WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from March 26
When will it all be too much? Kofi Kingston pulled off the impossible on SmackDown Live when he managed to defeat Sheamus, Cesaro, Rowan, Samoa Joe and Randy Orton all in one night over the course of 55 minutes. Despite this, he still didn't get his title match against Daniel Bryan.
With WrestleMania 35 fast approaching, The New Day was on the edge, questioning what it would have to do to earn its rightful spot. Vince McMahon had to make a decision, as someone needed to compete for the WWE Championship on The Grandest Stage of Them All on April 7.
Kurt Angle is going to The Show of Shows to end his career, but until then, he has decided to fight the best and brightest in his final days as a pro wrestler. In his last match on the blue brand, he would face AJ Styles for the first time in a WWE ring.
As they tuned up for their 'Mania main event clash, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair were expected to both appear. The challenger to Asuka at 'Mania was also expected to be determined with the original announcement that Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Naomi and Carmella would fight for it.
These were the major events expected for one of the final nights before the biggest show of the WWE year, with every segment potentially setting the stage for a major moment in the coming weeks.
Vince McMahon Gives Kofi Kingston One More Chance at WrestleMania
The New Day talked about the potential of leaving WWE before calling out Vince McMahon, demanding he come out to address the group. The Chairman arrived moments before Daniel Bryan interrupted to make clear Kofi Kingston did not deserve this opportunity.
While he seemed convinced at first, the WWE chairman decided to challenge Big E and Xavier Woods to step up, forcing them to compete in a tag team gauntlet match to get their friend to The Grandest Stage of Them All.
This should have been a far bigger segment than it was. The New Day made big declarations, but it all amounted to WWE continuing to spin its wheels with this story. Nothing was gained when this could have been a massive turning point.
The options were endless here. Instead of taking one of many great options, though, WWE went with the repetitive idea of forcing another Gauntlet match on SmackDown.
SmackDown Women's Champion Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair
Becky Lynch was interviewed backstage about her main event at WrestleMania, promising to win before calling Charlotte Flair undeserving.
This set off The Queen, who hit her music and marched to the ring. In a shocking turn, it was announced she would be fighting Asuka for the SmackDown Women's Championship.
While Charlotte came out confident, The Empress of Tomorrow nearly put her away at multiple points, including locking in the Asuka Lock that her opponent escaped, only to run into a roundhouse kick.
After an intense battle, The Queen prevailed, making Asuka tap out to the Figure Eight.
Charlotte def. Asuka by submission to become the new SmackDown women's champion
This was an incredible TV title match with Charlotte and Asuka pulling out moves they never had before. It felt like the 'Mania rematch they should have had this year at The Show of Shows. Unfortunately, the result weighs down this moment by minimizing the SmackDown women's division.
All the work done to build up Asuka through the Royal Rumble has been wiped away. While there was not an exciting opponent for The Empress at 'Mania, she still deserved to get that spotlight. Now everything has been thrown into the Triple Threat, overcomplicating a simple story again.
Kurt Angle vs. AJ Styles
AJ Styles talked up how important it was to get to fight Kurt Angle in his final match on SmackDown Live.
However, after the two traded submission holds early, Randy Orton ruined the moment by hitting The Phenomenal One with an RKO to cause a disqualification.
Styles def. Angle by disqualification
This was supposed to be a huge moment—Angle's final match on a brand he helped define. Moreover, Styles was one of the only guys who could have pulled a good match out of The Olympic Gold Medalist. Neither was given a chance, though.
While it made sense for The Viper to ruin this moment, he did so far too soon given the hype behind this clash. It feels like the company knows the WWE Hall of Famer cannot truly be trusted to have a match worthy of his stature anymore.
The Miz Makes His Match with Shane McMahon Falls Count Anywhere
The Miz challenged Shane McMahon to a Falls Count Anywhere match to make sure he made an example out of Boy Wonder.
Shane-O-Mac arrived to accept the new stipulation before taunting The A-Lister into going after him.
McMahon had brought out security as well as Shelton Benjamin, Primo and Sanity to get in Miz's way.
The A-Lister took out everyone in his way, battling with Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain into the crowd until he stood tall.
This was a fun segment with McMahon doing well antagonizing Miz and the crowd. It was unfortunate that many of WWE's least used stars got punked out for the sake of putting over The A-Lister, but it was memorable.
It was the right decision to give this match a stipulation. Now the two can battle as they should, brawling around the massive MetLife Stadium at WrestleMania.
It is now almost certain McMahon will jump off something huge.
The New Day Runs the Gauntlet for Kofi Kingston
Big E and Xavier Woods made quick work of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson with UpUpDownDown.
Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura pushed New Day to its limit but still fell to the team's finisher. Big E then saved Woods from The Bar's finish, allowing him to roll up Sheamus.
Afterward, Cesaro and Sheamus attacked New Day and sent the big man through a table. The Usos forfeited in the Gauntlet match after making clear Kingston had earned their respect already.
In the final match of the Gauntlet, a frustrated Daniel Bryan tried to make the most of New Day's vulnerable state with Rowan by his side. Big E hit a Big Ending on the WWE champion, but Bryan's intellectual peer saved him.
With a last act of brilliance, Big E dumped the announce table on top of Rowan to ensure he could not answer the 10-count, leading to a count-out victory.
The New Day celebrated the victory while Mr. McMahon confirmed backstage Kingston was going to 'Mania.
New Day def. Gallows and Anderson, Rusev and Nakamura, The Bar, The Usos, and Bryan and Rowan to complete the Gauntlet and send Kingston to WrestleMania
While the setup was unnecessary, this was a fantastic run by New Day with the story getting better as it went along. In particular, everything from the match with The Bar to the end was top-notch quality, especially Jimmy and Jey Uso forfeiting for the sake of Kingston.
There was palpable excitement from the crowd as the win got closer and closer to a reality with genuine relief when it was all over. New Day did a fantastic job selling this as a fight for its life in much the same way Kingston has in his Gauntlet matches.
Everything has come full circle, and finally fans will now get Bryan vs. Kingston at WrestleMania.