Mr. McMahon Announced Kevin Owens Would Replace Kofi Kingston Against WWE Champion Daniel Bryan at WWE Fastlane
No contract signing in WWE (especially those that take place in the middle of the ring) ever go as planned, which is why this one being interrupted was hardly a surprise. However, I didn't expect Kingston to be bumped from the title match at Fastlane in favor of the returning Owens. Owens has recently been rumored to contend for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania, but maybe WWE changed plans and will give that spot to Kingston instead. Either way, Kingston's days in the title picture are far from over.
The Hardy Boyz def. The Bar
Well, this was certainly unexpected. Apparently, The Hardy Boyz' contracts expire soon, so perhaps this was WWE's way of convincing them to re-sign. It's not like they had any plans for them on their own, anyway. Thus, I'm all for them reuniting in the SmackDown Live tag team division. They have history with The Bar and had a nice (albeit brief) match with them here. Sign me up for The Hardy Boyz vs. The Usos for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania, please.
United States Champion R-Truth def. Rey Mysterio and Andrade in a Triple Threat Match
Yes, the United States Championship still exists. This marked the first time in a month that Truth has appeared on the program, and that was actually the night he became champion. He issued an open challenge here, which was answered by both Andrade and Mysterio. This was a very fun match while it lasted and all three of them worked well together. I would have rather seen Andrade or Mysterio winning the title, but I'm holding out hope that will happen soon and we'll end up getting those two against each other for the belt at WrestleMania.
Charlotte Flair Addressed Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey and Becky LYnch
I was floored that Charlotte didn't show up at any point during Monday's Raw, whether it was during the Rousey and Lynch segment or even during Ric Flair's 70th birthday celebration. However, that made this promo from her that much more meaningful and she delivered her lines exceptionally well. Charlotte vs. Lynch would a be a logical match to do at Fastlane, but there has been no indication of that being confirmed for the card as of now.
Aleister Black and Ricochet def. Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev
Nakamura and Rusev have been glorified stepping stones on SmackDown for months, so while I didn't feel the outcome was ever in doubt, this was still a very entertaining tag team affair. I'm digging this alliance between Black and Ricochet, while Nakamura and Rusev have shockingly shown chemistry as partners lately as well. I have no idea what they're doing with these NXT guys on the main roster, but at least their matches have been enjoyable.
Kevin Owens and Kofi Kingston def. WWE Champion Daniel Bryan and Erick Rowan
Part of me had my guard up for Owens betraying Kingston, but the betrayal never came. Instead, they played it straight and had a solid main event match with Bryan and Rowan. I have no clue whether Owens is a babyface or a heel, but he could be a babyface despite being practically given the WWE title opportunity at Fastlane over Kingston. I realize what Owens pinning Bryan was supposed to accomplish, but I'm not a fan of Bryan losing clean so often. He comes across like a paper champion as a result, and he deserves better than that. Owens could have easily pinned Rowan.
It was reported recently that Bruce Prichard has returned to WWE in a "key" Creative role. Could that have anything to do with how both Raw and SmackDown this week were significantly stronger shows than usual? The returns of Owens and Matt Hardy set the tone for the rest of the night, and then we were treated to a quality main event, a United States Championship defense, an above-average promo from Flair, and another showcase for Ricochet and Black. Fingers crossed this will be the new norm for WWE TV with WrestleMania fast approaching.