After New Day threatened to quit WWE, Mr. McMahon gave Kofi Kingston one last chance to challenge for the WWE Title at WrestleMania … except his fate wouldn’t be in his hands. The Chairman decreed that if Kofi’s New Day brethren could prevail in a Tag Team Gauntlet Match, then The Dreadlocked Dynamo would get his WWE Championship Match on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
Not taking kindly to Becky Lynch referring to her as the “third wheel” in the WrestleMania main event, Charlotte Flair challenged Asuka for the SmackDown Women’s Championship on SmackDown LIVE, an impromptu title matchup that left everyone guessing as to how it came together.
The two rivals threw down with ferocity, with Charlotte relying on brute force to hold down The Empress of Tomorrow. However, Asuka fired back with a devastating barrage of kicks to the head and midsection. The Queen narrowly stayed alive several times, fighting her way out of the Asuka Lock even after Asuka blocked Charlotte’s signature moonsault. Asuka somehow kicked out after a dazzling Spanish Fly from Charlotte, and Charlotte survived a perfectly applied Triangle submission from The Empress. In the clutch, The Queen fought out of one more Asuka Lock attempt and locked in the Figure-Eight for an unbelievable submission victory.
As the new SmackDown Women’s Champion, Charlotte is the first Superstar in WWE history to hold eight Women’s Titles. The WrestleMania main event now features two Women’s Champions, but what that will mean for the history-making match is anybody’s guess.
After his impassioned plea last week, The Miz hit the scene on SmackDown LIVE still seething over Shane McMahon putting his hands on his father, and he wanted his WrestleMania bout against Shane to be a Falls Count Anywhere Match so he could decimate him all over MetLife Stadium and give the WWE Universe an up-close-and-personal view.
Shane interrupted and a litany of security guards and WWE Superstars arrived to seemingly act as a buffer between him and Miz. After forcing ring announcer Greg Hamilton to yet again introduce him as “The Best in the World,” Shane then laid into Miz, accepted his challenge and insulted the former WWE Champion’s family, saying that his father’s biggest “Miztake” was spawning Miz with his mother. An incensed Miz charged the barrage of security guards and Superstars. Astonishingly, Miz took out the entire crew, prompting Shane to quietly exit as The A-Lister continued to take out his aggression on the sea of humanity placed in front of him.
There will be nowhere for Shane to exit in two weeks, however.
With the news that Kofi Kingston would be barred from ringside for the contest, The Dreadlocked Dynamo watched on from afar as Big E & Xavier Woods attempted to run the gauntlet to secure Kingston his WWE Title opportunity at WrestleMania.
First up for The New Day were former Raw Tag Team Champions Gallows & Anderson, and Big E & Xavier quickly disposed of The Good Brothers, finishing them off with a thunderous UpUpDownDown.
As Kofi and several Superstars erupted with joy while watching from backstage, Big E & Xavier remained focused as Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura stalked to the ring. The Bulgarian Brute & King of Strong Style looked to use their fresh legs to their advantage, but The New Day proved resilient and toppled the maulers with another UpUpDownDown.
Third out were arguably the toughest challenge yet – The Bar. The long-time rivals of The New Day showed no sympathy for Big E & Xavier’s plight and looked to decimate the pairing. Sheamus & Cesaro were unrelenting, but Woods endured tremendous punishment before catching Sheamus with a surprise rollup for three. An enraged Celtic Warrior & Swiss Cyborg took out their frustrations with a post-match beatdown of The New Day members, punctuating the attack by smashing Big E through a table before taking off.
With that, it seemed Big E & Woods’ chances were all but gone, especially with SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos up next. With the two so worn down and one of the greatest tag teams in WWE history standing across from them, the WWE Universe and Kofi collectively held their breath. Yet, the match would never go down, as Jimmy & Jey addressed their long history with The New Day, but also Kofi’s deservedness to challenge for the WWE Title at WrestleMania. And, with that, The Usos forfeited and exited the ring.
“The New” Daniel Bryan and his intellectual peer Rowan blew a gasket backstage, but the pair eventually somewhat composed themselves and entered the match as the last line of defense that could dash Kofi’s WrestleMania dreams once and for all. Bryan & Rowan were vicious, immediately pouncing on the worn-down New Day members. Yet, Big E & Woods never stopped believing, and they found the willpower and strength to take Bryan and Rowan down outside and trap Rowan underneath the announce table. Rowan couldn’t rise from the rubble, and one dramatic 10-count later, Woods & Big E finally secured Kofi’s WrestleMania opportunity.
Kofi rejoiced with The New Day, the WWE Universe rejoiced with Kofi and the SmackDown LIVE Superstars rejoiced with them all as Bryan vs. Kingston for the WWE Title was now the newest destination on The Road to WrestleMania.
In other action … Mr. McMahon granted Kofi Kingston one last WrestleMania opportunity … sort of … and Randy Orton interrupted Kurt Angle vs. AJ Styles.