We’re another episode of Smackdown Live closer to the Royal Rumble and we were treated to a stacked main event. We also learned some new entrants for both the men and women Royal Rumble matches. Another superstar also advanced in the United States Championship tournament and a major stipulation was added to the Smackdown Live Tag Team Championship match to be held at the Royal Rumble. To find out what all went down, keep reading!
Smackdown Live began with Renee Young and AJ Styles in the ring. Styles talks about his upcoming match at the Royal Rumble where he is defending the WWE Championship against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in a handicapped match. Styles dodged Renee’s question about whether or not he thought it was fair for Daniel Bryan to book the match the way he did. Styles said it wasn’t fair, but neither is life. Styles said he would’ve be fine facing both of them in singles matches in the very same night and he has no idea what Bryan is thinking. Styles also said he wants nothing to do with the Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon saga.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn come out and tell Styles how they’re going to become co WWE Champions at the Royal Rumble and they try and get a YEP! Chant going.
Shane McMahon then comes out and admits that he is puzzled by Daniel Bryan’s decision last week, but he backs it… for now. McMahon then decided to play matchmaker and since handicapped matches are a hot item, he decides to book Owens and Zayn in the main event against Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura, and AJ Styles.
Bryan meets Shane backstage and said that he made one hell of a main event.
Becky Lynch (w/ Charlotte Flair & Naomi) vs Ruby Riott (w/ Sarah Logan & Liv Morgan)
Becky announced that she was entering the Royal Rumble match. She takes on Ruby Riott of the Riott Squad. The match gets some decent time and both of these superstars put on a decent match. However, Riott thought she had Lynch primed for the Riott Kick, but Lynch managed to lock her in the Disarmer and Riott tapped out.
WINNER: Becky Lynch via submission
CHARMAN’S TAKE: Becky gets payback against Ruby for knocking her out of action for several weeks in this one on one match. It appears all the Smackdown Live women are basically primed to enter the Royal Rumble. The only question is what will Charlotte be doing that night? As for the Riott Squad, with their leader Ruby getting beat night in and night out, how much staying power does this faction have? Will they ever let Morgan or Logan work a singles match or continue to hide them in tag matches with Riott?
Bludgeon Brothers vs Ascension
Before the match, Ascension was asking Breezango for support. Breezango however had a match of their own to prepare for against Rusev Day later on. Needless to say this was another quick squash by Rowan and Harper on the former NXT tag champs of yesterday.
WINNERS: Bludgeon Brothers via pinfall
Zack Ryder vs Mojo Rawley (United States Championship Quarterfinal Match)
Bobby Roode was at ringside scouting this match being that he would be facing the winner of the Ryder Rawley match. From what I’ve seen, Rawley dominated most of the match. Rawley did some flying fist thing to Ryder in the corner that got the job done for him. After the match, Roode confronted Rawley in the ring and Rawley backed down and left.
WINNER: Mojo Rawley via pinfall
CHAIRMAN’s TAKE: It’s hard to take this tournament seriously when you have superstars like Ryder and Rawley in it. So many superstars with more star power that could’ve built the prestige of this title back up, but Smackdown opted not to use them. I can’t see Roode losing to Rawley, but bad booking and WWE go hand and hand so we’ll see what happens.
Jinder Mahal cuts a promo backstage saying he defined 2017 as the WWE Champion for 185 days even though everyone said he didn’t deserve it. He now views the United States Championship for his 2018 conquest and by doing that he will defeat Xavier Woods next week to advance to the finals.
Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable head to the ring and address how they were screwed out of the Smackdown Live Tag Team Championship last week. They start taking shots at the Alabama fans and saying they’re not winners because they just sat on their couches cheering. They then spend several minutes degrading the referees before Daniel Bryan comes to the ring. After Gable and Benjamin start taking shots at him and Gable saying that they have to beat the Usos twice triggered Bryan to book Benjamin and Gable against the Usos in a two out of three falls match at Royal Rumble for the Smackdown Live Tag Team Championship.
Backstage Styles and Orton are talking about their upcoming match. Orton of course reminds Styles that it could be them facing each other for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania. Nakamura arrives and makes it known he could be a challenger as well.
Breezango vs Rusev Day
Rusev Day announces their entry into the Rusev Rumble. Rusev was dominant towards the end here and it looked like he was about to lock Fandango in the Accolade. Breeze however ran in and made the save, but was taken care of. Breeze made it back in the ring though and the numbers game caught up to Rusev as he was taken advantage of by a quick rollup pin by Fandango to give Breezango the upset victory.
