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Mitchell’s WWE SmackDown Live Report! (1/23/18)



All images courtesy of WWE’s official Twitter



  • Jey Uso w/ Jimmy Uso VS Chad Gable w/ Shelton Benjamin; Gable wins.
  • Naomi VS Liv Morgan w/ The Riott Squad; Naomi wins.
  • Baron Corbin VS Shinsuke Nakamura; Nakamura wins, by disqualification.
  • Six Man Tag: Bobby Rodde & The New Day VS Rusev Day & Jinder Mahal w/ The Singh Brothers; Roode & New Day win.
  • AJ Styles VS Kevin Owens; Styles wins.
  • AJ Styles VS Sami Zayn; Zayn wins.


Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn head to the ring.

SmackDown becomes the Kevin & Sami Show–or the Sami & Kevin Show–as the #YEPMovement is in Washington D.C. The fans boo and jeer but Kevin still speaks and wants everyone to pay attention. These two are the “future of WWE”, unlike last night’s “parade of retirees” on the 25th Anniversary of Raw. Therefore, give it up for your future CO-CHAMPION, Sami Zayn! Sami wants to spread the love as he sends that back to co-champion Kevin Owens.

The #YepMovement is more than just a single syllable, it is about staring into the “face of tyranny.” Yep. For example, Kevin & Sami were in a handicap match, all thanks to Shane McMahon. Yep! But Shane’s vendetta backfired because Sami & Kevin lost that handicap match, which proves Styles will not be WWE Champion. YEP! Kevin & Sami are the “absolute best competitors on SmackDown”, and if they can’t overcome the odds, than how could AJ Styles? But fans don’t understand, and surely neither does Styles. Sami says that he and Kevin will defeat Styles, take that championship and become the first ever WWE World Co-Champions! And to add insult to injury, Kevin & Sami will hurt Styles. “YEP! YEP!” But AJ Styles appears to respond!

Fans cheer for AJ Styles as he stands on the stage. “I can’t be the only one hearing you say that.” Did he hear #Kami correctly? That they are going to beat him? How about “Nope!” That they’re gonna be co-champions? Nope. That they’re gonna hurt Styles? NOPE!

Boy that’s annoying, isn’t it? The #YEPMovement has been pretty annoying. Kevin doesn’t care, because after Sami & Kevin win, you’ll hear “YEP!” everywhere you go. Styles will here “YEP!” in arenas, in airports, in dreams and in nightmares, even from his family! Styles tells them to shut their “Yep Holes” for a second, he tells them that while they have the advantage, they’ll be facing someone who is Phenomenal. If there’s fight left in Styles, Styles will make sure they are never co-champions. He’s said it once, he’ll say it again, SmackDown is “The House that AJ Styles Built!” Sami & Kevin knew he’d say that. Yes, Styles is Phenomenal, but also predictable. He put on his “macho tough-guy act”, but it won’t matter. Styles has no chance, but of course he’d be ignorant, ignorance is the official language of D.C. And let’s not forget, ignorance got Styles into this mess to begin with. What did Styles say a few weeks ago? Let’s look at the tape! Styles said this handicap match should happen, but Styles didn’t think someone would make that official. And now Styles backtracks his way out of it, isn’t that right? For once in Styles’ life, he has to be a man, because he is being forced by an actual authority figure in Daniel Bryan. Bryan wants Styles to live up to his word, but will he? Styles asks what they’re talking about. If only they had a way… Oh right, the footage! Styles said last week that he’ll even fight them both in the same night. Is Styles going to man up? It won’t be for the title, but how about it? Styles in a double header against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn! Fans say “YES! YES!” and that brings out SmackDown General Manager, Daniel Bryan!

Bryan thinks it over and tells Sami & Kevin “enough is enough.” They are two of the greatest stars to be in a WWE ring, and they are right about handicap matches being difficulty. However, Bryan has the utmost faith. Styles speaks up and asks Bryan to stop advocating. In fact, Styles feels Bryan is in league with “these two dirt bags.” Styles will make it official himself, he accepts the double-header challenge! Will this confidence come to bite Styles in the butt?


