Kevin Owens Interrupted WWE Champion Daniel Bryan
I've long fantasized about a feud between Bryan and Owens, but I always thought the roles would be reversed. That said, Bryan has been killing it as a heel since November and I'm open to an Owens babyface run, so I'm looking forward to their Fastlane match. I enjoyed their interaction here and Owens getting physical with Rowan served to set up their match for later on in the night.
The Miz def. SmackDown Tag Team Champion Jey Uso
Admittedly, the pre-match promos from Miz, Shane McMahon and The Usos did a better job of hyping the SmackDown Tag Team Championship rematch at Fastlane than the actual match did. It was a basic bout at best, though it was logical for Miz to go over in order to give the babyfaces some momentum heading into the pay-per-view. I assume Miz and Shane will fail to regain the gold, leading to Miz finally turning on Shane.
Samoa Joe def. R-Truth, Rey Mysterio and Andrade in a Fatal 4-Way Match to Win the United States Championship
I'm not going to lie, Truth has slowly been growing on me the past two weeks. He seemed like a good fit for that underdog role and I honestly expected him to take the title to WrestleMania. Well, that didn't happen, though I am stoked that Joe is finally a champion WWE. It only took two years, but better late than never. Similar to last week, this was another very entertaining multi-man match where everyone had a chance to shine. Based off Joe's post-match comments backstage, I'd love to see him defend against John Cena at 'Mania.
Aleister Black and Ricochet def. The Bar
It was announced earlier today that Black and Ricochet will be receiving a Raw Tag Team Championship match at Fastlane. So, if they win (and I don't think they will), does that mean they can take the titles to SmackDown Live, too? What a mess. On the bright side, this was a very enjoyable outing while it lasted. The stuff that happened afterward with Ricochet, Black, The Bar, Shinsuke Nakamura, Rusev and The Hardy Boyz was well done and I suspect that they'll collide in an eight-man tag team matchup next week.
Mandy Rose def. Naomi
Rose and Naomi have been feuding for months, so I'm surprised this was thrown out there without any hype whatsoever. It would have benefited from being advertised at least one week in advance as the blow-off to their rivalry. I guess WWE instead saw this as a quick showcase for Rose, who won in under a minute. She was then immediately laid out by Asuka on the stage, so I'm not exactly sure what this was supposed to accomplish.
Kevin Owens def. Rowan by Disqualification
I have no desire to see Rowan wrestling on his own, so thankfully, this was kept brief. The focus was actually on the post-match angle with Mustafa Ali coming to Owens' aid against Bryan and Rowan. I thought for a split second that an impromptu tag team match would be made, but no such luck. Ali's role in the WWE Championship picture will be interesting going forward considering how Kofi Kingston's current push was likely meant for Ali.
Becky Lynch Attacked Charlotte Flair
It was going to be tough for these two to top Ronda Rousey's vicious attack on them from Monday's Raw, but this was a solid segment nonetheless that effectively furthered their feud ahead of their one-on-one encounter at Fastlane. None of their mic work was incredibly remarkable, but it was serviceable. I was confused as to why Lynch got the upper hand over Flair since I figure Flair will lose on Sunday, so shouldn't she be made out to look somewhat credible before she likely loses?
The lead-up to Fastlane has been pretty abysmal on both Raw and SmackDown in recent weeks. I maintain that these pay-per-views in between Royal Rumble and WrestleMania are beyond pointless, but fingers crossed Sunday's event delivers in spit of the weak build. As for this edition of SmackDown, it was decent on the whole with passable hype for Fastlane and a newsworthy title change with Samoa Joe capturing the United States Championship.
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