– Tonight’s WWE SmackDown opens up with a graphic in memory of WWE Hall of Famer Pedro Morales, who passed away at the age of 76 today.
– We go right to a look back at how Vince McMahon “suspended” Becky Lynch on last night’s RAW, naming Charlotte Flair as Lynch’s replacement for the WrestleMania 35 match with RAW Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey.
– We’re live from the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio as Tom Phillips welcomes us. He’s joined by Corey Graves and Byron Saxton. They hype tonight’s show and we go to the ring.
– Charlotte Flair makes her way out to mostly boos. Flair looks up at the WrestleMania 35 sign and says this is her destiny. She wishes she could say her heart is breaking for Becky Lynch but it isn’t. Fans chant for Becky. Flair goes on about Becky and says we all know that Flair is the backbone of the division, the franchise player. Flair says she is a winner.
Flair says Vince McMahon chose her because he made a smart business decision. Vince chose a future WWE Hall of Famer over someone that’s just had a few good months. Fans chant for Becky again. Flair mocks Becky for not coming out. Flair goes on and says Vince chose her because WrestleMania is the biggest match of the year and he’s not going to risk it on a flash in the pan like Lynch. Flair says we may not be happy with Vince’s decision but she can promise WrestleMania will be like every other pay-per-view she’s main evented – everyone will be standing on their feet doing the “this is awesome!” chant. Flair tells everyone to go ahead and boo her now, you’re welcome. Flair dedicates the match to her former best friend, Becky. Flair goes to leave but the “you suck!” chant starts up. Flair brags about main eventing WrestleMania. Flair says she has a front row ticket for Sunday’s Elimination Chamber match between Ruby Riott and RAW Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey. Flair promises Rousey she won’t interfere, she’s just going to scout the match. Flair says maybe we’ll get a new champion and Flair will get a new WrestleMania opponent. Flair tells everyone to shut their mouths, then exits the ring.
The IIconics vs. Carmella and Naomi vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville
We go to the ring and out first comes Carmella. Her partner Naomi is out next. The losers of this match will enter the Elimination Chamber first with Sasha Banks and Bayley on Sunday. We go to commercial.
Back from the break and we see The New Day backstage talking about which of them will enter the Gauntlet Match tonight due to Mustafa Ali’s injury. We get pre-recorded videos of the blue brand teams talking about Sunday’s Chamber match for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles. We go back to the ring and the other teams are out – Billie Kay and Peyton Royce, Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose.
The IIconics avoid starting the match by tagging out. Rose goes at it with Carmella and drops her. Deville tags in and they double team Carmella for a 2 count now. Carmella turns it around and tags in Naomi for the double team on Deville. Naomi with a quick pin attempt. More back and forth between Deville and Naomi now. Naomi hits a big split in the middle of the ring for a 2 count. Deville turns it around and overpowers Naomi as Rose cheers her on. Carmella comes in and shows Deville up. Naomi tags back in and she wants a piece of Rose. Rose hesitates. Naomi chases her back in the ring. Rose tries to tag The IIconics but they jump off the apron. Naomi ends up taking Rose down on the floor after an assist from Carmella. We go to commercial.
Back from the break and Carmella has Deville grounded. The IIconics have managed to avoid action so far. Deville and Carmella collide in mid-air with crossbody attempts and both go down. The referee counts. Rose runs in and knocks Naomi off the apron to prevent a tag as Carmella crawls. Rose drags Deville over to the corner and tags in, as does Naomi.
Naomi comes flying off the top with a crossbody on Rose. Naomi goes to work on Naomi and stuns her. Naomi with a springboard kick from the middle rope. Deville comes in but Naomi rocks her with a forearm. Deville hangs on to the apron but Carmella superkicks her to the floor. Naomi keeps control and hits the split-legged moonsault for the pin to win on Rose.
Winners: Naomi and Carmella
– After the match, it’s confirmed that Deville and Rose will start the Chamber with Banks and Bayley on Sunday. The celebration is cut short as The IIconics hit the ring and unload on Carmella and Naomi, beating them down and kicking them out of the ring. Royce and Kay pose together as their music hits.
– We get a video package of red brand teams discussing Sunday’s Chamber match for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles.
– The announcers plug the Road to WrestleMania 35 on the WWE Network.
– We go to the ring for the premiere of McMizTV as SmackDown Tag Team Champions Shane McMahon and The Miz come out to a pop. Greg Hamilton does the introductions. Shane and Miz hit the ring as we go to commercial.
Back from the break and the announcers talk about Mustafa Ali’s injury. We go to a pre-recorded video from Ali. He says this is the biggest hit he’s taken. He expresses frustration over losing his shot at the WWE Title, and says this is not the end for him. He says it will take more than Randy Orton, Samoa Joe and Erick Rowan trying to take him out. Ali goes on and says he holds the pen that writes his own story, and everyone can keep trying to put him down but he won’t stay.
