It’s the first SmackDown of 2019 and it’s big as JOHN CENA returns! What will the Face that Runs the Place have to say and do in this “Fresh Start” era?
- Jeff Hardy VS Samoa Joe; wins and joins tonight’s Fatal 5 Way #1 Contenders match.
- Mandy Rose w/ Sonya Deville VS Naomi; changed to…
- Sonya Deville w/ Mandy Rose VS Naomi; Deville wins.
- Andrade “Cien” Almas & Zelina Vega VS Becky Lynch & John Cena; Lynch & Cena win.
- WWE Championship #1 Contenders Fatal 5 Way: AJ Styles VS Rey Mysterio VS Randy Orton VS Mustafa Ali VS Samoa Joe; Styles wins and will face Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble.
PLAY BY PLAY
Awwww~ Steel City~!
Don’t you dare be sour! Clap for your world famous five-time tag champs, and feel~ the power~! The New Day open the first SmackDown of 2019! Babe-E New Year leads the way as he, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods hit the ring with pancakes for all! “Welcome to the very first SmackDown of a brand new year.” Pour one out for 2018, because 2019’s here, babyyyyy~! And ya bois have a very, very important announcement: Kofi, Big E and Xavier will all be in the Royal Rumble match! Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona and 15 THOUSAND screaming for that match! For all the freaks in Vegas, put some stacks on these three, because if you take their 33 and a third percent chance of winning, and their opponents’ 3 and 33% chance–
Big E, stop. Why is he doing Steiner Math? But in the end, the point is, all three are in the match, so they do have a better chance of winning, which means they have a better chance of main eventing Wrestlemania to become WWE Champion! And they could also challenge for the WWE Universal Championship. But that guy might not show up anyway! “He don’t wanna come to work!” Kofi comes to work every day! He has for 11 years! Yet he hasn’t gotten his shot! Oh no, Kofi, calm down, please. They’ll get that shot for him. Kofi calms down and vows to help win the Rumble, but there are some New Year’s Resolutions first.
This comes with a heavy heart after speaking to the doctors. Their resolution should be to cut back on pancakes. From now on, they’ll be handing out lettuce- E, stop sneaking pancakes! Doctor’s orders. No more “scrumptious, delicious, fluffy-” E, stop!! The fans still want pancakes, and he has some in his… diaper? Big E hands out the pancakes. No one does their resolutions! Not really. But, those were in the diaper… Well, okay, Kofi will skip that resolution but has another: getting a yellow bug that he becomes friends with, and then learns that with both friends and life, there’s more than meets the eye. Isn’t that just Bumblebee the Movie? With John Cena. 94%, certified fresh!
Woods, wearing a blindfold, vows to master having no sight, while also directing his children to safety! That’s Birdbox. But speaking of plots, the plot thickens tonight because of the Fatal 5 Way, and the winner going on to face Daniel Bryan at Royal Rumble! In one corner, The Destroyer, the Samoan Submission Machine, SAMOA JOE! Fans don’t like Joe. In the other corner… Who? Who who who? Jeff Hardy! And he appears! The Charismatic Enigma gets fans fired up as he makes his entrance, because that match is NEXT!
Jeff Hardy VS Samoa Joe!
The Enigma and the Destroyer have issue with each other, because Joe has issue with Hardy having issues in his past. But that was then, this is now, and this match means so much for both men’s near futures! Who will win to then join The Phenomenal One, King of Lucha Libre, Viper, and Beacon of Light in that furious Fatal 5 Way?
SmackDown returns as Joe makes his entrance. This is also a rematch from last week’s Christmas SmackDown match, which ended when Hardy went too far and got himself disqualified. The bell rings and the two circle. They tie up and Joe pushes Hardy back. Hardy pushes Joe and they end up in a corner. Joe lets up only to kick Hardy in the leg and throw fast hands. The ref backs Joe off but Joe comes back for more kicks to Hardy’s legs. Hardy blocks one but Joe gets him into a kneebar takedown! Hardy endures and drags himself over to the ropebreak! Joe lets go at 4, then stalks Hardy to a corner.
