The Royal Rumble is right around the corner and WrestleMania is looming closer. WWE needed a strong go-home episode of Smackdown in that regard to selling the PPV properly. Will it be a good show or will it be a go-home mess as WWE tends always to do?
Let’s get to business…
The Usos/Roman Reigns vs King Corbin/Dolph Ziggler/Robert Roode
We went straight to action in this show to kick things off, which is a very welcome change from Corbin opening the show through a 20-minute promo. The commentary made sure to give all the context possible and talked a lot about the chaotic nature of Reigns/Corbin match at the RR. The match started as a usual 6-man tag with until Jimmy Uso was injured (at least in Kayfabe for now) by Dolph Ziggler making the match a 2-on-3 handicap match. This allowed the heels to work over Jey Uso who fought really valiantly. Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler took advantage of that as well on the outside and then in the ring preventing Jey from making the hot tag to Roman. King Corbin managed to prevent that tag by attacking Roman Reigns on the outside making it a 3-on-1 handicap match basically for Jey Uso. Finally, the tag was made with Roman Reigns running riot over Ziggler. However, interference from Corbin put Roman under pressure once again. Jey Uso eventually was back on the apron for the tag but he got pulled away by Ziggler. One has to admit that the heels have done tremendous job gathering heat by cutting the ring in half and working over the babyface team (or whatever left of it by this point). Jimmy Uso returned from the back (at least selling his injury) to go wild on the heels. From there, all hell broke loose with a brawl between Reigns and Corbin in the crowd. Meanwhile, Jey Uso got the win in the ring via a splash on Robert Roode.
This was a very good opening match, which got lots of time (though it may have dragged a bit). However, it is good to see The Usos winning matches and properly returning to the field. Hopefully, the “falls count anywhere” match is the merciful end for this awful rivalry.
A recap for Kane’s return and interaction with the Fiend and Daniel Bryan. The contract signing for their title match at the RR is set up for later.
A recap for Lacey Evans’ match with Bayley from last week.
Interview w/Lacey Evans
WWE clearly are watching AEW Dynamite since this interview was on the ramp. Michael Cole is bad at those too nonetheless. Lacey proceeded to cut a teary babyface promo about her life and her family. She probably has more tears in her than credential as a babyface, which if a detriment to WWE’s booking of her. Midway through the interview, WWE showed a recap of Sasha Banks insulting her daughter. Thankfully, Bayley came out to attack her putting a merciful end to this awfully-stilted emotional (less) promo (or so we thought). She will never be a good babyface, even given promo material about her family. Backstage, this continued into a backstage brawl during a Carmella/Dana Brooke interview. I am not interested at all in Lacey Evans’ babyface character, though the match between them on Sunday can be really good.
Alexa Bliss/Nikki Cross vs Mandy Rose/Sonya Deville
This match didn’t even get started, and Lacey Evans got into the ring chasing Bayley which kicked a brawl in the ring. This came out of nowhere. I don’t know what to say, the match didn’t happen and no story was forwarded. Also, the brawl itself was so lame.
Elias/Braun Strowman vs Shinsuke Nakamura/Cesaro
Elias came down to the ring to sing (of course) as a prelude to his tag match. His song was about the Royal Rumble (of course), and how he will win it (of course not). Before we get there, Elias and Braun Strowman will do a duet (Austin and Rock they are not). Apparently, it is another step towards making him the next Big Show. However, he was interrupted by his opponents for the night (Sami Zayn alongside them is amazing).
Elias and Cesaro tangled to start the match off. He used Undertaker’s old school tightrope walk (good hommage). Before long, Braun was charging towards Nakamura and Cesaro. However, post-commercial the heels took over and prevented Elias from tagging “The Monster among Men”. Eventually, he made the tag to Strowman who pummeled Nakamura for a while before he got chopped down by the intercontinental champion. Nakamura tried to interfere but Elias took him out, allowing him and Strowman to win via a Powerslam/Elbow combo. This doesn’t do any good for Sami Zayn and co. but certainly sets Strowman for an IC title shot on Sunday. Hopefully, Braun will win the title and finally have his first singles championship.
Backstage: Kofi Kingston and Big E are getting ready as Kingston faces John Morrison.
A recap of the opening 6-man tag
Backstage: King Corbin is being interviewed
A video package with all stats around the Royal Rumble match (most of them are useless).
A Sheamus promo (weird as usual).
Kofi Kingston vs John Morrison
Before the match, The Miz cut a promo firmly cementing him as a heel now. He managed to sneak an ad for Miz and Mrs, also he announced his and his partner’s entrance into the Royal Rumble match. After a decent match with Big E last week, it seems that the same for this match with Kofi Kingston. The commentary put over again the background of Morrison and his parkour style. Post-commercial, it was John Morrison working over Kofi Kingston forcing him to work harder in order to find openings. The crowd was certainly behind Kofi in this match. The New Day man took control of the match delivering his high-risk offence. John took out Kingston while he was looking for trouble in paradise for a great near fall as well as another one from a middle rope Spanish fly. Kingston got a close one from an SOS too. The Miz tried to interfere but got caught by trouble in paradise, but it was Kofi’s undoing as Morrison took advantage with a starship pain for the win.
I am surprised that WWE went for a clean sweep of Morrison against the New Day instead of their usual 50/50 booking. Eventually, we will see the tag title match between them as it gets more interesting. The match was really good and John Morrison seems to be enjoying working with the likes of Kofi Kingston.
Universal Championship contract signing
This had the potential of an absolute clusterf*ck. Daniel Bryan came out to the ring, while his opponent showed up via a firefly fun house segment and as usual, was brilliant. Before long, The Fiend came out to the ring to attack Daniel Bryan and sign the contract. However, not before he whipped him with the strap for visual imagery and as a preview of their match. The stipulation sounds ridiculous and it is ridiculous, but Daniel Bryan might have enough to make it work.
I would have easily swapped this for the opening match, and the show would have been fine. That’s not to say the segment was bad (far from that), but for recap purposes, this would have been better off starting the show. Still, I am highly interested in this match.
This was a very decent episode of Smackdown. The biggest negative though is that there was no women’s match on the show, which subsequently makes the build for the women’s rumble match non-existent. Elsewhere, the opening 6-man tag and John Morrison vs Kofi Kingston provided enough good action to raise the show above average while the contract signing was well done and moved everything forward.
Final rating: 6.5/10 (the lack of build for the women’s rumble match is really disappointing)
This was one man’s opinion, after all, tell me yours in the comments or reach out on twitter @austin316tn. Till next week!!.