Welcome to this week’s WWE Smackdown review. This week’s show is advertising a contract signing between Universal Champion Roman Reigns and his Royal Rumble challenger Adam Pearce. Plus, Rey Mysterio vs. King Corbin and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jey Uso are two of the main matches.
From the WWE ThunderDome at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, Florida, this is Smackdown for episode #1117. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Please visit TJRWrestling.net daily for our regular updates on the wrestling business featuring WWE news coverage along with reviews about wrestling’s past and present. Let’s get to it.
The opening video package summarized the story with Universal Champion manipulating the situation that led to Adam Pearce winning the Gauntlet Match for a shot at Roman Reigns’ Universal Championship at Royal Rumble. Pearce won because Reigns and Jey Uso beat up Shinsuke Nakamura, then Jey superkicked Pearce and covered Nakamura to win.
The show began with Roman Reigns sitting in his office with Paul Heyman as they looked over the contract. Heyman said it’s the same contract for every pay-per-view and this contract happens to read Royal Rumble on it. Reigns looked frustrated by it, so Heyman sucked up to him saying he didn’t like it. Heyman said there needs to be a stipulation on it to teach Pearce a lesson. Heyman suggested taking the contract so he can handle the situation.
Analysis: It’s an ongoing storyline like every week. I don’t mind it because the segments make sense.
Jey Uso made his entrance welcoming us to Smackdown and then said that this is the Bloodline Show. Jey said that him and his cousin Roman Reigns run this show. Jey told Adam Pearce he’s going to find out what they mean at the Royal Rumble. Jey said that if you think they’re satisfied with just Smackdown, think again. Jey talked about the towels in the locker room, the catering and the locker room needs to be saying “Thank You, Roman.” Jey said millions of people watch the show every week and the talent should say “Thank You, Roman.” Jey said that he’s entering the Royal Rumble match, he’ll win it, go on to beat Drew McIntyre or “Oldberg” and become WWE Champion because the family is going to take over all of WWE. Jey said that everybody is talking about Shinsuke Nakamura and his performance in the gauntlet match. Jey mentioned Nakamura beating three guys like Mysterio, Corbin and Bryan, but when they (Roman/Jey) said not anymore, Nakamura was done and out like a light. Jey said Nakamura should thank him and his cousin for letting him survive. Jey kept on ripping Nakamura until Nakamura made his entrance.
Nakamura entered to the original, babyface Nakamura theme song. Nakamura told Jey that if his cousin is the Big Dog then that means Jey is the Little Puppy. I thought he’d say “bitch” there but he went with puppy instead. Jey was pissed off, but then Nakamura kicked him out of the ring and that match is next.
Analysis: Good promo from Jey there. I don't mind wrestlers changing theme songs when they're turning face or heel. Why not? For some guys it doesn't work, but for Nakamura, it works pretty well, I think. The classic Nakamura song is more of a babyface song, so I’m glad it’s back for him.
Thank you Michael Cole and WWE plugging the NFL games this weekend on Fox. Go LA Rams tomorrow or if you’re reading this on Saturday, it’s today and I’m excited even though it’s going to be tough to win in Green Bay.
Jey Uso vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Nakamura was in control with a knee drop. Jey came back with a running elbow smash to the chest. Jey with a running kick to the face along with a body slam for two. Jey with a hard whip that sent Nakamura back first into the turnbuckle. Nakamura with a spin kick to the face followed by knees to the ribs. Nakamura with a front suplex along with more knees to the body. Nakamura slapped on a chinlock, then a whip into the turnbuckle and Nakamura drove his foot into the throat of Jey. Cesaro made his entrance with his music playing as Nakamura hit a sliding dropkick into the announce table. Nakamura sent Jey into the ring post.
