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Mitchell’s WWE SmackDown Live Report! (1/9/18)

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All images courtesy of the WWE’s official Twitter

 

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  • Ruby Riott w/ The Riott Squad VS Becky Lynch w/ Charlotte Flair & Naomi; Becky wins.
  • The Ascension VS The Bludgeon Brothers; Bludgeon Brothers win.
  • WWE United States Championship Tournament: Zack Ryder VS Mojo Rawley; Rawley wins and advances to face Bobby Roode in the semifinals.
  • Breezango VS Rusev Day; Breezango wins.
  • 3-on-2 Handicap Match: AJ Styles, Randy Orton & Shinsuke Nakamura VS Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn; Styles, Orton & Nakamura win.

PLAY BY PLAY

Last week’s SmackDown had a crowded main event.

Kevin Owens, Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan were all ringside while Sami Zayn had a match with AJ Styles. The tension was high the entire time, and it ended up favoring Sami Zayn! Both he and Kevin have a win over AJ Styles now, and Styles furiously said “Why don’t you just make it a handicap match!” Daniel Bryan took that comment seriously, and has made the Royal Rumble world championship match exactly that: a Handicap Match! What is the SmackDown General Manager planning with this 2-on-1 match for the title?

 

Renee Young conducts an in-ring interview!

Her guest: the Phenomenal One himself!

AJ Styles heads to the ring and sits down with Renee. She brings up the “controversial” decision for Styles to defend his title against both Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn. Does Styles think that is fair? Styles says that “every time I step foot in this ring, I take pride in what I do it in.” Styles admits he is human and makes mistakes, and would not have said what he said, had he known Bryan was going to use them against him. He knows he is in a Handicap Match and is likely to lose his title, but he is also likely to beat the crap out of Sami & Kevin at the same time! Styles will hit them so hard and fast, they won’t know what hit them. Of course, Kevin & Sami are professionals, they can tag in and out to stay fresh against him. Then, what is Styles’ actual answer? Is this fair or not? Birmingham chants for Styles, and Styles answers this is not fair, but neither is life. Sami & Kevin have non-title victories, but that doesn’t mean they should have title matches together. One and then the other, sure, Styles will do that. But it is not fair of SmackDown to put him in a Handicap match. Is Bryan playing favorites? Fans believe “YES! YES!” Styles just doesn’t understand what Bryan is thinking. What about Shane playing favorites? Styles isn’t going to get political and point fingers. He already has to worry about Kevin & Sami, so “truth of the matter is”, he can’t allow “those two idiots” to take the title from him. Styles vows to win, and then thank the High Heavens when he does, because he made it clear that SmackDown is– Kevin & Sami appear!

“Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for the WWE Champion, AJ Styles, ‘The Phenomenal’ AJ Styles.” Or perhaps Sami & Kevin should call him the “Regretful AJ Styles.” Or, the “Remorseful AJ Styles.” Better yet, “The AJ Styles who put his foot in his mouth.” Yep. Kevin says it will take a miracle for Styles to beat them 2-on-1. And Heaven doesn’t give out miracles to people like Styles. He has no chance of walking out with the title. Yep! At the Royal Rumble, at the end of the night, Kevin & Sami will be the first-ever WWE CO-Champions. YEP! Sami & Kevin will take “The House that AJ Styles Built” into the Kevin & Sami Show! YEP! They will do what they want! “YEP! YEP!”

Birmingham counters with “NO! NO!” until Shane McMahon appears!

Shane agrees with Styles, this can’t be fair. And he is puzzled why Bryan made the match in the first place, and is baffled as to why the “YEP Clowns” another opportunity to become champions. “But be that as it may,” Shane will back the decision that it happens at the Royal Rumble, for now. As for the subject of handicap matches, how about having one tonight? Birmingham likes the sound of that! Kevin & Sami will take on… Shinsuke Nakamura, Randy Orton and AJ Styles! The Best Friends are going to get a taste of what they’ll put Styles through, can they survive the Phenomenal One, The King of Strong Style and the Viper?

Shane encounters Daniel Bryan backstage.

The GM hears the Commissioner is “puzzled.” One hell of a main event tonight, though. They shake hands, and leave it at that.

The tension is growing stronger every day, when will things finally break apart?

 

Ruby Riott w/ The Riott Squad VS Becky Lynch w/ Charlotte Flair & Naomi!

The leader of the Squad steps up to the first woman they went after upon their arrival. Can the Lass Kicker get revenge this close to the inaugural Women’s Royal Rumble? It might help that she has the Queen of Flair and Lady Glow ringside to keep eyes on Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan at ringside.

