WWE SmackDown Review: Randy Orton Strikes En Route Towards The Royal Rumble

WWE SmackDown took place from the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The show featured an Undisputed WWE Universal Championship contract signing between Roman Reigns, AJ Styles, Randy Orton and LA Knight for the Royal Rumble. Randy Orton also takes on Solo Sikoa. Kevin Owens welcomes WWE United States Champion Logan Paul to the KO Show. 

WWE SmackDown Review 

The show opened with a highlight package of AJ Styles, Randy Orton and LA Knight taking out Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa last week on SmackDown. Roman Reigns was shown arriving to the area with Paul Heyman. Reigns asked Paul Heyman if he fixed it? Reigns said that’s why here to fix things. Reigns left with Heyman. Sikoa told Jimmy he will fix everything.

Undisputed WWE Universal Championship Contract Signing 

Nick Aldis welcomed us to SmackDown. Aldis was inside the ring for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship contract signing for Royal Rumble. AJ Styles came out to a big reaction. Styles wasted no time signing the contract. LA Knight received a big reaction from the crowd. Knight signed the contract next. Randy Orton came out next to a huge reaction. Orton signed the contract. Huge chants of Randy. 

Aldis introduced the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns. Reigns music played but he didn’t come out. Paul Heyman came out. Heyman noted he hasn’t had a chance to see the contract. Heyman said Reigns isn’t going to sign the contract. Aldis said that fine Reigns isn’t signing the contract. Heyman smiled and began walking to the back.

Aldis said he already has three signatures signed. Aldis said he will make it a Triple Threat Match for the vacant Undisputed WWE Universal Title at the Royal Rumble. Heyman walked back to the ring. Heyman told Aldis he cared about him. Heyman said he respected the halfway mediocre job Aldis has down as SmackDown GM. Heyman said Aldis looked good in his job. He said Aldis is wearing Heyman wanna-be custom suits. Heyman said Reigns should be defending the title in a one-on-one match. 

Knight told Heyman to keep quiet. Knight said this should be a one-on-one match. Knight brought up having Reigns beat at Crown Jewel. Knight said Orton and Styles both got involved into the match. Styles said The Bloodline tried to end his career. Styles said Knight just walked over him to get the match at Crown Jewel. Styles noted Knight lost to Reigns. Knight told Styles to watch his tone. Knight told Styles he should pay attention to Reigns. Styles was glad Knight figured out they weren’t just fighting Reigns but each other. Knight said he will beat Reigns to be champion. Knight doesn’t mind walking over Styles again. Styles decked Knight with a right hand as he was trying to leave. 

Heyman smiled as he saw Knight and Styles brawl to the back. Orton grabbed Heyman by the tie. Orton said he knows what Heyman is trying to do. Orton said it’s not going to work. Orton said he’s going to beat Solo Sikoa. Orton said he’s going to reintroduce to Roman Reigns the three most dangerous letters in Sports Entertainment. RKO. Orton’s music played. 

Amin’s Thoughts — This was a good segment to start the show. Reigns not coming out was perfect for his character. Reigns showed he’s not pleased with Aldis for making the Undisputed WWE Universal Title a Fatal-4-Way at the Royal Rumble. I also like how Aldis is presented as the top authority figure on the show by standing up to everyone. I’m liking Styles new character change as he still playing babyface is isn’t happy Knight got his match at Crown Jewel. Knight not being happy Orton and Styles makes sense as well. Knight got screwed by The Bloodline but now Orton and Style are part of the Royal Rumble title match. Orton was great as well building up not only his main event match with Sikoa but also the RKO. 

Nick Aldis approached Roman Reigns locker room. AJ Styles appeared and wanted a match with LA Knight. Aldis said Styles got the match. 

LWO (Carlito, Cruz Del Toro & Joaquin Wilde) (w/Zelina Vega) vs. Legado Del Fantasma (Santos Escobar, Angel & Humberto) 

LWO got a solid reaction from the crowd. Legado Del Fantasma got a strong heel reaction. Toro shined early catching Angel with a springboard hurricanrana. Wilde connected with an assisted splash to Angel for a near fall. Toro and Wilde hit stereo Tope Con Hilo to Angel and Humberto on the floor.  Angel and Humberto caught Wilde with a Gory Bomb/Cutter combo as they returned from break. Escobar rocked Wilde with a basement dropkick but Carlito made the save. Wilde caught Humberto with a Satellite DDT. Carlito ran wild planting Humberto with a spinebuster but Escobar made the save. Escobar caught a distraction. This led to Humberto nailing Carlito with springboard kick but Wilde made the save. Escobar tagged into the match. Carlito caught Humberto with a back cracker. Escobar caught Carlito with a rollup for the win.