We go back to the ring as The Miz and Shane welcome us to their new show. Miz talks about how The Usos send a strong message last week. He says Shane wasn’t here last week because he was filming for a future episode of NCIS. Shane goes on and introduces their guests for tonight and their challengers for Sunday, The Usos – Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso. The Usos hit the ring and Shane invites them to take a seat but they want to stay standing. The Usos end up calling Shane and Miz a couple of wanna-be’s, saying they want to be just like The Usos. Shane says they aren’t trying to be The Usos but they are the greatest tag team in the world. The Usos taunt them for not riding together, training together, eating together, bathing together. The Usos give each other a “Tag Team Test” now where they answer various questions about each other. Shane and Miz do the same thing but they’re whispering the answers to each other. They get a pop from the crowd for mentioning a local minor league baseball team. This leads to the two teams having words in the middle of the ring. The Usos get hyped up and then welcome the champs to The Uso Penitentiary. They drop the mics and Shane says the only thing that’s real is the titles. Shane and Miz raise the titles in the air, right in the faces of The Usos. Shane tells The Usos he will see them on Sunday. A chant for The Usos actually starts up now as the two teams face off. The Usos suddenly drop the champs out of nowhere with a pair of superkicks. Jimmy and Jey leave as their music hits. Shane and Miz recover, looking on from the ring.
– We see The New Day backstage walking and they’re excited for the Gauntlet Match.
– Tom leads us to a video tribute for Black History Month, focusing on the 1963 march to Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The video includes footage of WWE Superstars at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN earlier this year.
Gauntlet Match: Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy, Kofi Kingston
We go to the ring for tonight’s Gauntlet main event with more than 1 hour of the show left to go. WWE Champion Daniel Bryan is out first with Erick Rowan. The winner of this match will enter the Elimination Chamber last on Sunday. Bryan takes the mic and says there are a lot of people who want to see him lose the WWE Title on Sunday inside the Chamber. Bryan says the truth is that those fans are lying to themselves because they are all fickle.
Bryan says those fans need someone like The New Daniel to show them how to live their pathetic lives. Bryan goes on about how hard the Chamber is and says it will likely take time off his career. Bryan talks about sacrifice and says this is needed to keep his WWE Title… the music interrupts and out comes The New Day – Big E, Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston. The New Day gathers at ringside with a platter of pancakes and it looks like it will be Kofi getting the spot in the Gauntlet tonight and then the Chamber on Sunday. We go to commercial.
Back from the break and the match is underway as Kofi and Bryan go at it. Rowan looks on from ringside as do Big E and Woods. Bryan turns it around and takes Kofi to the mat. They continue to trade offense on the mat. Kofi sends Bryan out to the floor for a breather with Rowan. Bryan returns to the ring and they trade holds again. Things finally pick up as Kofi hits a few deep arm drags. Kofi keeps Bryan grounded again now. Bryan tries to turn it around as The New Day rallies the crowd for Kofi. Bryan drops Kofi with a big knee to the gut, and another, then a third. Bryan keeps up the slow pace of the match and drives a knee into Kofi on the mat. More back and forth now. Kofi drops Bryan with a back elbow for a 2 count. Kofi sends Bryan out of the ring and runs the ropes, nailing a big dive to take Bryan back down on the outside. We go to commercial.
Back from the break and Bryan is in control. We see how he sent Kofi into the steel ring steps during the match. Bryan keeps control and covers for a 2 count. More back and forth now. Kofi gets hung up on the ropes and Bryan goes to the top and flies for a shot to the back of the neck but Kofi still kicks out at 2. Bryan goes on and returns to the top rope for the diving headbutt but he misses. The New Day tries to rally for Kofi again. Kofi mounts some offense and hits the Boom Drop. Kofi with a somersault senton for a close 2 count on Bryan.
Kofi shuts Bryan’s comeback down with a kick. More back and forth. Kofi with another 2 count. Kofi charges but Bryan sends him face-first into the middle turnbuckle. Bryan ends up turning Kofi upside down in the corner with a Tree of Woe. Bryan with kicks and a charging shot to the face. Kofi still kicks out at 2. More back and forth between the two. Bryan takes Kofi back up and looks to hit the belly-to-back superplex but Kofi resists and they both go down hard. We go to commercial.
Back from the break and they trade big strikes in the middle of the ring. Bryan beats Kofi down with headbutts and then delivers the kicks while Kofi is on his knees. Bryan levels Kofi with the roundhouse kick but Kofi still kicks out at 2. Kofi gets up fighting. They trade close 2 counts in the middle of the ring. Kofi resists The LeBell Lock. Bryan finally gets it locked in. Kofi breaks it after a minute or two by getting to the rope. Kofi is down on the floor now. Bryan runs the apron and levels Kofi again with the running knee to the floor. The referee counts now. Bryan brings it back into the ring and goes to the top rope. Bryan leaps out with the diving headbutt but Kofi meets him in mid-air with a big dropkick counter.
Rowan gets involved from ringside with a shot to Kofi but Big E runs over to make the save. Rowan fights Big E off but Woods drops him. Woods checks on Big E as the referee ejects them both from ringside. He does not eject Rowan. This leads to Bryan getting a close 2 count on a distracted Kofi. Bryan unloads with kicks in the corner now but he goes down. The referee is distracted with tending to Bryan now, allowing Rowan to attack Kofi at ringside and throw him over the barrier. The referee did not see the attack but he figured it out and Rowan has been sent to the back now. Bryan brings it back in but he runs into a Trouble In Paradise for the pin. Kofi has eliminated Bryan. The music hits and out next comes Jeff Hardy to face Kofi. Kofi slowly recovers from the mat as Hardy takes his time getting to the ring.
