The January 2nd episode of WWE SmackDown aired live from the Amway Center in Orlando, FL. Here are 5 takeaways from this week’s show:
AJ Styles Shared His New Year’s Resolutions
WWE Champion AJ Styles came down to the ring and announced his New Year’s resolutions. Styles stated that he wanted to hold the WWE Championship until WrestleMania and then leave WrestleMania 34 with the title. AJ added that another one of his resolutions was to defeat Sami Zayn tonight.
SmackDown GM Daniel Bryan came down to the ring and joined Styles. Shane McMahon’s music then hit and the SmackDown Commissioner also joined Bryan and Styles in the ring. The crowd then chanted “Shane McMahon!” and “Daniel Bryan!”. Shane stated that he had the best intentions last week when he came down to the ring to remove Sami Zayn. Shane apologized for contributing to AJ’s loss last week to Kevin Owens. AJ accepted the apology.
Shane admitted to having issues with Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Shane claimed that Daniel Bryan seems to favor Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens for allowing Zayn to be ringside last week on SmackDown. Shane asked Daniel if he was turning the yes movement into the yep movement. Shane added that if Owens going to be ringside for the match, he will be there as well.
Daniel stated that both Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon will be ringside for the main event. Bryan said that if they are both going to be ringside, then he will join them as well. Shane McMahon added that they are going to start the new year off with a bang and Daniel Bryan started a “yes!” chant to end the segment.
Last week on SmackDown, Shane McMahon inadvertently cost AJ Styles his match against Kevin Owens. I’m guessing something similar will happen in tonight’s main event.
The Usos Retained Their Titles
The Usos defended their SmackDown Tag Team Championships against Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin. Gable and Benjamin controlled the match early. Gable connected with a Moonsault off the top rope and tried to cover Jimmy but Jey broke it up as SmackDown went to a commercial break.
When SmackDown returned, Jimmy hit Gable with a Dropkick and tagged in Jey Uso. Jey knocked Benjamin out of the ring and leaped on top of him. Jey then knocked Gable out of the ring and leaped on to him as well. Benjamin dragged Jey out of the ring and slammed him into the barricade. Benjamin kneed Jey in the face and then teamed up with Gable to slam Jimmy to the mat for the pinfall victory.
Another referee ran down to the ring and said that Jey Uso was the legal man in the match and Jimmy Uso was the one who was pinned. The other referee admitted that he made a mistake and that Gable and Benjamin were not the legal men in the match. The match was then restarted.
Gable took out Jimmy Uso outside the ring. Back in the ring, Benjamin connected with a Spinebuster to Jey Uso. Gable and Benjamin attempted their finisher once again but The Usos were ready for it. The Usos Superkicked both Gable and Benjamin and hit a Splash on Shelton Benjamin for the victory.
This was goofy. The Usos, Gable & Benjamin are perfectly capable of having a great tag match. I would have preferred to have seen that rather than referees conversing and everyone standing around while they figure out if they screwed things up.
Xavier Woods Advanced In The US Title Tournament
New Day was backstage before Aiden English and Rusev interrupted. English said that he wished every day was Rusev Day. English vowed to defeat Woods tonight and advance in the United States Championship tournament.
Rusev accompanied English to the ring and sang him a song in the ring. Big E and Kofi Kingston accompanied Woods to the ring. Woods controlled the match early and threw English out of the ring. Woods connected with a kick and then was distracted by Rusev. English slammed Woods’ face off the steel steps and brought him back into the ring.
Jinder Mahal and the Singh Brothers were shown backstage watching the match as English applied a Chin Lock in the middle of the ring. Woods broke free and booted English in the face. Woods followed it up with a Backbreaker for a two count. English planted Woods with a Powerbomb and went for the cover but Woods kicked out at two. Woods dropped English off the second rope and then hit an Elbow Drop for the pinfall victory. After the match, New Day celebrated with pancakes and threw a couple of them at Byron Saxton and Corey Graves.
Woods and English had a solid match tonight. Xavier will have a much tougher challenge when he faces Jinder Mahal in the next round.