Cesaro was on commentary. Nakamura whipped Jey into the turnbuckle, and Jey hit a jumping kick on the apron to knock him down to the floor. Cesaro claimed that by the time he made his way out there last week, the show was over because Tropicana Field is such a big place. Jey stomped on Nakamura and hit him with some forearms to the chest. Cesaro said he’ll be in the Royal Rumble match as well. Jey hit a running hip attack on Nakamura against the turnbuckle. Cesaro said when he wins the Royal Rumble he’s going after Roman Reigns. Nakamura got some offense going with a jumping kick, a knee to the ribs and a sliding knee. Nakamura charged right into a boot by Jey, but Nakamura hit a sliding snap German Suplex for two. Jey fought out of a Nakamura move leading to a Samoan Drop for a two count. Jey with an uppercut leading to a lifting neckbreaker for another two count. Jey charged, Nakamura moved, Jey hit the turnbuckle and Nakamura jumped off the middle ropes with a knee to the chest for two. Nakamura charged, but Jey stopped him with a superkick. Jey went up top and jumped off with a splash attempt, but Nakamura got the knees up to block. Nakamura charged, Jey moved and Jey got a rollup with the feet on the ropes. The referee Charles Robinson counted the three for Jey, but then saw the feet on the ropes. Jey argued with Charles Robinson and Nakamura rolled up Jey leading to a Kinshasa knee for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Shinsuke Nakamura
Analysis: ***1/4 This was pretty good with Nakamura picking up the win to give him some momentum as a babyface after his wins last week before Jey/Roman attacked him. Jey got a lot of nearfalls here and even cheated to nearly win, so even with the loss, he looked competitive for most of the match. I'm all for this singles push for Nakamura as a face. The heel persona wasn't really getting Nakamura anyway, so putting him as a face against the heels will feel fresh moving forward.
Post match, Cesaro went into the ring and raised the hand of his buddy Nakamura.
Analysis: It’s possible that Cesaro will turn on Nakamura because WWE likes to split up duos like that. However, if Cesaro were to become a face with Nakamura I’d like to see that too.
Later in the show is Bayley’s “Ding, Dong, Hello” talk show with Bianca Belair as the guest.
Adam Pearce was shown backstage with Sonya Deville in a suit looking at the contract. Sonya said she has watched a lot of Pearce in action and thinks he can compete with Roman, but Pearce said that guy hasn’t been around for a long time. Paul Heyman showed up with a contract. Paul said that Pearce gets an opportunity of a lifetime because he can main event the Royal Rumble, an opportunity that was not presented to the Scrap Daddy and the opportunity to be in the ring with the single greatest superstar in WWE, Roman Reigns. Heyman said not only is it a match for the Universal Championship, but it will also be a No Disqualification Match. Pearce said it’s ridiculous, he knows it is ridiculous and Pearce signed it. Pearce knows this is exactly what they want, but he signed it and handed it to Heyman, who was smiling.
Analysis: There’s the signature from Pearce. There may be more twists and turns to come.
There was a backstage scene with Jey Uso yelling at referee Charles Robinson about how he had the match won, but Charles told him his feet were on the ropes. Jey mentioned Robinson having a daughter that got married recently and reminded Charles that Jey’s family runs things around here. Jey left.
Analysis: That was Jey threatening Charles for not giving Jey the win even though Charles was just being a fair referee.
There was a Progressive Match Flo replay of Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode winning the Smackdown Tag Team Titles from the Street Profits last week after Montez Ford was dealing with a left leg injury the whole match.
The Street Profits duo of Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins were interviewed by Kayla Braxton, who asked if it was smart for them to defend the titles last week after getting attacked the week before. Ford talked about how they had a 312-day reign as Tag Team Champions. They went over some team names for Ziggler/Roode including Dawkins calling them ED aka Entertainment Dysfunction. Street Profits said that they will run it back. Dawkins talked about how they’ll be back and Ford ended it saying “we want the smoke” as usual.
Analysis: They are a likable team that had a memorable ten-month reign as the Tag Team Champions on Raw and then Smackdown. I can see the Street Profits winning the titles again this year.
Roman Reigns was backstage talking to Apollo Crews on a couch. Reigns told Crews to stay because he can learn from this. Heyman showed up with a contract saying Pearce signed it for No Disqualification. Reigns said he won’t sign this, he wants a Last Man Standing Match. Heyman didn’t think Pearce would go for that, but Reigns told him to make it happen. Reigns continued talking to Crews saying it’s all about control as the camera panned away.
Analysis: That’s interesting. It seemed like Crews was leaning towards being a heel after the recent match with Big E. I'm all for more guys being part of Roman's group although it’s not like Crews is officially with Reigns at this point.
There was another plug for Corbin vs. Mysterio and Bayley’s talk show coming up later.
This Monday on Raw: Randy Orton addresses the twisted attack of Alexa Bliss. Plus, will Bliss have any twists up her sleeves when she faces Asuka? Lots of Bliss there.