Joe stands Hardy up for jabs and chops. He grins at Hardy before bringing him out for headbutts. Joe stomps Hardy then drags him up for a whip. Hardy reverses and reels Joe in for a jawbreaker! Hardy drags Joe over to throw his leg into a post! And again! And again! Hardy lets off and Joe hobbles away. Hardy grabs that bad leg, and wants a figure four. Joe drags himself away and out of the ring, and throws a tantrum while Hardy and fans chant “DELETE! DELETE!” We go picture in picture while Joe seethes.
Joe hobbles around the corner, but Hardy goes after him. Joe drags Hardy out and throws hands, but Hardy counters punches. Hardy throws haymakers then throws Joe into the barriers. Hardy says “DELETE!” before clubbing Joe down. He puts Joe in the ring, drops an elbow, and then a leg drop! Cover, ONE! Hardy keeps on Joe with a buckle bump and corner punches. He gets nine and makes the tenth a headbutt! Cover, ONE! Joe is tough but Hardy keeps on him. Hardy drags Joe up for a snapmare and dropkick! Cover, TWO! Hardy keeps his cool while Joe rolls away. Hardy bumps Joe off buckles and then rams his shoulder in. He throws hands on Joe’s bad leg, then dropkicks it out!
Hardy stomps Joe to the ropes, but the ref backs him off. “DELETE! DELETE!” starts up again and Hardy wants the Twist. Joe denies it and then clobbers Hardy with a clothesline! Joe gets that bad leg moving again, and he stomps Hardy down. He drags Hardy up into a modified cobra clutch. Hardy endures as Joe holds tight. Hardy fights his way up and out, but Joe throws him down by his hair. Joe grins as he looms over Hardy. He stalks Hardy to the corner as we return to single picture.
Joe drags Hardy up to slap him, then jab him in a corner. He drives his elbow in, then tells Hardy “You started this!” Hardy hits back with haymakers but Joe covers up. Hardy runs but into Joe’s big back elbow! Cover, TWO! Joe keeps his cool as he stands Hardy back up. Joe gives big palm strikes and elbows, then whips Hardy corner to corner. Hardy elbows back, then climbs up, but Joe trips him up! Hardy is in the Tree of Woe, Joe goes side to side for the basement dropkick! Joe grins and drags Hardy out of the Tree for the cover. TWO, but Joe is only moderately annoyed. Joe wrenches Hardy’s neck but fans rally up. Hardy feeds off the energy and fights back. He whips but Joe reverses, only for Hardy to hit back!
Hardy hits the atomic drop, leg splitting leg drop and dropkick! Cover, TWO! Hardy hits the Twist of Fate! Off comes the shirt as Hardy heads up top. Hardy hits the Swanton Bomb! But Joe rolls out of the ring! Joe survives, but Hardy won’t leave him be. Hardy swings for the dropkick but Joe drags him into a Coquina Clutch!! The ring count begins and climbs past 5, but Joe holds on to choke Hardy out. Joe leaves Hardy for dead and gets back in the ring. The referee starts the count over despite Joe’s protest! Hardy is still down at the new 5, but stirs at 7. Hardy stands and gets in at 9.5! But into another Coquina Clutch! Hardy flails but fades, he’s out! Joe wins!
Winner: Samoa Joe, by submission; advances to the WWE Championship #1 Contenders Fatal 5 Way
The Destroyer puts the Enigma to sleep, and now joins four great superstars in the main event! Will Joe still have more in the tank to outlast Styles, Mysterio, Orton and Ali?
Vince and Shane McMahon talk in their office.
The Chairman is so excited to see Samoa Joe added to the main event match tonight, “he makes the difference.” Shane knows the winner of that match will have truly earned their WWE Championship match. However, AJ Styles visits! The Phenomenal One is still seething but it was the McMahons who asked him to appear. Are they sure they want to see him? Maybe Styles should apologize, but he won’t. Vince provoked Styles on purpose. Vince wants the “real” Styles? Then watch what happens tonight. Unless he wants to see it in person again. Shane gets up to defend his father but Vince keeps him calm. Styles leaves, and Shane has to ask Vince, too. Does he want to see the real Styles? Absolutely. Then be careful what you wish for.