SmackDown GM and Commissioner meet backstage.

Shane McMahon checks on Bryan, while also questioning his actions. The WWE Champion has back-to-back matches tonight before the Royal Rumble title defense? Bryan defends that he wasn’t going to do that at all, because AJ Styles has nothing to prove. Shane wants to be sure that’s the truth, and Bryan insists it is. However, Bryan wants to ask Shane if he’s really questioning Styles’ ability to defend himself. No, Shane is not questioning Styles abilities tonight. The tension grows ever stronger within the SmackDown administration…


Jey Uso w/ Jimmy Uso VS Chad Gable w/ Shelton Benjamin!

The SmackDown Tag Team Champions defend their titles in a Best 2 out of 3 Falls match this Sunday. Can the Uso Penitentiary gain momentum and stay open through the Royal Rumble?

The bell rings and the two circle. Gable goes after Jey’s legs but Jey gets to ropes. The break is clean and the two circle again. Gable goes after the legs again but Jey clubs away, only to get body slammed. Jey ends up in a waistlock and Gable throws him around. Jey backs Gable to a corner but Gable turns it back around. The referee counts and Gable gives a clean break. They tie up again but now Gable puts Jey in an armlock. Jey whips but Gable reverses, to get right after that leg again. Gable keeps Jey on the defensive with another rear mount, then crossface forearms. Fans rally for “UCE! SO!” and Jey uses that to get moving and sling Gable off. Gable gets back in the ring but gets rocked right back out with an uppercut! Jey glares at Gable while we go picture-in-picture.

Jey rallies the fans again while Benjamin regroups with Gable. Gable takes his time as returns into the ring. The two circle again, Gable gets that waistlock back. Jey endures the squeeze as he works to pry his way out. Jey throws back elbows and a mule kick, then the uppercut. Gable runs at Jey and narrowly escapes the Samoan Drop to then throw Jey right into the steel post. Jimmy checks on his brother while Gable comes out to fetch him. They go back in the ring and now Gable goes after that bad shoulder. Cover, TWO, but Gable stays calm. He goes after that bad arm with a hammerlock, grinding Jey into the mat. Gable bridges for even more leverage on that bad arm. Jey rolls but Gable keeps a hold, and throws that bad shoulder into buckles. Cover, TOW, Jimmy coaches his brother up while Gable tells everyone to “Shush!” Gable returns to that bad arm, wrenching it back with a seated armlock. He wrenches it around and around, but Jey endures. Jey works his way back to his feet, then headbutts Gable off. He chops Gable, then chops again, Gable blocks the mule kick and hits a hammerlock Northern Lights as we return to single picture!

TWO, and now Gable is frustrated. Gable climbs up the nearest corner, and moonsaults! he lands on his feet as Jey evades, then ends up on the apron when Jey dodges. Jey kicks, Gable blocks, but Jey comes back around with the reverse dragon whip! Gable goes down, Benjamin is shocked, Jey gets running, only to run into Gable’s forearm. Gable returns into the ring, but Jey sends him out the other side! Benjamin regroups with Gable again, and keeps Jimmy back. Jey DIVES outta nowhere!

Jey gets up and puts Gable back in before climbing up top. He takes aim, Gable evades so Jey lands on hsi feet. Gable runs into a Samoan Drop! Jey has Gable in a corner, fires up the fans as he goes corner to corner, but Gable catches him for a waistlock. Jey bucks him off, misses the kick Gable hits the rolling kick and then the Rolling German! Gable wins!

As intense as this 1v1 match was, how much more will it be when it’s 2v2 for at least two falls?


Backstage interview with Shinsuke Nakamura.

The King of Strong Style enters his first ever Royal Rumble and believes it is his destiny to win. Royal Rumble matches are “notoriously challenging” so how will he do it? “Simple: I see someone, I put my knee in their face.” Shinsuke will repeat that 29 times, but The Lone Wolf says Nakamura is nothing but hype. But that’s okay, because the WWE Universe loves him. Corbin doesn’t care about the fans, they can keep their opinions to themselves. Corbin’s resume is more than enough to win the Rumble, because “that’s not hype, that’s results.” What has Nakamura even done? It’s not what Nakamura has done, but what he’ll do at the Rumble. So how about these two rumble tonight? Who will come out of this solid match-up with more momentum?