Charlotte Told Everyone To Believe In Their Dreams
Natalya, Carmella, Lana and Tamina were interviewed backstage. Natalya stated that before the Riott Squad arrived there was the Welcoming Committee. Natalya added that while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, there really is nothing better than the real thing.
Natalya, Carmella, Lana and Tamina then battled the Riott Squad on SmackDown. Liv Morgan and Natalya started off the match. Natalya connected with a Clothesline for. a two count and then went for the Sharpshooter but Morgan escaped out of the ring as SmackDown went to a commercial break.
When SmackDown returned, Sarah Logan had Carmella in a Chin Lock in the middle of the ring. Carmella broke free with a Jawbreaker and tagged Tamina in. Tamina leveled Logan with a Clothesline and then booted Ruby Riott in the face. Tamina planted Logan with a Samoan Drop and climbed to the top rope. Liv Morgan shoved Tamina off the turnbuckle and Sarah Logan kneed Tamina in the back of the head for the pinfall victory.
After the match, Ruby Riott grabbed a microphone. Ruby said that magic isn’t real just like the people in the crowd. Riott called everyone in the crowd a phony and said that deep down they were all miserable. Ruby stated that the Riott Squad and their success is real. Ruby then announced that the Riott Squad are entering the women’s Royal Rumble match.
SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte interrupted and came down to the entrance ramp. Charlotte stated that magic is real and that if you find something you are passionate about it can change your life. Charlotte said that actions have consequences and Naomi and Becky Lynch joined her on the entrance ramp. Charlotte, Becky and Naomi rushed the ring and beatdown the Riott Squad.
I’m used to listening to terrible promos on RAW and SmackDown every week, but this promo was just remarkably bad. Charlotte says everything in one tone and is obviously much better as a heel when it comes to promos. It was as if a robot was telling me to believe in my dreams. Ruby Riott can do a promo, but not when the material is this horrible.
Daniel Bryan Announced The WWE Championship Match For Royal Rumble
Sami Zayn faced AJ Styles in the main event. Kevin Owens, Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon were all ringside for the match. AJ controlled the match early and connected with a Dropkick that knocked Sami out of the ring. Owens and Shane started arguing and Daniel Bryan got in between them.
Back in the ring, Zayn connected with a kick and followed it up with a Suplex as SmackDown went to a commercial break. When SmackDown returned, AJ planted Zayn with a Gutbuster for a two count. AJ followed it up with a Neckbreaker and went for the cover but Sami once again kicked out.
Sami battled back and connected with the Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count. Zayn went for the Helluva Kick but AJ reversed it into the Calf Crusher in the middle of the ring. Zayn fought through the pain and reached the bottom rope to break the hold. AJ connected with the Pele Kick and went for the Phenomenal Forearm but Sami got out of the way.
The referee was knocked out of the ring as Styles rolled Zayn up. Owens got in the refs way and prevented the pinfall from taking place. Shane McMahon shoved Owens to the ground and demanded that the referee kick him out. Daniel Bryan then grabbed a microphone and said that if Owens is kicked out, Shane should be kicked out as well.
Owens jumped onto the ring apron and Styles quickly knocked him back down. Zayn then hit the Helluva Kick on the distracted Styles for the pinfall victory. After the match, AJ Styles grabbed a mic and stated that he is tired of Shane and Daniel bickering like children. AJ sarcastically said that he doesn’t care if he had to face Owens and Zayn in a Handicap match. Daniel Bryan then announced that AJ Styles will defend his WWE Championship against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in a Handicap match at Royal Rumble.
Shane McMahon, Daniel Bryan and Kevin Owens all arguing outside the ring during the match was annoying. It is hard to complain about a match with Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and AJ Styles. However, I’m guessing that there are going to be 14 things going on besides the action in the ring at Royal Rumble and that will take away from the match. The storyline is interesting, but I didn’t enjoy the match at Clash of Champions where Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon kept getting involved. I’m expecting something similar at Royal Rumble now.