WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from February 20
The road to Fastlane on March 11 continued Tuesday, as the Fatal 5-Way for the WWE Championship was the focal point of the night's booking.
Kevin Owens squared off with Dolph Ziggler, while WWE champion AJ Styles battled Baron Corbin in the main event.
Despite those matches and two significant tag team matches elsewhere on the show, the company's blue brand continues to feel much less exciting than it should, an indictment on its creative team at one of the most important times of the year.
Relive the February 20 broadcast with this recap of everything that went down on the USA Network presentation.
AJ Styles Promo
WWE champion AJ Styles kicked off Tuesday's show, joining Renee Young in the squared circle for a promo.
Young asked Styles if he feels in control of his WrestleMania destiny, to which Styles said yes. He discussed the difficulty of the Fatal 5-Way match, going over the stipulations that state a Superstar can pin any other Superstar to win, negating the champion's advantage.
Styles ran down Owens and Sami Zayn, but Corbin interrupted, reminding The Phenomenal One of his victories over him late last year.
Owens then interjected, claiming Shane McMahon has it out for him since he headbutted Vince McMahon last year.
Eventually, Shane-O-Mac joined the proceedings, announcing Styles vs. Corbin for later in the night and Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler to kick off the show.
This was another halfhearted attempt by WWE Creative to put over the Fatal 5-Way match while booking the night's main events.
It was every mediocre and formulaic promo segment to start a show from the last decade.
Why it had to happen rather than just announcing the main events ahead of time is a mystery only WWE officials can answer.
An uninspired way to kick off the show.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens
Two of the five competitors in the Fastlane WWE Championship match squared off Tuesday in singles competition, as Dolph Ziggler looked to improve to 2-0 since returning to SmackDown Live, battling Kevin Owens.
The Showoff rallied late, delivering a Zig Zag that would have earned him a victory any other time, but a resilient Owens shot his shoulder off the mat, avoiding defeat.
Moments later, Ziggler was again rolling when Sami Zayn's music played and The Underdog from the Underground sprinted toward the squared circle. He stopped short, though, coming face-to-face with Ziggler. Owens seized the opportunity to deliver a superkick to the back of the head and score the victory.
Zayn winked at Owens, almost as if to suggest he owes him one.
Kevin Owens defeated Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler and Owens have an in-ring chemistry that all but guarantees a good match.
There was very little of any significance here, outside of the fact that Zayn is still clearly willing to help his friend Owens, even with both chasing the WWE title at Fastlane.
Ziggler played the resilient babyface screwed out of victory well and could be a sympathetic underdog to leave with the gold come the March 11 event.
Jinder Mahal Promo
Jinder Mahal hit the ring and revealed what he claimed was Bobby Roode's own personal Top 10 list.
Roode, naturally, interrupted and reminded the WWE Universe that the former WWE champion could not even make the initial SmackDown Top 10 list. Mahal tried to talk Roode into making derogatory statements about Randy Orton.
Frustrated, the United States champion said, "Forget Randy Orton," ready to fight The Maharaja.
The Viper's music exploded over the PA system and the fans erupted as Orton made his way to the ring. He took a shot at Mahal and tried for an RKO on Roode, but the champion countered and delivered a Glorious DDT.
Mahal got the best of both men for the second time in as many weeks, laying Roode out with the Khallas.
This feud feels so incredibly forced to give all three Superstars something to do that one has to wonder why Roode or Orton would continue to humor Mahal by paying him any mind.
For that matter, why does Orton care whether Roode thinks he is better than the 13-time world champion?
Is he that thin-skinned?
The feud is not clicking, and other than restoring a skosh of credibility to Mahal, it has done nothing to make the inevitable Triple Threat match a desirable one.
Charlotte, Naomi and Becky Lynch vs. Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan
The never-ending rivalry between SmackDown women's champion Charlotte and The Riott Squad bled into another week, as The Queen teamed with Becky Lynch and Naomi to do battle with the trio of NXT alumnae in Six-Woman Tag Team action.
The babyfaces frustrated Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan early ahead of the commercial break.