WINNERS: Santos Escobar, Angel & Humberto
Amin’s Thoughts — This was a solid match as everyone got a chance to shine. I was glad to see neither Toro or Wilde didn’t take the falls because they have a big Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic match against Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams on NXT. Legado Del Fantasma have recently formed together so was good to see them get the win. I thought the finish worked as Escobar getting the win by outsmarting Carlito. The finish also works to keep the Carlito and Escobar program going. 

Kayla Braxton interviewed Pretty Deadly backstage. Braxton asked if they were better prepared to face Butch & Tyler Bate this time, then at New Year’s Revolution? Elton Prince said they are better prepared because they are no surprises. Wilson said they’ve been studying tape on Butch and Bate. Prince and Wilson said they are pretty smart boys. 

They aired a Bobby Lashley & Street Profits vignette. Lashley spoke about The Final Testament finally getting their attention. Montez Ford said this isn’t the attention they want. Ford mentioned Street Profit are Triple Crown Tag Team Champions. Ford said Lashley was the all mightiest. Angelo Dawkins told them to not let the suits fool them. Dawkins said they are the real monsters. Lashley told The Final Testament to pick the time and place. Lashley said they will show what real intimidation looks like. 

British Strong Style (Pete Dunne & Tyler Bate) vs. Pretty Deadly (Elton Price & Kit Wilson) 

Pretty Deadly’s entrance is still great with a disco ball. Tyler Bate came out first. Mike Rome announced his partner. Pete Dunne came out to his original theme. Dunne took control early pulling on Wilson’s arm. Bate caught Wilson in a UFO Spin/Slam combo. Prince and Wilson caught Bate with a double team gut buster for two as they returned from break. Bate battled back catching Prince with an Exploder Suplex. Dunne ran wild planting Prince with a snap German Suplex. Dunner planted Wilson with an X-Plex onto Prince. Bate rocked Prince with a rebound lariat. Bate connected with a plancha to Wilson on the floor. Dunne snapped Prince’s fingers. Dunne connected with Bitter End for the win. 

WINNERS: Pete Dunne & Tyler Bate
Amin’s Thoughts — This was a fun tag team match. The Pretty Deadly act is so great that Prince and Wilson will be fine despite taking these losses. There’s just so much more they can do with Pretty Deadly. It was great to see Pete Dunne finally get his name back. This should be really fun seeing Dunne play his Bruiserweight character on the WWE main roster. I like the contrast with Bate playing the loveable babyface and Dunne playing the serious role. Bate and Dunne together just adds another great team in the tag division. 

Kayla Braxton asked Pretty Deadly what happened in their match? Prince and Wilson said they were ready for Butch. Prince and Wilson threw a fit saying they weren’t ready for Pete Dunne.

KO Show with Logan Paul 

Kevin Owens received a huge reaction from the crowd. Owens thanked the crowd for the reaction. Owens couldn’t believe as he introduced Logan Paul as the guest on his show. WWE United States Champion Logan Paul came out to huge boos. Paul thanked Owens for inviting him on his show. Paul said he is the show. Paul said Owens is the reason he’s in the WWE. Owens told Paul to explain himself. Paul showed a clip of Owens giving Paul a Stunner at WrestleMania in April 2021. Paul said Owens embarrassed him in front of everyone. Paul said to blame Owens he’s in WWE. 

Owens said he doesn’t remember doing that. Owens said it was Paul’s first WrestleMania and of course he would remember that. Owens said WWE rolled out the red carpet for Paul. Owens spoke about him doing this for almost 25 years. Owens said Paul is one of many he’s stunned. Owens thought Paul was just another celebrity guest WWE was brining in. Owens said Paul was just not another celebrity guest as he stuck around. Owens gave Paul credit for being better than people thought. Owens said Paul isn’t Rey Mysterio, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn or him. 