Welcome the NEW WWE United States Champion, Rusev!
It was the best Rusev Day ever on Christmas, not just because it was also Rusev’s birthday, but because he won an amazing match against Shinsuke Nakamura! The Bulgarian Brute again holds the US Championship, and now he and Lana stand proud in the ring. Fans chant for “Rusev Day!” and Rusev says it himself, it was the greatest Rusev Day of them all! It was such a big moment, but how will his reign different from Nakamura’s? It will be very different, as Rusev takes pride in holding this title. His reign will be long and luscious, like his beard. But he will also be a fighting champion, with courage, strength, honor, and animal magnitism, plus a natural scent of bacon and cinnamon buns.
Rusev’s word is his pledge, and he pledges allegiance to the title of the United States! Rusev Day, USA! But Nakamura appears and attacks out of nowhere! Nakamura stomps away on Rusev, until Lana leaps on his back! Lana pries Nakamura off Rusev, then Rusev MACHKA Kicks Nakamura! But Lana takes damage from the fall! Rusev checks on his Ravishing Russian, but then gets a kick from Nakamura! Fans boo as Nakamura takes aim. Nakamura gives Rusev a KINSHASA! The King of Strong Style wants the title back, but with no rematch clauses, he’ll have to earn his shot. How many more superstars will get a #Knee2Face before Shinsuke resurrects the United States of Nakamerica?
Mandy Rose w/ Sonya Deville VS Naomi!
The Golden Goddess has tried to be a golden homewrecker with how she flirted with Jimmy Uso, husband to The Glow Incarnate. Will Naomi snatch Mandy bald for making moves on her man?
SmackDown returns as the duo formerly known as Absolution make their entrance. Naomi is ready to strike but the ref keeps her back. Mandy takes off her merchandise shirt to reveal she’s wearing an Uso shirt! Now Naomi is really mad! Mandy gets away and the bell rings, and Sonya’s in the ring?! This was supposed to be Naomi VS Mandy, but it seems there was a bait and switch. But Naomi doesn’t care, she’ll fight anyone right now!
Sonya Deville w/ Mandy Rose VS Naomi!
The bell rings and Naomi throws hands with the Gladiator Gal! Naomi gets an edge, then stomps Sonya out. Mandy climbs onto the apron but runs when Naomi rushes at her. Sonya rolls Naomi up, TWO, and Naomi rocks Sonya with a dropkick! Naomi adds a sliding SLAP! Mandy distracts Naomi but again runs off when Naomi rushes at her. Naomi turns around into Sonya’s sliding knee! Cover, TWO! Naomi is practically in a handicap match, and now endures a chinlock. Sonya and Mandy both taunt Naomi while Sonya thrashes her around. Naomi fights her way up, then stomps on Sonya’s feet. Naomi rocks Sonya with a big back elbow, then runs to springboard enziguri! But Mandy gets on the mic!
“Hey, Naomi. Earlier today when I was getting ready, I couldn’t help but think of your husband. So I sent him this.” Mandy shows the world a picture of herself, in nothing but a towel! Naomi is done with Mandy, but not with Sonya! Sonya hits another big knee, then a suplex to swinging slam! Cover, Sonya wins!
Winner: Sonya Deville, by pinfall
Give the assist to Mandy’s mind games, the duo once known as Absolution takes the win. Will Naomi make Mandy pay for trying to poach her man?
Randy Orton speaks.
“Mysterio knows first hand what it’s like to be one of my victims.” And after tonight, there will be more names on his list. Then Orton will win and become champion again, making the world championship known by the most dangerous letters in sports entertainment: R K O. Will the Viper strike down not just one but four major contenders in one match?
Rey Mysterio speaks.
