WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from February 6
Two extraordinary friends, and even greater enemies, squared off Tuesday night with the promise of a championship opportunity fueling them.
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens set aside their recent reunion for the opportunity to challenge AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at March 11's Fastlane in a heated, emotional and energetic main event.
Their match headlined a broadcast that also featured the latest hint of a Bludgeon Brothers vs. Usos tag team title program, a United States Championship showdown between Bobby Roode and Rusev and a one-on-one contest pitting SmackDown women's champion Charlotte against Riott Squad's Liv Morgan.
Relive the matches and moments that made Tuesday's broadcast another explosive one on the road to Fastlane with this recap of the February 6 show.
Opening Promo with Shane McMahon, Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles
SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon kicked off the show and immediately addressed the fact that Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn will vie for the opportunity to challenge AJ Styles. An opportunity, he insisted, neither deserve.
Daniel Bryan interrupted and said the referee made a mistake at Royal Rumble and that is why they get the chance.
McMahon insinuated that Bryan sympathizes with Owens and Zayn because they followed similar paths to the top of professional wrestling. He went on, urging Bryan to see past that and recognize they are not like Bryan.
Styles made his presence felt, telling Bryan and McMahon to stay out of the way because every time they make a move regarding the WWE Championship, it affects him.
This was literally every other show-opening promo by McMahon and Bryan over the last two months. At some point, WWE Creative has to come up with a resolution to their in-fighting in order to propel the story forward.
As it stands now, it feels too much like treadmill booking.
Even if the story itself is an interesting and engaging one.
The only interesting development here was Styles' backlash, hoping to preserve his title reign in the midst of bickering back and forth between his two superiors.
Charlotte Flair vs. Liv Morgan
A week after being laid out by The Riott Squad, Charlotte fought Liv Morgan in singles competition.
Morgan controlled the heart of the match, working over Charlotte as Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan watched from ringside.
Late, Charlotte fought her way back into the match and scored the victory with her Figure Eight leglock.
After the match, she addressed her rivals, warning them, "one down, two to go."
Charlotte defeated Liv Morgan
The biggest problem with both The Riott Squad and Absolution over on Raw is that both teams are comprised of women called up from NXT, thrown into trios and given no characters to speak of. Thus, fans do not care, nor are the Superstars credible enough to beat someone like Charlotte.
You know, the generational Superstar who has amassed title after title and beaten every great wrestler of her generation to this point.
Morgan never stood a chance in the eyes of the fans because she has never been presented as a legitimate threat in singles competition.
Losing a match as quickly as she did to Naomi a few weeks back did not help matters.
The Bludgeon Brothers in Action
Harper and Rowan continued their path of destruction Tuesday night as they squared off with two unnamed enhancement Superstars.
They bumped the unfortunate souls around the squared circle before finishing one off with the crucifix bomb for another impressive and uncontested victory.
After the match, The Bludgeon Brothers were on their way out of the ring when The Usos interrupted, making their way to the ring in a blatant sign of disrespect that played up the brief interaction between the teams from last week.
The Bludgeon Brothers defeated unnamed talents
It is always fun watching Harper and Rowan bowl over opponents, particularly when they have the opportunity to demolish smaller competition, as was the case Tuesday night.
The real meat of the segment was the staredown between them and The Usos, who are almost certain to find themselves defending against the unstoppable big men in the near future.
A quality segment that did as little as possible but continued to set the stage for a high-profile tag team battle.
The Usos Promo
After a brief break, The Usos cut a promo that finally explained what The Uso Penitentiary is. Not about prisons or orange jumpsuits, it is about the mental war and the inescapable battle opposition experiences when facing them.
They discussed the transformation they made over the last year and how going rogue has helped them in the long term.
Jimmy and Jey wrapped up by saying the feeling every other team on SmackDown Live gets when they are around is not paranoia. No, it is The Usos.
This was one of the best promos The Usos have ever cut.
