The road to the Royal Rumble is a little more clear after Smackdown Live. Tonight we find out who else is entering the men and women’s Royal Rumble matches. We also find out who AJ Styles is defending the WWE Championship against at the Royal Rumble. The United States Championship tournament also seen another superstar advance tonight. Finally were the Usos able to successfully defend their Smackdown Live Tag Team Championship against the red hot team of Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin? Keep reading to find out as I break down this weeks Smackdown Live.
The show begins with the champ that runs the camp, AJ Styles. Styles talks about the new year and how he will be taking the WWE Championship to Wrestlemania and will walk out still the champ. He then touches on his opponent in the main event Sami Zayn and states that he will defeat him. Daniel Bryan then heads to the ring and Shane McMahon follows right behind him. McMahon starts rambling on about how he ejected Sami Zayn from Styles match last week against Kevin Owens and apologized for causing a distraction at ringside that cost him a victory. McMahon then said if Owens is going to be in Zayn’s corner tonight, then he has no choice but to be at ringside tonight. Daniel Bryan then decided that if Shane is going to be out there, then he has to be out there as well.
The Usos © vs Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable (WWE Smackdown Live Tag Team Championship Match)
We start off with a tag team title match between two of the hottest tag teams in WWE. A few weeks ago, Gable and Benjamin were able to score a victory against the Usos in a non title match. Gable gets right to work early hitting a moonsault for a quick cover, but was only good for a two count just before the break.
After the break, Jey Uso was diving like crazy. First diving outside at Benjamin, then goes across the ring and throws Gable out and dives at him. Jimmy joins Jey and they look to hit Gable with a double dive, but Benjamin pulls Jey out and throws him into the barricade. Jimmy then ends up a victim of Benjamin holding him in the powerbomb position and Gable flying off the top rope combo and we have a three count pinfall and new tag team champions!!!!
At least so we thought???
Another referee runs to ringside and shows on the titantron a replay of what happened. Turns out the legal superstar wasn’t pinned so the match was restarted. Sure enough the Usos got the jump and after a couple of superkicks and a splash, the Usos were able to successfully retain the titles.
WINNERS: The Usos via pinfall
CHAIRMAN’s TAKE: I’m a fan of both of these tag teams, but unfortunately this match was ruined by shenanigans. First and foremost, when has there ever been instant replay in wrestling??? If so then we better go back to every single title match in history that has been tainted by outside interference, use of a foreign object, I could go on all day and reverse those decisions. Both of these teams are great workers and didn’t need the ridiculous storyline added in. It’ll be interesting to see if Gable and Benjamin receive another title shot due to the circumstances or do they find themselves at the back of the line?
Backstage Renee Young interviews Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Owens talks up Sami Zayn beating AJ Styles tonight in the main event. Zayn is upset about Shane McMahon and his claims of Daniel Bryan showing favoritism. They finish by saying that Sami Zayn will destroy the house that AJ Styles built.
Bludgeon Brothers were supposed to face Breezango, but the match didn’t start as Harper and Rowan beatdown Tyler Breeze and Fandango before the bell. The Ascension ran out to make a save, but were disposed of as well.
Xavier Woods (w/ Kofi Kingston & Big E) vs Aiden English (w/ Rusev) (WWE United States Championship Tournament Quarterfinal Match)
Before the match, New Day were celebrating the New Year with pancakes. Rusev showed up and blew out Xavier’s candle on his 2018 Pancake cake? One of the highlights before the break was Woods and English were brawling on the outside. Xavier went for the Honor Roll, but English avoided it and tossed Woods headfirst into the steel steps. Big E then started throwing pancakes at Aiden? Jinder Mahal and the Singh Brothers were spotted backstage watching the match as Jinder will face the winner of this match in the semi finals. Towards the end, Aiden English was taking control. He started lifting Woods up the turnbuckle and it looked like he was going to go for a big move. Woods however started to fight back. Woods managed to knock English off the turnbuckle and Woods then hit the Limit Break to score the pinfall victory.
WINNER: Xavier Woods via pinfall
CHAIRMAN’S TAKE: The match was decent. It was fresh and fun. The rivalry between New Day and Rusev Day has been entertaining. It was nice to see Xavier Woods in a singles match, something we don’t see very often. Xavier has alot of talent and it’s a shame he doesn’t get to showcase his skills more often. English is also a good worker in my book and I’m happy his pairing with Rusev has got him some tv time. Once you seen the bracket you knew Woods was facing Mahal, because you know WWE isn’t going to have two heels face off in a tournament. Plus I’m intrigued to see if Woods pulls off the win and goes to the finals. If Xavier Woods manages to win the US title, does this mean New Day defends the title in turns? You figure if Xavier makes the finals, Kofi and Big E will play cheerleaders and most likely won’t wrestle at the Royal Rumble. And with that, all we can hope for now is Rusev declares entry for the Royal Rumble so the fans rejoice.