“I proved to Randy Orton that I am not someone who can be pushed around.” And tonight, Mysterio proves it to everyone that he didn’t come back for nostalgia. Mysterio’s back to again be WWE Champion. Will the King of Lucha return to his throne?
Mustafa Ali speaks.
“I used to be known as the Heart of the Cruiserweights. But now, I want to be known as the Heart of SmackDown.” It won’t just be about in-ring technique. He pinned Daniel Bryan because of heart. Tonight, he steps in the ring with four men who want the same thing. And Ali knows he’s the underdog. But Ali has hope and heart. Will Ali’s heart light shine brightest in the biggest match of his WWE career?
SmackDown superstars share their New Year’s Resolutions!
The IIconics vow to be the inaugural WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, and make those titles #IIconic! Strike the pose!
The Club’s Good Brothers, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, want to make Anderson’s eight pack into a ten pack. Gallows reminds Anderson that they’re going to eliminate all of SmackDown’s tag team… Um, what was it? Oh yes, NERRRDS!!
Shelton Benjamin thinks resolutions are fakes, because no one will live up to any of it! Time to end resolutions once and for all! Benjamin yanks down the curtain, and pops a balloon, yet still wishes everyone a Happy New Year. Will the Gold Standard skip resolutions and instead be resolute in going for gold?
Samoa Joe speaks.
“Earlier tonight, I showed Jeff Hardy that I was telling the truth all along.” Hardy is obsessed with Joe, and like every obsession, it will be his downfall. Joe vows that when he wins tonight’s Fatal 5 Way, he’ll defeat Bryan at Royal Rumble, and only push Hardy deeper into his madness through jealousy by raising that WWE Championship up high. Will Joe make his words into truth once again?
John Cena is here!
Pittsburgh is thunderous for the return of the 16-time world champion Franchise Player! Cena picks up the mic as fans continue their ovation. Cena can tell they’re still mixed like the last time he was here, but he’s grateful to have that energy. Because New Year’s is a great time to look ahead and to look back. Cena’s had one hell of a 2018. He was a fan to Wrestlemania, and it was great. Probably shouldn’t have had those beers before his surprise match with Undertaker but that’s on him. Cena’s love life played out for all to see, and it is what it is. He wrote a children’s book and is grateful to those who supported it. He lived in China for six months, and still thinks his current hairstyle is a good idea.
But Cena admits that through it all, the ups, the downs and in between, he can still float like a butterfly and sting like a bumblebee. See what he did there? #CertifiedFresh! Cena sees the fans are here, there’s energy in the building, but there’s just one question. Not what or who (who who who?) but why. Why why why why why is Cena back now? He doesn’t know yet. But the best thing about SmackDown is that any time now, someone’s gonna show up and try to tell him he’s “an old, broken down, part-timing Hollywood wannabe who should get a haircut and leave WWE faster than Nikki Bella left me.” Well that cat’s out of the bag, so please, give Cena a reason to be here! The superstar to answer the call is… Becky Lynch!?
The Straight Fire, the Lass Kicker, The Man, heads to the ring! Becky fired up and tore it down in 2018 ever since getting out from Charlotte’s shadow, but now she stands in front of THE John Cena? Pittsburgh’s on her side about it, too. “So how does it feel?” she asks Cena. To be back? It’s great. No, not that. How does it feel that Cena expected a man but didn’t expect THE Man? Cena feels back where he belongs? Well it’s not that simple anymore. 2018 wasn’t just Becky overcoming Charlotte, she was aiming for Cena, too. Cena has been everywhere for the last 16 years, and personifies what WWE is. Wait, more like “was”.
Now it’s time for someone new to step up and step into his shoes. And Pitt surely agrees that that person is Becky! And it sounds like they do! If Cena has a problem with that, Nikki Bella won’t be the only woman to drop him this year. Cena appreciates the one liner, but before he can respond, Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega appear! La Muneca hates to interrupt this oneupmanship, but the fact is they’re both former champions, aka are old news. The McMahons promised a fresh start, with new faces and opportunities. 2019 just started and Vega only sees an older face in Cena, and a broken face in Becky. She still looks a little rough, just saying.
