WWE Smackdown Live: 5 things we learned as a new champion is crowned

Smackdown Live is the last show before WWE gets to its final Pay Per View ahead of WrestleMania. Fastlane approaches this Sunday and there is still a lot to set in stone ahead of the network special.

The returning Kevin Owens will confront WWE Champion Daniel Bryan, R Truth issues another US title open challenge and will we see the Hardy Boyz follow up on their shock comeback last week?

Mirror Sports’ John Isherwood takes a look at the five biggest talking points from the show.

1. Kevin Owens is one of us

Before his departure for surgery, Kevin Owens was one of the most brutal, hated heels in all of WWE, however upon his return his reception from the WWE universe has flipped around.

The talented Canadian is portraying a real everyman style character. He’s got a family and he’s fighting for them and everyone just like him. The great thing with Owens is that he can flip between that sadistic side to being a wisecracking dude just like flicking a switch.

WWE Superstar Kevin Owens


The Planet’s Champion, Daniel Bryan was in the ring with his eco warrior friend Rowan as he claimed that his former opponent for Fastlane, Kofi Kingston was being the perfect company man – doing WWE promotional duty in India – he was frustrated that he wouldn’t get to face the “pancake throwing” member of the New Day, instead he was being forced to fight a man who looks like he “eats a lot of pancakes”.

Cutting Bryan off, Owens entered into an impassion promo where he expressed how difficult it was to sit back and watch Bryan’s tyrannical reign over Smackdown.  Owens claimed that “It was just plain awful to watch you walk round here like a maniac and walk around like you’re above everyone. But it got worse when I watched you throw the WWE Championship in the trash.” At that point he said he knew where he had to return to and he was ready to shut Bryan’s mouth.

The segment wrapped with Owens and Rowan getting their hands on each other ahead of the pair facing off later in the show. A fantastic kickoff to the show ahead of what should be an incredible match this Sunday.

2. Open Challenge x4

R Truth capturing the US title was seen as a shock by many, yet could also be seen as a reward for a long serving, hard working & selfless member of the WWE. Claiming he wants to make his hero John Cena proud, Truth is carrying on the tradition of defending the US Title in an open challenge, just like Big Match John did when he held the gold.

R-Truth and Carmella on SmackDown 1000


Despite a slight interruption for the Lacey Evans moment of the week, the invitation was answered by not just one competitor, but four! Andrade, Samoa Joe and Rey Mysterio all stepped up to the plate to turn the open challenge into a fatal four way.

The talent in the ring offered out a real mix of styles – all of which meshed well to form a perfectly free flowing encounter. Andrade and Rey Mysterio reignited their rivalry hitting a number of fast paced, high flying moves thrilling the audience. Andrade has improved heavily over the past twelve months. His final run in NXT ahead of his move to Smackdown was exemplary and Andrade’s improvement on the main roster has been there for all to see, aided heavily by the returning master of the 619.

With the high flyers battling each other, Joe was close to picking up the win as he had Truth locked in the Coquina Clutch. Eventually stopped by Mysterio, the match shifted gears down the stretch with near falls for all competitors before Joe eventually hit a crushing urange on Rey and took home the gold. After a long time, Samoa Joe finally strikes gold in the WWE.  With the Samoan Submission Machine looking dominant throughout, it looks like we’re set to see a hopefully long reign for the new champion.

3. Tag teams in focus again

It does appear the WWE is putting stock back in tag team wrestling. With a large number of teams getting exposure on Raw last night, it was the blue brands turn for a showcase. Ahead of their recently announced Raw tag team title opportunity on Sunday at Fastlane, the apparently former NXT duo of Ricochet and Aleister Black faced off against The Bar.

NXT star Aleister Black


Whereas this match could have been seen as another piece of big brand exposure for the newcomers from NXT, it also proved once again just how good The Bar can be – especially the Swiss Cyborg – Cesaro. Constantly one of the most impressive performers of the past few years, Cesaro’s incredible move set, grappling and skills of strength were all on display. Teaming with Sheamus has really tuned his career round and even though he could be a breakout singles star, Cesaro shines again here.

Ricochet and Black got their opportunity once again to show why they are so highly regarded. We all know what the human highlight reel Ricochet can do. He was at it again here hitting as picture perfect 630 during the match and Black’s athleticism is unreal. The way he moves around the ring is something else. For such a tall guy, the way he uses the ropes for somersaults is breath-taking.

Ricochet and Black picked up the win to continue their streak, but were soon attacked by Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev. The Hardy Boyz were back again this week to make the save and leave us with a mouth-watering prospect of all four teams potentially going at it next week.

Earlier in the show, hype for the tag title rematch at Fastlane continued with the Uso’s mimicking the camaraderie between Miz and Shane O’Mac. Even though Jimmy and Jey normally deliver some more ‘real’ promos, this proved they could still do the comedy. Jey fell to Miz in order to even the score from last week ahead of the big match this Sunday.

4. Mustafa Ali is back

After being forced to withdraw from the Elimination Chamber match last month due to injury, Mustafa Ali said it wouldn’t be long before we saw him again and tonight the Heart and Soul of Smackdown Live resurfaced as he got involved in the match between Kevin Owens and Rowan.

SmackDown Live superstar Mustafa Ali


The match didn’t really get going before Daniel Bryan jumped into to cause the disqualification and the eco warriors began to put the boots to the new number one contender. This is where we saw the entrance of Ali. Returning to make the save, he performed an incredible hurricanrana on Rowan off the announce table as KO 3:16 was hitting Bryan with his new stunner finisher in the centre of the ring.

With the odds evened a new dynamic has been added to the title match this coming Sunday. Will Ai get involved? Before he had to take time out injured he pinned Bryan on Smackdown and was set to star in the chamber before being replaced by Kofi. Is there another who may get in the way of KofiMania before April 7?

5. Becky vs Charlotte heats up

After their explosive confrontation on Raw last night. Charlotte invited Becky for a civil conversation on Smackdown tonight. Last night on Raw, Stephanie McMahon lifted Becky’s suspension and forced her to sign a ‘no harm promise’ contract ahead of her match the Flair. Originally it was for the vacant women’s title, but after the appearance of Ronda Rouse, the match was switched so that in order to get in the title match at WrestleMania, Becky must beat Flair on Sunday.

Despite a brutal attack from the Baddest Woman on the Planet, Lynch made it back to Smackdown Live to a rapturous reception. Talking of her attack, Lynch said that “Damaged people are the most dangerous because they have nothing to lose” as she declared that The Man was without a doubt in the heads of both The Queen and Rousey.

Becky Lynch attacks Charlotte Flair at Elimination Chamber 2019 as Ronda Rousey looks on


Charlotte seemingly threw the hold harmless contract out of the window and assaulted Lynch as she kicked her crutch from under her ahead of a brutal beating. It was The Man who would end the night standing tall though as she fought back to lock Flair in the Dis-arm-her submission before sending her packing to close the show standing triumphant in the ring.

The road to WrestleMania has only one more stop left and this Sunday we’ll see the biggest event of the year begin to take shape properly. Check back here for our live coverage on the night.

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