Featured image credit to @WWEUniverse on Twitter
On the second last episode of Smackdown Live before Wrestlemania 35, WWE focused on the brand’s four main matches that are set for their most anticipated show of the year.
The big question coming into the show was how WWE would confirm Kofi Kingston as the challenger for Daniel Bryan’s WWE championship at Wrestlemania.
The ongoing storyline for the past month has been Vince McMahon trying to keep Kingston out of the match, despite the fans making it clear that it’s the match they want to see. Last week, Kingston was put in a gauntlet match where, if he won, he would get the title match at Wrestlemania. He won five straight matches before being caught off guard by a sixth opponent and losing.
That question was answered on this episode when McMahon said that Kingston’s New Day tag team partners, Big E and Xavier Woods, had to win a gauntlet match in order to send Kingston to Wrestlemania.
Big E and Woods would go on to defeat five other teams in five straight matches to make Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston for the WWE championship official at Wrestlemania.
I thought that having another gauntlet match just one week after the last one was a bit of overkill for this storyline. It looked as if they decided to prolong the story in the last episode without any real plan for this week, because they ended up repeating last week’s match just with tag teams instead.
After watching the ending to the tag team gauntlet match, however, I think it still worked out pretty well. The fans are still fully behind Kingston and I see no other ending to this story than him becoming WWE champion at Wrestlemania.
The biggest story coming out of this episode of Smackdown Live is that we have a new Smackdown women’s champion in Charlotte Flair.
In an unexpected twist, Flair won a seemingly impromptu match against the now former champ Asuka to capture the gold.
A fatal four-way match to determine Asuka’s opponent at Wrestlemania was originally advertised for this match, but obviously that is now off the table.
I don’t see the point in Flair winning the Smackdown women’s championship, since she is already scheduled to compete in the first-ever women’s Wrestlemania main event for the Raw women’s championship.
While having two championships in the main event does make it a more prestigious match on paper, I don’t think it’s a big enough change to warrant taking the title away from Asuka.
One advertised match that actually did happen on the show was Kurt Angle vs. AJ Styles. This was billed as Angle’s last match on Smackdown before he wrestles his farewell match against Baron Corbin at Wrestlemania.
This match had a lot of fanfare due to Angle’s and Styles’ past matches in Impact Wrestling. Unfortunately it did not live up to their past performances.
The match only went about a minute and ended when Styles’ Wrestlemania opponent Randy Orton interfered, causing the referee to call it off.
This was a match that I was really excited for and, even though it was good while it lasted, the fact that it didn’t go longer was definitely a disappointment.
The last bit of news coming out of this episode is that the Wrestlemania match between The Miz and Shane McMahon will now be a falls-count-anywhere match.
This match type is exciting because it could allow for McMahon to pull off the epic stunts he is known for.
Overall, I thought this edition of Smackdown Live was successful in building some key matches for Wrestlemania. Even though I disagree with the sudden title change, I can’t deny that it got people talking, which is almost always a good thing when trying to sell a pay-per-view.
You can listen to my podcast below which features a recap and review of this week’s edition of Smackdown Live.