Kofi Kingston's WrestleMania Push Begins and More from March 12 WWE SmackDown
The most unexpected WrestleMania push in WWE continued Tuesday night on SmackDown Live as Kofi Kingston confronted Vince McMahon regarding the lack of opportunity and subsequent hurdles he has faced since turning in one of the performances of his life at Elimination Chamber.
No longer willing to sit back and watch as WWE Championship opportunities pass him by, Kingston was presented with one last obstacle to clear before he gets what he wants: a date with Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 35.
That promo headlined a show that laid the groundwork for other WrestleMania programs, including AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton, which was enhanced with an equally passionate promo featuring some intense digs between the future Hall of Famers.
Add the continued hints at dissension among Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville and you have a show that sparked interest on the Road to WrestleMania and left fans buzzing about these takeaways.
Kofi Kingston Is Definitely Headed to WrestleMania 35
Kofi Kingston stood feet away from Vince McMahon, staring a hole through the billionaire owner of WWE, as Big E cut an intensely passionate promo about why his New Day teammate deserved a WWE Championship opportunity.
The look on his face told a story no promo could. He was pissed off over McMahon's reluctance to reward his hard work with a title shot he more than deserved and frustrated by the screwjobs perpetrated by the boss since Elimination Chamber.
By the time he spoke, fans were even more invested in his journey to WrestleMania and a date with Daniel Bryan, which appears a given after McMahon announced a Gauntlet match for next week's show in which Kingston would have to defeat Samoa Joe, Randy Orton, The Bar's Sheamus and Cesaro, and Erick Rowan to earn a shot at the top prize in sports entertainment.
Throw in a brilliant callback to Bryan's 'Mania push from a few years ago, with McMahon referring to Kingston as a "B+ player," and you have fans chomping at the bit to see the New Day member overcome the odds and stand tall on wrestling's grandest stage with the one title that has eluded him finally in his possession.
Yes, we have seen this story play out before.
A McMahon deems a Superstar unfit to be champion and screws them over on multiple occasions to set up one huge, goal-accomplishing moment that pops the crowd and forever makes that star. We have seen it play out before, and we will continue to see it unfold, because it works.
At WrestleMania 35, Kingston's journey to the top of the business will culminate with him winning the WWE Championship in a monumental moment for the 11-year veteran, as it should.
Next week's win over the top heels on SmackDown Live will all but confirm that and leave fans even hungrier to see his quest for the holy grail pay off.
AJ Styles and Randy Orton Intensify Rivalry with Venomous, Reality-Laced Promo
AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton may have felt like a lackluster WrestleMania program for both men heading into Tuesday's SmackDown Live, but a fantastic promo created buzz and excitement for a match that suddenly became incredibly personal.
The Viper called out Styles for referring to SmackDown as "The House That AJ Styles Built," running down the list of his own accomplishments while The Phenomenal One was busy working bingo halls for the majority of his career.
Styles interrupted and shot back, stating Orton never would have made it in his world with a pose and a "knockoff Diamond Cutter." The personal jabs continued before The Phenomenal One laid down the challenge for a match at WrestleMania.
The blossoming rivalry needed that promo Tuesday night. What felt like a thrown-together storyline to get both on the WrestleMania card was enhanced by the reality-based insults hurled by the competitors.
Unlike the Ronda Rousey-Becky Lynch-Charlotte Flair program that has weaved in and out of reality far too often to both make sense and make an impact with the WWE Universe, Tuesday's program never tried to alter the characters involved. Instead, it proved they are aware of their own histories and the state of the industry.
It felt natural, not forced, and the result was a promo that did more to get over a Styles-Orton match than anything WWE Creative had done to that point.
Mounting Frustration Will Ultimately Lead to Sonya Deville vs. Mandy Rose
Since debuting on the main roster alongside Paige in Absolution, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville have been incredibly close. The NXT exports have had each other's backs, developing and evolving as performers along the way.
Recently, though, dissension suggests their friendship may be headed toward fracture and a showdown between The Golden Goddess and her former MMA star bestie.
After Deville inadvertently cost Rose the SmackDown Women's Championship against Asuka at Fastlane, Rose's interference backfired Tuesday night, leaving Deville to endure a defeat at the hands of The Empress of Tomorrow.
In both instances, frustration among the friends was evident following their losses and dissension was teased.
Over the last six or so months, Rose has done a ton of talking that Deville has had to help back up. Deville has been the best friend, standing by her egotistical and self-involved friend's back through thick and thin, but she now appears to be steadily growing tired of the blonde bombshell's attitude.
We saw a hint of it during the Fastlane Kickoff Show, when Deville watched on with a look of disbelief on her face. Throw in the disappointment expressed by both following their losses to Asuka, and a breakup and a subsequent match between them appears inevitable.
And that would be a good thing for both.
At some point, the two need to stop being defined by each other and build their own stars. Said feud gives them the opportunity to do that while evolving their characters for future success.
Rose appears to be a star in the making, but do not sleep on Deville, who has become one of those hidden gems over the last year—a solid worker with the backstory and in-ring arsenal to be a breakout star if and when she gets the opportunity.