Vega properly introduces herself to Cena, the business manager to El Idolo, the future of SmackDown and the WWE, Andrade “Cien” Almas! 2019 will be the Year of Tranquilo! Cena introduces himself properly, and she might know him from being John Cena, so allow him to tell her how it’s done ’round here. Vega is hitting way out of her weight class, and “Padre”, Cena’s pretty sure Becky could kick your teeth down your throat. So instead of yapping, let’s get to fighting! Becky dared Cena to find out what it’s like to be in the ring with her, he’d like to find out in a Mixed Match Tag right now!! Pittsburgh wants it, Almas & Vega accept it! We’re having this match, after the break!
Andrade “Cien” Almas & Zelina Vega VS Becky Lynch & John Cena!
SmackDown returns and Becky tells Cena she’s got this. The ladies start and we have one first-time-ever match-up. Becky ties up and gets Vega in a headlock. Vega fights out but Becky runs her over. Becky brushes off her shoulder in perhaps a reference to Cena’s past, then things speed up. Becky calf kicks Vega down then stares Almas down. She goes back to Vega but Vega gets to the ropes. Vega tags to Almas and Becky wants to face Almas herself! But this is mixed match rules, Cena has to come in. Becky reluctantly agrees with a stiff chop of a tag. Cena shrugs it off and circles with Almas in the other first-time-ever match-up.
Almas ties up and gets a headlock, but Cena powers out. Almas goes Tranquilo and Vega joins her. Cena just shrugs it off and circles with Almas. They tie up and Almas gets another headlock. Cena pries his way out, and puts a headlock on Almas. Fans want Becky back in, but Almas forearms Cena first. Almas clubs Cena and pumps himself up before throwing more forearms. Almas puts on another headlock but Cena endures. Fans still want Becky, and Cena reaches. Almas uses a takeover to keep Cena away, and he taunts Becky while he holds Cena down. Cena gets back up, and pries his way out again. Cena kicks low and runs, but Vega stands in his way! Almas clubs Cena down, then pushes Cena to the corner.
Almas throws knee after knee in, then Vega gets a cheap shot in! Becky is furious but the ref keeps her back. Almas covers, TWO! Vega and Almas are annoyed but fans rally up. Cena crawls but Almas stomps him down. Almas taunts Becky and drags Cena back up. Cena blocks the suplex, to then suplex Almas back! Both men are down but crawling for corners. Fans are thunderous but Almas runs Cena over! Cover, TWO! Almas keeps his cool while staying on Cena, and we go picture in picture.
Almas stomps a mudhole into Cena, then runs corner to corner for CIEN KNEES! Cover, TWO! Cena survives because we all know he’s Super Cena! Almas kicks Cena while he’s down, and Cena crawls for Becky. Almas keeps stomping Cena, then throwing big haymakers. Cena rolls to ropes but Almas keeps on him. Almas drags Cena to a drop zone then climbs up top. Almas moonsaults, lands on his feet and moonsaults again! Cover, TWO! Almas grows frustrated, and he grabs Cena for an armlock. Cena endures and fights his way back up. Cena reaches for Becky but Almas keeps him back. Almas puts Cena in the corner and fires off forearms. Almas grinds his knees into Cena at the ropes, but then Vega gets another cheap shot!
Fans boo and jeer but Almas and Vega say they’re too smart for Cena. Cena gets to a corner while Almas taunts Becky. Almas stomps a mudhole into Cena then climbs up for corner punches. Almas gets all ten, then grinds his boots into Cena again. Vega tells Almas to end it, and Almas goes corner to corner. Cien Knees miss! Fans fire up and Cena crawls for his corner! Hot tag to Becky! The women both come in but The Man rallies with a slam! Becky back kicks and barrels into Vega! Becky stomps a mudhole into Vega now, then rocks her with European Uppercuts! She throws Vega with the Becksploder! Becky then climbs up top, and leaps for a missile dropkick! Cover, TWO! Vega survives but Becky doesn’t let up. Becky grabs the arm, but Almas saves Vega!
