WWE SmackDown Review: A Title Reigns Worthy Of Multiple Challengers

WWE Smackdown
Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia 

They aired a highlight package of The Rock making a surprise appearance on WWE Raw Day 1 special saying he wants to sit at the Head of the Table. SUV arrived to the arena. Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns stepped out of the SUV. Paul Heyman was shown with Reigns. Kayla Braxton asked Reigns about The Rock comments? Reigns laughed and walked off. 

Kevin Owens def. Santos Escobar in the WWE United States Championship Tournament Finals — Kevin Owens came out for the opening match as he received a huge reaction from the crowd. Santos Escobar got a strong heel reaction. Escobar came out with Angel & Humberto. The crowd booed as WWE United States Champion Logan Paul came out to join Corey Graves and Kevin Patrick on commentary. Cruz Del Toro and Joaquin Wilde jumped Angel and Humberto before the match began. The match got underway with Owens rocking Escobar with a superkick. Owens followed hitting a corner cannonball. Owens connected with a Frog Splash for a close two count. Escobar stopped Owens from climbing the ropes. Escobar took control swinging Owens injured arm into the ring post. Escobar connected with a hurricanrana sending Owens to the floor. Escobar connected with a tope sending Owens crashing into the barricade. The crowd chanted “Logan Sucks!” Paul left the commentary and posed with the WWE United State Title in a great heel move. Owens caught Escobar flying off the ropes with an atomic drop. Escobar went for a suplex. Owens countered planting Escobar with a Super Fisherman’s Buster. Owens rocked Escobar with a superkick. Owens followed hitting a flying Swanton Bomb from the ring apron to the floor. Owens went for a Swanton Bomb but Escobar got his knees up. Escobar battled back hitting a Super Frankenstiner. Escobar connected with a frog splash for a two count. The crowd chanted “Logan Sucks!” Paul taunted the crowd. Owens battled back catching Escobar with a super rolling fireman’s carry for a good two count. Huge KO chants. Owens rocked Escobar with a superkick. Owens called for a Popup Powerbomb but Escobar countered into a hurricanrana. Owens responded catching Escobar coming off the ropes with a Popup Powerbomb. Owens connected with a Stone Cold Stunner for the win to win. (Amin’s Thoughts) This was a really fun action packed match. A strong showing from Escobar who worked on par with Owens. A really good showing from Owens throughout the tournament picking up strong wins in great matches. They’ve been building Owens and Paul before the start of the tournament. Owens and Paul should have a great match at the Rumble. 

Logan Paul sarcastically congratulated Owens on his win after the match. Paul claimed he’s the greatest WWE United Sates Champion. Paul was baffled how a Canadian could win the US Title. Paul made fun of the Vancouver Canucks. Paul entered the ring. Paul held up the WWE United States Title. Owens responded decking Paul with his cast. The crowd cheered. 

Amin’s Thoughts: Paul was tremendous here playing such an unlikable heel. Good stuff here setting up the WWE United States Title match for the Royal Rumble. 

They aired a Randy Orton highlight package returning.

Logan Paul was walking backstage with ice on his face. Cathy Kelly asked Paul for his thoughts on Owens punching him. Austin Theory and Grayson Waller appeared asking Paul how he was doing? Cameron Grimes appeared and laughed at them. WWE officials held Grimes away. 

The Authors of Pain Join Forces With Karrion Kross 

Bobby Lashley came out next with The Street Profits to a big reaction and firework display. Lashley welcomed everyone to New Year’s Revolution. Lashley noted 2023 was the toughest year of his career. He noted the work he put in didn’t translate to the results he wanted. Lashley noted the highlight was linking up with Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford. Lashley noted they are going to take everything they deserve. Ford told the crowd to listen to Lashley. The crowd chanted for Bobby. Ford spoke about taking every advantage to capture WWE Tag Team gold. Dawkins noted it’s been a while since he and Ford won the tag titles. Dawkins called for Judgment Day. Lashley noted his goal is to get back at beating The All Mighty. The crowd cleared as Lashley declared for the Royal Rumble. 

The light went out. A Karrion Kross and Scarlett vignette aired on the Titantron. Karrion Kross stood on the entrance with Scarlett. WWE Hall of Famer manager Paul Ellering appeared standing beside Kross and Scarlett. Akam and Rezar of Authors of Pain appeared from behind attacking Lashley and The Street Profits. Adam and Rezar delivered the Super Colliders to The Street Profit. Kross laid out Lashley with his new finisher move. 

Amin’s Thoughts: Nice to see AOP make their return back to WWE TV. I’ve been a big fan of Karrion Kross work. Kross was presented a superstar during his run on NXT. Kross first main roster never got a chance to get going when Vince McMahon was running the show. I was glad to see Kross return back to WWE. Kross second run in WWE hasn’t really clicked. They are going to try again with Kross by aligning him with AOP. I’m optimistic this will work for Kross and will do great as a group leader. I also liked this segment because they can now turn Bobby Lashley & The Street Profits back babyface. 