Paul said he doesn’t want to be like them. Paul brought up everything he does. Paul said he’s a maverick. The crowd chanted Logan Sucks. Paul held up the WWE United States Title. Owens said Paul can say wants about him. Owens said he can’t say everything he wants to say about Paul. Owens said Paul was protected and was offered all the tools he needs to win a title. Owens said to Paul’s credit he won a title. Owens said Paul can say he’s a WWE United States Champion. 

Owens called Paul a joke as champion. Owens said he’s going to end this at the Royal Rumble. Paul said Owens only won because of his cast. Paul said it would only take one second to KO him. Owens said he’s took more pain in the last 10 years he’s been WWE. Owens said he’s not going to have his cast at the Royal Rumble. Owens took off his cast. Paul gave Owens a cheap shot. Paul celebrated. Owens stood back up. Paul looked shocked. A brawl broke out. Paul slammed Owens injured arm against the ring post Paul posed with the WWE United States Title on the ring steps. 

Amin’s Thoughts — Logan Paul just continues to shine playing such an unlikeable heel. This was good putting heat on Paul and showing Owens arm is hurt heading into the Royal Rumble title match. 

Roman Reigns was lecturing Jimmy Uso and Paul Heyman in The Bloodline locker room. Reigns said he’s got one Wiseman. Reigns said he’s got two of you. Reigns mocked Jimmy for calling plays. Reigns said YEET, No YEET. Sikoa stepped up. Sikoa said last week was on him. Sikoa said Reigns named him the Tribal Heir for a reason. Sikoa said he’s going to show Reigns. Sikoa said he’s going to fix it. 

Damage CTRL were shown ringside for the match. 

Kayden Carter & Katana Chance [c] vs. Unholy Union (Alba Flye & Isla Dawn) — WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Match

Dawn and Fyre’s entrance is pretty cool. Dawn and Fyre took control early rocking Carter with strikes. Dawn and Fyre delivered a Backdrop Suplex/Superkick combo to Carter for a two count. Carter got Chance the tag. Chance caught Dawn with a hurricanrana. Chance conencted with a Super Hurricanrana to Dawn onto Fyre for a two count. Dawn and Fyre went for their finish but was blocked. Dawn caught Carter with a right hand. Fyre caught Carter with a rollup for a two count. Carter battled back catching Fyre with a Springboard Destroyer. Carter and Chance delivered the Keg Stand for the win to retain the titles.

WINNERS: Kayden Carter & Katana Chance retained the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles 
Amin’s Thoughts — This was a fine tag team match. Nice to see Dawn and Fyre back on TV as make for a great team. A strong showcase for Chance and Carter as they really fun to watch together. Really nice to see more focus being added to the WWE Women’s Tag Team Division. 

Asuka and Kairi Sane celebrated with the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles after the match. Asuka and Sane handed the titles back. They taunted Carter and Chance after the match. 

Amin’s Thoughts — Carter and Chance have been doing great as champion. I would love to see Asuka and Kairi Sane win the WWE Women Tag Team Titles. It works for the storyline with Damage CTRL holding the titles. 

AJ Styles approached The OC backstage. Luke Gallows told Styles The OC had his back. Styles left.

Final Testament vignette aired. Karrion Kross said he knows who Lashley and The Street Profit are. Kross called them the Yes man of the company. Kross said they were the face of the place. Kross wondered if that was the plan. Kross said they don’t get opportunities because they are the disruptors. Kross said he will see Lashley and The Street Profits face to face next week. Kross said everyone knows who the allmighty really are. 

Corey Graves and Kevin Patrick spoke about the scary injury spot between Carmelo Hayes and Grayson Waller from last week. 

Cathy Kelly interviewed Carmelo Hayes backstage. Hayes spoke about injuries sometimes happen during matches. Hayes said thankfully they are able to walk away from it. Hayes said he might not won. Hayes said he didn’t lose. Hayes called himself HIM. Austin Theory and Grayson Waller appeared. Theory was upset Hayes tried to end his career last week. Theory wasn’t happen Hayes was getting interview time. Hayes challenged Theory to a match next week. Theory said he’s busy. Waller accepted the match on Theory’s behalf. Hayes said he’s going to speak to Nick Aldis to make the match happen. Theory told Waller to stop making matches on his behalf. 