Tye Dillinger speaks on the Royal Rumble.

The Perfect Ten debuted in the perfect spot last year. Dillinger had ups and downs in 2017 but vows to change that in 2018 as he tries again this year. He has a chance to make history, and “anything is possible.” 2018 will be a perfect ten for Tye!


Naomi VS Liv Morgan w/ The Riott Squad!

It’s #GlowTime for SmackDown’s Women’s Division as the inaugural Women’s Rumble draws closer. Can Naomi make #LivForever #FeeltheGlow?

The bell rings, the two circle, and then tie up. Liv powers Naomi to a corner, and dirties up the break. Naomi boots her back then slides to slap her! Cover, TWO, Naomi goes after a leg for a jackknife. TOW, Liv bridges and slides a backslide on, but TWO just in time. The two go again, Naomi flips off Liv but Liv bends back. Naomi blocks a kick to swing a kick after kick after kick but it’s the knee that gets Liv. Liv gets to a corner, Naomi fires up and runs in but the referee keeps her back because LIv is in the ropes. Liv takes advantage, she yanks Naomi into the buckles. She gets mad now, springboard double stomps!

TWO, and Liv is furious. The Riott Squad keeps her focused, and she puts Naomi in a straitjacket clutch. Fans rally for the former SmackDown Women’s Champion, but look who is coming down the ramp!

SmackDown’s Welcoming Committee, Natalya, Lana & Carmella. These three stand and watch at ringside as Liv lariats Naomi down. But now Becky Lynch appears while Naomi gets to ropes for safety. Liv drags Naomi up by her hair but gets a roundhouse that rocks her down. Slingshot sunset flip, Naomi wins! The Squad is shocked but every other woman of SmackDown is happy. Things break down as The Squad go after Naomi, and Becky goes after them! The Welcoming Committee watches as Becky throws them out, Natty lariats Becky down. Ruby gets up and clobbers Natty, but Lana boots her down. Natty turns on Lana with a kick of her own to then scoop and dump over the top. Carmella enters and FABULOUS Kicks Liv down, then she works with Natty to throw her out. Natty turns on Carmella with that discus clothesline, then bails out as Naomi and Becky return. Then Becky goes to throw Naomi out!

Naomi stays on the apron, and manages to laugh it off. However, here comes SmackDown’s Queen, Charlotte! “I love it!” That was a fierce move, because it is every woman for herself. Friendships and alliances don’t matter when you’re fighting for the right to face The Queen. Charlotte wishes everyone luck, especially to the winner. The champion is ready for any challenger, but who will it be?


Baron Corbin VS Shinsuke Nakamura!

The Lone Wolf and the King of Strong Style both want to prove their superiority to everyone else in the WWE, and the Royal Rumble is a great place to do it. Who will prove themselves the superior here tonight?

The bell rings, the two circle, and then tie up. Corbin puts Nakamura in a corner while fans cheer Nakamura on. The break is clean but disrespectful, Corbin doesn’t care what fans think. Nakamura ties up with him again an dgets the waistlock but Corbin turns that around to a wristlock. Nakamura rolls and handsprings to reverse the hold onto Corbin and make it a hammerlock. Corbin gets himself to ropes, Nakamura honors the break with his ab rest. He then tells Corbin, “C’MON!!” Corbin runs out but into the knee, snapmare and knee drop added on top. Nakamura has Corbin in a corner and gives Good Vibrations. Corbin gets out of the ring, Nakamura pursues and they brawl outside. Corbin puts Nakmura into the ring with authority, so Nakamura dares him to “C’mon!” again. Instead of taking the bait, Corbin turns to walk away. Nakamura pursues him again, but Corbin springs his trap with the sucker punch uppercut! Nakamura gasps for air, Corbin puts him into the turnbuckle crossbar! Corbin has control while we go to break.

