COMMENTATORS: Michael Cole & Corey Graves
The final SmackDown before the Royal Rumble features a big return, a whole lot of matches being thrown out for other matches, RAW stars showing up due to some make-believe clause, and Bianca Belair taking on Bayley. Trying a new format this show for the Rundown, let me know what you think.
- WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPION: Roman Reigns
- SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPION: “The Boss” Sasha Banks
- WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION: Big E
- SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Dirty Dawgs (Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode)
- Bianca Belair vs. Bayley
- Dominik Mysterio vs. King Corbin
- Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles
- Daniel Bryan, Big E, & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, & Cesaro
- Daniel Bryan, Big E, Shinsuke Nakamura, Otis, & Sheamus vs. AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, Cesaro, The Miz, & John Morrison
Bianca Belair defeated Bayley via pinfall (7:27 shown)
Bayley attacked Belair after their Obstacle Course thing last week, which caused a shoulder injury that she attempted to exploit throughout the contest. Belair could not be stopped though, and managed to overpower the Role Model into a KOD for the victory, finally getting the win she has been chasing for awhile. Easily the match of the night, a great showcase for Belair and the biggest win she’s had on the main roster. Belair rides into the Royal Rumble with a lot of momentum on her side and I would NOT be mad if she ends up taking the whole thing.
King Corbin defeated Dominik Mysterio via pinfall (4:42)
Corbin handled Dominik in short order last week, so Dom tried to get the jump this week by attacking him during his entrance. He definitely fared a little better here, sticking and moving and managing to catch Corbin off-guard but ultimately could not put it together and Corbin got the win with End of Days while Rey Mysterio lamented on commentary. A sloppy jalopy of a match but Dom looked better here than he did last week for sure. After the match Rey attacked Corbin and checked on his son. They mentioned knowing who to talk to about the Corbin issue a few weeks back but there’s still been no payoff on it yet to my knowledge, and I wonder if WWE will actually follow that up or I should just let that go. Also where did Corbin’s Knights go? I thought he had Knights.
Daniel Bryan & AJ Styles fought to a no-contest (9:09 shown)
This match was set up at the start of the show, as Styles invoked the “Quarterly Brand to Brand Invitational” rule to invade his old stomping grounds. Did you know that was a thing because I didn’t. Bryan challenged Styles to leave Omos (who was sporting a NASTY head wound) in the back, which Styles actually agreed to when match time came. Bryan worked Styles’ arm over for the Yes Lock while Styles worked the leg over for the Calf Crusher, but this match wasn’t meant to be as Rumble chaos would put a stop to it thanks to the presence of Sami Zayn (protesting) and Cesaro (on commentary minding his own business). Towards the end Big E came out to attack Zayn and Bryan hit a tope suicida on Styles INTO Zayn, causing the former IC Champ to attack Bryan and ending the contest. Shinsuke Nakamura came out to even the odds but he and Cesaro couldn’t bring themselves to attack one another, and this led to…
Daniel Bryan, Big E, & Shinsuke Nakamura wrestled AJ Styles, Cesaro, & Sami Zayn to a no-contest (5:47 or so shown)
After a commercial break, what was a singles match became a six-man tag and Bryan continued taking punishment, especially to his knee. Big E got the hot tag and got his moment to shine, throwing everyone around the ring like a bunch of ragdolls. The Miz & John Morrison decided to ruin things though and attacked Big E, the trio already having brawled backstage earlier in the show, causing this one to be thrown out as well. Otis came out to help the faces and get his hands on Miz & Morrison who he STILL has not forgiven and that led to…
Daniel Bryan, Big E, Shinsuke Nakamura, Otis, & Sheamus defeated AJ Styles, Cesaro, Sami Zayn, The Miz, & John Morrison via pinfall (5:50)
Initially this one was a nine-man tag, with the heels having one more member than the faces and taking advantage by once again working Bryan’s knee over and preventing him from making a tag by pulling Nak, Otis, & E off the apron. Sheamus then randomly showed up and joined the team, got the hot tag, and after everybody got their sh*t in Sheamus countered a Helluva Kick with a Brogue Kick to get the pin for the team.
–Braun Strowman made his return after two months away to end the show, destroying Cesaro and Zayn with Running Powerslams and ostensibly declaring for the Rumble in two days.
- Honestly I had forgotten Strowman was even part of the roster so I was legitimately surprised to see him make his return. This ended SmackDown on a cool note with a big (if only in physical stature) return and some added intrigue for Sunday. Strowman is looking RIPPED too, he took the last two months off very seriously.
–Roman Reigns [w/ Paul Heyman] & Kevin Owens had their “Final Confrontation” before Sunday’s Last Man Standing match via split-screen video. Reigns got under Owens’ skin by disrespecting his family, especially his grandfather who he emotionally talked about last week, and then turned his screen off when Owens finally lost his cool. Apparently when you’re Head of the Table you can just end segments whenever you want. What a good power to have.
- This was damn good from both sides, Owens especially shining with his mostly calm demeanor and the fact he sees right through Reigns and his whole “Tribal Chief” thing. I also dug the Ever-Rise Rules shirt he was wearing, now available on WWEShop. They do indeed rule. Reigns/Owens is going to be one helluva fight come Sunday and will probably be match of the night, so I can’t wait. Scrap Daddy should’ve had the shot though.
–Reginald tried to give Sasha Banks a wine perfectly paired with her losing the Women’s Championship on Sunday but Banks gave it back, asking Reginald which wine she should get Carmella that pairs well with a broken jaw. No flips from Reginald so this episode was a WASTE.
-WWE Backstage announced two exclusives for their FS1 return on Saturday: they will announce #1 and #2 for the Men’s Rumble and also feature a match between Natalya and Tamina to decide who is #30 in the Women’s Rumble.
–Sami Zayn tried to appeal to Shinsuke Nakamura backstage to help him in his quest to overcome the conspiracy against him, citing that all of Nakamura’s high points in WWE has been because of him. Nakamura said he appreciated everything Zayn has done but told him to go to hell.
–Big E tried to bribe Sonya Deville for his Royal Rumble number with a dollar bill and Arby’s coupon, but was thwarted by The Miz & John Morrison who interrupted. Miz teased possibly cashing in after the Last Man Standing match on Sunday and ended up brawling with Big E, which led into the events at the end of the night. Not a significant thing but I laughed. Deville was in charge by herself as Adam Pearce was unable to be there thanks to some mysterious string pulling.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Not a lot of hands on deck for this episode of SmackDown as it focused mainly on the participants of the Royal Rumble match, but we did get a killer Belair/Bayley match that would’ve been PPV-worthy plus a big return in Braun Strowman. I’m sufficiently hyped for Sunday.