Cena barrels into Almas with the signature shoulders and hits him with the spin-out bomb! “You Can’t See Me!” Five Knuckle Shuffle! And of course, the Attitude Adjustment, into the Lightning Punch! Cena sends Almas flying out of the ring with his Sixth Move of Doom, but Becky throws Cena out?! Becky wants to be the hero of this story, but Vega rolls her up! ONE, into the Disarm-Her!! Vega taps, Becky and Cena win!
Winners: Becky Lynch and John Cena, Becky by submission
The Man gets the win for her and Cena, and Cena actually wants to shake her hand. Becky fakes him out to say “You Can’t See Me!” Cena is intrigued, but will he and Becky meet again down the line?
The Miz meets with Shane McMahon.
The Co-Besties are both present, and Miz thanks Shane for giving him a chance. Miz has never opened up like he did in front of the WWE Universe last week, and he hopes he didn’t embarrass Shane. Not at all. Shane told Miz last week, he really empathizes with Miz. But Shane has a lot of stuff going on. He’s not backing out, is he? He said yes last week. A McMahon’s word is their bond, right? Yes, and Shane is still on for #BestTagTeamintheWorld. Okay then, because Miz got something for him. Miz has a presentation. All good tag teams think together and work together, but they also dress together. So Miz made a quick mock-up of Shane in one of Miz’s jackets! “This is our new style!” Looks a bit Matrix. Yeah, right, Miz isn’t feeling this look anymore, either.
Then how about something that matches Shane’s fiery passion. Not the shirt Miz is wearing now, that’s his new merchandise available on WWE Shop’s website. Miz presents his second wardrobe idea, of the RED jacket he wears! If Shane likes that hot on the outside, check the inside. The trunks! “Oh my God…” Right?! What are those~! Did Miz use Goldberg’s body or something? No, Shane’s body looks way better. Shane tells Miz to go all the way with fluorescent colors and lights. Yes! Miz will get his people on it, and they will even look like the #BestTagTeamintheWorld! But Shane has slipped away. Miz still thinks the red is a good idea. Will this new team match wardrobe or just focus on winning matches?
SmackDown takes another look at the coming new faces.
Lars Sullivan says he’s “not here to fit in or make friends. I don’t care about being loved and adored.” The Leviathan was put on this planet to instill fear. He vows to make everyone suffer!
Lacey Evans vows to use her Woman’s Right to clear out and clean up the Women’s Division, while maintaining her manners.
They’re COMIIIN’! Heavy Machinery will use the power of #SteaksAndWeights to bring the good times and the big fights to the Tag Team Division.
“You wanna play? Play with Nikki!” The Loony Lass has no fear, there’s only chaos. Nikki Cross is on her way, who wants to play?
And of course, last but certainly not least is the #TopOnePercent. The Best Here, the Best There, the Best Everywhere is prepared to rack up #VictoryAfterVictory no matter where he ends up.
Asuka and Triple H meet backstage.
The new SmackDown Women’s Champion is happy to see the NXT boss again, and he’s happy to see the Empress of Tomorrow again. She’s been on a great little roll, but it’s time for the Royal Rumble. Who does Asuka feel deserves a shot at the title? “I will fight anyone! It doesn’t matter, because no one is ready for ASUKA!” HHH loves it! And wouldn’t you know, Charlotte Flair comes in. The Queen says Ronda Rousey is the only reason Asuka won the title. She deserves her second chance. But the Princess of Staten Island, Carmella, comes in and reminds everyone she was champion for 130 days while beating both Charlotte and Asuka twice each. She deserves another shot. Charlotte tells Carmella to take that Seven Second Dance Break somewhere else. But then Becky barges in and reminds everyone there is only ONE option to face Asuka.
HHH likes all these points. He will consider all these options and let them know when a decision is made. Is Asuka taking on the Queen, the Princess, The Man, or all of them? She doesn’t seem to mind either way. We’ll know when they all know who faces The Empress at The Rumble!
