SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KO THE REGULAR GUY…
Recap: The show opened with Daniel Bryan and Rowan in the ring. They watched an extended video package recapping Kofi Kingston’s journey to his title shot and subsequent removal from the match.
Bryan said that while he was silent last week, tonight was his turn to speak as the fans remained silent. He said that Kofi wasn’t a leader. He then said that Vince McMahon replaced a guy that tosses pancakes with a guy that eats copious amounts of them. He said that the fans like Kevin Owens because he’s like them, which also means he has nothing to lose. Bryan, on the other hand, said that he had everything to lose. As the Planet’s Champion, everything depended on him.
Kevin Owens then came to the ring. He noted that while he was away, he spent time with family watching WWE, returning to being a “member of the WWE Universe.” He said that it was hard to watch others doing what he wanted to do, but nothing was as bad as watching Bryan toss the title in the garbage. He said he’d shut Bryan’s mouth.
Bryan responded by saying his mouth shouldn’t be what Owens worries about, considering all of the garbage that Owens and the fans shove in their mouths. Owens also criticized Bryans lowbrow fat jokes.
Owens said he regretted taking Kofi’s title shot, but that he would defeat Bryan at Fastlane. A brawl broke out, with ended with Rowan slamming Owens.
Later in the evening, Owens was scheduled to face Rowan, but the match ended in DQ quickly when Bryan interfered. As Owens was beaten down by Bryan and Rowan, Mustafa Ali ran in for the save.
Evaluation: This angle is working as intended, as the fans don’t appear to be blaming Owens for Kofi’s title shot being taken away. A partial cause is likely to be many fans assuming Kofi will get his shot at WrestleMania.
The “regular guy” persona that came across in the video packages leading up to Owens’ return definitely seems to be the direction for his character going forward. Owens mentioned his family, and Bryan’s insults all revolved around Owens being fat and otherwise average.
Forecast: I can’t see Owens winning on Sunday, as it would deprive fans of the Kofi-Bryan matchup we assume we’re getting at WrestleMania. The question is whether it’s Bryan vs Kofi one-on-one, or if Owens and/or Mustafa Ali are added to the match. It may depend on fan reaction to Sunday’s match at Fastlane.
BECKY AND CHARLOTTE FACE OFF…
Recap: Charlotte cut a backstage promo noting Becky’s absence, and challenging her to come to the ring tonight for a discussion about her “physical and mental state.”
In the show’s final segment, Charlotte came to the ring. She played a video package recapping Ronda’s beatdown on Becky last night. She then called Becky to the ring by mocking the fans chants for her.
Becky came down to the ring on a crutch. She said that she may be damaged, but that meant she had nothing to lose. Charlotte then kicked out Becky’s crutch and slammed her to the mat. Charlotte taunted and hit her, but Becky quickly gained the upper hand, landing a Disarm-her on Charlotte. The referees broke it up as Charlotte escaped.
Evaluation: This was pretty standard booking. There was nothing to complain about here.
Forecast: Becky wins on Sunday to be placed into the WrestleMania match.
JOE WINS THE US TITLE…
Recap: R-Truth and Carmella came to the ring for a segment at the bottom of the first hour. He again said that he wanted to be like his childhood hero John Cena, but said that he didn’t realize that Cena did the US Open Challenge week after week. Carmella reminded him that Cena also never gave up. Truth noted that Cena also said “you can’t see me,” but Truth saw him on the poster and sheets in his bedroom, as well as in movies.
Truth begrudgingly continued the open challenge. Lacey Evans did her walk up and down the ramp, but to Truth’s chagrin was not his opponent. Samoa Joe, Andrade, and Rey Mysterio then all appeared, and the ring announcer called for a Fatal Four Way.
At the end of a good match with a lot of action, Joe broke up a pin attempt by Rey on Andrade, instead pinning Andrade himself.
Later backstage Joe cut an intense promo emphasizing that there would be no more 7 second dance breaks.
Evaluation: R-Truth was unlikely to be defending the US Title at WrestleMania, so without a US Title defense at Fastlane this was the time to change the title. Joe gives the title a credibility going into WrestleMania.
Forecast: I expect a challenger for Joe to be revealed on Tuesday, with the feud being built from then to WrestleMania.