The bell rings and the two tie up right away. Becky throws Ruby by her arm, then by a waistlock. She brings Ruby up into a waistlock but Ruby gets to ropes for the break. The ref counts, Becky backs off by 4 but yanks Ruby right out to the center of the ring. Becky runs but Sarah swipes at her, that distraction doesn’t work, she elbows Ruby back then throws her out. She dares the entire Squad to try something while we go picture in picture.

The Riott Squad helps Ruby refocus while Becky dares her to return. The referee counts, Becky forces the issue by jumping from the apron to clothesline Ruby down! Becky gives out high-fives then puts Ruby in the ring. Ruby goes to elbow her but misses, then her kick is countered into a dragon screw. Ruby gets up and Becky throws her with arm-drag after arm-drag, then knocks her down with a forearm smash. Cover, TWO, but Becky keeps focus. She drags Ruby up while Charlotte and Naomi watch. Becky tries for an armbar but Ruby powers her to a corner. Ruby runs in again but misses, yet blocks Becky’s jump kick to hang Becky up on the ropes. Becky takes mudhole stomps from Ruby. Ruby walks off her frustration then kicks Becky while she’s down. Ruby drags Becky into a snapmare and loops one arm around, and puts on a seated Abdominal Stretch. The Squad likes what they see, Ruby drives in fists as she stretches Becky’s ribs. Becky endures, fans rally, and the Lass Kicker gets up to give back those body shots. She whips Ruby, Ruby goes up and over, Deadly Nightshade! Ruby then rams Becky into the post, then stretches Becky back against the ropes to give more body shots. Ruby then puts Becky in a rear bearhug to work on those ribs even more. Fans rally while we go single picture again.

Becky feeds off the energy from the fans as she works against the squeeze. Ruby rolls her over for a cover, TWO, Becky throws elbows. Ruby returns those elbows while keeping up the squeeze. ANother roll, TWO, and Becky pops out of the bodyscissors. Ruby quickly wraps those back on, using her arms for leverage. Becky fights back while fans rally again, Becky makes it a cover and TWO! Becky is free again, and back elbows Ruby away. Ruby runs in but mises, jump kick! Becky unloads body shots, Ruby throws her down by her hair. Cover, TWO, the Squad is a bit frsutrated. Ruby rams knees into Becky’s ribs, the Squad likes that better. Ruby stands Becky up for another Abdominal Stretch, but fans rally again. Becky pries her way out, and hip-tosses Ruby! Ruby gets up, Becky small package surprises, TWO! Becky throws fiery forearms, and an uppercut! Another uppercut, then a back kick, Becky gives Ruby a single-leg suplex! The Lass Kicker isn’t done there, she gives Ruby the Becksploder! Ruby dodges the boot to kick those ribs, and kick them again while Becky’s down. She brings Becky up, but the arm-wrench is countered into the Disarm-Her!

The Squad is kept from interfering, Ruby taps! Becky wins! Can this momentum carry her all the way to the end of the Women’s Royal Rumble?

 

The Ascension VS The Bludgeon Brothers!

Konnor & Viktor have been trying to help their “friends”, The Fashion Police, close the Case of 2B but it hasn’t been going too well. So in return, Breezango got their “friends” a match against said 2B, Harper & Rowan!

The bell rings, The Ascension rush the Bludgeon Brothers! For the first time, someone takes the fight to them! Harper shoves Viktor away to boot him straight down, then SUPERKICK to Konnor. Tag to Rowan, the Bludgeon Brothers go after Viktor. Rowan is whipped corner to corner to squash Viktor from behind, then the Full Nelson lift into the Sit-out powerbomb!

The Bludgeon Brothers win fast! They let Konnor check on Viktor, only to pounce and give him the Bludgeon Bomb! Strong, fast and merciless, can anyone hope to stop Harper & Rowan from pummeling the entire SmackDown Tag Team Division?

 

Bobby Roode comes to ringside.

The GLORIOUS One wants to join commentary for the WWE United States Championship Tournament!

He has already made it to the semifinals after defeating The Lone Wolf, now he awaits the winner of the final opening round match.

WWE United States Championship Tournament: Zack Ryder VS Mojo Rawley!

They were once the Hype Bros, but their losses and frustration broke them apart. #MojoRising won their match at the Clash of Champions Kickoff Show, can Long Island Iced Z tie things up with a chance at gold on the line?

