WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from February 19
On the heels of an Elimination Chamber pay-per-view that saw WWE champion Daniel Bryan ever so slightly stave off the challenge of Kofi Kingston to retain his title, SmackDown Live hit the USA Network airwaves with the promise of The Beard's Fastlane opponent being revealed.
Would it be Kingston, who saw tremendous fanfare following one of the greatest in-ring weeks of his lengthy career, or would it be an unexpected No. 1 contender to step up?
What reaction, if any, would Charlotte Flair have to the crutch-assisted attack Becky Lynch launched at Sunday's extravaganza?
Those two questions would be answered Tuesday night during another noteworthy episode of SmackDown Live that wasted little time shifting its attention to the next stop on The Road to WrestleMania.
The Miz Offers Public Apology to Shane McMahon
Just two days removed from a disappointing Elimination Chamber performance that saw him eat the pinfall that cost him and Shane McMahon the SmackDown Tag Team Championships, The Miz kicked off this week's episode by issuing a public apology to his partner.
The A-Lister recapped the relationship he and the SmackDown commissioner had formed since Crown Jewel last November, including an emotional explanation of how their team brought Miz and his father closer together. He implored the powerful McMahon to make a rematch against The Usos for the tag titles.
Jimmy and Jey interrupted the proceedings, mocked Miz and said they would give the former champs one last opportunity to prove their greatness.
McMahon made the match for Fastlane on March 10, live from Miz's hometown of Cleveland.
Miz showed some raw emotion here and really elevated what was otherwise a one-dimensional promo segment.
That he brought up his dad and turned on the waterworks will only make his inevitable betrayal that much more spectacular and lend some heat to a program that has hardly hit with audiences to this point.
Hopefully, McMahon's contributions in the rematch are more than Coast-to-Coast and an elbow drop through the announce table, which are stale staples of the prodigal son's arsenal.
Aleister Black vs. Andrade
Once upon a time, Aleister Black culminated his journey to the top of NXT by defeating Andrade to win the brand's heavyweight title. Tuesday night, he continued his path to greatness on the main roster by battling the charismatic El Idolo in singles competition, renewing their rivalry.
Andrade seized control of the match and held on to it through the commercial, grounding Black and taking away his strike-heavy arsenal.
The Dutchman fought his way back into the match, though, unloading on Andrade with the same trademark offense that felled him the last time the two clashed.
Surviving a late hip-toss into the corner, Black stunned Andrade with Black Mass for the pinfall victory.
Black defeated Andrade
This was an abbreviated, CliffsNotes version of the spectacular matches these two had during their time in NXT. Black fought from underneath to capture the win, while Andrade got considerable offense in after weeks spent watching from the sidelines.
Of all the possible opponents for Black in his first week on SmackDown, this was the right choice and helped showcase everything that makes him one of the most compelling performers in the company.
Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa vs. The Bar
After downing Raw tag team champions The Revival on Monday, NXT champion Tommaso Ciampa and North American champion Johnny Gargano set their sights on former SmackDown tag champions Sheamus and Cesaro.
The Bar laughed off the idea of Ciampa and Gargano posing them a real threat.
After a spirited start by the NXT exports, Sheamus and Cesaro seized control, isolating Ciampa. They beat down the NXT champion before a sunset flip powerbomb allowed The Blackheart to make the tag to Johnny Wrestling.
Gargano took the fight to both opponents as Ciampa appeared hobbled by a potential knee injury at ringside. His onslaught was halted on more than one occasion as Sheamus and Cesaro demonstrated the tag team chemistry that led them to numerous championship reigns in the past.
However, an alert Ciampa broke up a close near-fall and tagged himself in. A slingshot schoolboy roll-up earned him and Gargano the victory.
After the bell, Sheamus grimaced in pain, clutching his left knee. Considering that was not part of the story told throughout the match, it bears watching if it was a legitimate injury or if The Celtic Warrior was simply banged-up.
Ciampa and Gargano defeated The Bar
This was another strong showcase for Gargano and Ciampa, who overcame an onslaught from one of the best teams in WWE history to pick up a quality victory.
Perhaps laying out the match to have them fight from underneath was not the right call, especially considering they are heels on NXT, but that is a small complaint at a time when WWE officials are trying to introduce new faces to the audience.
