Nine nights after being savagely pummeled by Shane McMahon in front of his family and friends in his hometown of Cleveland, The Miz returned to SmackDown LIVE with a message for his former partner.
Miz was brutally honest, opening up about his insecurities, the shortcuts he has taken and the people he has used on his way to the top of WWE. The A-Lister admitted that he initially wanted to use Shane, but he claimed that his relationship with Shane-O-Mac changed him — it made him a better person. So, when Shane stabbed him in the back, it made him realize the differences between the two: Shane’s been handed everything he’s ever had, while The Miz worked for his success. The emotional A-Lister said Shane-O-Mac finally worked for something after the former SmackDown Commissioner shoved Miz’s father … and that’s the beating that he is going to get at WrestleMania.
With the Raw Women’s Championship Match picture heating up, “The Kevin Owens Show” welcomed Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. Kevin Owens went through the litany of things all three Superstars have said about their opponents and then suggested that the time for talking was over and that Becky and Charlotte should get into it tonight. This suggestion set off The Queen, who told The Man that she would beat her to a pulp if they got into it tonight. Becky’s response? A stiff punch to Flair’s jaw. From there, the two threw down in and out of the ring before WWE officials and security arrived to separate the two. Even then, Lynch and Flair did not hesitate to drop those trying to get in the way of their scrap before the two were finally pulled apart … but probably for only so long.
Fighting for the biggest opportunity of his life, Kofi Kingston attempted to beat five of SmackDown LIVE’s best for the right to challenge WWE Champion “The New” Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania. Prior to the match, The Planet’s Champion insisted that “B-plus player” Kofi would do nothing but disappoint himself and the WWE Universe tonight.
However, Kingston was clearly not intending to let anyone down other than his opponents, as after tussling with Sheamus right out of the gates, Kofi edged Sheamus with a picture-perfect Trouble in Paradise to survive the first step.
Cesaro was out next, and he immediately applied pressure to a fatigued Kofi. The Swiss Cyborg smothered Kingston, but The Dreadlocked Dynamo withstood the onslaught and put him down for three with the SOS.
Next up was Bryan’s intellectual peer, Rowan. With Kingston seemingly running on fumes after taking tremendous punishment from The Bar, Rowan looked to pound Kofi into the canvas. Kingston attempted to fight back, but Rowan’s marching orders from Bryan soon became clear when he got himself disqualified for assaulting Kofi with a chair. Rowan continued his onslaught and aimed to end Kingston once and for all when he smashed Kofi with the Iron Claw Sam through the announce table, leaving The New Day member in a crumbled heap.
With Kingston all but down and out, United States Champion Samoa Joe marched to the ring looking to finish the job. The relentless Samoan Submission Machine preyed on Kofi’s battered body and continued to inflict damage to the already-battered Superstar. Kofi once again proved his resiliency though, taking Joe’s best and finally catching him at the right moment with a surprise rollup for three. Joe didn’t take the defeat laying down though, as he locked Kingston in the Coquina Clutch with Kofi’s throat sandwiched between the ropes before he exited.
And now with Kofi seemingly out of it completely, it was down to Kofi and Randy Orton, with a WWE Championship Match at WrestleMania 35 hanging in the balance for The Dreadlocked Dynamo. The Viper methodically picked Kingston apart, but Kofi yet again refused to give up on his dream, as he somehow avoided the RKO and caught The Apex Predator with a clutch rollup for the dramatic three-count to earn a WWE Title opportunity at WrestleMania … or at least so he thought.
As The Dreadlocked Dynamo began to celebrate with his New Day cohorts, Mr. McMahon arrived with some news … and not good news for Kofi. The Chairman announced that Kingston was going to WrestleMania, but only if he could defeat one more opponent, “The New” Daniel Bryan. Mr. McMahon forced The New Day to leave ringside by threatening to take away Kofi’s opportunity, and a beyond-exhausted Kingston attempted to surge through one last matchup to re-secure his WWE Championship opportunity at The Show of Shows. However, after everything Kingston suffered through, Bryan simply had to pick the bones of what was left of Kingston, and he finished him off with the Running Knee for a win that crushed the WWE Universe, the SmackDown LIVE locker room and, above all, Kofi Kingston.
In other action … The IIconics def. Sasha Banks & Bayley.