WWE Championship #1 Contenders Fatal 5 Way: AJ Styles VS Rey Mysterio VS Randy Orton VS Mustafa Ali VS Samoa Joe!
The Destroyer has already had a match tonight, but he’s still very confident and determined in his hunt for the world title. Will he be able to survive the Phenomenal, the King, the Viper and the Heart? Or will one of the others come out on top to take on “The New Daniel Bryan” at this year’s Royal Rumble PPV?
SmackDown returns as the bell rings, and surprisingly, Ali goes after Joe! Joe throws Ali off while Orton obviously goes after Mysterio. Styles goes after Joe, always eager to fight his old foe. Styles ducks Joe’s punch to enziguri Joe out! He then goes after Mysterio with a buckle bump and a whip tot he ropes. Mysterio gets a tilt-o-whirl backbreaker! Orton goes after Styles, but Styles is ready! Styles clubs away on Orton all around the ring, then stomps away. Styles chops Orton then runs, but Ali trips him up! Ali goes to throw Styles at a post, but Styles turns it around and sends Ali flying into the steel! Styles drags Ali up and into the ring but Orton gets Styles first! Orton then stalks Ali but Ali is on the apron. Orton drags Ali through the ropes but Ali kicks back!
Ali aims, somersaults and hits the facebuster! Cover, but Joe breaks it! Joe throws Ali out while we see Bryan is watching this backstage. Joe turns around into Mysterio’s springboard seated senton! Styles goes after Mysterio with another whip. Mysterio bounces off the buckles hard, and Styles drags him back up. Styles whips Mysterio again and just as hard into buckles. Styles shows that “real” aggression Vince wanted as he whips Mysterio again. Mstyerio comes back with a kick, then springboards back into headscissors! Styles falls out of the ring, and Mysterio runs, but into Orton’s powerslam! Ali hits Orton with a flapjack dropkick! But Ali runs into Joe’s overhead belly2belly! Styles returns and Joe runs in, but into an elbow!
Styles hops up, Moonsault DDT! Cover, TWO!! The Phenomenal One is furious but he’s the only one standing while we go to break.
SmackDown returns once more to see Orton stomping Styles out. Styles is gasping after the many stomps to the chest, but Mysterio goes after Orton now. Mysterio backs Orton down with strikes but Orton hits back with a EuroUpper. Bryan still watches backstage as Orton brings Styles up. Styles hits the Phenomenal Blitz, but Mysterio comes in. Styles kicks Mysterio away, then clotheslines Orton out. Joe returns but gets a dropkick. Mysterio gets thrown out, but Ali mule kicks Styles to a corner. Ali whips corner to corner but Styles reverses. Ali puts Styles on the apron but Styles hits him away. Styles prepares the arm, but has to fight Orton off. Joe sweeps Styles’ legs and he lands rough on the apron. Orton grabs Styles for a back suplex onto the apron! Then Joe urenages Styles through the announce desk!!
Fans lose their minds over the combined viciousness of the Viper and the Destroyer. They stare down now, but Ali FLIES in to take out Joe! Mysterio FLIES in to take out Orton! Everyone is down on the outside but Pittsburgh loves it. Now it’s Mysterio and Ali in a first-ever encounter! Ali and Mysterio shake hands, but then Mysterio gets a waistlock. Ali standing switches but Mysterio bucks him off. Things speed up, tilt-o-whirl headscissors throws Ali but Ali lands on his feet! Mysterio is impressed but he still kicks and whips. Ali reverses but Mysterio slides under. Things keep moving and now Mysterio headscissors Ali down. Ali puts Msyterio on the apron but Mysterio hits him away. Mysterio climbs but Ali stops him. Ali climbs but Mysterio fights. Ali flips back and lands on his feet, to get back up and hit the SUPER Spanish Fly!!
