SmackDown LIVE kicks off with SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan as the GM makes his way to the ring to open the show. Daniel says that there are a lot of “twists and turns” on the Road to WrestleMania before the GM brings out SmackDown Women’s Champion Naomi who is sporting a heavy brace on her left knee. Daniel tells Naomi that, for years, she has worked so hard and she has seen other women given more opportunities than her but she has finally achieved her dream by becoming the SmackDown Women’s Champion. The mood of the arena then changes once the GM says that what he’s about to do is the hardest thing he’s had to do as the SmackDown General Manager. Daniel continues, saying that he can relate to Naomi’s journey, saying that he scratched and clawed his way to the top to finally become a champion but then he got injured and he had to relinquish his championship. The GM then says that he and Shane McMahon have went over Naomi’s medical records with WWE’s medical staff and the injury that Naomi suffered at WWE Elimination Chamber will keep her from defending the SmackDown Women’s Championship in the required 30 days. Daniel then has the unfortunate task of asking Naomi to relinquish the SmackDown Women’s Championship.
Rightfully emotional, Naomi says that it’s crazy how fast life can change, saying that it was just last week that she was crying tears of joy over finally achieving her dream, but here she is a week later crying tears out of “sadness and frustration”. The champion says that she finally made it to the top of the mountain at WWE Elimination Chamber and now she feels like she’s in a “freefall”, saying that she feels like she’s letting her fans down. Naomi continues, saying that it’s especially hard because she knows that, by giving up the SmackDown Women’s Title, then she may be giving up WrestleMania as well. Naomi then does the hardest thing she’s had to do in her entire career by handing the SmackDown Women’s Title over to Daniel Bryan before the GM hugs Naomi. Naomi then has some parting words for the women’s locker room, saying that, when she comes back, everyone is going to “feel the freakin’ glow”.
As the fans give her a standing ovation, Naomi exits the ring with tears in her eyes as former champion Alexa Bliss makes her way to the ring. Alexa is all smiles regarding Naomi’s emotional moment, saying that they can “figure this out” together. Alexa then says that they need a champion on the Road to WrestleMania before saying that her arms and legs are working fine, saying that Daniel Bryan should give the SmackDown Women’s Title back to her. The GM says that Alexa Bliss is the former champion and he supposes that it does make sense to give Alexa the title back but he’s not going to do that! Daniel then says that what he’s going to do is give Alexa Bliss an “opportunity” and he knows that Alexa is owed a rematch for the SmackDown Women’s Title so, while Naomi is not able to compete, he knows someone who is. The GM then makes the big announcement that Alexa Bliss is going to compete to decide a brand new SmackDown Women’s Champion right now before revealing that Alexa’s opponent is a familiar one in the form of the first ever SmackDown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch!
After Naomi was forced to relinquish the SmackDown Women’s Title due to injury, a new champion would be crowned on SmackDown LIVE as former champion Becky Lynch would face familiar rival and fellow former champion Alexa Bliss for the SmackDown Women’s Championship! During the match, Becky Lynch would try to drag Alexa Bliss to the center of the ring, but Alexa would hang onto the ring skirt. Then, as the referee fixes the ring skirt, Alexa Bliss delivers an illegal shot to the throat of Becky Lynch before rolling up Becky and hooking the tights for the illegal advantage, scoring the three-count to become the new SmackDown Women’s Champion! After the match, Mickie James would come out to congratulate Alexa Bliss before Mickie decides to rush the ring for a piece of Becky Lynch, but Becky gets the better of Mickie, forcing Mickie to retreat.
The SmackDown Tag Team Champions were in action on SmackDown LIVE as American Alpha would face Breezango in a non-title match. In the end, it was American Alpha hitting their double team bulldog on Fandango with Chad Gable pinning Fandango to pick up the win for the champions. After the match, The Usos would come in through the crowd, asking if American Alpha want a “fight”. However, The Usos keep their distance as they saying that they can’t prepare for two brothers who’ve got “nothing to lose” before declaring that what the champions are feeling isn’t “paranoia”, it’s The Usos.
In the latest chapter of their intensely personal rivalry, SmackDown LIVE would see Nikki Bella go one-on-one with Natalya in a Falls Count Anywhere Match where pinfall or submission would count anywhere in the arena with no disqualifications and no count-outs! Early on in the match, Nikki Bella would try to get a table out from under the ring but Natalya would stop Nikki before sliding the table back under the ring. Nikki would then get her hands on a kendo stick, using the stick to wear Natalya down before the battle heads into the crowd. Natalya would then try to suplex Nikki off of the barricade onto the concrete, but Nikki was able to fight back before delivering a kick to the head of Natalya with Natalya just managing to kick out. Nikki then brings Natalya back to the ringside area before Natalya regains the advantage, sending Nikki into the steel steps. Natalya then grabs the kendo stick but decides not to use the stick in favor of using the announce table as Natalya exposes the announce table.