Amin’s Thoughts — Nice to see Carmelo Hayes making weekly appearances on SmackDown. Hayes seems like a guess to make for a Royal Rumble surprise. The interaction between Theory and Waller interesting possible teasing a split. Could this possibly being the slow build to a Theory babyface turn? 

AJ Styles vs. LA Knight 

AJ Styles received a great reaction. LA Knight also received a really strong reaction. Knight took control early rocking Styles with strikes. Styles responded catching Knight in a side headlock. Knight broke free running Styles into the turnbuckle. Knight planted Styles with a suplex for near fall. Styles stopped Knight rocking him with the Phenomenal Blitz. Styles connected with a backbreaker for a near fall. Knight battled back catching Styles with a powerslam for a two count. Styles responded catching Knight with a sliding knee strikes. The action moved to the floor. Knight used Styles momentum and launched him onto the barricade. Jimmy Uso made his way ringside. Knight saw Jimmy and sent him to the back. Solo Sikoa appeared nailing Knight with a Samoan Spike. The match ended. 

WINNER: No Contest 
Amin’s Thoughts — I was enjoying the match as Styles and Knight worked well together. I wasn’t surprised by the no-finish. Knight or Styles shouldn’t either be losing before challenging for the Undisputed WWE Universal Title at the Royal Rumble. 

Sikoa launched Styles crashing over the ring steps. Sikoa laid out Styles with a Samoan Spike. Sikoa grabbed the mic. Sikoa said two down and one to go. Sikoa called Randy Orton to the ring for their match.

Randy Orton vs. Solo Sikoa 

Randy Orton came out to a big reaction. Nick Aldis was shown ringside for the match. Sikoa took control early rocking Orton with strikes. Sikoa rocked Orton with an Umaga Hip Attack. Orton rolled to the floor. Sikoa ran Orton into the ring steps. Orton battled back planting Orton with a back drop onto the announcer’s table. Orton caught Sikoa with a Draping DDT. The crowd went wild as Orton called for the RKO. Jimmy Uso made his way back ringside. LA Knight attacked Jimmy on the entrance ramp. Jimmy tired to leave. Styles decide Jimmy with a right hand. Sikoa called for the Samoa Spike. Orton caught Sikoa with an RKO for the win.

WINNER: Randy Orton 
Amin’s Thoughts — This was a standard match. The match accomplished its goal with Orton keeping his word by beating Sikoa with the RKO. This seems to be the formula by having Reigns biggest challenges in Cody Rhodes, LA Knight and now Orton all beat Sikoa clean before challenging for the title. 

AJ Styles, Randy Orton and LA Knight had a stare down after the match. Knight decked Styles with a right hand. Orton laid out Knight with an RKO. Orton gave Styles an RKO as well. Orton looked at the entrance ramp. Reigns appeared from behind rocking Orton with a Superman Punch. Reigns asked Aldis for the contract. Reigns smiled and signed the contract. Reigns went to hand Aldis the contract. Reigns dropped the contract on the floor. The crowd gasped at this. Reigns called for a spear. The crowd chanted RKO. Orton caught Reigns with an RKO to a huge reaction. Orton placed the contract next to Reigns. Orton posed. The show ended.  

Amin’s Thoughts — They did a really good job making the RKO feel like a huge move by taking out Reigns, Styles and Knight. Orton was positioned the strongest out of the three challenges who could be the one to pose the biggest challenge to dethrone Reigns at the Royal Rumble.


The wrestling matches on the show were mostly on the lower end this week. This was all about building up the Royal Rumble show. The build for both the Fatal-4-Way and WWE United States Title matches were quite strong. The other highlight was seeing Pete Dunne getting his name back. It was interesting they didn’t announce any new participants for the Royal Rumble match. It really feels like winner of the Royal Rumble match will be likely coming from Raw on the men’s side. The Women’s Royal Rumble is interesting because you can make strong cases for either Bayley or Becky Lynch to win. My guess is whoever doesn’t will win the Elimination Chamber match to earn their respected championship match at WrestleMania. Overall, this was a solid episode of SmackDown. Good enough show as they continue to build towards the Royal Rumble.