Natalya was in the ring for a match with her friend Tamina joining her at ringside. The Riott Squad entered with Billie Kay joining them with Kay in a “Riott Squad” kind of look, so Ruby and Liv were reluctantly okay with it.
Liv Morgan (w/Ruby Riott and Billie Kay) vs. Natalya (w/Tamina)
Billie Kay joined commentary for this match. Morgan with a headscissors and a running backsplash. Kay talked about how she was unofficially in the group. Morgan did a monkey flip while both women were holding hands, but then Natalya drove Morgan throat first into the top rope. Natalya worked over Morgan with punches followed by trash talk telling her this is not a joke. Natalya hit a suplex along with a kick to the back. Morgan countered a suplex with an inside cradle for two and Natalya hit a clothesline for two. Natalya had Liv on her back for a standing backbreaker. Morgan got to the apron, Morgan with a forearm and a sunset flip got a two count. Morgan with an enziguri kick to the head. Morgan with a running knee to the face followed by kicks. Natalya sent Morgan into the turnbuckle followed by the discus clothesline. Natalya went for a Sharpshooter, Morgan got an inside cradle and then Morgan hit a jumping attack where she drove her knees into the face. Kay was yelling at the referee to count faster and then Tamina yelled at Kay for getting near her. Kay went into the ring to run away, Morgan was distracted by that, so Natalya did the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Morgan for the pinfall win after five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Natalya
Analysis: ** The women worked hard here, but there’s only so much you can do in five minutes with a silly finish. Kay’s gimmick where she tries to be friends with other women isn’t that interesting, yet it keeps on going week after week. Natalya took advantage of Kay’s distraction to pin Morgan with the dreaded ROLLUP OF DEATH~! because it’s the deadliest move in wrestling. That’s my sarcastic way of saying we see that move ending matches far too often in WWE.
Rey Mysterio made his entrance with his son Dominik joining him. Dominik has barely wrestled since he has been on Smackdown for the last three months. Rey’s match with Corbin is at the top of hour two after a break.
PLUG TIME: The month of January means that it is Royal Rumble time in WWE land, so I’m re-posting my reviews of every Royal Rumble event in WWE history. I’ll post them all before this year’s event on January 31. I’m also planning on a couple of columns/list articles before this year’s Royal Rumble as well. Last week in the SD review I left off in 1996, so here’s the 1997 Royal Rumble won by controversial winner Steve Austin, who went on to win the 1998 Royal Rumble as well, which might have been the most predictable Rumble match ever. The 1999 Royal Rumble was won by Vince McMahon, who spent most of the match outside the ring. I think the 2000 Royal Rumble is one of the best WWE PPVs ever, so it was fun to write about that. The 2001 Royal Rumble is also an excellent show with an exciting Rumble match (Steve Austin’s record third Rumble win) that’s fun to watch for many reasons. The 2002 Royal Rumble featured a win for Triple H after a long time out of action due to injury and it was Brock Lesnar’s time at the 2003 Royal Rumble. If you wanted to call the 2004 Royal Rumble the “Forgotten Rumble” you can because WWE wants to forget it due to the actions of the winner a few years later. I’ll wrap up the update with the 2005 Royal Rumble featuring the tie finish that wasn’t supposed to happen as Batista eventually won it. Don’t tear a quad reading that one. Hi Vince! Keep visiting TJRWrestling daily to check out the reviews. I’m proud of the fact that I have detailed reviews of every Royal Rumble. Thanks for the support!
The end of King Corbin’s entrance was shown. Dominik Mysterio is a guest on commentary with Dominik telling Cole he was getting old when Cole talked about how he was calling the action when Dominik was at ringside and he was just a kid.
Rey Mysterio (w/Dominik Mysterio) vs. King Corbin
Corbin did not have his henchmen Wesley Blake and Steve Cutler with him. Corbin was in control early with a whip into the turnbuckle. Dominik talked about how he had a goal to become a Tag Team Champion with his father. Corbin with a belly to back suplex. Rey countered a move into the bulldog, which is a move that Rey has done many times in his career. Corbin sent Rey out of the ring under the bottom rope and Rey hit a clothesline on Rey on the floor. Corbin went over to Dominik and shoved him back into the chair. Back in the ring, Corbin got a two count. Corbin choked Rey against the middle rope and stepped on his back with Dominik talking about how he was supporting his dad. Corbin punched Rey, trash talk to Dominik again and Rey hit a dropkick to the knee. Rey hit a senton off the top rope, but when Rey jumped off the ropes, Corbin caught him. Rey countered that move attempt with a hurricanrana into the ropes. Rey charged at Corbin, who came back with the Deep Six slam for a two count, which is what that move usually gets. It’s always a good nearfall. Dominik said he learned from his dad to never give up. Rey with a kick to stop a Corbin charge. Rey with a slide to the floor, Corbin ducked it and sent Rey back into the ring. Corbin punched Dominik while on the floor. Rey took advantage of Corbin grabbing Dominik and hit a 619 kick on Corbin on the floor. Dominik went into the ring, Rey told his son to leave the ring and Corbin shoved Rey into Dominik. Corbin hit the End of Days slam for the pinfall win after six minutes.
