WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from March 19

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2019

WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from March 19

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The March 19 episode of WWE SmackDown saw the return of The Miz, the debut of women's tag champions Sasha Banks and Bayley on the blue brand and the reintroduction of "The Kevin Owens Show."

    It was Kofi Kingston's plight as he fought for his WrestleMania livelihood that defined the episode, though.

    How did the 11-year veteran fare in his quest for a WWE title match?

    Find out with this recap of Tuesday's USA Network broadcast.

The Miz Addresses Shane McMahon to Kick Off the Show

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    Two weeks after Shane McMahon beat down, brutalized and humiliated him in front of his father and hometown Cleveland fans at WWE Fastlane, The Miz returned to SmackDown Live and addressed his former tag team title partner.

    He recalled Fastlane and then said Shane-O-Mac was not born Best in the World but, rather, the worst because he is a McMahon.

    Miz turned his attention to Kofi Kingston and the topic of hard work and earning things in WWE.

    He said after 13 years, he has earned his spot, to which the fans showered him with chants of "you deserve it." The A-Lister finished by saying Shane-O-Mac has earned an ass-kicking at WrestleMania.






    This was the best promo Miz has cut since his shoot on Daniel Bryan during "Talking Smack" and, on top of that, some brilliant acting. He was passionate and intense, and as a result, the promo hit an emotional nerve.

    After an impossibly slow start to the program, the turn at Fastlane and this promo from Miz have the bout between him and McMahon at WrestleMania on April 7 suddenly feeling like one of the best built and most eagerly anticipated on the card.

    Hopefully, the writing team can continue to build momentum over the next two weeks because Miz is more than capable of carrying his end of the deal.

Bayley and Sasha Banks vs. The IIconics

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    After weeks of calling out The Boss 'n' Hug Connection for not appearing on SmackDown Live, The IIconics finally had their opportunity to prove they are the premier tag team in the industry, as they battled women's tag champions Bayley and Sasha Banks in a non-title match.

    Just as the action was beginning, Lacey Evans' music interrupted and The Sassy Southern Belle made her way down the ramp, providing a distraction that allowed Peyton Royce and Billie Kay to take down Bayley and seize control of the bout.

    Throughout the break, the heels isolated The Huggable One, cutting off the ring and working her left arm in an attempt to weaken her and better their chances at victory.

    Bayley finally created separation and tagged Banks into the match.

    The Boss unloaded on the opposition, but a superkick from Kay to Bayley laid her out at ringside, allowing Royce to score a tainted roll-up for the upset victory.



    The IIconics defeated Bayley and Banks






    It took a lot to get to the right outcome, but The IIconics scored a huge victory here and now have their sights set on a championship opportunity at WrestleMania.

    Kay and Royce are such gifted characters that it almost makes up for them not being the same level of in-ring workers Bayley and Banks are. It is reflected in the response they have been able to sustain despite the fact The IIconics have not been as consistently utilized.

    This was a solid enough match that accomplished exactly what it set out to, and for that, it more than earns its "B" grade.

'The Kevin Owens Show' with Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair

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    Kevin Owens introduced the WWE Universe to the first "Kevin Owens Show" in months, saying everyone is looking forward to Kofi Kingston getting his WWE Championship opportunity against Daniel Bryan, but it's another match that has fans buzzing: the Triple Threat for the Raw Women's Championship pitting Ronda Rousey against Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch.

    He welcomed Lynch, who drew a huge ovation, and Flair followed to boos.

    KO recapped some of the quotes the two challengers have hurled at each other in recent weeks. He used those words to antagonize them—to manipulate them into fighting—and finally, they did just that.

    Lynch and Flair brawled around the talk-show set before the action spilled to the floor.

    The Man assaulted a security guard before the friends-turned-rivals were finally separated.






    Nothing that happened here was any better or different than what we have seen before on this Road to WrestleMania, but anytime Lynch and Flair engage in one of their intensely physical brawls, it makes for good television.

    They proved that no security is safe right now, and they should probably just let the women fight.

