Shane McMahon and The Miz SEcured a SmackDown Tag Team Championship Rematch for WWE Fastlane
Similar to Triple H on Raw, Shane kicked off the show by announcing that Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa and Ricochet would be in action once again. Miz then apologized to Shane profusely for costing them the tag titles at Elimination Chamber, and Miz ends up turning heel for his rumored match with Shane at WrestleMania, then kudos to him for coming across as genuine as he did here. I enjoyed the exchange Miz and Shane had with The Usos on the mic and Fastlane emanating from Miz's hometown of Cleveland will be a nice touch.
Aleister Black def. Andrade
Black actually made his NXT debut against Andrade at TakeOver: Orlando in April 2017. He then knocked off Andrade for the NXT Championship almost exactly one year later. Thus, I can't say I'm frustrated with Andrade losing to his longtime foe in Black's SmackDown Live debut. This wasn't on the level of their classic from TakeOver: New Orleans, but it was fun while it lasted. By the way, whatever happened to Andrade's feud with Rey Mysterio?
NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa and NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano def. The Bar
It was weird seeing The Bar run down Ciampa and Gargano before the bout in a backstage segment, because although they were clearly favored by the crowd here, Ciampa and Gargano are technically heels on NXT at the moment. I was pleasantly surprised by how much time they were allotted, taking that and producing a great match. Gargano and Ciampa were the perfect rivals last year, but I wouldn't mind them reuniting as DIY for a short while if this outing was any indication.
Mandy Rose def. SmackDown Women's Champion Asuka (Non-title)
Yes, Asuka is still a member of the SmackDown roster after not appearing on WWE TV since the Royal Rumble. The idea of Rose challenging (let alone beating) Asuka would have been underwhelming even a few months ago, but she and Sonya Deville have gained plenty of credibility lately in their feud with Naomi and by lasting as long as they did in the WWE Women's Tag Team Elimination Chamber on Sunday. Rose had a solid showing and I assume her win will lead to her vying for the SmackDown Women's Championship at Fastlane. It is slightly strange, though, that Asuka would beat Becky Lynch clean at the Rumble only to lose to Rose in her first bout back.
Ricochet def. Eric Young
I'd argue Ricochet had the weakest SmackDown debut of the four NXT stars on this show, but this was a good match, nonetheless. If you forgot SAnitY were still employed, you likely aren't alone. Young felt like a random opponent for Ricochet, but he deserves credit for bumping around like a madman for him. Ricochet will be a star wherever he ends up as casual fans are bound to be drawn to him immediately for his flashy offense.
Kofi Kingston, AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy def. WWE Champion Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton and Samoa Joe
When Bryan's opponent for Fastlane wasn't announced ahead of time, it was pretty clear that Kingston was winning here and that he'd earn another opportunity to contend for the title. I didn't mind the predictability because fans are very much behind Kingston right now and he is the best possible choice to go with in the role of challenger at the pay-per-view. The six-man tag team main event itself was entertaining and Kingston's hot tag in the final minute or so was terrific.
I'm still not a fan of calling up these huge names from NXT out of nowhere, and if it was meant to help with the ratings, then that reeks of desperation. The main roster needs them way more than they need the exposure from being on the main roster. At any rate, I liked seeing Black, Ricochet, Gargano and Ciampa compete for the second straight night, and the main event was effective in setting up Kingston as the new number one contender to the WWE Championship. Even Asuka vs. Rose served a purpose, and with Shane and Miz vs. The Usos also announced for Fastlane, this was an excellent edition of SmackDown all around.
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