Winner by pinfall: King Corbin
Analysis: **1/2 A crafty heel for the heel Corbin. It was booked well with Corbin coming across as a crafty heel that successfully played mind games with Dominik and then used that against the kid to beat Rey. This feud will likely continue on going into the Royal Rumble and I assume if Dominik is in the Rumble then he’ll eliminate Corbin from that match.
Adam Pearce was shown walking down a hallway with Paul Heyman walking up to him. Heyman said there was a little bit of a wrinkle as he informed Pearce that Roman Reigns didn’t sign the contract. Heyman claimed that No Disqualification wasn’t enough for them. Heyman told Pearce what Roman wanted, which was a Last Man Standing Match. Pearce was about to sign, but Heyman told Pearce to take his time and they will see him in the ring later in the show.
Bayley’s talk show is next with a door being put in the ring as part of the set.
Rey and Dominik Mysterio were backstage talking about what happened. Rey told Dominik you don’t pick a fight with a guy without a plan. Rey went over Corbin’s credentials. Rey told Dominik if he wants to take care of Corbin, he knows the guy they should talk to.
Ding, Dong, Hello Hosted by Bayley
Bayley made her entrance on the set of her talk show by walking thorough through the door. Bayley had some ridiculous glasses on along with a plaque that mentioned Bayley’s 380 days as Smackdown Women’s Champion. Bayley was seated in a chair while there was also a stool in the ring. Bayley made Belair enter through the door. Belair sat in the comfortable chair, Bayley said that is her seat and then Bayley chose to stand anyway since she has to be ready for the Royal Rumble match.
Bayley congratulated the WWE Chronicle about Bianca Belair on January 24 on WWE Network. Bayley said she had a sneak preview of the special, but instead it was a clip of Bayley beating Belair on Smackdown last month. Heels lie, pal.
Bayley asked why Belair is the “EST” of WWE. Belair tried to talk, but Bayley cut her off and Belair wondered why Belair’s confidence bothers Bayley so much. Belair said that she is just confident. Bayley noted that she beat Belair, so that makes her the best. Belair challenged Bayley to a rematch right now, but Bayley said that she has nothing to prove to her. Bayley said maybe next week they can get do an obstacle course to determine the ultimate athlete between them. Belair accepted the challenge. Belair told Bayley there was no way she can whoop her, so “ding dong that.” Belair’s music played to end it as the women talked trash to eachother.
Analysis: This was okay, but not that interesting. An obstacle course challenge is nothing to get excited about either. I think there’s a possibility that Bayley and Belair could be the final two in the Royal Rumble with Belair possibly winning the Rumble, so that’s why they are interacting so much. I just think Belair could benefit more from winning matches on Smackdown instead of segments like this.
There was a video from earlier in the day with Daniel Bryan and Otis training with Chad Gable of the Alpha Academy. Shinsuke Nakamura showed up for an interview, Bryan said that the pursuit of excellence never ends with the Alpha Academy. Braxton mentioned Bryan’s loss to Shinsuke Nakamura and Gable said no negativity here. Bryan said that he respected Nakamura. Cesaro showed up to question the training methods of Bryan “doing the macarena” with these guys, so Bryan said he’ll show him what his training methods have taught him. That set up this match.
Daniel Bryan made his entrance with the “YES” chants greeting him on his way to the ring.
There was a Royal Rumble commercial hyping up Drew McIntyre defending the WWE Title against Goldberg.
Cesaro was in the ring as the match began.