They aired a AJ Styles highlight package.

Iyo Sky (c) def. Michin to retain the WWE Women’s Title — Michin came out with Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows. The OC went to the back. Iyo Sky got a strong heel reaction as she came out with Damage CTRL by her side. Damage CTRL went to the back as well. Sky shined early catching Michin with a head scissors. Michin responded catching Sky with a backslide for a near fall. Sky responded rocking Michin with a double stomp. Michin used Sky’s momentum sending her to the floor. Michin took the lead hitting a tope to the floor. Michin went for a powerbomb but Sky broke free. Michin planted Sky with a gut wrench suplex. Michin followed hitting corner cannonball for two. Michin caught Sky with a corner Codebreaker for a two count. Michin applied a half crab but Sky grabbed the ropes. Sky responded catching Michin with a bridging German suplex on the floor which got a nice reaction. Sky took the lead hitting a springboard Woo Dropkick. Sky called for Over The Moonsault but Michin got her knees up. Michin battled back hitting a Dragon Suplex for a two count. Michin went for a sunset flip. Sky rolled through into a sliding Meteora for a two count. Sky went for Super Hurricanrana but Michin blocked. Michin caught Sky with a Super Styles Clash which got a huge reaction in an awesome spot. Michin went for a cover but Sky grabbed the ropes to force a break. Michin went for a tope but Sky moved. Michin crashed to the floor. Sky took control rocking Michin with a running Meteora into the barricade. Sky rocked Michin with a running double knees. Sky climbed the ropes hitting an Over The Moonsault for the win. (Amin’s Thoughts) This was a really good match. I was really glad to see Michin have a great showing as she showed liked she belongs in the championship mix. The Super Styles Clash spot looked awesome. I was really glad to see Sky get a clean win as champion as she looked awesome in the match. A really good match. 

Paul Heyman Promo 

Paul Heyman was standing backstage. Heyman spoke about The Rock namedropping Roman Reigns name. Heyman noted Rock wants to sit at the Head of the Table. Heyman noted Rock isn’t invited to the Island of Relevancy. Heyman noted they are two way of going viral. The first is dating Taylor Swift. The second is calling out Roman Reigns. Heyman noted John Cena and Brock Lesnar came out after Reigns won a match. Heyman noted Reigns beat Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania. Heyman noted Cody is still talking about finishing the story. Heyman noted CM Punk comes back to WWE after 10 years. Heyman welcomed CM Punk back to WWE. Heyman said CM Punk is the OG Heyman guy. Heyman noted he upgraded from best friend to advocate. Heyman noted he upgraded from advocate to Wiseman. Heyman noted the winner of AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton vs. LA Knight would be smashed by Reigns at Royal Rumble. Heyman noted Reigns will smash his WrestleMania opponent as well. Heyman said nobody can beat Roman Reigns 

Amin’s Thoughts: Heyman was great here teasing future Reigns programs with Cody, CM Punk and Rock. Heyman did great turning the attention putting the focus on the Triple Threat Match on the show. Heyman namedropping Cody was a good thing letting fans know they are still going in the direction with Reigns even with Rock appearing on the Raw Day 1 special show. 

WWE Women’s Champion Iyo Sky was backstage with Bayley, Asuka, Kairi Sane and Dakota Kai. Bayley congratulated Sky on her win. Iyo said her era will never end. Bayley noted the Kabuki Warriors will win the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles next week. Kai noted Bayley was going win the Women’s Royal Rumble. Kai noted Bayley would take the Women’s World Title from Rhea Ripley. The crowd cheered as Bianca Belair appeared. Belair noted she’s not here for a fight. Belair congratuled Iyo on having a great match. Belair noted she’s entering the Women’s Royal Rumble. Belair noted she’s going to win the Women’s Royal Rumble for a second time and then win the Women’s Title at WrestleMania. Sky told Kai something in Japanese. Kai noted Sky told her Bayley was the leader of Damage CTRL. Kai told Bayley she needs to take care of Belair. Damage CTRL left. Bayley had a nervous look. 