It was relatively short but told their story over the last year. No longer worried about being bright and colorful, they embraced attitude and have ridden it to Match of the Night candidates and championship allure.
A great, passionate promo the likes of which other Superstars should be allowed to cut week in and week out.
United States Championship Match: Bobby Roode vs. Rusev
The product of his victory over Jinder Mahal, Kofi Kingston and Zack Ryder, Rusev's shot at the United States Championship came Tuesday night as The Bulgarian Brute challenged Bobby Roode in singles competition.
Roode and Rusev kept the action on the ground early, but a big shoulder block from the challenger left the champion reeling.
Fending off a comeback attempt by Roode, Rusev seized control of the match and targeted his opponent's back.
Roode did fight his way back into the match, but perfectly timed interference from Aiden English allowed Rusev to catch him with a big kick that earned him a two-count.
The action continued, back and forth late until Rusev tried for The Accolade. Roode escaped and, moments later, delivered a Glorious DDT for the win and successful title retention.
After the match, Randy Orton came from out of nowhere and caught Roode with an RKO. He dealt the same fate to English and Rusev before standing tall to an ovation.
Bobby Roode defeated Rusev
The Orton curveball was an interesting one in that his RKO to Roode would almost assuredly trigger a heel turn. His follow-ups to English and Rusev, though, created mystery as to what, exactly, Orton's motivations are.
The commentators even played up the questions surrounding Orton's actions.
With that said, The Viper dropping random people with RKOs is a much more interesting take on his character than anything else he has done the last year.
As for the match itself, Roode and Rusev have solid chemistry. Rusev is great with just about every opponent, and this was no different. With that said, WWE Creative is going to have to pull the proverbial trigger on The Bulgarian Brute at some point or risk losing a potential major star.
The Ascension vs. Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable
Citing their desire to bring legitimacy back to the tag team division, Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin destroyed Breezango's evidence board and challenged The Ascension to a match prior to the break.
Gable and Benjamin completely outclassed the former NXT tag team champions early in the match, but a big back body drop from Konnor allowed him to make the hot tag to Viktor.
Despite a fiery comeback by the underrated Canadian, Benjamin and Gable overwhelmed him and finished him off with a bulldog/powerbomb combination.
Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable defeated The Ascension
Benjamin and Gable have been missing meanness and aggression for too long.
This was the first hint of the duo descending into a nastier, more tenacious tandem than fans have ever seen before. Frustrated by their lack of success in tag title competition, and fueled by their desire to hold gold, they will run rampant through the division.
At least until WWE Creative forgets they are around.
Or they actually win the titles.
No. 1 Contender's Match: Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
Kevin Owens and Sam Zayn have a history of extraordinary matches that are equal parts intense and dramatic.
That was the case Tuesday night as they waged war in a match aimed at crowning a new No. 1 contender for AJ Styles' WWE Championship at Fastlane.
Unfortunately, late interference on the part of a frustrated Phenomenal One ruined the outcome.
Late in the bout, Zayn was rolling. Fueled by Owens yelling at him, "I'm the one that wins the titles," he was moments from cashing his ticket to the upcoming pay-per-view when Zayn's braggadocios and egotistical attitude led to him confronting Styles.
The Phenomenal One fought both competitors, leading to a disqualification finish.
Daniel Bryan arrived and announced a Triple Threat match for Fastlane as the show went off the air.
Sami Zayn fought Kevin Owens to a double disqualification
Make no mistake about it: The above grade is for the match itself.
Owens and Zayn are masters of their in-ring craft. They are among the best wrestlers on the planet and deserve the accolades they receive. Their in-ring work here saved what was otherwise a disappointing revelation by Bryan.
Yes, the idea is to further the story of Bryan being biased in favor of his Ring of Honor buddies, but at the same time, fans of SmackDown will now sit through a Fastlane main event that looks suspiciously like the Royal Rumble title match.
Even if it is different enough not to be absolutely repetitive.