    Owens was great as the antagonist but really fulfilled no other purpose. At least he got some television time out of the ordeal.

Daniel Bryan Addresses the WWE Universe

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    WWE champion Daniel Bryan addressed the fans regarding Kofi Kingston.

    The Planet's Champion referred to the New Day member as a B+ player who has proved he cannot win when given the opportunity. He recalled his prospective No. 1 contender's recent defeats and reiterated that B+ is not good enough.

    This brought out Kingston for his Gauntlet match, prematurely ending Bryan's promo.






    The manner in which Bryan's journey has come full-circle, to the point that he is now referring to other Superstars as the same B+ player he was once insultingly labeled, has been a joy to watch.

    Like Harvey Dent warned in The Dark Knight, "you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain."

    Bryan is the villain now, and it has been great fun to watch him evolve in that role.

Gauntlet Match: Kofi Kingston vs. Sheamus

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    As revealed a week ago, Kofi Kingston's path to WrestleMania would be determined Tuesday night, when the former intercontinental, United States and tag team champion battled Randy Orton, Samoa Joe, Rowan, Sheamus and Cesaro in a Gauntlet match.

    His first test? Sheamus, who was accompanied to ringside by his tag team partner, Cesaro.

    Kingston worked the left arm of his opponent and then dove over the top rope, wiping out The Celtic Warrior with a falling senton. However, an alert Sheamus seized an opening and grounded the popular underdog.

    A cheap shot from Cesaro ensured Sheamus maintained control of the match heading into the break.

    Back from the break, Kingston chopped his way back into the match and delivered a big dropkick. The Boom Drop followed, but an attempt at Trouble in Paradise was countered. He escaped a cloverleaf submission attempt and scored a cross-body for a near-fall.

    The back-and-forth continued before Kingston was finally able to execute Trouble in Paradise to score the first fall of the match.



    Kingston defeated Sheamus






    Sheamus and Kingston told the story of a grizzled veteran, a former WWE champion setting the tone for the Gauntlet match by taking as much as he possibly could out of his opponent in an attempt to exhaust him before he can even make it to the next opponent.

    The narrative worked and created doubt at the commentary table that Kingston could actually run the gauntlet.

    That Kofi and Sheamus had worked with each other countless times over the last 10 years only aided the overall quality of their match, and their chemistry was a major attribute.

Gauntlet Match: Kofi Kingston vs. Cesaro

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    Cesaro did not give Kingston a second to breathe, attacking him with a nasty Europen uppercut.

    The Swiss Superstar worked over the back of his opponent as Superstars gathered backstage to watch Kingston's trials and tribulations on a monitor.

    The Cesaro Swing disoriented the New Day man, and another cloverleaf added further pain and punishment to the already-injured back.

    Kingston tried desperately to fight out of his opponent's submission attempts, but those efforts proved futile at first. He finally did, though, and back-body-dropped his way out of the Neutralizer.

    From there, he delivered S.O.S. and scored another pinfall victory.



    Kingston pinned Cesaro






    This fall established a back injury for Kingston that the remaining competitors would almost certainly target.

    The resilient Kingston fought through the pain and scored the win, continuing his path to the WrestleMania main event.

    If Sheamus exhausted him, Cesaro hurt Kingston and further cast doubt on an improbable victory.

Gauntlet Match: Kofi Kingston vs. Rowan

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Kingston found himself on the receiving end of a brutal beating at the hands of the massive redwood Rowan.

    The right-hand man of Daniel Bryan disregarded the rules, attacking his opponent at ringside before getting himself intentionally disqualified. With nothing else to lose, he drove the pummeled hero through the announce table.

    Samoa Joe's music played as Corey Graves exclaimed this was no way for Kingston's dream to end.



    Kingston defeated Rowan via disqualification






    This was more of an angle than anything.

    Much like WrestleMania 30, where Bryan was forced to overcome injury and being driven through the announce table by Randy Orton and Batista, Kingston would next face the unenviable task of defeating United States champion Joe and The Viper if he wanted his dreams to come true on April 7.