SmackDown returns and Corbin has Nakamura in a seated half-nelson chinbar. Fans rally for Nakamura, and he wills his way to his feet. Corbin powers Nakamura back down, but Nakamura tries again. Nakamura stomps and punches but Corbin throws in a knee. Corbin whips but Nakamura reverses to throw in his own knee, and even teh strike fest. Nakamura gets running, Dynamic Dropkick! Fans fire up while Nakmaura gives those roundhosues to the chest. Corbin blocks one, but gets the enziguri from the other side. Nakamura and Corbin get to corners, Nakamura gives teh corner to corner knee. He hoists Corbin up and gives the Top Shelf knee to the ribs! Cover, TWO, but Nakamura keeps focus. He goes back to Corbin and prepares the Inverted Exploder but Corbin fights out with elbows. Corbin goes to suplex but Nakamura blocks. Nakamura gives more knees, then suplexes Corbin for the gordbuster! He takes aim from a corner, KIN- DEEP SIX!

TWO! Corbin cannot believe how close he was. Nakamura rolls and gets to ropes, Corbin refocuses before running in. Nakamura boots him away, then goes to the second rope. Corbin runs back, Nakamura jumps over but Corbin slides out then in to clobber Nakamura with the lariat! Cover, TWO! Corbin is furious over this one. Fans rally for Nakamura while Corbin stands up. He demands Nakamura stand up, then reels him in, but gets caught in an armbar!! Corbin flails and rolls, TWO, Nakamura misses the right but gets the left kick! Nakamura fires up again, calls for it, But RKO OUTTA NOWHERE!!

Orton is all fired up, Corbin goes after him, another RKO! THe Viper is all fired up as he stakes a claim to the Rumble victory. Could the legendary Legend Killer do it twice in a row to headline Wrestlemania?


Six Man Tag: Bobby Rodde & The New Day VS Rusev Day & Jinder Mahal w/ The Singh Brothers!

“Awwww D.C.~!” The New Day was part of history as they attended #Raw25. This Sunday, they’ll be part of history again as “Yo Boys” are indeed entering the Royal Rumble Match! Not only that, but their partner made history when he won two matches in one night to become the W, W, E, United, States, Champion~! But who is that? Who who who? The GLORIOUS One, that’s who!

Roode thanks The New Day for that wonderful introduction. And there’s no better a place to debut as the new US Champion than in the nation’s capitol! Roode’s goal is to “be the best United States Champion in history.” he knows that is not easy, but he guarantees that his reign will be… “Absolutely~” Stupendous? Delicious? Exuberant? No, no, it’ll be Absolutely~… GLORIOUS!!

SmackDown goes picture in picture as Jinder Mahal, Rusev & Aiden English make their way to the ring.

The New Day slings pancakes but those don’t bother Rusev. He starts against Kofi Kingston as the bell rings. The two circle but English distracts, Rusev hits a MACHKA Kick! Cover, TWO, but Rusev stays focused as he stomps on Kofi. He tags English, and Team Rusev Day stomp away on Kofi in the corner. English drags Kofi up and rocks him with a jab before tagging in Mahal. The Modern Day Maharaja gives body shots and a snapmare before driving his knee into Kofi’s back. Mahal taunts Kofi with a chance to tag then stomps him again before tagging to Rusev. Rusev stomps Kofi more, then stalks him to ropes.

SmackDown returns to single picture as Rusev lifts Kofi into a bearhug. Kofi endures the squeezing and thrashing, fans duel with chants. Kofi fights out with headbutts but Rusev drives in a knee. He goes corner to corner an drams Kofi with a shoulder. He gives a sucker punch to Xavier Woods, then returns to Kofi, only to miss in the corner. Kofi gives Rusev a bulldog and both men are down. Fans rally, the two men crawl and get hot tags to Roode and English. Roode rallies, big clothesline in the corner followed by a neckbreaker. Roode gives a knee to Mahal then boots English before hopping up and hitting a blockbuster! The fans fire up as Roode winds it up, and gives the GLORIOUS Pose! Spinebuster to Mahal, but Rusev rocks Roode with a roundhouse. English rolls Roode up, TWO! Kofi springboards to ax handle Rusev down, then sees Mahal and FLIES!