But Ali can’t make the cover right away! Ali crawls over and gets the pin, but Joe breaks it up! Joe drags Ali up and rams his knees in over and over. Joe drags Ali up to whip him corner to corner. Ali slips out to then hop up, and hit a tornado DDT! Joe is in a drop zone, and Ali climbs again. 0-5-4 flops as Joe rolls away! Joe drags Ali into the Coquina Clutch! Ali flails and reaches for the ropes, but no disqualifications means no ropebreaks. But Mysterio gives Joe the 619! Mysterio dials it back up, to 619 Ali! But Orton yanks Mysterio down to then go after Ali. RKO! Cover, springboard leg drop from Msyterio breaks it! Orton goes after Mysterio but gets an enziguri! And a 619! Mysteroi gets caught by Joe but headscissors him down!
Springboard 450 from Styles on Orton!! Styles wins!!
Winner: AJ Styles, by pinfall; NEW #1 Contender to the WWE Championship
The Phenomenal One stays phenomenal as he earns his rematch with “The New Daniel Bryan”! Will the real Styles get revenge and become the new WWE Champion?
An incredible episode to open 2019! SmackDown gives us quite a lot in one episode to put this “fresh start” to the test. The New Day have a great opening segment to both hype up the episode but also stake their claim to the Royal Rumble. I would love for The New Day to finally make big leaps in the singles department, for Kofi’s sake. Kofi Kingston is just a world title away from his Grand Slam, and it would be really interesting for them, a trio that loves to use Freebird Rules on titles, to have a singles title. Would they all really share it? Or would the man that won it suddenly become greedy? Would it cause them to split? Or at least have a New Day Triple Threat? This fresh start would truly be a thing if any of those things happened.
This week’s Hardy VS Joe was pretty great, and I suppose it all works for their story that Joe wins. Joe enters the Fatal 5 but does not win it because he is a Heel and so is the New Daniel Bryan. However, this can up things for Hardy and Joe to have it out in some kind of No Disqualification type match after the Royal Rumble PPV. Obviously they can both meet and ruin each other’s chances in the Rumble match, but their blow-off will be 1v1 and should be extreme. Shelton Benjamin ending the Superstar New Year’s Resolutions in more ways than one surely means something. Rusev still has Nakamura after him, but since there are no more rematch clauses, it’d be great if Benjamin managed to earn himself a United States Championship match with Rusev first, or even joins as a Triple Threat.
For starting their feud through social media then escalating with the Christmas SmackDown, this story of Naomi VS Mandy is taking some clever turns. Mandy is upping her Heel game by using Sonya as her muscle while heavily implying her flirting with Jimmy Uso. Mandy and Naomi should have their own situation similar to Joe and Hardy, going from a fight during the Rumble match to a proper blow-off after. Perhaps Naomi gets a tag team partner and part of the blow-off feeds into the Women’s Tag Titles. However, I’m still confident the IIconics are SmackDown’s top contender for those.
As for the SmackDown Women’s Championship, I would love if Asuka takes on multiple contenders to reestablish how dangerous she can be without someone’s assistance. Becky wants her rematch, but after her great Mixed Match with Cena, I’m really torn. Becky VS Ronda has to be what we’re getting by virtue of WWE not doing co-ed matches, but I almost wish WWE would ditch that just once for Becky VS Cena. It can be done in traditional wrestling rules where there won’t be strikes, so Cena won’t have to actually hit Becky. I’m thinking HHH’s decision will be a #1 Contender’s Triple Threat, and sadly Becky won’t win, but that’s okay because she can move on to the Royal Rumble, win it, and challenge Ronda.
That Fatal 5 was phenomenal, and not just because Styles won. Everyone in that match looked great, even with Styles going off on everyone like that. Orton and Mysterio clearly still have more for their story but this gave us hints at any number of other great ideas, such as Ali being the next opponent for Orton or Joe after finishing with Mysterio and Hardy. And with Styles getting his rematch with Bryan, all four other men have their won spots in the Rumble to get some shine. Styles VS Bryan III will be a great match now that Styles is ruthless and Bryan is conniving. That match could go either way, but with Elimination Chamber and Fastlane still to come before Wrestlemania, we could still see someone else enter the world title scene to keep that fresh start true to its word.
My Score: 8.5/10