featuring Ricochet & Aleister Black & The Hardy Boyz taking on The Bar & Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura. The match was called when the trio made its way out and laid waste to everyone in sight.
McMahon made his way out for the main event segment. The chairman said that he’s here to give everyone what they want, and he’s here to give Kingston what he wants — an opportunity to compete for the WWE championship at WrestleMania. He said at Fastlane, he gave Kingston the opportunity to compete, and what did he do? He failed. Just as McMahon was about to explain about teachable moments, New Day marched to the ring.
Big E and Xavier Woods explained how they do everything the company asks for and don’t ask for anything in return, yet they still get treated like garbage. McMahon shot back by saying that they don’t deserve a damn thing. Woods said that they deserve because they earn, and Big E proclaimed that Kingston has earned the opportunity to compete for the WWE championship. Condescendingly, McMahon told Kingston to his face that he’s had some incredible accomplishments throughout his career, but when he goes into the Hall of Fame some day, he won’t go in as a singles star but as a member of New Day because they do all the work and he takes all the credit. Kingston took the mic and explained to McMahon all the personal sacrifices that he’s made for WWE in 11 years — such as never having taken his children trick-or-treating — yet he never asks for anything.
Randy Orton’s music hit and the “Viper” came out, followed by The Bar, Samoa Joe and Rowan. McMahon told Kingston that if he wants to get the WrestleMania title shot, he’ll have to defeat all of them in a gauntlet match next week. The five men rushed the ring but were handled by New Day who stood tall to end the show.
I suppose it’s only fair for Kingston to launch himself into the WWE championship match at WrestleMania the same way this monster push began: running a marathon in a gauntlet. Purely for longterm storytelling purposes, I would have much preferred Kingston’s obstacle to merely be Orton, but there is the chance it could come down to the two of them next week. Semantics aside, this underdog story continues to be a hit with fans, and we’re set up for one hell of a memorable moment next Tuesday should Kingston jump through the final hoops and leave the evil Mr. McMahon no choice but to deal with the fact that he could be his next WWE champion.Grade: A-
Shane McMahon explains his actions
McMahon kicked off SmackDown on Tuesday night with the WWE World Cup trophy in the ring, soaking in “YOU SUCK!” chants from the Dayton crowd. He summoned ring announcer Greg Hamilton into the ring and requested that he be announced as the “Best in the world, Shane McMahon.” He assaulted Hamilton twice, making him announce with more conviction each time.
Turning his attention toward why he turned on the Miz, McMahon explained that he’s sick of everyone asking what he can do for them. Well, that all stopped when he turned on his partner in his hometown of Cleveland on Sunday, which set off a spark for him that no one has ever seen before. The commissioner said that he had such a good time beating his ass on Sunday, that he’s going to continue to do that on the grandest stage of them all: WrestleMania.
McMahon’s explanation for turning on his partner wasn’t really anything to write home about but it made enough sense given the fact that, well, he is a McMahon, after all; of course he believes that everyone is constantly looking to mooch off of him and his power. Having essentially the genesis of this feud, the World Cup trophy, in the ring was a nice touch added to the segment, and these two should put on a fun brawl come April 7 in MetLife Stadium.Grade: B+
What else happened on SmackDown?
- The Usos put everyone on notice: In a pre-taped backstage promo, The Usos gave a warning to every tag team on the SmackDown brand, and even specifically singled out The Hardyz at one point. They just want to know who they’re going to face at WrestleMania.
- Randy Orton, AJ Styles trade insults: Orton came out to the ring and said what he doesn’t understand how this is the house that AJ Styles built. He ran down the differences in their career trajectories from 2002 on, even hilariously pointing out that in 2005, Styles was “down in Florida getting a tan with Dixie Carter” while he was becoming the youngest WWE champion ever. Styles made his way out and threw his own verbal jabs back at Orton, including calling the RKO a knockoff Diamond Cutter and pointing out all the help he’s had since the beginning of his career in WWE. Orton told Styles that he’s the landlord of this house and, “rent’s due, b*tch.” Styles closed by telling Orton that if he wants his rent, then he can come and get it as he pointed toward the WrestleMania sign. Amazing segment with these two here.
- Asuka def. Sonya Deville via submission: The SmackDown women’s champion made Deville tap in this non-title affair with the Asuka Lock. The finish was a callback to what took place on Sunday at Fastlane, with Mandy Rose inadvertently pulling down the apron causing Deville to slip before she got trapped in Asuka’s finisher. Rose and Deville argued on the way to the back.
- IIconics call out the Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection: Much like they’ve been doing all over social media, Billie Kay & Peyton Royce called out Sasha Banks & Bayley for not showing up on SmackDown since winning the titles. They told the champs they can’t run forever.
- Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair verbally clash again: Fresh off her Ronda Rousey-assisted victory at Fastlane, Lynch was out for a promo, tossing her crutch away in the process. She said despite everything, “The Man” is back on her own two feet and back in the main event of WrestleMania. She said that she got “Ronnie” to do her dirty work for her, and she’ll be repaying her by taking her title at WrestleMania. Flair came out and said she was chosen for the match to get the job done, and she’s never seen anyone do so little and get so much credit. Lynch closed by telling Flair that she did nothing for four years and it took her breakthrough to main event WrestleMania.
- Rey Mysterio & R-Truth def. Samoa Joe & Andrade via pinfall: Mysterio got the pinfall on the United States champion after he was able to counter a Uranage attempt into a rollup. Mysterio immediately bolted from the ring, so Joe took out his anger on Truth and Andrade.
- Rowan & Daniel Bryan def. Mustafa Ali & Kevin Owens via pinfall: Backstage, Kayla Braxton caught up with Bryan and Rowan, who were exiting Mr. McMahon’s office. Bryan said he was there to offer his opinions on Kingston, and in response, McMahon placed him and Rowan in this tag match. They were victorious, however, as Rowan put Ali away with the claw slam.
Jack joined CBS Sports in 2018 as an editor and writer covering college football, combat sports and golf. He was raised to love the New York Yankees unconditionally since birth and firmly believes a four-team…