After the news was made public that, more than two years after having to announce his retirement due to injury, he would finally be allowed to wrestle in a WWE ring again, SmackDown LIVE kicks off with SmackDown LIVE General Manager Daniel Bryan, who receives a thunderous response from the crowd in Dallas. The GM first addresses the assault on Shane McMahon last week but says that, since Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn have not arrived yet, he will have to wait until later to deal with that situation. Daniel then takes that opportunity to address the big news, saying that, when he had to retire a little over two years ago, he focused on being “grateful” to get through all of the depressing times and all of the frustration. Daniel continues, saying that he has amazing family and he has amazing friends and he has the greatest fans in the world. As the tears begin to flow, Daniel says that he has an amazing, beautiful wife who said that it’s wonderful that he’s grateful but he needs to “fight” for his dreams. Daniel then says that his wife is the one who kept pushing him to go and see specialist after specialist before saying that there was a time where he wanted to “quit” and Brie got in his ear and told him that he needs to fight for his dreams because “if you fight for your dreams, your dreams will fight for you!”
Daniel continues, saying that every hard thing seems “impossible” until it becomes “real” before saying that, over the past two months, he has asked WWE to review his case and they have sent him to see the best neurologists all over the country and every doctor he has seen has said the same thing, “you are cleared”. Daniel then says that there was a time where being able to compete in a WWE ring again seemed “impossible” but now it’s “real”. Daniel then has some people to thank, first thanking WWE and their doctors for looking at him as the “person” not him as the “wrestler”. Daniel then thanks everyone in the crowd and everyone watching at home for supporting him every step of the way before a tearful Daniel thanks his wife, Brie, saying that he is “incredibly grateful” for how much she has supported him.
Daniel then gets on to the “fun stuff”, saying that he doesn’t know “when or where” he will get back in a WWE ring. The fans are quick to start a “WrestleMania” chant with several pointing at the WrestleMania sign as Daniel stares up at the sign himself before asking the fans if him competing at WrestleMania would be a “good idea”. The GM admits that he doesn’t know if he will be competing on “The Grandest Stage of Them All” this year or not, but asks if he will be returning to in-ring competition, leading the fans in an uproarious “yes” chant before Daniel leaves the ring with a smile on his face.
The opening match of the night would be a rematch from Fastlane as, less than three weeks before he challenges AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania, the winner of the 2018 Men’s Royal Rumble Match Shinsuke Nakamura would go one-on-one with “The Lion of Bulgaria” Rusev, with Aiden English in his corner, with WWE Champion AJ Styles seated at ringside. In the end, it was Shinsuke Nakamura outwrestling Rusev, keeping Rusev trapped for the three-count. After the match, Aiden English would ambush Shinsuke Nakamura, leading to a two-on-one beatdown and, while AJ Styles takes his time in preparing to come to the aid of Nakamura, Nakamura proves that he doesn’t need the help as “The Artist” sends both Rusev & Aiden English packing before glancing at AJ Styles with a smile on his face.
With both competitors confirmed for the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania, SmackDown LIVE would see “The Lone Wolf” Baron Corbin square off with Tye Dillinger. In the end, it was Baron Corbin hitting the End of Days on Tye Dillinger, pinning Tye for the win.
As she prepares to defend the SmackDown Women’s Title against Asuka at WrestleMania, SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair would face Natalya in a non-title match. During a grueling non-title contest, Charlotte Flair would survive Natalya’s Sharpshooter before locking in a unique variation of the Figure-Four Leg Lock on the ring apron. Shortly after this, Natalya would hit Charlotte with a superplex, leaving both Superstars down in the ring. This would bring out “Ms. Money-in-the-Bank” Carmella with a referee in tow as Carmella would frantically try to cash in her Money-in-the-Bank contract on Charlotte Flair. However, Charlotte would put a stop to this by flattening Carmella with a big boot before Natalya takes advantage, surprising Charlotte with a roll-up, pinning the SmackDown Women’s Champion to pick up the win.
