By: Keila Cash
Location: American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas. (Night 2 of 2)
The Ultimate Deletion of The Raw Exposé: My apologies for not posting last night’s Raw Review. Severe weather prevented me from finishing it on time, but I’m back to give my fellow readers their Tuesday Night Fix.
Comeback of the Decade: Daniel Bryan. Enough said.
· SmackDown Live got off to a hot start with Daniel Bryan explaining his amazing return to in-ring competition. Bryan cut a heartfelt promo about how Brie encouraged him to see specialist after specialist in order to get back in the ring. When he was angry or depressed, she pushed him to fight for his dreams.
· The fans hung on to every word Bryan said as they showered him with “Yes!” chants. Bryan thanked WWE and their medical team for having his best interests at heart by viewing him as a person instead of a wrestler. He thanked Brie for pushing him to chase after a dream he thought was unreachable a couple of years ago. He thanked the fans for always having his back before wrapping up the opening segment by teasing his in-ring return at WrestleMania.
· This was a great way to kick off the show. Daniel Bryan is one of my favorite wrestlers of all-time and it’s amazing that he gets to do what he loves once again. It’s been a long journey, but the wait has been worth it. Bryan’s authenticity makes him stand out from the pack as one of the most relatable and lovable babyfaces in WWE history. This a major game changer that will shake up the world of professional wrestling in 2018. The dream matches are endless and I can’t wait to watch it all unfold.
· Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Rusev with an Inside Cradle in a solid match. The bout was too short for my taste, but the action was good while it lasted. The finishing sequence was especially strong with Rusev ducking several of Nakamura’s kicks until he got caught with a jumping Armbar in a great spot. Rusev tried to counter with a roll-up, but Nakamura countered the counter which set up the finish moments later.
· After the match was over, Aiden English attacked Nakamura from behind as AJ Styles looked on from ringside. Rusev joined in on the beat down as Styles took his time getting in the ring. However, The Phenomenal One’s services weren’t needed as Nakamura made quick work of Rusev and English.
· Styles and Nakamura had a funny confrontation backstage as Nakamura told Styles that he shouldn’t lack confidence heading into their WWE Championship match at WrestleMania. The delivery of that line was hilarious as Nakamura reminded Styles that he was going to knee him in the face in three weeks.
· Baron Corbin defeated Tye Dillinger with End of Days in a short and sloppy match. This was a random bout that was thrown together without any rhyme or reason. The fans didn’t care because both men have been stuck in mid-card hell for months with no sign of escape in sight. It’s sad but true.
· Natalya defeated Charlotte with a roll-up thanks to a failed Money in the Bank cash-in attempt by Carmella. Charlotte and Natalya were having a really good match that was on the verge of being one of the best television bouts of the year until the controversial finish.
· Natalya dropped Charlotte with a beautiful Superplex from the top rope. Both ladies were down for the count when Carmella ran down to the ring with another referee in tow. She told the ref that she was ready to cash-in her briefcase. Charles Robinson never rang the bell to make the second match official which allowed Charlotte to nail Carmella with a boot to the face. However, the distraction allowed Natalya to roll-up Charlotte for the win.
· This seemed like an elaborate ruse by the heels, but I wanted the match to have a more definitive finish because Natalya and Charlotte were putting on a show until things ended on a flat note. Here’s hoping there’s a rematch because Charlotte needs to get her win back heading into her SmackDown Women’s Championship Match against Asuka at WrestleMania.
· Luke Harper defeated Jimmy Uso with the Discus Clothesline in a decent match. It appeared that Harper was going to eat his first loss after Jey Uso nailed him with a Superkick behind the referee’s back. Jimmy followed things up with a Superkick of his own for a near fall. Jimmy climbed up to the top turnbuckle, but Harper slammed his head into the ring post which set up the aforementioned finish. The Bludgeon Brothers continue to claim victims heading into their presumed Triple Threat Match against The Usos and The New Day for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania.
· Jinder Mahal, Bobby Roode, and Randy Orton had a pointless conversation about their Triple Threat Match for the United States Championship at WrestleMania. The segment came to a head when Orton dropped Sunil Singh with a Draping DDT before Roode laid Singh out with the Glorious DDT. Roode went after Orton and almost got nailed with an RKO while Mahal looked on at ringside. Mahal reminded both men that he would see them at Mania as the segment came to an end. This feud sucks. The end.
· Becky Lynch and Naomi defeated Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan when Lynch made Logan tap out the Dis-Arm-Her. The match was fine, but it was nothing to write home about for the most part.
· The final segment of SD Live featured Daniel Bryan admonishing Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for what they did to Shane McMahon last week. Bryan wondered why Owens and Zayn attacked McMahon after he booked them in a match against each other at WrestleMania before taking an indefinite leave of absence as SD Live Commissioner. They won the battle and should’ve been thrilled that arch nemesis was going on sabbatical. Instead, they beat up Shane like a government mule and laughed about it afterward. Bryan noted that this was no laughing matter. After much consideration, Bryan fired KO and Zayn. He told them that they could learn something from this experience and come back someday, but their journey as WWE Superstars was over for now.
· Bryan tried to end things amicably by shaking Owens and Zayn’s hand. Both men were gracious, but their true colors showed when they ambushed Bryan. For the first time in two years, Bryan fought back and delivered his signature running dropkicks to both men as the crowd popped something fierce. Bryan dropped Zayn with a German Suplex before delivering his classic “Yes!” kicks to Owens. Zayn got back in the ring and attacked Bryan which spelled the end of Bryan’s flurry of offense.
· Owens held Bryan in the corner as Zayn nailed him with the Helluva Kick. The refs tried to break things up, but it was to no avail as Owens dropped Bryan with a Popup Powerbomb on the ring apron as SD Live came to end with medical personnel putting Bryan on a stretcher while Owens and Zayn pitched a fit on the main stage.
· This was a tremendous way to end the show. Seeing Daniel Bryan take bumps for the first time in almost three years is an amazing sight to see. His brief flurry of offense was great and I admire him for trying to deliver those dropkicks in tight jeans. That is not an easy feat, but he pulled off with the greatest of ease.
· Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were pitch perfect as they tried to kiss up to Bryan before he dropped the hammer on them. Owens and Zayn were conflicted, but that didn’t stop them from unleashing holy hell on Bryan. They were textbook heels through and through as the fans chanted “You’re Still Fired” to hilarious effect.
· Despite what happened, I have a feeling that KO and Zayn’s firing will be overturned because Bryan and Shane McMahon are going to face them in a tag team match at WrestleMania. New Orleans is going to be LIT!
· Overall, I thought this was the best episode of SmackDown Live this year. Daniel Bryan being medically cleared to wrestle is a dream come true. Bryan’s heartfelt promo set the tone for the evening and his beat down capped off an emotional night that won’t soon be forgotten.
· The in-ring action was so-so, but Charlotte and Natalya win best match of the night honors despite the shitty finish. Everything else on the show was okay, but WWE is doing a nice job hyping the top matches on the SD Live side of the WrestleMania card.
· Mania is going to be a stacked show with too many top-flight matches to count on one hand. This could be one the greatest WMs of all time. I don’t know if New Orleans has some magic dust, but they have been blessed with two stellar cards over the past four years. Let’s hope that the show lives up to the hype because it has the potential to be a memorable night for all the right reasons.
· Next week’s penultimate episode of SD Live emanates from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steel City crowd should have no reason to sit on their hands with Daniel Freaking Bryan back on the active roster. If that’s not a good enough reason to get hyped, those fans should have their wrestling fan cards revoked. Just saying…
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next week with another installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!