The bell rings, they tie up, Mojo powers Ryder to a corner. Ryder rockets out with a dropkick, cover, ONE and Mojo bails out of the ring. He gets back in and carriers Ryder to the corner to then ram in shoulders. Ryder gets knees up then hps up, but Mojo throws him off! Mojo throws forearms down on Ryder then covers, TWO. He keeps on Ryder with a jaw clamp to then ram Ryder back into buckles again and again before throwing him down. Mojo stalks Ryder, then wrenches the neck. “Where’s your killer instinct, Zack?!” Ryder stands up and fights back but Mojo grounds him with a knee to the stomach. Mojo toys with Ryder, dragging him up and going for a suplex, which Ryder counters with a neckbreaker! Fans cheer on Ryder, Mojo runs in but into a back elbow. Ryder gives a forearm, Mojo shoves him away, Ryder responds with a kick. Mojo ends up in a corner, Ryder gives him a forearm smash. Ryder knocks MOjo down, goes to the adjacent corner and “WOO WOO WOO!” But Mojo bails out before the boot comes in. Ryder still gets Mojo with a wrecking ball boot anyway! Mojo goes down, Ryder goes out to put him back in the ring. Cover, TWO! Ryder won’t let up, he chops MOjo to a corner. Ryder climbs up but Mojo carries him for an Atomic Drop, then rams Ryder right into the post.

Mojo drags Ryder out, Hype Arm to the back of the head. Three point stance, BIG Hype Arm! Mojo wins again, and moves on in the tournament!

Roode steps into the ring with Mojo now, and the two stare down. Mojo grins, as does Roode. Is Roode ready to #GetHype with the rising Rawley?

 

Jinder Mahal speaks.

The Modern Day Maharaja says he defined the year 2017 as “YOUR WWE Champion.” No one thought it was possible nor did they think he was deserving, but he did. And now he sets his eyes on the United States Championship. Mahal hopes Xavier Woods knows how to play Taps on a trombone, because his championship dreams are already over. He declares The New Day is a fad, but the Maharaja is forever! Will Mahal make it to the finals of the tournament at the Royal Rumble?

 

Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable head to the ring.

They challenged The Usos for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships last week, but lost track of which twin was legal. For this reason, Gable & Benjamin are not tag team champions tonight. “Do any of you know what it takes to be a winner?” Hours of training, neglecting family and friends, does anyone in Alabama know what that takes? Anyone? Anyone? “To hold a championship high and show the world that it’s possible, if you’re willing to make the sacrifice?” Benjamin won’t let the state of Alabama get a big head just because Alabama University did. All these people did was sit on a couch and stuff their faces. On the other hand, Benjamin’s college of Georgia was robbed because of bad referees! The same goes for Benjamin & Gable last week. They beat the Usos in the ring, and set the tag titles free from the Uso Penitentiary. They were so excited, celebrating up the ring–fans chant “ROLL TIDE!”–and then another referee appears. That referee was not part of their match, so why did he show up? To overturn their victory and give the titles back to the Usos, then restart the match. But why? Jealousy! That ref was jealous, because he doesn’t know what it’s like to be a winner. That man was a thief who stole their dream! A rat snitch committed a crime, so Gable & Benjamin demand justice! #FreetheTagTitles! Gable & Benjamin didn’t lose to the Usos, they lost to instant replay. They demand that referee come out here and set things right! Instead, SmackDown GM Daniel Bryan appears!

Birmingham greets him with cheers and chants. Bryan tells Benjamin & Gable that while he understands the feeling of thinking you’ve won after working so hard only for it to be taken away, he doesn’t care for them going after management. Management? No no, they’re after the officials. Well, officials represent management, and there aer some “cold hard rules” that everyone needs to understand: Referee decisions are final. Exactly! One referee declared them the winners and new champions! Yes, but you didn’t. You pinned the wrong Uso, the other referee had to correct him, and the first realized his mistake. Oh really? Boohoo. What is this, Doctor Phil!? Benjamin thinks Gable should look Bryan in the eye and tell him how he feels. Bryan is just taking things out on them because of Shane. No, how do you feel? Gable feels he already beat the Usos. And that they’re already the tag team champions! No, how do you feel? That he’s done everything he has to do! Do they have to win twice in one night?! That’s a great idea! At the Royal Rumble, it will be The Usos VS Gable & Benjamin for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships, Best 2 out of 3 Falls! Bryan gives Gable & Benjamin what they want, mostly, can they capitalize on it?

 

Randy Orton meets AJ Styles backstage.