English grabs Roode but Roode slips out. Standing switch, Woods tags in, he swing kicks English. Another SPINEBUSTER, then Woods goes to the top rope for the elbow drop! Roode & The New Day win! Will this momentum help The New Day finally win a Royal Rumble?


AJ Styles VS Kevin Owens!

The Phenomenal WWE Champion wants to prove he’s more than enough for #Kami, which is why he put himself in this situation. However, SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon comes out before this match can begin. He wants to be perfectly clear, that if Sami Zayn is anywhere near the ring for this match, he will be removed from the title match at the Royal Rumble. In other words, Shane will fire Sami on the spot. The same goes for Kevin that if he appears during Sami’s match after this, he will be fired. They can bring their #YEPMovement, but will it be the last thing they ever do on SmackDown? YEP! Sami protests, but Kevin counters that Daniel Bryan said it was okay. They argue this issue out while we go to break.

SmackDown returns and the match finally begins. Kevin swings but Styles slips under, to fire off shots of his own. Styles backs Kevin into a corner, but Kevin fights his way out. Kevin runs but into Styles’ dropkick! Styles keeps on Kevin in a corner while fans cheer him own. He whips Kevin corner to corner then runs in but misses his corner clothesline. Kevin clobbers Styles down, runs corner to corner but he misses the cannonball. Styles takes notice of Kevin hobbling and goes right after that sore leg. He rolls Kevin, Calf Crusher!

Kevin taps right away, Styles wins! Styles doesn’t let go, he promised to hurt Kevin. But here comes Sami! This isn’t a match anymore so he can beat Styles up. He checks on his best friend, who clutches his ankle. Then Sami returns to throwing hands on Styles, even as the referee tries to pull him away. Sami is fired up and ready to go, Kevin hobbles his way to the ramp. Styles flounders, the referee keeps Sami back but for only a moment as Sami stomps a mudhole into Styles. The fans boo and jeer while cheering for Styles. Sami drags Styles out of the ring and keeps up the attack! He whips Styles at the steel steps, and Styles’ knees bang off the side as he goes flipping end over end. SmackDown administrators Bryan and Shane can only watch as Sami technically keeps to their agreement.

The referee finally gets Sami to keep off of Styles and we go to break while this sorts itself out.


AJ Styles VS Sami Zayn!

The Underdog already did damage to Styles before the bell, does Styles stand a chance?

Sami pounces right at the bell ringing, and Styles is reeling back. The medics help Kevin as he’s trying to clear the area, and fans cheer for Styles while Sami keeps unloading on him. Sami rocks Styles with a right hand, Styles swings back. Sami uses more right hands, then rains rights on Styles while he mocks the “tough guy”. He puts Styles in a corner, whips him corner to corner hard, and Styles bounces off buckles to the mat. Sami covers, TWO, but Sami keeps on Styles. He chops Styles a couple times, then whips him to run him over with a clothesline. Sami covers again, TWO. He drives a knee into Styles’ back while a stretcher appears for Kevin.

Styles endures the chinlock while fans keep cheering. Styles wills himself up and fights out of the hold, but Sami drags him back down. Bryan and Shane continue to watch as Sami and Styles exchange strikes. Sami drives in a knee, but Styles gives Sami the Phenomenal Blitz! Then a sliding forearm! Both men are down, then crawl to opposite corners. Styles runs in, big corner clothesline! Fireman’s carry but Sami slips out and shoves Styles away. Sami runs but is thrown out of the ring! Styles limps over, takes aim, slingshot forearm to Sami! Styles drags Sami up and into the ring, but glares at Kevin on the ground. The champion goes after Kevin with kicks and stomps! He stomps on Kevin’s bad leg, then rains down right hands. Sami runs out and clobbers Styles with a clothesline to again save Kevin.

Kevin writhes in pain and Sami has rage in his eyes while we go to break.

