WWE SmackDown Fallout: What's Next for No. 1 Contender Kofi Kingston and More
On to Fastlane. The February 19 edition of SmackDown was full steam ahead, barely looking back at WWE Elimination Chamber. Stars all came out to make their statement and establish their shot at making an impact on the final WWE pay-per-view before WrestleMania 35.
This wasn't more clear than in the main event, where the six men who fought in the Elimination Chamber refocused for a six-man tag match. Right after the contest came the announcement Kofi Kingston will get another shot at the WWE champion Daniel Bryan.
Earlier in the night, The Usos also goaded Shane McMahon and The Miz to agree to a rematch, seemingly convinced the two would be an easy rival to guarantee their spot at WrestleMania.
Mandy Rose also made her statement by challenging Asuka, who holds recent victories over Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. In an unexpected result, this gambit worked, as The Golden Goddess got a win and earned a future title opportunity.
The NXT takeover continued as Ricochet, Aleister Black, Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano appeared on SmackDown Live and picked up a clean sweep of victories once more. Their momentum seems unstoppable at the moment, though their future is unclear.
These were the moments that defined this week and made clear the blue brand has its eyes on the future with so much on the Road to WrestleMania uncertain.
Kofi Kingston Has Earned His First-Ever One-on-One World Title Match
In the main event, the heels tried to wear down Kofi Kingston, but he refused to be stopped. He rallied to get to his partners and recovered enough to take the hot tag and wipe out Daniel Bryan with Trouble in Paradise to pin the WWE champion again.
SmackDown Live commissioner Shane McMahon then announced the New Day member would fight Bryan at Fastlane on March 10.
It's been a long road for Kofi, who has done some great work over his career but never gotten to fight a world champion one-on-one for the title. Now he gets it, and it feels like he is ready. He has the momentum to win and certainly deserves the spotlight.
Sometimes a veteran gets a short title reign as a congratulation for the hard work they have done over the years, but The New Day's star feels like he has earned more than just that. He's massively over after just one week of spotlight.
It's almost a shame WWE didn't save this for WrestleMania. Fans are all-in on this rivalry in a way that nothing else can match. Will Kofi defeat The Beard? It's not impossible, though Bryan has to be the heavy favorite.
If it were any other time of the year, a title change would make sense, but WWE has to truly believe in Kofi to make him the headline attraction for SmackDown on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
Apparently The Miz Is Now an Eternal Loser
The Miz interrupted Shane McMahon in the opener to formally apologize for costing him the SmackDown Tag Team Championship.
Jimmy and Jey Uso came out and goaded Boy Wonder into making the rematch, calling The A-Lister an eternal loser not worthy of fighting alongside McMahon.
This was a bizarre segment in that Miz was treated as though he were Curt Hawkins. It wasn't his past deviousness that was brought up but his failure to win, even though he is one of the most decorated champions on the roster.
He lost one match by roll-up and suddenly his whole character is defined by the failure. Those tuning in for the first time would have assumed Miz had never won a championship before his team-up with Shane-O-Mac.
While the storytelling makes little sense, it does set up a fascinating scenario. What will happen at Fastlane? So many possibilities could be set up for an exciting 'Mania. Miz could turn on Shane and have a singles match with him on The Grandest Stage of Them All or redeem himself and recapture the gold.
NXT's Latest Call-Ups Have Been Put at a Higher Priority Than Most Stars
Aleister Black took on Andrade this week to follow up on his victory over Elias on Raw, and he again emerged victorious with the Black Mass. Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa proved Sheamus and Cesaro wrong for laughing at them by defeating The Bar. Ricochet took down Eric Young.
While it is great to see four of the best in the business getting wins on the main roster, it is odd to see how they are usurping stories for the sake of their own credibility. The Revival were beaten by Ciampa and Gargano a week after winning their title, and El Idolo fell despite being protected in his feud with Rey Mysterio.
Some can take these losses better than others, but seemingly no one is safe. The focus appears to be to establish DIY as the best tag team on either brand while Black and Ricochet are good enough to take down anyone outside the main event scene.
With no clear answer on exactly why these four are being bunched together and appearing on Raw and SmackDown unlike the more established call-ups such as Lacey Evans or Heavy Machinery, the benefit of this booking may not even pay off.
Mandy Rose Has Elevated Herself to Title Contention
After a month off, Asuka returned and questioned who was next to step up to her. Mandy Rose answered the call and, with the help of a distraction by Lacey Evans and some devious tactics, The Golden Goddess emerged victorious with a surprise roll-up.
It is obvious WWE has quickly lost interest in The Empress of Tomorrow, as she is already losing to set up challengers for her title. While Rose makes perfect sense as her next opponent, the champion did not have to lose to set that up.
While it took her some time to get there, God's Greatest Creation has become a solid performer on SmackDown and is more comfortable on the mic than most in the division. As a filler challenger, she is perfect for The Empress.
However, no one feels legitimately established to fight Asuka at 'Mania. Evans made a surprise appearance on Tuesday, but that would be a mess of a match for WWE to sell.
It feels more and more likely the SmackDown Women's Championship will be defended in a multi-woman match at The Show of Shows.