Are they talking strategy or is The Viper just going to RKO Kevin & Sami into regret? Works for Orton. But, Orton wants Styles to trust him that they’re on the same side tonight. But also trust that after Orton wins the Royal Rumble, he’ll come after whoever has the title at Wrestlemania. Shinsuke Nakamura appears to say “Not so fast.” The King of Strong Style gives a Too Sweet to the title belt.

“Good talk.” Can these three really get along later tonight?

 

Breezango VS Rusev Day!

Aiden English sings an announcement. He and the Bulgarian Brute are officially entering the “Rusev Rumble match~”, and will win on RUSEV DAY~! Maybe they will, but can they defeat the Fashion Police tonight?

The bell rings, the Drama King starts against the Lord of Dance. English puts on a headlock, Fandango powers out but English runs him over with a shoulder. he keeps moving while fans chant “Rusev Day!” but Fandango gives him a hip toss. Fandango hangs English up on the ropes, tags in Breeze, and the two double kick English out. Rusev regroups with his partner while we go picture in picture.

English is frustrated but Rusev calms him down before they return to the ring. Fans want him to tag in, English fires up and tags Rusev! Rusev kicks Breeze and stomps him down. He looms over Prince Pretty before bringing him up, Breeze revives to hit an enziguri! Rusev puts Breeze on the apron, Breeze fights him and English off, but Rusev still blasts him tot he announce table. Fandango checks on his partner while Rusev Day gloats. Tag to English, English bumps Breeze off the apron before putting him back in the ring. Cover, TWO, so English drives a knee into Breeze’s back before dropping one on his front. Cover, TWO, English puts on a chinlock. We return to single picture while fans duel.

Breeze gets to his feet, fights back against English, but English mule kicks out a leg. English climbs up to the top, takes aim and… No, Breeze dodges the swanton. English runs over, Breeze puts him on the apron, but English slingshots back over and rolls. He goes for a lariat, misses, hot tag to Fandango! Fandango chops away on English, then whips him corner to corner for the big back body drop! Fandango keeps chopping, then throws hands, another whip but English kicks him away. Rusev tags in, English takes the dropkick but Rusev rallies on Fandango. Two big roundhouse kicks and Rusev fires up. He runs in and squashes Fandango with a shoulder, running spinning heel kick runs Fandanog over! The fans chant “Rusev Day!” as Rusev fires up.

He throws Breeze out, Fandango runs but is caught, Breeze dropkicks for the cover, TWO! Roundhouse rocks Breeze, Fandango rolls up, Fashion Police win! Breezango foils Rusev Day for today, what will happen to the Rusev Rumble?

 

Daniel Bryan is visited by Shane McMahon.

Bryan speaks the praises of the SmackDown Tag Team Division, as well as all of SmackDown, including Shane. Shane thanks him, but wants to be honest. They’re not on the same page. Bryan is becoming rather irrational. Think of the two PPV matches he’s made already. A Handicap Match for the WWE Championship, with two guys who shouldn’t be anywhere close to the title! Then, they’re going to be Co-Champions? The SmackDown Tag Team Championships in a 2 out of 3 falls match? Is Bryan doing alright? What does Shane mean? Bryan’s just coming off as a little unstable. Same back to Shane, given his gene pool. Shane himself has made rash decisions, it’s just who he is. Then they will agree to disagree.

 

3-on-2 Handicap Match: AJ Styles, Randy Orton & Shinsuke Nakamura VS Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn!

The WWE Champion will have two opponents at the Royal Rumble, but tonight he gets to give the Prizefighter & Guardian Angel three opponents. Can the Phenomenal One work well with The Viper & The Rockstar to make Sami & Kevin regret starting the #YEPMovement?

The bell rings, Kevin goes right at Orton but Orton punches him to a corner. Orton gives him more right hands then whips him corner to corner, but Kevin counters with a boot. Kevin swings but misses, and just narrowly avoids an RKO! Kevin goes out of the ring to vent his frustration but then runs across Nakamura. Nakamura doesn’t do anything, Orton attacks Kevin from behind. Orton bumps Kevin off barriers a couple times, then puts him back in the ring. Kevin is right on Orton with stomps and punches. Sami tags in, then mugs Orton in the corner. Sami whips Orton, Orton counters by throwing Sami by his head. Orton stomps away on Sami, then drags him up to tag Nakamura. Nakamura drives knees into Sami’s ribs, then drops a knee. Sami ducks one kick but takes the other, then Nakamura adds on kicks to Sami’s chest. Sami blocks one but takes the enziguri, and then Good Vibrations in a corner. Nakamura keeps on Sami, then tags in Styles. Styles suplexes Sami but Sami blocks and powers him to the corner. Kevin tags in and unloads, but Styles slips out of the scoop. Kevin trips Styles in the waistlock, but then Styles reaches up to headscissors Kevin. Styles unleashes the Phenomal Blitz right into the sliding forearm! Styles kip-up then puts Kevin in position, but Sami saves him from the Clash. The best friends regroup and decide to walk. The referee counts, but Shane McMahon comes out to tell everyone this isn’t happening this way. Now this match is a No Count Out Handicap Match! And as such, Styles leads the charge to knock down Kevin & Sami! They brawl on the outside while we go to break.

