The last episode of WWE SmackDown LIVE before WrestleMania 35 includes a crazy 18-person mixed tag match, a surprise development in the tag team division, a WWE Championship match contract signing, and more.
The show opens with a final pre-Mania confrontation between Randy Orton and AJ Styles when they guest on “The Kevin Owens Show.” Orton delivers verbal jabs about Styles’ past on the independent wrestling circuit (citing small audiences, not good enough for WWE, etc.) and Styles does the same about Orton’s in WWE (citing one move, failed drug tests, etc.).
After Orton says that now that John Cena is an actor, Styles has “assumed the role of corporate bitch,” Owens cleverly rolls out of the ring and fists start to fly. When “The Viper” lays out “The Phenomenal One” with an RKO, he looks more intense in his victory celebration than we’ve seen in him a while.
The first match of the night is Aleister Black, Ricochet, and The Usos vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Rusev, and The Bar in eight-man tag team action. The latter team dominates most of the match but just can’t manage to put their opponents away. After some tag teamwork that reminds us why they’re the champs, The Usos pick up the win against Rusev.
After the match, WrestleMania host Alexa Bliss enters the arena. She claims that SmackDown LIVE has lost its spirit of competition, citing the way The Usos forfeited their section of last week’s gauntlet match as evidence. Bliss announces that because of these actions, “so noble, so heroic, so deserving of repercussions,” The Usos will defend their championship at Mania in a Fatal 4-Way against the three teams they just shared the ring with.
At this, the teams all immediately start fighting, with finishing moves flying left and right. In the end, Black and Ricochet, who recently leveled up in the tag team world by winning NXT’s Dusty Classic, are the only pair left standing in the ring.
Before his three-on-one handicap match against Sanity, The Miz also gets on the microphone. He says he’s the best version of himself because he has the support of his famil— which you can see on the new episodes of Miz & Mrs., premiering after this show—but The Miz says this isn’t just a cheap plug! He then demonstrates his newfound bravery by reminding us it was his decision to make his match against Shane McMahon Falls Count Anywhere and insinuates that Vince McMahon is a bitch.
We can see that The Miz has both a size and numbers disadvantage going into his unjust match against Sanity, and Shane McMahon enters the arena to had promo insults to impending injury. The Miz shows a lot of fighting spirit, but Shane quickly stops the match to make it even harder. He declares the handicap match is also Falls Count Anywhere and puts up a picture of him attacking The Miz’s dad on the big screen for good measure.
Despite the odds stacked against him, The Miz manages to isolate Eric Young from the rest of his team. They brawl in the crowd and take the fight backstage, where The Miz pins Young after slamming him in the head with a wheeled crate. After the match, “The A-Lister” sees Shane watching from the back seat of a car, but the vehicle drives away as soon as he begins to walk towards it.
The end of this match leads directly into the return of Becky Lynch—who had been arrested along with Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey the night before—to SmackDown Live, which you can read about here.
Lynch’s promo is followed by the chaotic, fun, and largest mixed tag team match in WWE’s history: an 18-person bout pitting Nikki Cross, Asuka, Naomi, Carmella, Heavy Machinery, R-Truth, and Jeff and Matt Hardy against Zelina Vega, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Lana, Andrade, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Shelton Benjamin, and EC3. An interruption from Lacey Evans allows Vega to get a cheap shot on Cross, but it’s difficult for either team to maintain positive momentum for long.
The match ultimately ends in a disqualification, leading to all the wrestlers in it—who are all in either the upcoming WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal or Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal—instantly brawling and trying to throw others over the top rope. We also get some fun character moments like Shelton Benjamin dealing with an over-enthusiastic Otis and Nikki Cross attempting to fight the much larger Benjamin. Asuka ends this segment as the only person in the ring after throwing Jeff Hardy over the top rope.
The show ends with the in-ring contract signing for WWE Champion Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston’s upcoming title match. After Bryan signs the document, he berates The New Day and the audience more intensely than usual. He tells Kingston that just as the crowd turned on him, a former underdog, they will turn on Kingston in the future after they’ve used his life to fulfill their fantasies.
Kingston gets even more intense as he cuts a promo on Bryan, rejecting his mind games. He says that Bryan’s tactics show that “You know I’m ready!” and that Bryan knows he will beat him to become WWE Champion on Sunday. His signature closes the episode and turns the WWE main roster on to the final stretch of The Road to WrestleMania.