The March 12, 2019 episode of WWE SmackDown LIVE dealt with the dramatic fallout from Sunday’s Fastlane pay-per-view. We got Shane McMahon addressing his attack on The Miz (and The Miz’s dad), Vince McMahon addressing his sadistic treatment of Kofi Kingston, a star-studded eight-man tag team match, and more.
The episode opened with a leather jacket-clad, heavily-booed Shane McMahon entering the arena to explain his recent actions. Standing beside his trophy, Shane explained that he’s the “Best in the World” not because of his achievements but because he “was born that way.” He said that his attack on The Miz felt good, so he’s going to use his power as one of the General Managers to do it again, this time in a sanctioned, one-on-one match at WrestleMania.
This promo segment was followed by the first match of the night: an eight-man tag team match consisting of Aleister Black, Ricochet, and The Hardy Boyz vs. Rusev, Shinsuke Nakamura, and The Bar. We saw new and old matchups between individuals. In a moment the fight had turned into just four pairs of men throwing hands after a dramatic break of a pin, the New Day ran into the ring.
The former champs started beating up everyone, but the focus was on the men who had been used to humiliate Kofi Kingston at Fastlane. The crowd supported Kingston, Xavier Woods, and Big E, but it remained to be seen whether this was a good idea when Kingston had a “WrestleMania opportunity” meeting with Vince McMahon scheduled for later that night.
After the match, we saw a promo from SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos on every other duo in the division. They aggressively invited everyone to step up and challenge them at WrestleMania, but they also reminded them that they are, of course, currently in the Uso Penitentiary.
The show’s next segment had much clearer implications for WWE’s biggest show of the year. Randy Orton entered the arena with “something to get off [his] chest” and started cutting a promo on AJ Styles. As Orton belittled Styles’ pre-WWE achievements on the indies, Styles entered and said he was proud of his background. The two former WWE Champions traded barbs about each other’s pasts, culminating with Styles challenging Orton to a match at WrestleMania.
In the second match of the night, SmackDown Women’s Champion Asuka faced Sonya Deville. Deville was accompanied to the ring by Mandy Rose as usual, but given the interference-gone-wrong in Sunday’s match between Rose and Asuka, the relationship between “Fire and Desire” was in question.
Unlike at Fastlane, here Rose pulling down the apron skirt to trip her partner seemed to be deliberate sabotage. After Deville lost by submission, some in the crowd called for her to attack Rose, but even though the women exited the arena separately, there was no violence between them.
After this, we saw a promo from a much more functional tag team, The IIconics, on the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. The Australian pair claimed that Sasha Banks and Bayley have been running from them and said they need to look for their next title defense on SmackDown LIVE.
The four men in the U.S. Championship match at Fastlane split into tag teams for a Rey Mysterio and R-Truth vs. Samoa Joe and Andrade bout. Truth dominated for a while but it was Mysterio who finished the match strong. His pin of Andrade after a double 619 to “El Idolo” and Joe was broken by a senton from Joe, but Mysterio was able to win the match by rolling up the recent U.S. champ. Joe, enraged, hit both Truth and Andrade with ura
The last match of the night pitted Kevin Owens and Mustafa Ali against Daniel Bryan and Rowan. We learned about this impending tag team battle earlier in the show when Bryan and Rowan were seen exiting Mr. McMahon’s office, and the WWE Champion did not seem happy about it.
However, his team ended up largely dominating the match. The massive Rowan—who, unlike the other three men, had not wrestled an intense title match two days earlier—wrecked shop against Owens, then Ali. Bryan inflicted pain on Ali with various submissions, then a superplex, then the LeBell Lock, then strikes and verbal provocation. Ultimately, it was the power of Rowan that put a weakened Ali away.
Right after this match, Mr. McMahon entered the arena and got on the mic. After a recap video of Kingston getting screwed at Fastlane—led to believe he would be in a triple threat for the WWE Championship but then put in a handicap match against The Bar—Mr. McMahon said he never specified that Kingston would be in that triple threat, just that that’s what type of match the WWE title bout would be.
As Mr. McMahon told the audience that this wasn’t a screwjob cover-up but a “teachable moment” about listening, The New Day entered the arena looking even more serious than earlier in the show. Big E shouted right in Mr. McMahon’s face about the injustice against Kingston. Woods pointed out how undeniable it was that their friend had earned a title shot.
Mr. McMahon turned to Kingston and told the 11-year WWE vet that, “If you were worthy of being in a championship match, it would have happened a long time ago.” The chairman essentially damned Kingston with praise just too faint, calling him an “extraordinary athlete,” a future Hall of Famer—but not
In the same episode that started with Shane McMahon booking himself in a one-on-one spite match at WrestleMania, Kingston had to plead with Vince to give him a title shot. He pointed out that he’s never been in a complainer in his years with the company and talked about moments he’s missed with his family over the years because of working on the road for WWE. He finally, passionately stated, “I need for you, face to face, man to man, to tell me what I need to do, so that I can do it.”
At this point, Kingston’s next, seemingly insurmountable challenge and a big reason to tune into next week’s SmackDown LIVE was revealed: Randy Orton, then Samoa Joe, then The Bar, then Rowan entered the arena, and Mr. McMahon told Kingston that he would have to beat all five in a gauntlet match the next week in order to make it to WrestleMania. His future opponents then ran into the ring to attack The New Day, but the trio fought them off to end the show on a slightly more hopeful note.