    Kingston's plight and Rowan's mission of destruction represented more stellar booking from a creative team that is on fire right now.

Gauntlet Match: Kofi Kingston vs. Samoa Joe

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Like a shark smelling blood in the water, Joe teed off on the battered Kingston. He fended off an attempt at a comeback with a big kick that grounded his opponent.

    A half camel clutch slowed the pace.

    Again, Kingston fought back, only to eat a nasty lariat that turned him inside out.

    Everything he threw at Joe in an attempt to mount a comeback proved ineffective, as Joe powered him back down and drove more energy from his smaller frame.

    As The Samoan Submission Specialist set the babyface up for a Muscle Buster, Kingston slipped out and rolled him up, grabbing the tights for the three-count.

    After the bell, an irate Joe applied the Coquina Clutch until officials forced him to the back.

    "Somehow, there is still hope in the SmackDown locker room for Kofi Kingston," Tom Phillips said, moments before Randy Orton's music played and The Viper made his way to the ring.



    Kingston defeated Joe






    The announcers failed to touch on it, but Kingston definitely had hold of Joe's tights in the roll-up, demonstrating his willingness to do whatever it took to get the win and keep his dreams of WrestleMania bliss alive.

    He was fantastic as the babyface in extreme peril, left to his instincts to secure a win.

    Joe, the ferocious beast in disbelief, was equally as good. The result? The best fall of the Gauntlet match to this point.

Gauntlet Match: Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton

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    Credit: WWE.com

    On the receiving end of a targeted attack by Randy Orton, Kingston desperately sent his opponent into the steps. It allowed him to create some separation, but The Viper, laser-focused, resumed his assault back inside the squared circle.

    He grounded Kingston and trapped him in a headlock, looking to seep out whatever ounce of fight was left in the valiant competitor.

    The action continued with Kingston reversing an Irish whip but nearly falling victim to the RKO. He pushed Orton off and delivered Trouble in Paradise as the WWE Universe erupted in joy. Too beaten to capitalize, Kingston could only inch closer as the alert third-generation star fled to the floor to stay alive in the match.

    The fall continued with Kingston trying a cross-body, but Orton rolled through for two. The draping DDT followed as it looked more and more likely that Kingston's date with Daniel Bryan was not meant to be.

    Orton uncoiled an RKO attempt, but the New Day star rolled him up to win the match and cash his ticket to WrestleMania.

    The WWE Universe exploded, and Big E and Xavier Woods joined their longtime partner in the ring for a joyous celebration—one that was interrupted by the arrival of Vince McMahon.

    The WWE chairman announced that for Kingston to go to WrestleMania 35, he had to defeat one last Superstar: Bryan himself.



    Kingston defeated Orton






    This followed the same pattern of the Joe match, and while it was not quite as good, the late drama elevated it.

    Kingston withstood the vaunted RKO to earn his way to 'Mania, but in typical McMahon fashion, Vince put one last obstacle in ol' "Stone Cold" Kofi Kingston's way, infuriating the audience and creating exactly the red-hot scenario the writing team dreamed of.

Gauntlet Match: Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Daniel Bryan took the fight to Kingston and looked to unload on him with his patented kicks to the chest. One last shot was ducked, though, and the New Day man delivered S.O.S. for another near-fall.

    The WWE champion followed up with a series of corner dropkicks. A third was countered into another close two-count.

    Kingston tried for a cross-body block but missed. Bryan responded with a series of nasty stomps about the chest and head.

    He followed with the running knee for the pinfall victory.

    SmackDown went off the air with New Day's Big E and Woods checking on Kingston.



    Bryan defeated Kingston






    There are destined to be some really pissed off members of the WWE Universe. That is a good thing.

    This added even more heat to the program and created a scenario in which fans will be at full throat in their support of Kingston. They will be champing at the bit to see the often-screwed-over hero get what he has earned while spiting the megalomaniacal owner.

    This was compelling television, and it will only get better.