The February 26, 2019 episode of WWE SmackDown LIVE included a contract signing between WWE Champion Daniel Bryan and his Fastlane challenger Kofi Kingston, the surprise returns of Kevin Owens and Matt Hardy, and more.
The show opened with Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston’s contract signing for their WWE Championship match at Fastlane. After Bryan entered with Rowan, Shane McMahon—with his sister Stephanie at his side—described Kingston as “an overnight success over the past 11 years.” He praised Kingston’s attitude, crazy Royal Rumble stunts, past Intercontinental and United States Championship wins, membership in The New Day, and noted that “perhaps we have overlooked this individual, but no longer.”
The New Day—even
Mr. McMahon said there was someone more deserving than Kingston when it came to facing Bryan at Fastlane, and he welcomed Kevin Owens—back from injury—to the show. Although the crowd was excited to see Owens back, everyone was upset about Kingston being replaced in his much-anticipated title much, much like Becky Lynch was for her WrestleMania match against Ronda Rousey.
Speaking of that match, Charlotte Flair had some incendiary statements about it that you can read about here.
This week’s SmackDown included another surprise return, that of Matt Hardy. Instead of the previously scheduled Cesaro vs. Johnny Gargano match, we saw the reunited Hardy Boyz face The Bar. Matt and Jeff Hardy worked together perfectly and managed not to look rusty at all. The Bar got in some offense, but the Hardys took home the W.
Two much newer tag teams also paired off this week, resulting in more success for two of the main roster’s newcomers from NXT. As Ricochet and Aleister Black watched The Bar and the Hardy Boyz backstage, Lana approached them to try to psych them out before their match with rivals-turned-allies Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev. She said she didn’t get what the fuss was about, and Ricochet pointed out that they just beat the RAW Tag Team Champions and that he loves proving people who think he’s nothing special wrong.
Later in the show, Nakamura and Black exchanged strikes and mind games, and Ricochet countered Rusev’s brute strength with speed and aerial maneuvers. The competitive match ended when—after Ricochet took Rusev out with a tope con hilo—Black countered a Kinshasa with a Black Mass.
R-Truth revived a practice from his “childhood hero” John Cena when he declared a United States Championship Open Challenge. It was first answered by Andrade—accompanied by Zelina Vega—but Andrade’s rival Rey Mysterio attacked him from behind and ran into the ring first. This left Truth unsure who to face. When Carmella told him that the answer to “What Would John Cena Do?” is “face them both at once,” Truth reluctantly agreed to a triple threat.
In the match, each man had opportunities to win the match and Truth broke out some Cena moves. The champ ended up retaining with maneuvers worthy of his veteran status. After Andrade caught a moonsault by Mysterio, Truth grabbed him from behind, and Mysterio escaped to set up a double 619. But Truth dodged the move just in time, leaving only Andrade to absorb the impact. Truth used Mysterio’s own momentum against him to roll him up for the win.
While Mysterio seemed to respect this move, Andrade clearly felt nothing of the kind. He attacked Mysterio from behind after the match, showing their rivalry is far from over.
The show’s main event was set up right after its opening segment: Kevin Owens claimed to Shane and Stephanie McMahon that he didn’t know what was going to happen at the contract signing, but he said he was glad their dad respects his contributions to the industry. As a sort of odd consolation, he pitched teaming up with Kingston against Bryan and Rowan later that night, and Stephanie said they would take it under consideration.
When the match arrived, Kofi Kingston acknowledged the fans as he entered the ring but looked really down after the events of the contract signing. Daniel Bryan then refused to face him in the ring,
The WWE Universe knows better than to trust Kevin Owens by now and definitely still wants #KofiMania to happen, but for now, these two men both look like worthy challengers for Daniel Bryan, as well as a pretty good tag team.