The way in which Ciampa's knee bent off the sunset flip bomb was concerning, but he seemed to be OK after the bell.
Sheamus, though, appeared to be in considerable pain following the loss. One can only hope he was not banged-up too badly. For all the criticism he has faced over the course of his career, he is a very good worker who has teamed with Cesaro to develop one of the best tandems of this generation.
Asuka vs. Mandy Rose
Kayla Braxton interviewed SmackDown women's champion Asuka, who wanted to know who would step up to the champion. Mandy Rose interrupted, and a match was underway.
Just as the action picked up, Lacey Evans made her presence felt, interrupting the proceedings before returning to the locker room.
Rose surprisingly controlled the majority of the match, working over Asuka despite a body held together by K-Tape after Elimination Chamber. She rocked The Empress of Tomorrow, knocking her to the floor and nearly scoring a count-out victory.
Asuka mounted a comeback but fell for a ploy by Rose, who faked an eye injury and pulled The Empress into the ropes. A roll-up followed, and The Golden Goddess score a huge upset in a non-title match.
Rose defeated Asuka
Rose has grown exponentially as an in-ring worker, and that evolution was on display here. In the past, she would never have been able to keep up with Asuka. Here, she not only kept up, but she also set the pace and delivered in a big spot just 48 hours after another strong performance on pay-per-view.
The win sets up a PPV showdown with Asuka, while the appearance of Evans midway through the match tips creative's hat at a potential showdown with the champion.
While relatively simple on the surface, this segment did a great deal to set the tone for the SmackDown women's division going forward.
Ricochet vs. Eric Young
Ricochet was the final NXT star to bask in the main roster spotlight Tuesday, as he squared off with Sanity's Eric Young.
Young capitalized on a distraction from Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe and took control of the match, grounding Ricochet and keeping him from using his high-flying move set—at least momentarily.
The One and Only rocked Young with a springboard uppercut. He followed up, wiping out Dain and Young at ringside before returning to the squared circle, delivering the 630 splash and scoring a pinfall victory.
Ricochet defeated Young
Young and Sanity cannot catch a break.
Making the most of his, though, is Ricochet. The dazzling aerial artist has impressed the WWE Universe in his first two shots at stardom.
Would it have meant more to beat Young if the veteran performer and his band of enigmatic chaos machines had been more prominently featured? Sure, but what Ricochet does between the ropes speaks for itself.
The future is bright for The One and Only, especially if he can avoid injury and continue bringing his brand of frenetic flight to the WWE product.
Six-Man Tag Team Blockbuster
The six men featured in the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match Sunday squared off in a tag team main event to cap off Tuesday's show, as Jeff Hardy, AJ Styles and Kofi Kingston battled Samoa Joe, Randy Orton and WWE champion Daniel Bryan.
Prior to the match, a braggadocios Bryan addressed the WWE Universe and the rest of the SmackDown roster.
The heels isolated Hardy and worked him over until a jawbreaker from The Charismatic Enigma to Orton allowed him to make the hot tag to Kingston. The popular babyface exploded into the match, drawing a pop, and took the fight to the opposition.
Just as he heated up, though, an alert Bryan shoved him off the ropes and to the floor. The Viper followed up, slamming The New Day member on the announce table.
Late in the match, the action broke down and Bryan paired off with Styles. The familiar foes traded offense before the champion tried for the LeBell Lock. The Phenomenal One escaped and made the tag to Kingston, who exploded into the match again.
He wiped out Bryan and Rowan at ringside, returned to the squared circle and delivered Trouble in Paradise for the win.
After the match, Shane McMahon announced Kingston will challenge Bryan for the WWE title at Fastlane.
Kingston, Styles and Hardy defeated Bryan, Orton and Joe
The meteoric rise of Kingston continued with another highlight-filled performance that gave way to a clean pinfall victory over Bryan.
The announcement that, after 11 years in WWE, Kingston will headline a pay-per-view event in a singles title match was a great way to close out this one. The fans are behind the New Day man, genuinely want to see him win and are ready to embrace him in the role of challenger.
It is nice to see a company not necessarily known for giving fans what they want caving and pushing the veteran Superstar to the top of the brand—regardless of how long his stay there is.