The tension began to rise on the Feb. 6 edition of SmackDown LIVE when Orton hit the Glorious titleholder with an RKO out of nowhere, just moments after Roode defeated Rusev to retain the championship. Though Orton’s motives were unknown at the time, it soon became clear that he was after the United States Championship.
Still furious over being struck with an RKO seven days prior, Roode made it clear that he wanted The Viper to answer his United States Championship Open Challenge the following week. The Viper did just that, but an interruption from Jinder Mahal prevented the title bout from getting started, and the former WWE Champion used SmackDown LIVE’s Top 10 List to stir the pot. After a fight broke out between all three, the opportunistic Modern Day Maharaja dropped both competitors with the ring-shaking Khallas.
Though Mahal would again work his way into the mix the following week, SmackDown LIVE Commission Shane McMahon overruled General Manager Daniel Bryan, who wanted to give Mahal an opportunity to challenge for the star-spangled championship. Instead, Shane made a one-on-one title bout between Roode and WWE’s Apex Predator for WWE Fastlane.
Will The Viper sink his fangs into the U.S. Title at WWE Fastlane? Find out when the SmackDown pay-per-view streams live, tonight at 8 ET/5 PT on the award-winning WWE Network.