Just 24 hours removed from a most newsworthy episode of WWE Raw, this week’s episode of WWE Smackdown Live kept the momentum going on the road to both Fastlane and WrestleMania.
In breaking Smackdown news, Kevin Owens made his surprise return to the blue brand tonight, and by order of Vince McMahon was inserted into the main event WWE Title match at Fastlane, replacing Kofi Kingston. McMahon said that he was replacing Kingston with someone more “deserving” and “talented” than The New Day member, and it will be none other than a returning Kevin Owens. As of now, the new main event of Fastlane is set to be Owens vs Bryan, however that is very likely to change, or could be setting up Kofi’s involvement in the WWE Title match at WrestleMania.
New Day members Big E and Xavier Woods commented on their tag team partner Kofi Kingston being replaced at the PPV per Mr. McMahon, with Woods Tweeting, “so what else does Kofi Kingston have to do? He’s a multi-time champion. He’s given 11 amazing years to this company. He’s pinned the WWE champion. Kofi is more than good enough. Kofi is more than worthy. What else do you want from him? WHAT ELSE?”
Big E kept him comments a bit more succinct, Tweeting, “I don’t even know why we’re surprised anymore.”
Also on Smackdown this week, Matt Hardy made his return to WWE TV, after revealing just a few days ago that his contract was set to expire in less than two weeks.
Hardy returned and appears to be in great shape, having lost weight and gained muscle mass, and in his return match he teamed up with Jeff Hardy to defeat The Bar.
According to PWInsider, both Matt and Jeff Hardy’s WWE contracts were set to expire in the coming days, however, WWE decided to trigger a one-year option on Matt and Jeff’s current deals, extending their contracts to 2020.
As noted, WWE is being very careful not to let any talents go in order to prevent rival wrestling promotions from signing free agents, and with The Hardy Boyz being a big grab for companies such as AEW and ROH, it was likely a priority for WWE to keep the brothers for at least another year.