Welcoming Committee (Natalya, Carmella, Tamina w/ Lana) vs Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, Liv Morgan)
Before the match, the ladies of the Welcoming Committee declared entry in the women’s Royal Rumble. You seen one six women tag match, you’ve seen them all. In the end, Tamina had Logan measured up for the splash, but Morgan pushed her off the top rope. Logan then did some cartwheel neckbreaker move to finish Tamina off.
WINNERS: The Riott Squad via pinfall
After the match, Ruby Riott grabbed a mic. She announced the Riott Squad were entering the Royal Rumble. All the sudden, Charlotte’s music hit. She introduced Naomi first. Then announced the returning Becky Lynch. The three women stormed the ring and brawled with the Riott Squad. The fan favorites chased off the Riott Squad after hitting them with some signature moves. Mostly Becky Lynch handing out Bexploder Suplexes.
CHAIRMAN’s TAKE: Becky Lynch is back and I couldn’t be any happier. My favorite women wrestler of the Smackdown Live roster and she better get a title reign in 2018. Anyhow let’s be real, every single women on the main roster is entering the Royal Rumble and that isn’t going to fill thirty. Expect NXT women, independent women, Mae Young Classic women, and finally former WWE women to fill the entrants. The only thing I wonder is whether or not Alexa Bliss and Charlotte will be entering since they’re champions? Otherwise what are they going to do? Wrestle each other again like Survivor Series? You might as well let them enter. Another thing, Carmella is entering. More than likely she’s going to lose, but she’s still Money in the Bank so she could have a Wrestlemania title match as well?
Baron Corbin announced he was entering the Royal Rumble.
AJ Styles vs Sami Zayn (w/ Kevin Owens)
The main event of the evening is a dream match. There’s been a few times where they’ve tagged and sure they did wrestle once one on one on Raw in 2016 before the roster split. However tensions are at an all time high. Things really intensified after the break. Styles unleashed his fury combo of strikes then hit a gutbuster on Zayn. Wasn’t enough though. Styles minutes later hit a Ushiogorshi, but that didn’t keep Zayn down. Styles then attempted the Styles Clash, but Zayn went limp and escaped and followed up with a Blue Thunder Bomb. Styles kicked out. Styles was in the corner and Zayn went in for the Helluva Kick, but Styles dodged and locked on the Calf Crusher. Zayn was locked in for a good while, but was able to reach the ropes for a break. The two men back on their feet exchanged fists, Styles then fired the Pele Kick. Styles then had Zayn where he wanted him and went for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Zayn dodged. Zayn went for a clothesline, but missed. The two superstars managed to knock the referee out of the ring and Styles had Zayn rolled up for a significant amount of time. Owens however had the referee distracted outside as he was trying to return to the ring and it cost Styles the win. Shane McMahon confronted Owens and pushed him to the ground. McMahon then ordered the referee to eject Owens and sure enough he did just that. Bryan then grabbed a microphone and said that if Owens is leaving, he should join him. While all this is going on, Styles knocks Owens off the apron. However Styles is unaware of Zayn and he drills him with a Helluva Kick and scores the pinfall win over the champ.
WINNER: Sami Zayn via pinfall.
After the match, Styles grabs a mic and out of frustration challenges Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to a handicapped match and yells at Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan for their constant bickering. Daniel Bryan then makes the match official at the Royal Rumble for the WWE Championship AJ Styles vs Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens as the show ends.
CHAIRMAN’s TAKE: Solid main event as expected. Could have done of course without the Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan drama, but it is what it is. I was curious what they were going to do at the Royal Rumble regarding the WWE Championship and I got my answer tonight. Of course now that we have a handicapped match, does the superstar that pins Styles win the title? Sure enough Zayn and Owens will fight it out leading Styles to more than likely retain. Of course we got the Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan factor so who knows what’s going to happen with this situation.
RATING: 6 out of 10 stars. The main event was good as advertised. I was impressed with Woods vs English. I would’ve enjoyed the Usos and Gable Benjamin if it wasn’t for the story they decided to go with this time. The six women tag matches are getting stale, unfortunately with Smackdown being only two hours this is the best way to get most of them on the show. Bludgeons squashing has to end at some point right? Next week our last US title quarterfinal match is Mojo vs Zack Ryder…. Maybe we’ll actually see Shinsuke Nakamura next week? With that, thanks for reading.