For the first time since Fastlane, The Usos were back together on SmackDown LIVE as SmackDown Tag Team Champion Jimmy Uso, with Jey Uso in his corner, would go one-on-one with one-half of The Bludgeon Brothers, Harper, with Rowan in his corner. During the match, Rowan would try to get into the ring and this would distract the referee and Jey Uso would take advantage with a super kick to Harper from the outside followed by Jimmy delivering a second super kick, but Harper would still kick out. Moments later, Harper would smash Jimmy’s face off of the ring post, following it up with the Discus Clothesline, pinning Jimmy for the win.
With a Triple Threat Match for the United States Championship at WrestleMania in his near future, Jinder Mahal, along with Sunil Singh, would appear on SmackDown LIVE. After Jinder insults the fans, “Glorious” Bobby Roode interrupts, saying that the only thing that Jinder “deserves” is a beating on “The Grandest Stage of Them All” en route to reclaiming the United States Title. This brings out United States Champion Randy Orton, who says that, without the help of Jinder’s “stooge”, “you suck”. With a fight about to break out, Jinder decides to shove Sunil Singh into Randy Orton and the United States Champion is quick to dispatch Sunil with his signature DDT. Orton then sizes Sunil up for the RKO but Bobby Roode jumps in with a Glorious DDT to Sunil. Roode then goes for the Glorious DDT but Orton avoids the move before going for the RKO but Roode breaks free as well, leading to a three-way standoff between the WrestleMania opponents.
With all four women confirmed for the first ever WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal, SmackDown LIVE would see Becky Lynch and Naomi take on The Riott Squad’s Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan, with Ruby Riott in their corner. In the end, Becky Lynch would lock in the Dis-Arm-Her on Sarah Logan and, with Naomi taking out Liv Morgan with the Rear View, Sarah Logan would have no choice but to tap out as Becky Lynch and Naomi pick up the win.
With Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn reportedly in the arena, SmackDown LIVE General Manager Daniel Bryan would come back out to the ring to address Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn’s assault on Shane McMahon last week. The GM wastes little time in calling Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn out to the ring as Owens & Zayn are all smiles as Sami says that Daniel has been their biggest supporter and Daniel getting to compete again is proof of “good things” happening to “good people”, saying that, with all three of them as active competitors on SmackDown LIVE, SmackDown LIVE is now the “dream show”. Sami then says that Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, and Daniel Bryan sounds like a “dream team”. Daniel says that he appreciates that but that’s not why he’s out there before the GM shows footage of Owens & Zayn’s assault on Shane McMahon last week. Sami says that Shane “kind of deserved it” before Daniel says that what they did to Shane is a “big deal”, admitting that he was living vicariously through them as of late.
Daniel then says that what he doesn’t get is that Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn “won” when Shane gave them a match against each other at WrestleMania before taking a leave of absence but they still felt the need to assault their boss. The GM then says that Shane McMahon was right and saying that he doesn’t want to have to do this before saying that he’s been fired from WWE twice and he came back a “better man”. Daniel then says that he hates to have to do this before dropping the weight on Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn by telling Owens & Zayn, “you’re fired”! As Owens & Zayn are in a state of shock over losing their jobs, Daniel tells Owens & Zayn that this doesn’t mean that they are “gone forever”, it just means that they are “gone for now”.
The GM then apologizes before saying that they know how much they mean to him, offering a handshake to Owens & Zayn. Sami Zayn would accept Daniel’s handshake before the GM extends his hand to Kevin Owens with Owens accepting the handshake as well. However, just when it looks like Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn were going to leave the ring peacefully, Kevin Owens cheap shots Daniel Bryan! Owens & Zayn would then look to beat the GM down but Daniel Bryan would fight back, drilling Owens with kicks in the corner before suplexing Sami Zayn. Daniel then hits a series of running dropkicks in the corner to Owens & Zayn but, just as Daniel is getting fired up, Sami takes the GM down as the numbers game proves to be too much for Daniel to deal with. With Kevin Owens holding Daniel in place, Sami Zayn would drill Daniel with the Helluva Kick before Owens & Zayn bring Daniel to the outside as Owens delivers a powerbomb to Daniel Bryan on the ring apron! An unhinged Kevin Owens then repeatedly bellows as EMT’s rush out to ringside to check on Daniel Bryan, placing the GM on a backboard as Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn look on.
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