Daniel Bryan vs. Cesaro
Cesaro with a shoulder tackle into a headlock, then Cesaro ran the ropes and Bryan hit an armdrag. Bryan with an armbar, Cesaro drove him into the turnbuckle, a back elbow and an uppercut. Cesaro with a running uppercut on Bryan. Cesaro charged, Bryan moved, Bryan with kicks to the body and a running dropkick against the turnbuckle. Bryan with a running armbar takedown followed by knee drops to the arm. Cesaro came back with a body slam while favoring the left arm. Cesaro with a forearm to the lower back of Bryan. Cesaro with an STO trip for a two count. Bryan with a monkey flip that sent Cesaro back first into the ropes. I don’t know if Cesaro was supposed to go over the top there, but he went to the floor. Bryan jumped off the top with a cross body block on Cesaro on the floor. Bryan with kicks to Cesaro against the ring post, then Cesaro moved and Bryan kicked the ring post with his left foot as the show went to break.
The show continued with Cesaro targeting the left leg of Bryan with stomps on the left knee. The referee had the white gloves on because Cesaro had a cut on the left side of his head. Bryan with uppercuts, Cesaro with a forearm, Bryan with a flip where he favored the left leg and Bryan kicked the left arm of Cesaro. Bryan jumped onto Cesaro’s body and then went for the Yes Lock, but Cesaro fought out of it. Cesaro did the Swing for a few spins and then Cesaro slapped on the Sharpshooter submission with Bryan getting near the ropes, so Cesaro went for the arm and Bryan was able to slap on the Yes Lock again. Cesaro was close to the ropes, so Cesaro got his foot on the bottom rope forcing the referee to break the hold. Bryan went for a hurricanrana off the top, but Cesaro blocked it and Cesaro hit a twisting vertical suplex off the middle ropes! Wow, that was so great and it got a two count by Cesaro. Bryan countered a Neutralizer attempt, Bryan with a backslide pin for two and Bryan hit two kicks to knock Cesaro down. Cesaro was favoring the left arm while Bryan was selling the left leg. Bryan charged, Cesaro caught him, lifted him up and hit an uppercut. Cesaro hit a Neutralizer slam on Bryan for the pinfall win after 12 minutes. The announcers put it over as a big win for Cesaro, which it was.
Winner by pinfall: Cesaro
Analysis: ***3/4 That was an awesome match! That’s the stuff I want to see on WWE TV. They told a great story with Bryan selling the left leg injury, Cesaro was selling the left arm and it played a factor in the whole match. When it looked like Bryan was about to win by submission multiple times, Cesaro kept on coming back for more and Cesaro nearly won by submission as well. Cesaro winning clean is huge for him. Bryan lost to Nakamura and Cesaro in back to back weeks. Bryan is part of the creative team and doing his part to make Smackdown better by putting over his buddies that deserve it. I love to see it.
Carmella was interviewed backstage by Kayla Braxton with her sommelier Reginald standing by. Banks showed up to interrupt. Banks said that Carmella can have her title match as long as Banks gets to face Reginald first. Banks left with Carmella looking like she was okay with it.
Analysis: This feud just keeps going and going. Fine, I guess.
Apollo Crews made his entrance with Cole noting that Crews was hanging out with Roman Reigns earlier in the night. We saw it on camera, but it was good for Cole to mention it.
There was a clip shown from Talking Smack last week with Paul Heyman giving Apollo Crews a bit of a pep talk to end the show. It was a great moment. Talking Smack is awesome every week.
Sami Zayn entered with a documentary crew filming everything because Zayn claims there is a conspiracy theory against them. Big E was shown on commentary laying on a couch with a cup of fruit too.
Apollo Crews vs. Sami Zayn
Zayn was wrestling in his “I’m The Intercontinental Champion” shirt. Crews with a suplex on Zayn across the ring. Zayn sent Crews out of the ring. Crews fought back against Zayn and hit a moonsault off the announce table onto a standing Zayn to knock him down. Crews went up top and Zayn tripped him up. Zayn with a jumping elbow smash off the middle ropes for a two count. Zayn went for a move off the ropes, Crews moved and Crews hit a German Suplex across the ring. Crews with a press slam into the top turnbuckle and a kick to the head. Crews with a standing moonsault, Zayn got the knees up and a rollup for two. Zayn went for a rollup with a tight pull, but the referee caught him. Zayn with an Exploder Suplex into the turnbuckle. Crews got a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! of Zayn while grabbing the pants of Zayn for the pinfall win after about four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Apollo Crews
Analysis: ** A cheap win for Crews after he was talking to Roman Reigns earlier in the night. That’s fitting because it seems like Crews is turning heel. Zayn tried to cheat too, but the referee caught him and that’s why Crews cheated. The ROLLUP OF DEATH~! strikes again.