British Strong Style (Butch & Tyler Bate) def. Pretty Deadly (Elton Prince & Kit Wilson) — Tyler Bate was introduced as the mystery opponent. Bate shined early outwrestling Wilson in the early going. Bate and Butch delivered stereo dives to Prince and Wilson on the floor. Wilson stopped Buch’s momentum rocking him with a big boot. Butch battled back catching Prince with an X-Plex. Bate ran wild rocking Wilson with a flying uppercut. Bate sent Prince flying with an Exploder Suplex. The crowd popped huge as Bate delivered an UFO Spin/Slam combo to Wilson. Bate and Butch delivered a German Suplex/Rebound Lariat combo to Wilson but Prince made the save. Bate went for a dive but Prince intercepted with a big boot. Prince shoved Butch off the ropes. Wilson applied a roll for a two count. Butch battled back snapping Wilson’s fingers. Bate and Butch delivered a double Tyler Driver Combo to Wilson for the win. (Amin’s Thought) This was a good action packed match with both teams getting a chance to shine. Bate is a tremendous wrestler and it was great to see him shine on SmackDown. would like if this is Bate’s official call-up to the main roster. I’m really interested to see what happens when Sheamus makes his return. I could see this leading to Sheamus turning heel after Butch teamed with Bate. Overall, a good match and win for Bate and Butch. 

They aired an LA Knight video package ahead of the main event. 

Ashante “Thee” Adonis met SmackDown GM Nick Aldis in his office. Adonis told Aldis he felt a bit lost but was hungry and wanted an opportunity. Aldis noted he believed in Adonis and said he had some ideas that he would be interesting in hearing. 

AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton vs. LA Knight Number One Contender’s Match Ended In A No Contest — AJ Styles received a huge reaction. LA Knight got a huge reaction as well. Randy Orton got a huge reaction. The match was already in progress as everyone exchanged strikes. Nick Aldis was watching ringside. The crowd chanted YEAH as Knight slammed Orton and Styles onto the announcers table. Orton appeared planting Knight with a backdrop onto the announcer table. Orton backdropped Styles onto the announcers table. The crowd cheered as Orton backdropped Knight onto the announcers table. Styles stopped Orton’s momentum dropping him onto the announcer table. This Is Awesome chants from the crowd. Styles called for a Phenomenal Forearm but Orton draped him on the ropes. Orton planted Styles with a draping DDT. Huge Randy chants. The crowd cheered as Orton called for the RKO. Knight pulled Orton to the floor. Knight sent Orton crashing into the ring steps. Styles rocked Knight with a sliding forearm. The crowd chanted YEAH as Knight stomped away at Styles in the corner. Knight launched Styles with a huge backdrop. Orton fired up planting Knight and Styles with snap powerslams. Orton called for the RKO. Knight countered catching Orton with the Blunt Force Trauma. Knight had the match won. Styles grabbed hold onto the referee’s arm to stop the count. Knight and Styles exchanged strikes. Styles caught Knight with a Pele Kick. This Is Awesome chants from the crowd. Styles connected with a Springboard 450 Splash but Knight kicked out at two. Knight was busted open. Styles went for a Phenomenal Forearm. Orton intercepted Styles with an RKO in an awesome spot. Knight pulled the referee to the floor. The crowd popped as Roman Reigns music played. Reigns came out with Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso. The crowd booed as The Bloodline attacked everyone. The match ended. (Amin’s Thoughts) This was a really good action packed match with everyone getting a chance to finish. The no contest finish was a pretty lame way to just end a Number One Contender’s Match. They had a reason behind which we found out in the post-match angle. 

Sikoa attacked Orton with the ring steps. Reigns told Aldis this is what happens when you call the shots. There was a light Rocky chant. Reigns planted Styles with a Powerbomb. Reigns rocked Knight with a Superman Punch. Reigns followed rocking Knight with a huge spear. Reigns and Sikoa delivered a Spear/Samoan Spike combo. Aldis told Heyman to congratulate Reigns after he’s done celebrating Heyman asked why? Aldis told Heyman that Reigns will defend the Undisputed WWE Universal Title in a Fatal-4-Way Match at the Royal Rumble. Heyman looked concerned. The crowd booed as Reigns posed with the Undisputed WWE Universal Title. The show ended. 

Amin’s Thoughts: This was a strong post-match angle showcasing The Bloodline as the most dominant faction in WWE to start the New Year. They were teasing the direction of a Fatal-4-Way match for the last couple weeks. I’m glad they are going in that direction because it’s been a while since we’ve see Reigns multi-man match. Having a multi-man match makes the Rumble match more interesting. They could go with the crazy idea of having Orton pin either Styles or Knight to take the title off Reigns without getting pinned. That opens the door for Cody to challenge Orton as they have history as part of Legacy for the WWE Title. This is also opens stuff up for Reigns to face Rock at WrestleMania. I don’t think that’s happening. I’m pretty sure Reigns will retain the title. Reigns has held the Undisputed WWE Universal Title for over 1,000 days. You don’t have Reigns lose the title in a multi-man match without taking a pin. 

Overall Thoughts

This was a good episode of SmackDown. There were some very solid wrestling matches on the show. This was also a pretty newsworthy show with both AOP and Tyler Bate making their presence felt. They’ve also started the build for the Rumble by announcing the two big title matches on the SmackDown side. Overall, a pretty enjoyable episode of SmackDown.