John Cena arrived on SmackDown LIVE with a clear plan to move forward to WrestleMania, setting his sights on the WWE Title Match at WWE Fastlane. Elsewhere, Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan continued to clash over Bryan’s handling of Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn.
Despite suffering a loss against WWE Champion AJ Styles last week, Baron Corbin proved to be a threat to walk out of WWE Fastlane as the new WWE Champion when he decimated Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn after the match. The Lone Wolf looked to continue asserting his dominance against The “Yep!” Movement in this contest against Zayn, but Corbin also had to keep an eye on KO, who was at the announce desk. During the match, Shane McMahon voiced his displeasure with Daniel Bryan for allowing Owens at the commentary desk, but Bryan respectfully disagreed, prompting Shane to briefly exit the office.
KO held nothing back on commentary, claiming that Shane’s decision to give John Cena an opportunity to join the WWE Fastlane main event was just another example of the vendetta against The “Yep!” Movement. When Shane-O-Mac returned to the office, he seemed to be a bit amicable, agreeing with Bryan that the action was great.
In the pivotal moments, Dolph Ziggler bolted to ringside and superkicked an unsuspecting Owens square in the back of the head. Zayn didn’t see the kick, but he did notice KO sprawled out on the ground, and the distraction allowed Corbin to catch Sami off guard and drop him with End of Days for the victory. However, before Corbin could bask in his win, Ziggler slid into the ring and hit the also unsuspecting Lone Wolf with a picture-perfect Zig Zag.
Back in the office, Shane-O-Mac mockingly joked that maybe Daniel should go and check on Owens & Zayn. The “Yes!” Man declined that offer, but still clearly off-put, asked if he could leave for the evening, which Shane approved. Following that, the disgruntled Owens and Zayn ran into Shane and asked him if they had seen what occurred during the match. Shane simply, and gleefully, answered “Yep!” The Commissioner then informed them that Bryan had left for the night and that they would maybe want to leave soon as well, as Brie “hates it when they are late for dinner,” much to the dismay of The “Yep!” Movement.
After Ruby Riott turned the tables on Charlotte Flair last week by defeating Becky Lynch in a Six-Woman Tag Team Match and boisterously claiming “one down, two to go,” Riott looked to continue her countdown on SmackDown LIVE, squaring off against Naomi, with The Riott Squad and Flair & The Irish Lass Kicker at ringside.
As Riott looks to gain even more momentum en route to her SmackDown Women’s Title encounter against Flair at WWE Fastlane, the rough and rugged competitor seemingly had an answer for Naomi’s dynamic and explosive offense at every turn, and she dimmed The Glow with a vicious Riott Kick for the win.
It was now “two down, one to go” on the scorecards of both Charlotte and Ruby.
With the stakes astronomically high, John Cena squared off against WWE Champion AJ Styles for the first time ever on SmackDown LIVE. If Cena prevailed, he would be added to the WWE Title Match at WWE Fastlane. If not, the 16-time World Champion’s WrestleMania prospects would look bleaker.
With Cena and Styles so familiar with one another after their classic series of matches over the past several years, they were more than ready for each other’s offensive onslaughts in this pulse-pounding main event. Both Superstars kicked out of each other’s signature maneuvers and broke free from one another’s excruciating submissions, with Styles even surviving a cataclysmic Attitude Adjustment through the announcer’s table and narrowly avoiding the count-out loss.
In the match’s final moments, Cena somehow reversed The Phenomenal One’s Calf Crusher into another ring-shaking AA for the monumental victory that now granted him access to the WWE Title Match at WWE Fastlane.
Cena would have virtually no time to bask in the victory though, as The “Yep!” Movement and Baron Corbin crashed the party, attacking both Cena and Styles. However, the sixth Superstar in the WWE Title Match at WWE Fastlane, Dolph Ziggler, rushed to the ring and assisted Cena and Styles in dispatching their attackers. That goodwill did not last long, as Ziggler then dropped Styles, which prompted Cena to lay out Ziggler with an AA as SmackDown LIVE went off the air in a state of complete chaos.
In other action … SmackDown LIVE management made AJ Styles vs. John Cena the main event tonight … The Usos and The New Day came face to face and rekindled their rivalry … Shinsuke Nakamura def. Aiden English.