SmackDown returns, and Sami has control of Styles in a chinlock. Fans rally for Styles, he gets to his feet but Sami grounds him again. Styles still tries, reaching for his corner while fighting back, but Sami drags him away with a headlock takeover. Tag to Kevin, Kevin gives body shots and elbows to Styles. Kevin rains rights while he trash talks, saying “It’s OUR show! It’s OUR title!”

He reels Styles into a lariat, covers, TWO, back to the chinlock. Fans continue to rally for Styles, Styles gets up again. He gives body shots but Kevin clubs him down. Kevin runs, into the Ushigoroshi! The fans are really fired up while Styles and Keivn crawl, hot tags to Orton and Sami! The VIper rallies on the Underdog, spinning powerslam! Sami crawls to the apron but Orton drags him out through the ropes, for the draping DDT!

Orton hears the voices in his head as he stalks Sami. Kevin returns, with a chair! Disqualification ends the match but Kevin is just getting started. He jabs each opponent with the chair, and then he and Sami start to leave. However, Shane returns again. He doesn’t approve of this finish, either, it’s now ANYTHING GOES!

As such, Styles uses the steel chair on Sami & Kevin! SMACK to Kevin’s back!

Styles pursues Kevin to the side of the stage, and around the back. They’re out of the match for now, Sami finds himself alone with The Rockstar & The Viper… They go into the ring, then out, then to the timekeeper’s area but Sami gets caught! Orton & Sami drag him back in and throw him into a post. They even coordinate to use the steel steps! Orton takes aim at Sami, BONG on his head! They’re not done yet, they both throw Sami over the announce desk! Orton clears it off and drags Sami back up, for a back suplex right onto the table! Sami writhes in pain but the torture is far from over. Orton feeds Sami to Nakamura’s KINSHASA! The fans are rabid, Orton drags Sami up, for an RKO!! The cover, Orton, Styles & Nakamura win! Things didn’t go their way when they didn’t have numbers, can Kevin & Sami turn the tide at the Royal Rumble?

 

My Thoughts:

Just like Raw last night, this was a great episode of SmackDown tonight. The Women’s Division still seems a bit copy-and-paste with how the Riott Squad loses a match just like Absolution did. I feel it would’ve benefited the division as a whole if there was separation between the two emerging factions, but I also understand Becky’s solo return should’ve been with a win. Maybe it should’ve been Sarah Logan or Liv Morgan who lost tonight, instead, so that their leader and therefore their stable looks weaker than Absolution. Bludgeon Brothers win again but it feels like there’s nothing to come from this. Unless, we get a triple threat tag where the “friends” really do have to unite to defeat Harper & Rowan and then become actual friends. That could explain why Breezango won over the red-hot Rusev Day. I honestly didn’t think Mojo was going to sweep Ryder 2-0 but that’s fine, it’ll give reason for a real good match between Mojo and Roode to solidify Mojo’s place in the upper mid-card.

I do enjoy the parallel of defending the SmackDown Tag Team Championships at the Royal Rumble, and in a vacuum, Best 2 outta 3 does follow the story of Usos VS Benjamin & Gable. However, I am wary of how the decision is being framed as Bryan growing unstable. Now, I do think it was good of Bryan to make it as if he’s showing Shane how Shane has been, but it still feels like WWE wants to make Bryan out to be the biased Heel management figure despite how fans still love love LOVE him. Styles is being rather reasonable about being caught up in this, but it works since he is still Face. Orton and Nakamura take advantage of being dragged back into this by reminding Styles that the Rumble match is still happening. Nakamura winning the Rumble can still make him a legitimate threat to the world title, it’s kinda the whole point of the Rumble match in my opinion. Shane of course adds onto his side of the unbiased management story with the constant restarts and changes to rules, and the benefactors are the Faces to keep them all strong this close to the PPV.

My Score: 8/10


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