Post match, Zayn complained about how Crews had the tights. Crews went over to Big E, who is wearing a Ghostbusters sweater, and then Crews touched the title. Crews gave him the title back. Big E told Crews that’s the last time he’ll touch that title.
Analysis: The Ghostbuster sweater is awesome. I think Crews turning heel against Big E after losing their next match is the right way to go for them.
Adam Pearce was looking backstage at the contract because his main event segment is next.
Next week on Smackdown: Big E defends the Intercontinental Title against Apollo Crews and Bayley’s Obstacle Course Challenge with Bianca Belair.
Universal Title Contract Signing Between Roman Reigns and Adam Pearce
Roman Reigns made his entrance with the Universal Title and he was joined by Jey Uso and Paul Heyman. I should point out too that they have a special extra high-definition camera that Fox uses for NFL games sometimes as well, so that’s pretty cool to see it in WWE. They used it on most of the entrances this week. There were only a few minutes left in the show.
Adam Pearce made his entrance to no music while Reigns was in the ring with Jey and Heyman. Pearce sat down in a leather chair in the ring, so Reigns said that he wanted the chair that Pearce was sitting in and he wanted to sit at the Head of the Table. Pearce sat in the other chair. Pearce had the contract with him. Pearce signed the contract and handed it over to Reigns.
Reigns signed the contract to make it official for the Royal Rumble: Last Man Standing Match for the Universal Title with Roman Reigns defending the title against Adam Pearce.
Pearce said he has waited all night for Reigns to do that and then Pearce had a smirk on his face. Pearce left the ring. When Pearce got up the aisle, he was limping a bit while selling a right knee injury and claimed it was an old injury that creeps up on you at the worst possible time. Pearce said that all standard WWE contracts are “subject to change.” Pearce said that he may not be medically cleared to compete at the Royal Rumble, so he might have to find a suitable replacement.
Kevin Owens is back! Kevin Owens walked out with a pen and he signed the contract to make the Universal Title match at the Royal Rumble a Last Man Standing match with Roman Reigns defending the title against Kevin Owens. Reigns looked angry in the ring while Owens had a smile on his face. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: Good call by WWE changing things up by having Adam Pearce outsmart Roman Reigns, which led to Kevin Owens coming back. Now we get another Reigns vs. Owens match with Last Man Standing stipulation. It is a great idea because Reigns has been dominant and controlling for most of the last few months, yet here is Pearce outsmarting him and Owens gets another shot at the Universal Title. If there was a crowd, I think they would have liked this a lot. It was well booked.
Three Stars of the Show
- Daniel Bryan
- Shinsuke Nakamura/Jey Uso
7.5 out of 10
Last week: 7
2021 Average: 7.25
I really liked this week’s Smackdown with a nice mix of strong in-ring action led by Cesaro beating Daniel Bryan in an awesome match and Shinsuke Nakamura beating Jey Uso was a strong opener. There was also some nice angle development throughout with the Roman Reigns/Adam Pearce contract signing with Pearce utilizing the “subject to change” idea to get out of the Royal Rumble match and that was a perfect way to bring back Kevin Owens so that he can challenge Reigns at Royal Rumble in a Last Man Standing match. It’s nice to see creative booking like that.
The other things on the show were okay. I like the idea of Apollo Crews talking to Reigns earlier in the show leading to a cheap win (as payback to Sami Zayn for trying to cheat to win), so Crews is on his way to becoming a heel. Bayley’s talk show with Bianca Belair wasn’t that interesting. Sasha Banks is still feuding with Carmella as well while the Billie Kay involvement in Natalya/Liv match was goofy again. I didn’t mind Rey Mysterio’s match with King Corbin because the finish was booked well and it’s a way to build up Dominik by having him try to get revenge against Corbin.
Smackdown remains a consistently good show where everything feels like it has a purpose. Characters have depth and stories aren’t rushed. Plus, we always get some great matches too. They’re in a good spot heading into Royal Rumble in a few weeks.
The next WWE pay-per-view is the Royal Rumble on Sunday, January 31. Here’s what we know so far:
30-Men Royal Rumble Match
30-Women Royal Rumble Match
WWE Universal Championship Last Man Standing Match: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Kevin Owens
WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Bill Goldberg