SmackDown returns once more to find Sami keeping on Styles while medics keep working on Kevin. Sami clobbers Styles with crossface punches while the fans boo and jeer. The chinlock returns, but fans rally for Styles. Styles stands up and works to put a cravat on Sami. Sami counters, so Styles unloads forearms and backs Sami up to a corner. Sami elbows back, then hops up, but Styles rocks him with a right. Styles climbs up to join Sami, and fans fire up as Styles hits the SUPER STEINER! Both men are down from exhaustion and soreness, but Bryan and Shane keep watching without complaint. Styles and Sami stand up, and brawl with chops and haymakers. They go back and forth, Sami gets the edge. Sami runs, but into the USHIGOROSHI! TWO, but Styles is too sore to be frustrated. He simply stands up and drags Sami into Clash position. Sami resists, Styles clubs him and lifts, but Sami pops out. Sami kicks and chops Styles to then acrobatically hit a tornado DDT! He isn’t done there, he gets to a corner and wants Styles to stand up. Styles is in the corner, but he boots Sami away. Styles springboards but Sami ducks under. Sami swings but Styles ducks the clothesline to then hit the PELE! Cover, TWO! Styles cannot believe how close that was, but he still has the fans chanting for him. The two men stir and stand up again, Styles reels Sami into the waistlock. Sami resists the German Suplex and elbows out of the hold, to then catch Styles in the Michinoku Driver! TWO! The Underdog stalks the Phenomenal One while fans continue to chant. Sami slaps Styles then hoists him up top before climbing up to join him. Sami wants a move now, but Styles slips under and trips him up! Styles mule kicks then brings Sami in, but Sami escapes and exits the ring. Fans boo, Styles slingshots over to hit the sliding knee! They go back into the ring, and Styles tips Kevin’s stretcher over!

Styles shows no mercy, but as he reenters the ring, he ends up taking the HELLUVA Kick and Blue Thunder Bomb!! Sami wins!! Team Kami split the series with Styles, can they make history when they take Styles on together?


My Thoughts:

SmackDown did a great job making up for much of what Raw failed to do last night, especially as the last go-home before the PPV. They hit every division equally, and even upped the stakes for much of what is going into the Royal Rumble. Jey Usos loses clean to Gable ahead of the SmackDown Tag Team Championship match, but that doesn’t mean the Usos will lose those titles. Their 2 out of 3 Falls match will surely be on par with every other SmackDown Tag Team Championship match The Usos have been involved with, and there is a good chance the Usos can come out on top. However, Gable & Benjamin pulling off the victory would definitely be believable the way they’ve been going and could freshen up things to new match-ups on the road to Wrestlemania. The SmackDown Women’s Division has the closest thing to the classic Royal Rumble brawl as they could have, and it was great for Charlotte to come out and remind everyone who’s the champion. I would love if she and Alexa Bliss were ringside for the Women’s Rumble so that they could see the winner firsthand and have them issue the challenge then and there.

Roode & The New Day had a great match with Mahal & Rusev Day, and it was like a victory lap for Roode while there isn’t anything explicitly set for him and the US Championship just yet. My money is still on Ziggler returning to claim Roode is not deserving, even if it is a loose rehash of the HBK VS Razor Ramon Intercontinental Championship ladder match. And after The Viper misses #Raw25, his truly #OuttaNowhere return to SmackDown more than made up for it in my eyes. Orton hits Nakamura with an RKO, then one to Corbin, which keeps the Rockstar and the Lone Wolf on even footing while putting Orton above them in the rankings for who on SmackDown might win the Rumble. The major story of tonight is once again the Shane-Bryan civil war that involves #Kami and Styles. While we’ve seen just about everything we could have, it was actually pretty unique to have a double-header. Styles literally has 50-50 booking tonight with that, where Kevin suffers a lot of damage quick but then Sami does more damage to Styles in his eventual victory. This all muddies up the math so it could go either way come Sunday. I just hope we finally get definitive evidence towards someone’s Heel Turn, and hopefully that someone is Shane. Shane having a furious breakdown as #Kami win just seems logical given how fans still love Bryan.

My Score: 8.3/10