Daniel Bryan beat Kevin Owens and surprise addition Mustafa Ali at WWE Fastlane on Sunday night to retain the WWE Championship.
Rowan attacked Owens on the outside and took him out of the equation late in the match. That left Bryan and Ali as the only two in the ring.
Ali went for an attack off the middle rope, but Bryan delivered a running knee as Ali was on the way down. From there, it was academic.
Ali was a late entrant into what was originally slated as a singles bout. Earlier in the night, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon teased Kofi Kingston would get his chance against Bryan, only to pull a bait-and-switch and put Kingston in a handicap match against The Bar.
That opened the door for Ali.
The fact Sunday's match even happened came as a shock to many after Kingston was initially named the No. 1 contender for the WWE Championship and Bryan's Fastlane opponent by Shane McMahon.
When Kingston was set to sign the contract to face Bryan a couple of weeks ago on SmackDown Live, Vince McMahon arrived to shake things up. The chairman claimed the New Day member wasn't the best choice, and he decided to replace him with Owens.
KO had been out for nearly five months after undergoing double knee surgery, but vignettes began airing several weeks ago heralding his return. While he was expected to come back in a big spot, the manner in which he was injected into the WWE title scene came from out of left field.
While Owens is widely respected for his talent and has a fairly sizable fanbase, the WWE Universe seemed to be fully behind Kingston. That became apparent when he was a late addition to the WWE Championship match at Elimination Chamber.
With Ali unable to compete because of injury, Kingston was named his replacement. The New Day man lasted an hour in a Gauntlet match on the last episode of SmackDown prior to Elimination Chamber, and he was the final challenger left in the chamber before getting submitted by Bryan.
After scoring the winning fall for his team in a six-man tag team match on SmackDown a few weeks ago, Kingston was granted a one-on-one match against Bryan for the title, and all the momentum was on his side.
However, the fans were left deflated when Kingston was taken out of the match in favor of Owens, but there was still some excitement for the Fastlane match since KO had been out of action for so long. Also, he gained some fan support when he teamed with the New Day man on SmackDown and used the Stone Cold Stunner as his finisher.
Owens entered Fastlane as a major threat to Bryan and his title reign, although the champion did have the advantage in a few areas. In addition to being the holder and not having to win by pinfall or submission in order to retain, the presence of Rowan gave him some extra main power.
In the end, Bryan did manage to retain the title, much to the chagrin of those who are irritated by his holier-than-thou attitude.
On the bright side, though, the door is open for Kingston to emerge as Bryan's opponent at WrestleMania 35. If that happens and the challenger is victorious, it would make for one of the best and most emotional moments in WrestleMania history.
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