Nikki then fights back, sending Natalya back into the ring but Natalya is able to slide back out and get under Nikki Bella. Natalya then tries for a powerbomb to Nikki through the table, but Nikki is able to fight out. It was then Nikki who picks up Natalya, slamming Natalya on the exposed table with her signature spinebuster. However, Natalya is able to kick out of the ensuing pinfall and the match continues with Natalya bringing Nikki up the ramp. Natalya then suplexes Nikki on the ramp before the rivals take the fight to the backstage area. This is when Maryse would find herself an unintended victim of the Falls Count Anywhere Match as The Miz’s wife was in the wrong place at the wrong time when Natalya shoves Nikki Bella towards a nearby curtain as Nikki inadvertently collides with Maryse! Nikki then sends Natalya face-first through a nearby mirror, shattering the mirror into pieces but Natalya is still able to kick out!
The match then comes out to the stage where Nikki delivers a Spear to Natalya, but Natalya kicks out before bringing Nikki down to the bottom of the ramp and trying to lock in the Sharpshooter. However, Nikki is able to counter into the STF, but just when it looked like Natalya was going to tap out, Maryse would come out with a steel pipe, blasting Nikki in the knee with the weapon! Maryse then delivers a shot to the mid-section of Nikki Bella before continuing to waylay Nikki with the pipe to the point that The Miz has to come out to restrain his wife. Natalya then seizes the opportunity presented by Maryse’s attack as Natalya pins Nikki to pick up the win in the Falls Count Anywhere Match.
Then it was time for the main event as AJ Styles, John Cena, The Miz, Luke Harper, Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Kalisto, Apollo Crews, Mojo Rawley, and Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose would compete in a 10-Man Battle Royal with the winner becoming the new #1 Contender for the WWE Championship with a match for the title against champion Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania! With all ten Superstars competing for their spot at WrestleMania, Baron Corbin would go on a tear during the match before scoring the first elimination as “The Lone Wolf” eliminates Mojo Rawley from the battle royal. Shortly after this, Dolph Ziggler and Kalisto would battle on the ring apron with Dolph using the mask of Kalisto to gain the advantage, catching Kalisto with a super kick to knock Kalisto to the floor and out of title contention. Dolph then tries to eliminate Apollo Crews but Crews fights back, eliminating Dolph Ziggler from the battle royal! Ziggler responds to the elimination by grabbing a steel chair and laying in a shot to the back of Kalisto. This draws the attention of Apollo Crews with Baron Corbin taking advantage, eliminating Apollo from the match. On the outside, Crews would dodge a chair shot from Dolph before grabbing the chair and chasing Dolph to the back.
In an awesome sequence in the middle of the ring, John Cena would go for the Attitude Adjustment to AJ Styles but AJ would land on his feet before Luke Harper levels Cena with a super kick and Styles hits Harper with the Pele Kick. Dean Ambrose then goes for Dirty Deeds but AJ fights Ambrose off before Baron Corbin takes AJ down with a clothesline before Ambrose levels Corbin with a clothesline! Having avoided the sequence of events, The Miz would take control of the battle royal, taking out four of his five opponents before focusing on John Cena with a series of kicks before Cena counters, tossing The Miz over the top rope and eliminating The Miz. A little later on in the match, Baron Corbin would hit John Cena with the End of Days before Dean Ambrose looks for Dirty Deeds, but “The Lone Wolf” fights out of it before charging at Ambrose, but the Intercontinental Champion pulls down the top rope and Corbin is sent over the top rope, eliminating Corbin from the battle royal! Much like WWE Elimination Chamber, Baron Corbin would not react well to the elimination as Corbin pulls Dean Ambrose out of the ring, planting Ambrose with the End of Days on the floor!
Chaos would continue to reign in the battle royal as, with John Cena trying to recover from the End of Days, The Miz would re-enter the ring and, despite being eliminated, The Miz would toss John Cena over the top rope, eliminating Cena from the match! Infuriated, John Cena would rush the ring for a piece of The Miz, but The Miz is quick to flee into the crowd as referees send Cena to the back. Meanwhile, in the ring, it comes down to AJ Styles coming face-to-face with Luke Harper with Dean Ambrose down on the outside. Styles and Harper then battle each other, trying to send the other over the top rope before Dean Ambrose sneaks up behind the two men, trying to eliminate both Styles and Harper but both men hang on. This leads to Styles, Harper, and Ambrose all battling on the ring apron on the verge of elimination. Ambrose then lifts Styles up on his shoulders before Harper catches Ambrose with a kick that causes AJ to fall back into the ring while Ambrose falls to the outside, eliminating the Intercontinental Champion from the match.
With just AJ Styles and Luke Harper remaining, both Superstars would battle on the top rope with AJ Styles knocking Luke Harper back into the ring. AJ then brings Harper into the corner with Harper putting AJ on the ring apron. Both men then once again find themselves battling on the ring apron with AJ Styles climbing over the top turnbuckle to fight Luke Harper and this is when Harper would grab AJ as Harper is able to pull Styles to the floor just a split second before Harper lands on the floor himself! However, the referees disagree on the conclusion of the match and this causes an argument between AJ Styles and Luke Harper as they both believe that they won the battle royal!
This brings out SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan as the GM confers with the referees before announcing that the official ruling is that the battle royal is being ruled a Draw, meaning that neither man is the winner! The GM then follows this up by announcing that a definitive winner will be determined next week! This is when tensions between AJ Styles and Luke Harper boil over with Harper leveling Styles with the Discus Clothesline! Left in a rage over the conclusion of the battle royal, Luke Harper was visibly furious after the match, but that was made worse when his former leader and WWE Champion Bray Wyatt appears with Randy Orton on the Tron as Bray just laughs at his former follower.
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