Nationwide Arena – Columbus, OH – Sunday, March 11, 2018
Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton are on commentary.
Shinsuke Nakamura defeats Rusev (w/ Aiden English) at 14:28. Nakamura won the Royal Rumble and is going on to challenge whoever the WWE Champion is at WrestleMania, so this is a key momentum building opportunity for him. Rusev is ready for the challenge though, and it’s a back and forth matchup in the early going. When Nakamura starts gaining control, Rusev stalls a lot. That proves effective, and Rusev takes control and wears Nakamura down for several minutes. They build up to a hot finishing stretch, trading moves and near-falls and keeping the crowd up. When Rusev tries the Accolade, Nakamura slips out and lands a kick to the back of the head. One Kinshasa later and Nakamura gets the pin. This started a bit slow, but they built it up nicely and finished strong. Good win for Nakamura on the way to WrestleMania.
Randy Orton defeats United States Champion Bobby Roode at 19:27 to win the title. Roode has been the Champion since 1.16.18, and this is his third defense. The basic story here is twofold: 1) Roode was ranked higher in the “SmackDown Top 10” that mattered for like a week, and 2) Orton has never held the United States Title and he wants to. Anyway, they go back and forth, and both try finishers but can’t connect. Jinder Mahal is shown watching backstage with one of the Singh brothers. The pace stays the same no matter who is on offense, as these are two similar workers. This goes on for quite a while. Orton uses a superplex and I don’t hear anyone mention that his dad used to do that. Roode hits a Spinebuster for two. He goes up to the second rope and leaps right into an RKO, and Orton gets the win and the title. This was mostly okay, but only a couple of times did they really get into anything interesting. It was simply too long for what they were doing.
Natalya & Carmella defeat Becky Lynch & Naomi at 8:55. The commentators said something about this feud starting on Twitter I think, so I don’t recall why they’re fighting in these tandems. Natalya and Carmella control the early parts of the match, isolating Naomi. This takes forever to go anywhere, and Becky gets the hot tag. She cleans house for a bit and the referee gets a little flustered. Natalya distracts Becky long enough for Carmella to hit a Superkick to get the pin. This was a total TV match that didn’t really do anything to make Carmella appear worthy of holding the briefcase.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos (Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso) and The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) (w/ Big E) wrestled to a no-contest at 9:00. Jimmy and Jey have been the Champions since 10.8.17, and this is their fifth defense. This is all action, as all four men know each other so there’s no feeling out process. In fact, they know each other so well that they use each other’s moves and finishers, to varying degrees of success. Late in the match, the Usos send the New Day to the floor and follow them out with dives. That brings on the music of the Bludgeon Brothers (Harper & Rowan), who come down to ringside and destroy everyone for the no-contest. Fine match, butt finish.
SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair defeats Ruby Riott (w/ Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan) at 13:45 to retain the title. Charlotte has been the Champion since 11.14.17, and this is her third defense. Riott is aggressive in the early going, knowing that she’s the major underdog and no one really gives her a chance here. Logan and Morgan try to get involved, so Becky Lynch and Naomi come running out to backup the Champion. Riott controls Charlotte, keeping her grounded and focusing on her back. Every time Charlotte tries to fight back, Riott cuts her off and continues her assault. The referee grows tired of all the shenanigans outside the ring, and all four extra women are sent to the back. Finally, Charlotte finishes Riott with a Spear and the Figure-Eight Leglock. They had to do some gaga there because Riott was a lame duck challenger going into WrestleMania (and that’s not a knock on Ruby Riott, I really like her), and they did a good job here. Riott looked good for hanging with Charlotte, but the Queen got the dominant win in the end.
After the match, Asuka makes her way out and makes it clear that she intends to challenge Charlotte for the SmackDown Women’s Title at WrestleMania.
WWE Champion AJ Styles defeats Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, John Cena, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn at 21:55 in a Six Pack Challenge Match to retain the title. Styles has been the Champion since 11.7.17, and this is his third defense. Shane McMahon is out watching at ringside. Cena immediately hits everyone with finishers except the Champ, leaving the two of them all alone and ready to do battle. Not much happens, but when everyone recovers around the same time, all five of Cena’s opponents administer a beat-down and send him to the floor. Now the pace picks up, with mini-fights happening all over the ringside area. The crowd stays up for the whole thing, as everyone has enough big moves to elicit a nice pop. The first table gets smashed when Cena delivers a vicious Attitude Adjustment to Styles through the Spanish Announce Table. Owens and Zayn end up alone in the ring together, and Zayn agrees to lay down and allow his best friend to win the WWE Title. BUT WAIT! Zayn double-crosses him and the good friends/better enemies tear into each other and fight to the floor. Zayn gets in Shane’s face, and then moves just as Owens was loading up a superkick, and Shane takes it instead. A few minutes later, Shane has recovered, and just in time to pull Zayn off a cover after he’d hit Owens with the Helluva Kick! The action continues at a breakneck pace, and Corbin tries to use the steel steps, but Cena makes him pay for that with an Attitude Adjustment right on said steps. A finisher parade begins, and Styles makes his way back in at just the right time to blast Owens with the Phenomenal Forearm. That’s enough to get the pin. Non-stop balls to the wall action here, and a ton of fun to watch. The Owens/Zayn stuff was great, everything involving Cena was awesome, and Corbin didn’t stink up the joint. Overlooked match here.
The main event is amazing, but I almost can’t remember anything else from the show minutes after finishing it. They shuffled the U.S. Title around to create a WrestleMania match, and had Asuka announce her intentions to face Charlotte, but we really didn’t need a whole pay-per-view to get to those two points. Skip most of this show and just watch the main event.
Tags: AJ Styles, Fastlane, John Cena, Kevin Owens, WWE