Welcome to SmackDown Live. We begin with a look at the February 8, 2016 Raw when Daniel Bryan had to announce his in ring retirement. We go to earlier today with the announcement that Daniel Bryan has been cleared to return to wrestling.
We are in Dallas, Texas and your announcers are Corey Graves, Byron Saxton, and Tom Phillips. Daniel Bryan makes his way to the ring. Daniel thanks everyone. He says that something horrific happened to Shane McMahon last week, but the two people he needs to talk to are not here yet. With that said, Daniel says he is going to talk about something else. A little over two years ago, when he was forced to retire, it was one of the hardest days of his life. Daniel says he focused on one thing, being grateful. He continued to focus on those things. There were times when he was depressed on not doing what he loved to do. There were times when he was angry for not being able to do what he loves to do, but he became grateful.
Daniel says there is a lot to be grateful for. He says he has a great family and friends, and the best fans in the world. He also has an amazing wife. When she saw him want to get back into the ring, she told him that it is great to feel wonderful, but you need to achieve your dreams. He went to specialists and when they gave him good news, he went to another. When he was cleared, she told him he needs to fight for his dreams. When he got depressed, he wasn’t just grateful, he fought. There was a time when he wanted to quit, but instead of walking out, she told him you don’t walk out. You fight for your dreams and if you fight for your dreams, your dreams fight for you.
Every hard thing seems impossible until it becomes real. Over the last two months, he has asked WWE to re-look at his case. They sent him to the best neurologists all over the country. Every doctor has said the same thing. You are cleared.
There was a time when being cleared to compete in a WWE ring seemed impossible, but it is real. Daniel says he has a lot of thank yous. He wants to thank the WWE and its doctors. They looked at him as a person and not the wrestler and he is thankful for that. He is thankful for giving him a second look. Daniel thanks everyone here and everyone watching at home because you have supported him for this entire time. Every week, when he comes out, you chant YES and you chant his name. For that, Daniel says thank you.
Daniel says he wants to thank Brie. He says you don’t truly understand how much she has supported him for the last two years and he is truly grateful.
Now, on to the fun stuff. Daniel says he does not exactly when or where he will get back in the ring . . . the crowd points to the Wrestlemania sign and the they chant Wrestlemania.
Daniel thinks about it and he asks if that sounds like a good idea. He does not know about Wrestlemania but he asks if Daniel Bryan will compete again in a WWE ring and the crowd chants Yes.
We go to commercial.
Match Number One: Rusev (with Aiden English) versus Shinsuke Nakamura
They lock up and Rusev with a wrist lock. Nakamura uses the ropes to reverse the hold. Rusev with a side head lock and take down but Nakamura with a head scissors. They both get back to their feet. They have a test of strength but Nakamura avoids Rusev and tells him to COME ON. Nakamura with a knee and round kick. Rusev responds and they go back and forth. Rusev sends Nakamura into the corner and kicks Nakamura in the leg. Rusev with a spinning heel kick for a near fall.
Rusev with a short arm clothesline. Rusev with kicks to the back and he gets a near fall. Nakamura with forearms but Rusev with a back elbow. Rusev with a reverse chin lock. Nakamura with a jaw breaker but he runs into a boot from Rusev. Rusev with a kick to Nakamura followed by elbow drops and Rusev gets a near fall. Rusev chokes Nakamura in the ropes and Rusev follows with a belly-to-back suplex for a near fall. Rusev with a reverse chin lock.
Nakamura with elbows to escape the hold but Rusev with a knee. Nakamura with a flying boot to the head. Nakamura with strikes to Rusev followed by kicks to the chest. Rusev blocks a kick but Nakamura uses the other leg. Nakamura chokes Rusev in the corner and then puts Rusev on the turnbuckles for a running knee to the midsection. Rusev with a drop toe hold and he tries for the Accolade but Nakamura escapes. Rusev with a round kick to the temple for a near fall.
Rusev prepares to Machka but Nakamura moves out of the way. Nakamura floats over into a cross arm breaker attempt and Nakamura with a near fall. Rusev with a near fall. Nakamura with a rollup for the three count.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
After the match, English attacks Nakamura and Rusev joins in on the attack. Styles watches and then he takes his sweet time to get ready to help. Nakamura is able to fight off Rusev and English so AJ’s attempts to take off his jacket was for nothing.
We have a video package for the Smackdown Women’s Title Match and the challenger, Asuka.
Charlotte is in her dressing room watching the monitor. Natalya enters and she says that Charlotte is so busted. She says that she can see the look in her eyes because Charlotte is scared. She says the clock is ticking and it is only a matter of time until the Queen bows to the Empress.
Charlotte says she is looking forward to her toughest challenge.
Natalya says she is better than both of them. She complains about how Asuka came in and took her Wrestlemania moment.
Charlotte says that Natalya can face her tonight.
We go to commercial.
We are back and AJ Styles walks in the back and Shinsuke Nakamura tells AJ he did not need his help. AJ says he knows. AJ interrupts Nakamura to say what Nakamura is going to say about beating AJ at Wrestlemania. Nakamura says that AJ needs more confidence and he will do it with a knee to the face.
Match Number Two: Baron Corbin versus Tye Dillinger
Dillinger with a waist lock and Corbin backs him into the turnbuckles. Dillinger with a side head lock and he holds on. Corbin blocks a snap mare and Dillinger with a running forearm. Corbin misses a kick and Tye with a chop. Corbin with a punch. Corbin with a forearm and he sends Dillinger into the turnbuckles. Corbin slides around the ring post and Dillinger with a jumping boot and clothesline to send Corbin over the top rope to the floor.