The New Day Called Out Mr. McMahon
Man, I knew Kofi Kingston was over, but it didn't really dawn just how over he actually is until I heard the reaction he received from the audience here. I don't think there's any denying that he is the most popular star in the entire company right now and how fans desperately want to see him become WWE Champion. I loved the passion New Day showed during their promo, but McMahon's material wasn't anything new. I wish they had already announced Daniel Bryan vs. Kingston for the WWE title at WrestleMania 35 instead of waiting so long, but at least this served to set up the Gauntlet match main event for later in the night.
Charlotte Flair def. Asuka to Win the SmackDown Women's Championship
This show was originally supposed to feature a Fatal 4-Way to determine the number one contender to the title at WrestleMania, but that was scrapped in favor of this impromptu outing. Once Becky Lynch mentioned during a backstage interview that Flair brought nothing to the table for the WrestleMania main event, you just had to know Flair was winning here. Poor Asuka, who has been a complete afterthought since the Royal Rumble and arguably long before that as well. On the bright side, this was an excellent match that was on par with their WrestleMania encounter from last year. It started out slow, but once they picked up the pace, the crowd was invested in the action and went crazy when the championship changes hands. Now the question is if both belts will be on the line at the event and if WWE plans to merge them following 'Mania.
AJ Styles def. Kurt Angle by Disqualification
This is a match I've longed to see in WWE since Angle returned to the company two years ago. They've always been on separate brands, unfortunately, so it was never in the cards. However, I was extremely excited when WWE announced that Angle would be wrestling his final match on SmackDown Live against Styles on this show (especially since I'd be there to see it in person). The crowd was buzzing with anticipation before the bell rang, but almost immediately after they locked in their submission holds on each other, Randy Orton interfered and caused the contest to be thrown out. That was incredibly disappointing, to say the least. I'd say there's a chance this either leads to a rematch or Angle vs. Orton next week on SmackDown, but WWE was adamant about this being Angle's last matchup on the blue brand, so I assume this was it for them. What a bummer.
Shane McMahon Agreed to Face The Miz in a Falls Count Anywhere Match at WrestleMania 35
Miz vs. McMahon was made official for WrestleMania weeks ago, but Miz demanded that the Falls Count Anywhere stipulation be added because of all the hatred he has for Shane at the moment. I'm a fan of that because of how it plays to Shane's strengths as an in-ring performer and how it makes the match that much more exciting. Both guys played their roles remarkably well here and the crowd was super into babyface Miz. It's amazing how this has actually been one the best built bouts on the 'Mania card heading into the pay-per-view.
The New Day def. WWE Champion Daniel Bryan & Erick Rowan, SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos, The Bar, Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev, and Luke Gallows and & Karl Anderson in a Gauntlet Match to Earn Kofi Kingston a WWE Championship Opportunity at WrestleMania 35
Personally, I'm a bit burned out on Gauntlet matches by this point (and I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling that way), but at least this (like like last week's) was very well executed and the crowd was hot for everything New Day did. Gallows and Anderson getting beaten as quickly as they were all but confirms the reports that they are on their way out of the company. Nakamura and Rusev were more of an obstacle for New Day to overcome before The Bar gave them their best bout in the whole Gauntlet. I loved the usage of The Usos with the SmackDown Tag Team Champions showing respect for their longtime rivals by forfeiting, leading to New Day then overcoming Bryan and Rowan by count-out. The post-match celebration with all of the babyfaces on the roster surrounding the ring and congratulating Kingston was an awesome moment.
Of course, I'm biased because I was in attendance for this show and thoroughly enjoyed myself, but I have to agree with the masses that despite being newsworthy, this wasn't an incredible episode overall. The title changes infuriated a lot of fans, but if nothing else, the match was terrific. The Gauntlet main event once again delivered and Bryan vs. Kingston is finally official for WrestleMania. Even Miz and Shane made the most of the time they had for their segment, but I'm still upset Angle vs. Styles was cut short.
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