The heels seized control, though, and dominated the middle portion of the bout. As the action broke down late, Riott caught Lynch from behind and delivered the Riott Kick to score the victory.
After the match, Riott taunted Charlotte from ringside, ensuring the program between them is far from over.
The Riott Squad defeated Charlotte, Naomi and Becky Lynch
The match itself was fine, clinging to tag team formula and allowing The Riott Squad to collect a victory.
Unfortunately, Six-Woman Tag Team matches have become so common on WWE television of late that it is difficult to get excited or invested in any of them at this point.
The money match in this particular feud is Charlotte vs. Riott for the title, so the sooner we get to that bout, the better off this feud will be.
Until then, it will feel way too much like it is on a treadmill of creative bankruptcy.
No. 1 Contenders Match: New Day vs. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin
After weeks of complaining about controversial officiating, Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin had the opportunity to earn a SmackDown Tag Team Championship shot at The Usos. To get there, they had to defeat The New Day's Xavier Woods and Big E in a No. 1 Contender's match.
Gable and Benjamin controlled the action late and even had a pin on Big E, but a distracted official did not make the count.
Instead, Woods tagged in and delivered a Shining Wizard to Benjamin to score the win.
The Bludgeon Brothers entered the arena immediately after the match, cutting off The New Day's celebration.
The New Day defeated Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable
And with that, Benjamin and Gable's credibility as potential top contenders is gone.
Yes, there is an argument to be made about the referee missing a pin, but at some point, that gimmick becomes stale and fans begin losing interest in seeing the team come close to winning only for screwiness to cost them.
The New Day winning and facing The Usos at Fastlane is hardly an interesting new match, but those two teams tear the house down every time, so it is forgivable.
The real money is in an Usos vs. Bludgeon Brothers match anyway.
The Bludgeon Brothers in Action
The Bludgeon Brothers, um, bludgeoned Tuesday night.
Obliterating two opponents that were never named by commentators, they rolled to another win as they prepare for a tag team title feud with The Usos, presumably on the road to WrestleMania.
The Bludgeon Brothers defeated two unnamed enhancement Superstars
Harper and Rowan have found their groove as a team, and it shows with every passing week.
The intensity and aggression they bring to their performances are fun to watch. They obliterate opponents with the same ruthlessness Braun Strowman used to destroy jobbers. Ultimately, expect them to get over to the same extent, as long as WWE Creative allows them to move on to decimating quality opposition.
AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin
Looking to get in the head of the WWE champion just weeks before Fastlane, Baron Corbin squared off with AJ Styles in Tuesday's main event.
Styles was aggressive from the opening bell and had Corbin reeling heading into the break. Coming back from it, though, The Lone Wolf turned The Phenomenal One inside out with a lariat clothesline.
A blind charge into the corner saw Corbin strike the post shoulder-first and allowed Styles to mount a comeback.
Corbin sent Styles over the announce table, but the champion sprinted back to the squared circle and delivered a Phenomenal Forearm for a close near-fall.
Styles launched himself off the top rope, but Corbin moved out of the way. As Styles rebounded, he ate a Deep Six by Corbin, who scored another count of two.
After a series of reversals, Styles delivered another Phenomenal Forearm and scored the pinfall victory.
The post-match saw Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens attack Styles, only for Corbin to lay them both out to close the show.
AJ Styles defeated Baron Corbin
Corbin lost the match to Styles but laid Zayn and Owens out. I am sure someone in WWE Creative will argue that it allows him to get his heat back, but really, it looks like a sore loser taking his frustration over the fact that he cannot buy a win in a big match of late out on two guys he has no established issues with beyond Owens' insults earlier in the show.
The Lone Wolf is in need of a big win, maybe even more so than Dolph Ziggler at this point.
He still has the stink of his Money in the Bank failure on him, not to mention a short U.S. title reign that was ended by the previous resident loser Ziggler.
Styles winning matters not, nor does another sneak attack by Zayn and Owens.
For all the talent involved in the main event scene on Tuesday nights, the program continues to feel much colder than it should at this point.