The March 27, 2018 Edition of Smackdown Live is a Professional wrestling television show of the WWE's Smackdown brand, which took place on March 27, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
For Randy Orton to retain his United States Title at WrestleMania, he will need to outlast both Bobby Roode and Jinder Mahal in what is sure to be a hard-hitting Triple Threat Match, but The Viper teamed with The Glorious One tonight to take on Mahal & Rusev, who took the place of the injured Sunil Singh.
Despite a few disagreements in the early goings, Orton & Roode did their best to work in tandem against their common enemy. Mahal exploited the uneasy alliance when he tossed Roode into Orton, who looked poised to hit an RKO on The Bulgarian Brute. However, with WrestleMania looming, The Apex Predator had no patience for the accidental contact, and after a bit of a shoving match, Orton connected with an RKO that laid out The Glorious One. This distraction proved costly, as Rusev caught The Viper flush with a kick to the jaw and secured the major pinfall over the United States Champion.
After being approached by Mahal in the backstage area after the match, Rusev declared that his victory over Orton granted him entry into the United States Title Match at WrestleMania, a notion SmackDown LIVE General Manager Daniel Bryan agreed with, officially making it a Fatal 4-Way for the United States Championship at WrestleMania 34 later in the evening.
Becky Lynch and Ruby Riott aimed to make a statement on SmackDown LIVE just 12 days before each competes in the first-ever WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal.
Due to the presence of Riott Squad members Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan at ringside, Lynch appeared to be at a distinct disadvantage, but The Irish Lass Kicker refused to be deterred, and after weathering several interference attempts by Logan and Morgan, she took down the always-game Ruby, catching her with a surprise rollup for the win.
After the match, The Riott Squad attempted to make Lynch regret her victory with a blindside attack, but she gave them a sample of what they’d have to watch out for at WrestleMania when she threw them over the top rope.
After being savagely attacked by Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn last week, an act which spoiled the announcement that he was now cleared to return to in-ring competition, SmackDown LIVE General Manager Daniel Bryan hit the scene on SmackDown LIVE with a blockbuster announcement.
Despite SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon currently suffering from a case of acute diverticulitis due to being brutalized by KO & Zayn, Bryan proclaimed that he believes Shane-O-Mac will be ready to compete at WrestleMania 34. With that in mind, The “Yes!” Man challenged Owens & Zayn to a tag team match against him and Shane at The Show of Shows. If Bryan & Shane win, then KO & Sami would still be fired, but the Commissioner and General Manager would get their retaliation. However, if Owens & Zayn win, they would get their jobs back on the blue brand.
An impassioned Bryan then made it clear that he was heading to WrestleMania with one goal in mind: Pulverizing The “Yep!” Movement.
The New Day returned to SmackDown LIVE to face off against The Bludgeon Brothers for the first time ever. It was also the first time that the complete contingent of The New Day was at full strength since Harper & Rowan brutally attacked them and The Usos at WWE Fastlane.
The New Day were back to being as positive as ever, wanting their crack at Harper & Rowan, but The Bludgeon Brothers brutalized The New Day throughout most of the contest. However, when SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos arrived and pounced on Rowan before he could enter the squared circle with his mallet, it seemed the odds were no longer in Harper & Rowan's favor.
Unfortunately for The Usos and The New Day, they could not exactly coexist, and The Bludgeon Brothers reclaimed their mallets and used them to force all five Superstars to flee ... at least for now.
With The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal less than two weeks away, two of the newest Superstars to declare for the contest (both did so earlier in the day), Dolph Ziggler and Tyler Breeze, squared off on SmackDown LIVE.
Breeze brought a high-paced offense to the contest, showing that he could be as strong a candidate as anyone to win the annual over-the-top rope melee, but The Showoff put the record scratch on Breeze's chances when he toppled him with a picture-perfect Zig Zag for the win before also laying out Fandango at ringside with a ruthless superkick.
In a first-time-ever battle between two of SmackDown LIVE's most athletic and hardest-hitting Superstars, Shinsuke Nakamura took on Shelton Benjamin. The Phenomenal One made good on his word to be in The Artist's corner in the interest of protecting their WWE Title Match at WrestleMania 34. Benjamin, of course, had his partner Chad Gable by his side, adding extra wrinkles to the match.
Benjamin brought it to WWE's Rockstar, not backing down in the face of Nakamura's onslaught, but The King of Strong Style reigned supreme, defeating Benjamin with a stinging Kinshasa for the win as Styles kept Gable at bay.
After the match, Shinsuke grabbed a microphone and made it clear that he never needed AJ Styles in his corner tonight. More words were exchanged, but Benjamin & Gable suddenly attacked Styles from behind as WWE's Rockstar was exiting. Nakamura was quick to come to The Phenomenal One's aid and fend off both Shelton & Chad, clearing them from the ring. However, with them now gone, Nakamura noticed that the battered Styles was staggering to his feet. The Artist began gearing up to clobber AJ with a Kinshasa, but he stopped short.
Nakamura once again let The Phenomenal One know what awaits him at WrestleMania: “Knee. To. Face.” Shinsuke then delivered a sly smile and patted Styles on the head before exiting, letting Styles know that one Kinshasa may be all it takes on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Dark Match: Tye Dillinger & Zack Ryder defeated Mojo Rawley & Mike Kanellis via pinfall.
- Jinder Mahal & Rusev (w/ Aiden English) defeated Bobby Roode & Randy Orton via pinfall at 18:21.
- Becky Lynch pinned Ruby Riott (w/ Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan) at 6:02.
- The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper & Rowan) defeated The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods) (w/ Kofi Kingston) by disqualification at 3:20.
- Dolph Ziggler pinned Tyler Breeze (w/ Fandango) at 2:13.
- Shinsuke Nakamura (w/ AJ Styles) pinned Shelton Benjamin (w/ Chad Gable) at 8:27.
Other on-screen talent
Jinder Mahal & Rusev vs. Bobby Roode & Randy Orton
Becky Lynch vs. Ruby Riott
Daniel Bryan issues WM challenge
The New Day vs. The Bludgeon Brothers
Dolph Ziggler vs. Tyler Breeze
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Shelton Benjamin
- WWE Smackdown Live #971 at CAGEMATCH.net
- WWE Smackdown Live #971 at WWE.com
- Smackdown #971 on WWE Network