WINNERS: Breezango via pinfall
CHAIRMAN’s TAKE: Interesting booking decision here. Breezango was destroyed for weeks by Bludgeon Brothers only to recover against one of the most popular acts in WWE. More than likely Vince isn’t thrilled with the fans response to Rusev Day so he’s going to punish them for getting over organically. Some fans were comparing this to the Titus Worldwide upset last night over the Bar, but Titus and Apollo are further down the spectrum than Breezango and The Bar are former multiple time tag champs making that a legit upset. I don’t consider Breezango beating Rusev Day a major upset, more surprising than anything since Breezango is cold and Rusev Day is hot. In the grand scheme, Rusev Day is still over enough where this loss won’t hurt them, but it will piss off some Rusev Day fans sure. Breezango on the other hand if they wanted to stay competitive needed a win after a losing streak to the Bludgeon Brothers so this helps them.
Backstage Shane and Daniel are questioning each others motives lately…..
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura, and AJ Styles
The three on two handicapped match is underway! Action goes on for a bit before KO and Zayn realize they can just leave so that do just that. They walk up the aisle and get counted out. Shane McMahon however shows up and says this match is now no countout and to restart the match.
After the break the action continues for a bit and Orton is controlling the match. He drops Zayn with elevated rope DDT and measures him up for the RKO. Owens enters the ring with a steel chair and attacks Orton to get disqualified. Owens starts striking Nakamura and Styles with the chair and go to leave rinside until Shane returns again. McMahon makes the match no disqualification and basically threw all the rules out.
Styles starts attacking Owens with a chair and chases him to the back. Zayn is left at ringside with Orton and Nakamura. Orton drills Zayn with the steel steps and then drops him on the commentary table. Orton throws Zayn in the ring for Nakamura where a Kinshasa was waiting. Orton then finishes Zayn off with a RKO to pick up the win.
WINNERS: Orton, Nakamura, Styles via pinfall
CHAIRMAN’s TAKE: I for one don’t know how much longer I can tolerate Shane McMahon being on tv. He’s overexposed at this point and the show is getting more and more about him and his petty feud with Daniel Bryan, Owens, and Zayn than it is the rest of the wrestlers. With a two hour show, it’s harder to showcase the superstars of Smackdown Live each week. Shane really needs to get scaled back. This feud with Bryan is basically pointless unless WWE actually plans on clearing Bryan for a match against McMahon. And if this is true, this is NOT the match fans want to see Bryan get cleared for. There’s how many other wrestlers on the WWE roster people would rather see Daniel Bryan get back in the ring against than Shane. Not taking anything away from Shane, he had a great match with Styles at Wrestlemania last year. Then again, Styles can make anyone look good. Point is, this Shane McMahon run is getting annoying and is hurting the quality of Smackdown Live in my opinion. This main event could’ve been good, but because McMahon constantly sticking his nose in it devalued it.
RATING: 4 out of 10. It was nice to see Becky Lynch back in action, otherwise this wasn’t a must see episode of Smackdown Live. There was some build to the Royal Rumble, but nothing was screaming must see tonight. The main event when announced sounded good, but was diluted with Shane as seen in my rant above.
OFF TOPIC: In closing, I have to ask the question. Who is going to be the Royal Rumble? I feel this year there are more matches than usual. We have Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman, Kane in a Universal title match. Styles, Owens, and Zayn in a WWE Championship match. Rollins and Jordan against Cesaro and Sheamus for the Raw Tag Team titles. The Usos against Gable and Benjamin for the Smackdown Live Tag Team titles. The United States finals which is probably going to be Bobby Roode against Jinder Mahal (unless Woods gets the upset). As you can see that is alot of star power committed to matches. Will any of these superstars be doing double duty? Otherwise the Royal Rumble winner is going to only come down to a couple of superstars. I was excited about the potential of a loaded Royal Rumble with top main event players, but now it’s getting more and more diluted each week. We’ll still have John Cena, Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura, Finn Balor, and more than likely Roman Reigns. But I’d rather see Rollins, Cesaro, Braun, etc in the Royal Rumble than guys like Curt Hawkins or Sin Cara who have no chance.
With that i”m out, thanks for reading.