Back from the break and they’re going at it. Hardy mounts offense and goes to the top for the Swanton Bomb. Hardy leaps for it but Kofi moves out of the way. More back and forth between the two now. Kofi with a few close 2 counts. Kofi goes to the top but Hardy cuts him off and works him over. Hardy climbs up for the superplex but Kofi resists. Kofi knocks Hardy to the mat. Hardy comes back swinging and he crotches Kofi. Hardy climbs back up for another superplex attempt but Kofi keeps fighting back. Kofi knocks Hardy to the mat once again. Kofi leaps out with the crossbody but Hardy turns it into a 2 count of his own. Hardy blocks Trouble In Paradise but Kofi comes right back with SOS for the pin. Hardy has been eliminated. The music hits and out next comes Samoa Joe. Joe marches to the ring while Kofi tries to recover. Back to commercial.
Back from the break and Joe unloads on Kofi, keeping him down. Joe talks trash and tells Kofi to get up. Kofi finally starts to mount some offense into the corner. Joe counters with a whip and sends Kofi into the corner, then drops him with a big enziguri. Kofi still manages to kick out at 2. Joe with more offense and an abdominal stretch. Joe connects with a big clothesline and another close 2 count. They both end up on the floor now as Kofi launches himself out over the top rope. The referee counts but they make it back in right before the double count out. Joe levels Kofi with a big lariat for a 2 count. Kofi has been in the match for more than 45 minutes now.
Joe with an inverted atomic drop as some fans chant his name. Joe takes his time working Kofi around now, taking him back down to the mat and keeping him grounded with a knee to the back. Kofi fights out of the hold and kicks Joe away but Joe comes right back with a senton to the back. Joe covers for a 2 count. Kofi fights back from the apron now but Joe knocks him down to the floor. The referee counts while Joe regroups in the ring. Kofi crawls back into the ring and Joe can’t believe it. Joe twists Kofi’s neck and keep him grounded by his neck now. Kofi fights back up and out one more time but Joe catches him in the Coquina Clutch out of nowhere. Somehow Kofi manages to turn this into a pin and he gets it. Joe has been eliminated.
Joe is furious now. Joe grabs Kofi and drops him on his neck. Joe grabs Kofi on the floor and locks in the Coquina Clutch, pulling back on the floor. Referees run down and try to break the hold but Joe keeps it locked. The music hits and out comes AJ Styles. Styles attacks Joe and breaks the hold, freeing Kofi. AJ rocks Joe and backs him up the ramp. Kofi looks to be laid out at ringside as AJ checks on him. We go back to commercial.
Back from the break and AJ has given Kofi time to recover. AJ checks on Kofi again and tells him he doesn’t have to do this. Kofi gets fired up and in AJ’s face, says he’s waited too long for this. Kofi goes on yelling and forces AJ’s hand as AJ drops him in the middle of the ring. AJ goes to work on Kofi now, dropping him with a backbreaker for a 2 count. Tom says Kofi has been in the match for more than 52 minutes now. AJ launches Kofi into the corner and sends him back down for another pin attempt. AJ keeps control and focuses on the hurt leg now. AJ with a submission until Kofi grabs the bottom rope to break it. They get back to their feet and AJ ends up buckling Kofi’s knee with a stiff kick. AJ drops Kofi on his head for another pin attempt. AJ tells Kofi to stay down as he stalks him a bit. Kofi slides out of a suplex attempt and rolls AJ up for a 2 count. Kofi with another pin attempt, and another. AJ comes right back with a nasty backbreaker. Tom says Kofi has more than 56 minutes in the match now.
Kofi looks to make another comeback now as they’re both on the apron. Kofi runs the apron and charges with double knees but AJ moves and Kofi crashes his knees into the ring post. Kofi falls to the floor and the referee starts counting as AJ looks on from the ring. Kofi beats the 10 count just in time and AJ can’t believe it. AJ goes right back to work on Kofi. AJ takes Kofi to the top for the Frankensteiner but AJ hesitates, allowing Kofi to hold on to the top rope as AJ hits the mat. Kofi comes off the top with a crossbody to the back for another close pin attempt on AJ.
AJ goes for the Calf Crusher as Kofi passes the 60 minute mark. AJ drops Kofi into the Calf Crusher and Kofi taps out. Kofi has been eliminated.
Fans give Kofi a standing ovation as Woods and Big E come out to help him make his exit. The music hits and out comes the final competitor, Randy Orton. AJ watches the stage and waits but Orton comes from behind, hits the ring and drops AJ with the RKO outta nowhere. Orton covers for the pin to win the Elimination Chamber advantage.
Winner: Randy Orton
– After the bell, Orton stands tall over AJ and has his arm raised as the music hits. They did the finish just in time as SmackDown abruptly goes off the air with Orton standing over AJ.