Mr. McMahon dropped a bombshell when he announced that Kevin Owens would replace Kofi Kingston as “The New” Daniel Bryan’s challenger for the WWE Championship at WWE Fastlane. However, matters complicated even more when the returning Owens suggested that he and Kingston team up against Bryan & Rowan in the main event of SmackDown LIVE.
Stephanie and Shane McMahon kicked off SmackDown LIVE to oversee the contract signing between WWE Champion “The New” Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston for their title match at WWE Fastlane … or, at least we thought. After bounding to the ring with The New Day, Kofi spoke passionately about his 11-year journey to his first-ever one-on-one WWE Championship opportunity, touched on the overwhelming support from the WWE Universe and vowed to take the WWE Title from Bryan at WWE Fastlane.
However, after Kofi was about to sign the dotted line, Mr. McMahon arrived and thanked Kofi for his contributions, but he told The Dreadlocked Dynamo that he was being replaced at WWE Fastlane with a Superstar who was “bigger box office” and “more deserving” — Kevin Owens. Big E and Xavier Woods were livid, Kofi was in shock and a stone-faced Owens simply walked to the ring, signed the contract and stared down the smirking WWE Champion.
We’re living life in the Fastlane, alright.
United States Champion R-Truth continued a longstanding tradition (started by his apparent childhood hero John Cena) when he arrived on SmackDown LIVE and issued a United States Title Open Challenge … and he quickly got more than he bargained for.
Rey Mysterio and Andrade each answered the call, resulting in Truth asking “What would John Cena do” and agreeing to an impromptu, high-octane Triple Threat Match after Carmella told him Cena would do just that. The dazzling title fight saw everything from powerbombs on the floor, to hurricanranas that were delivered with Superstars on other Superstars’ shoulders, to R-Truth hitting a picture-perfect Five-Knuckle Shuffle!
In the clutch, R-Truth avoided a double-619 from The Greatest Mask of All Time and caught Rey with a surprise rollup for the win. After the fact, Andrade tried to take out his frustrations on Mysterio, but Rey would have none of it, fighting him off and leaving them to collide another day, a day the WWE Universe would be craving sooner than later.
Now locked in to challenge “The New” Daniel Bryan for the WWE Title, Kevin Owens aimed to get some momentum rolling as he teamed with the man he replaced at WWE Fastlane, Kofi Kingston, in his return bout against Bryan and Rowan.
KO showed that he had no ring rust whatsoever, appearing as agile and tough as ever, but Bryan and Rowan found success when they isolated Kingston and kept Owens out of the contest. However, once Kofi survived the LeBell Lock, he mustered enough energy to make the tag to the fresh Owens, who unloaded on Bryan and Rowan. In the pivotal moments, Owens avoided Rowan’s dreaded Claw and connected with his signature Pop-up Powerbomb, but the WWE Champion somehow kicked out at two. Owens attempted to go high-risk, but Rowan stopped Bryan’s next challenger and threw him over the announcer’s table. The Dreadlocked Dynamo evened the score though, taking out Rowan with a spectacular dive, and KO pinned the WWE Champion after hitting Bryan with a Stunner.
After the contest, Kingston kept it professional with Owens, but it was clear that it wasn’t all love between the two after the unbelievable night that was.
In other action … The Hardy Boyz def. The Bar … Charlotte Flair had hostile words for Ronda Rousey and Becky Lynch … and Aleister Black & Ricochet def. Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev.