This week’s WWE Smackdown featured a huge Randy Orton-LA Knight-AJ Styles match to face Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble along with Kevin Owens facing Santos Escobar for a shot at the US Title and more.
The “New Year’s Revolution” name is being used for this episode. They have some big matches set up for the show, so I’m looking forward to it. The Royal Rumble is three weeks away on January 27th. We should learn two of the matches at that show just based on results that take place on this episode of Smackdown.
The show began with a replay of The Rock’s surprise appearance on the Day 1 edition of WWE Raw on New Year’s Day. They showed Rock beating up Jinder Mahal. They also showed Rock saying his “Head of the Table” line as a reference to Roman Reigns. Great way to end the promo.
Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman were shown arriving in a black truck. Kayla Braxton tried to talk to them, but Reigns laughed it off and Heyman said nothing.
The Smackdown commentary team was Kevin Patrick and Corey Graves. They removed Michael Cole from the team, so Cole is going to be on Raw only moving forward.
Kevin Owens got a huge ovation from the fans in his home country. Montreal isn’t close to Vancouver geographically, but we Canadians love anybody from our country. Santos Escobar entered with Angel & Humberto, so the last names of Garza & Carrillo are forgotten again.
Logan Paul made his entrance as the United States Champion. The fans booed him. Logan joined commentary for the match.
United States Championship Contender’s Tournament Finals: Kevin Owens vs. Santos Escobar
The winner gets to challenge Logan Paul for the US Title at the Royal Rumble.
As the bell rang, Joaquin Wilde & Cruz Del Toro showed up to attack Angel & Humberto. The four of them went fighting to the back. Owens hit a superkick followed by a cannonball against the turnbuckle. Owens hit a Frog Splash off the top for a two count as the show went to break.
Owens, who has a black brace on his “broken” right hand, was in control with a back elbow along with a senton splash. Logan claimed that he hasn’t been impressed by anybody in the tournament. Escobar managed to get some offense going as they left the ring and Escobar slammed KO’s hand against the steel steps. Escobar rammed the right hand of Owens against the ring apron. Escobar hit a leg drop on KO’s right arm. Escobar hit a backbreaker followed by Escobar trapping Owens in an armbar. Escobar hit a running knee followed by a running hurricanrana that sent Owens out of the ring. Escobar hit a suicide dive that sent Owens into the barricade. Escobar and Owens battled on the turnbuckle. Escobar knocked Owens down, Escobar jumped and Owens did an atomic drop followed by a DDT. Owens went to the middle turnbuckle, Escobar went after KO there and KO countered it with a cradle suplex off the middle turnbuckle that Owens loves to do. Owens was selling his right hand injury as the show went to break.
Escobar was in control with a necksnap across the top rope. Owens superkicked Escobar off the apron to the floor. Owens hit a senton bomb off the apron onto Escobar on the floor. Back in the ring, Owens went for a Swanton Bomb off the top, but Escobar got the knees up to block. Escobar hit double knees against the turnbuckle followed by a hurricanrana off the top. Owens hit a Frog Splash for a two count. Escobar is technically sound, but it wasn’t a great looking Frog Splash. The fans chanted “Logan Sucks” so Logan taunted the crowd. Escobar went after Owens on the turnbuckle, but Owens hit a headbutt. Escobar went after Owens on the top, Owens caught Escobar and Owens hit a rolling senton off the middle turnbuckle for a two count. Great move for a nearfall. Escobar countered Owens with a rollup for two. Owens with a superkick, Escoab countered a Popup Powerbomb with a headscissors, but then Owens came back and hit a Popup Powerbomb. Escobar charged, Owens kicked him in the ribs and Owens hit a Stunner for the pinfall win after 16 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Kevin Owens
The win by Owens means he’ll challenge Logan Paul for the US Title at the Royal Rumble.
Analysis: ***1/2 This turned into a great match. I’m glad it was given a lot of time. I think Owens winning was the obvious result in the tournament since he had a promo exchange with Logan Pual before the tournament started. Plus, Owens is a face and Escobar is a heel, so Owens winning was the logical decision. Escobar put up a fight, got plenty of offense throughout the match and it was Owens who found a way to put him away with his big moves.
Logan Paul told Kevin Owens he gets to face the greatest United States Champion of all time. Paul mocked Owens for breaking a sweat while Paul hasn’t broken a sweat in 62 days (he hasn’t defended it). Paul trashed Owens for being Canadian and said Owens beating Paul for the title is like the Canucks winning the Stanley Cup. Paul said it would never happen, so Paul went up to Owens and Owens used the cast on his “broken” right hand to punch Paul. The fans liked that a lot. KO’s music hit to end it.
Analysis: That was a great way to have Kevin Owens shut up the annoying champion Logan Paul. The Canucks reference got cheap heat since Vancouver loves their Canucks in the NHL. Cheap sports heat always works.
A video aired about Randy Orton to set up the main event. They showed Orton getting beat up by The Bloodline in May 2022. Orton told Reigns he took 18 months from Orton so Orton is coming for him.
Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits entered for a promo. All of them were in suits.
Logan Paul was shown backstage with an ice bag above his left eye. Shawn Daivari, a WWE Producer was there to help him. Cathy Kelley tried to interview Paul, but Austin Theory & Grayson Waller walked up to get their friend Paul. Cameron Grimes walked up to mock them, but then it was broken up by WWE Producers Petey Williams and Daivari. Logan Paul went into the trainer’s room with his buddies.
Let’s Hear from Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits
Bobby Lashley said that 2023 was the toughest year of his career in WWE. Lashley said it’s because the work he put in didn’t produce the results he wanted. Lashley said that the highlight of 2023 was linking up with The Street Profits. Lashley talked about how they are going to have a lot of success in 2024. Montez Ford said they are going to take full advantage of every opportunity when it comes to capturing championship gold. Angelo Dawkins said that it’s been a while since they have had the titles while telling The Judgment Day they were coming for them. Lashley said that his personal goal is to go back to being the All Mighty. Lashley officially declared himself for the Royal Rumble match.
A brief video aired featuring Karrion Kross and Scarlett. They were joined by Paul Ellering while the AOP team of Rezar & Akam were in the ring attacking the Profits. Kross threw Lashley into the steel steps. AOP hit their Super Collider move on the Street Profits with double Powerbombs. Graves mentioned it was about four years since we saw those guys. Kross picked up Lashley and Kross hit a spinning slam on Lashley. Kross stood next to AOP. Kross had a shirt that said The Final Prayer on it. The group of Kross, AOP, Ellering and Scarlett stood together by the entrance area to end it.
Analysis: The image of AOP (Authors of Pain) and Ellering was shown two weeks ago, but this was their official return. We know Triple H likes having stables around, so this is yet another group that will make Kross a lot stronger while AOP’s presence is good for the tag team division. Lashley and The Street Profits will hopefully get some gold this year as well as perhaps a name for their group. There were teases of Lashley and The Street Profits as heels in the past, but they are clearly going to be babyfaces moving forward, especially in this rivalry with Kross and AOP.
AJ Styles was featured in a video package showing when he was attacked by The Bloodline last September. Styles missed about three months and came back looking for revenge. That set up Styles’ spot in the triple threat match main event with Randy Orton and LA Knight.
Michin made her entrance joined by The OC’s Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson. Luke & Karl went to the back.
IYO SKY made her entrance as the WWE Women’s Champion with Damage CTRL’s Bayley, Asuka, Kairi Sane & Dakota Kai. The rest of Damage CTRL went to the back as Sky decided to fight alone.
WWE Women’s Championship: IYO SKY vs. Michin
Each woman showed off some athleticism early on. Sky got a headscissors takedown, but Michin got back to her feet quickly. Michin got two rollup attempts followed by a dropkick. Sky used her legs leading to a forward roll and a stomp on the stomach. Sky charged, Michin avoided it and Sky went to the floor. Michin hit a suicide dive onto Sky on the floor leading to a break early in this match.
Michin hit a spin kick, gutwrench suplex and a cannonball. Sky hit an uppercut strike. The fans were quiet for this match. Michin got a hold of Sky by the turnbuckle and Michin hit a double knee attack for two. Michin applied a half crab submission near the ropes, so Sky grabbed the ropes to break the hold. Sky pulled on Michin’s right leg against the middle rope. Michin punched Sky on the apron. Sky managed to come back with a German Suplex on the apron as the fans came alive. Sky hit a missile dropkick off the top. Sky went up top and hit the Over the Moonsault, but Michin got the knees up to black. Michin hit a Dragon Suplex for two. Michin knocked down Sky by the turnbuckle and Michin went up top, but Sky hit an uppercut. Michin got a hold of Sky off the middle rope and Michin hit a version of a Styles Clash off the middle rope and that got a two count because Sky got her hand on the rope. Michin went for a suicide dive, but Sky moved out of the way. Sky hit running knees on the floor against the barricade. Back in the ring, Sky hit running knees against the turnbuckle. Sky went up top and hit the Over The Moonsault for the pinfall win after about ten minutes.
Winner by pinfall: IYO SKY
Analysis: **3/4 They worked hard and had a solid match, but the fans weren’t into most of it. Michin is a good worker. She just isn’t that popular at this point and she needs to be featured more consistently in the months ahead. They did pop for some big moves although I doubt anybody thought that Michin was going to win here. That Styles Clash nearfall was a great spot. Sky won because Michin missed the dive to the floor and Sky capitalized on that to get the win.
Paul Heyman Interview
Paul Heyman was interviewed backstage with Kevin Patrick asking if he had a response to what The Rock said on Raw. Heyman dismissed it by saying that The Rock hasn’t been invited to sit at the Head of the Table nor will he be invited. Heyman said that there are only two ways in this world to go viral and that’s to date Taylor Swift or call out Roman Reigns. Heyman mentioned that guys like John Cena and Brock Lesnar came after Reigns. Heyman mentioned that Cody Rhodes lost to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania and still talks about trying to finish his story. Heyman mentioned CM Punk coming back and said welcome back to Punk. Heyman said Punk was right about how he was an original Paul Heyman Guy, but Heyman said he went from best friend to advocate (with Lesnar) to Wise Man for the Tribal Chief, so it was Heyman’s way of saying that he upgraded from CM Punk. Heyman said that the one man who wins tonight will be smashed by Roman Reigns in the same way that Reigns will smash whoever he faces at WrestleMania. Heyman said that there is not one man on this planet who can beat Roman Reigns. Heyman put his hands in prayer and looked up to end it.
Analysis: Great promo work by Paul Heyman as usual. No surprise that he would dismiss The Rock’s return so easily. I don’t have any predictions. It’s January 5th. I’m happy to wait and see how things play out.
Pretty Deadly entered for tag team action.
IYO SKY was shown walking backstage with the WWE Women’s Title. Bayley talked about how their plan is to win more gold including Kabuki Warriors winning the Women’s Tag Team Titles while Dakota Kai said that Bayley will win the Royal Rumble and take the Women’s World Title from Rhea Ripley. Bianca Belair walked into the picture to say that Bayley’s not winning the Royal Rumble because Belair is going to win the Royal Rumble for the second time. Belair said she’ll take back her title from Sky and the IYO Era ends. Damage CTRL wasn’t happy about it. Dakota said that Iyo thinks that Bayley has to take care of Bianca.
Analysis: It’s great to learn that Bianca Belair will be in the Royal Rumble. Belair will be a threat to win, but I’m not sure if it will be her. Bayley take care of Bianca? I think Bianca has beaten Bayley every time they have ever met in singles matches or at least it seems that way.
Butch made his entrance with his surprise tag team partner…Tyler Bate, who was in NXT. This is Bate’s main roster debut. All four guys are British.
Tyler Bate & Butch vs. Pretty Deadly – Kit Wilson & Elton Prince
The announcers mentioned that Bate’s first match in his career was against Butch. We know about their matches together. There wasn’t much of a reaction for Bate. Bate got a rollup on Wilson followed by a dropkick and a pose from Bate. Prince tagged in, Bate kicked him and Butch tagged in for a senton splash followed by a dropkick. Butch hit a lefty clothesline on Prince. Butch put Wilson’s hand on the mat followed by Butch stomping on Wilson’s hand on the mat. Pretty Deadly left the ring, so Bate and Butch jumped on Pretty Deadly on the floor.
PD was in control of Butch with Prince hitting a boot to the face. Butch suplexed Prince and brought in Bate. Bate was on fire with offense including a headscissors takedown, a running uppercut and a knee lift. Bate hit a flying uppercut off the middle turnbuckle. Bate hit an overhead suplex along with a standing Shooting Star Press. Bate did the airplane spin to Wilson leading to the fans reacting to it with cheers and Bate slammed Wilson. Butch & Bate each hit running kicks on Wilson. Bate and Butch hit a clothesline/suplex combo on Wilson for two, but Prince was there to make the save. Bate jumped onto Prince only for Prince to get a boot up. Prince shoved Butch off the top and Wilson got a rollup on Butch for two. Butch snapped the fingers of Wilson, Bate tagged in and hit a knee lift. Butch and Bate hit a double Tyler Driver 97 on Wilson for the pinfall win after 10 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Tyler Bate & Butch
Analysis: *** It was an entertaining match. The fans weren’t into the match that much when Bate was in there because Bate is new to the main roster, but they got into it for the airplane spin spot. Bate & Butch are a very entertaining tag team, so keeping them together long term would be fine with me. As for Pretty Deadly, they are fine as a tag team. It just made sense for Butch’s team to win to give them some momentum as a new team on Smackdown.
A video aired about LA Knight and his rise to the main event scene.
The Randy Orton-LA Knight-AJ Styles main event match was next.
There were more images shown of The Rock appearing on WWE Raw with media coverage. It said that over 171 million views on social media over five days. The graphic said that broke a WWE social media record.
Ashante “Thee” Adonis walked up to Smackdown General Manager Nick Aldis and sat in the chair. Adonis said he doesn’t want Aldis to feel sorry for him and said that he needs an opportunity. Aldis said that he doesn’t feel sorry for him because he believes in him. Aldis said he had ideas for him that Adonis will be interested to hear and the scene faded out.
Analysis: They haven’t used Adonis as a singles guy since Hit Row’s Top Dolla was let go. I’m not sure what the plan is here, but hopefully they get something for him to do.
Next week on Smackdown:
* Bianca Belair vs. Bayley
* Cameron Grimes vs. Grayson Waller
* Joaquin Wilde & Cruz Del Toro vs. Angel & Humberto
AJ Styles made his entrance for the main event. Good response, but not that loud. LA Knight was up next to a big ovation. Randy Orton got a bigger reaction leading to his slow walk to the ring. As Orton did his in-ring pose, the show went to break.
This Monday on Raw: CM Punk is back, plus Cody Rhodes faces Shinsuke Nakamura in singles action.
AJ Styles vs. LA Knight vs. Randy Orton
The winner faces Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Title at the Royal Rumble. Smackdown GM Nick Aldis was watching at ringside. No disqualifications and no countouts in a triple threat match.
Knight nailed Styles with a clothesline over the top to the floor. The first attempt to go over the top failed, so Knight did it a good and knocked Styles out of the ring. Orton shoved Knight out of the ring. Knight slammed Orton’s head against the commentary table top and Knight did it to Styles too. Orton picked up Knight leading to Orton delivering a belly-to-back suplex to Knight onto the commentary table. Orton hit the table slam to Styles too. The fans wanted it again, so Orton did the table slam to Knight. Orton lifted Styles, who got out of it and Styles gave Orton a table slam onto the top of the table. Styles sent Knight into the steel steps. The fans chanted “this is awesome” as Orton Styles sent Orton into the ring. Styles went for a springboard attack, but Orton swiped at AJ’s legs to knock Styles down. Orton dropped Styles with a draping DDT. There were “Randy” chants from the crowd as Knight pulled Orton out of the ring and Knight sent Orton into the steel steps. Styles hit a running dropkick onto Knight on the floor. All three guys were down on the floor as the show went to break.
Styles was in control with a sliding forearm on a seated Knight in the ring. Styles delivered a knee to Knight’s ribs. Styles hit a belly-to-back suplex to Knight. Styles sent Orton into the barricade along with Styles sending Orton into the steel steps. Knight countered a Styles move into a pin attempt for two. Knight hit a jawbreaker to Styles and Orton did a necksnap to Styles too. Knight punched and kicked Styles repeatedly leading to “Yeah” chants. Knight punched Orton a few times as well leading to a Russian legsweep. Knight hit a running knee on Styles. Knight hit a back body drop on Styles. Orton was back into it with two clotheslines to Knight along with a snap powerslam. Orton did a snap powerslam to Styles too as the fans chanted “Randy” for Orton. Knight caught Orton and hit a BFT (Blount Force Trauma) slam for a two count because Styles grabbed the referee Charles Robinson’s hand to stop the count. Knight and Styles got into a slugfest. Knight hit a knee lift, but Styles came back with a Pele Kick. Styles hit a backbreaker on Knight. Styles hit a springboard 450 Splash on Knight for a two count. Knight took a knee to the head so Knight’s head was bleeding. Ouch. Styles went for a Styles Clash, but Orton was back in and Orton tackled Styles into the turnbuckle. Styles hit a forearm to the head of Orton. Styles went for a Phenomenal Forearm off the top rope, but Orton backed away from it and Orton hit an RKO! Orton covered for one…two…but Knight pulled referee Charles Robinson out of the ring for a two count.
The music of Roman Reigns hit as the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns walked out along with Solo Sikoa, Jimmy Uso and Paul Heyman. Solo went into the ring to go after Knight and Solo clotheslined Knight. Solo sent Knight out of the ring. I guess we’ll say that was the end of the match around 15 minutes. The bell never rang to officially end the match.
Match Result: No Contest
Analysis: ***1/4 They were on their way to a pretty good match and I liked how some of the nearfalls were booked, but then it just ended with The Bloodline getting involved. That would lead to more action in the final minutes of the show. The rating would have been higher if it had a finish.
Reigns stomped on Styles while Jimmy went after Orton. Solo grabbed the steel steps and hit Orton in the head with the steps. Reigns picked up Styles in the ring and Reigns hit a Powerbomb. Reigns dumped Styles out of the ring while asking who was next? They showed Smackdown GM Nick Aldis watching at ringside. Reigns hit LA Knight with a Superman Punch. Reigns bounced off the ropes and hit a Spear on Knight as well. Reigns stared at GM Aldis, who was watching all this from ringside. Reigns and Solo hit a Spear/Spike combination on Orton. The fans booed loudly. Aldis spoke to Heyman at ringside and said that while Reigns celebrates, Heyman has to tell Reigns that he earned himself a Fatal 4-Way match against all three of these guys at the Royal Rumble. Heyman had a shocked look on his face while Reigns celebrated in the ring. End show.
Analysis: That’s interesting to see Roman Reigns in a four-way match at the Royal Rumble since he’s had so many singles matches during his title reign. We have seen many times in the past where there’s interference in a match leading to the guys in the match being put in a three-way or four-way match, so that’s not a new concept. However, it’s just rare to have Reigns in a four-way match during this title reign. If they had Aldis do a promo for the live crowd announcing the four-way they could have had Reigns freak out after the announcement and that would have been a fun way to do it. I don’t mind how it was done with Aldis telling Heyman privately.
At the Royal Rumble, it’s Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles vs. LA Knight vs. Randy Orton. In theory, Reigns could lose the Undisputed WWE Universal Title without getting pinned. I’ll pick Reigns, but I like the idea that three babyfaces are in the same match against Reigns and that Reigns could lose his championship without being pinned. As a story, it’s good because it makes GM Aldis more of a babyface GM due to how he has booked this title match. I like it.
The Tribal Chief is NOT going to like this… 👀@RealNickAldis just informed @HeymanHustle that @WWERomanReigns will defend his Championship against @RandyOrton, @RealLAKnight and @AJStylesOrg in a Fatal 4-Way match at #RoyalRumble! #SmackDown: New Year's Revolution pic.twitter.com/v0r6BkygHu
— WWE (@WWE) January 6, 2024
After the show, WWE posted this video with Paul Heyman telling Roman Reigns about the four-way match at the Royal Rumble. Reigns reacted by telling “Wise Man” Paul Heyman to fix this.
EXCLUSIVE: Following #TheBloodline's beatdown of @RandyOrton, @AJStylesOrg and @RealLAKnight, The Head of the Table is riding high until @HeymanHustle informs him of @RealNickAldis' decision to make a Fatal 4-Way Match for #RoyalRumble.#SmackDown: New Year's Revolution pic.twitter.com/LGUqeCa6vt
— WWE (@WWE) January 6, 2024
Three Stars of the Show
- Kevin Owens
- Randy Orton, AJ Styles & LA Knight
- IYO SKY
7.5 out of 10
Last week: 7.5 (December 22)
Final Thoughts on WWE Smackdown
I thought it was a pretty good episode of Smackdown. Having two matches with title shots on the line made it feel like a bigger deal than usual. Kevin Owens beating Santos Escobar was the right call. There was also a solid win for IYO SKY although the crowd wasn’t into it that much. Good to see Tyler Bate with Butch as a team.
Welcome back officially to AOP with Paul Ellering as allies for Karrion Kross & Scarlett. We know with Triple H booking there are a lot of groups, so here’s another one to feud with Bobby Lashley & The Street Profits. That segment was booked well.
The triple threat match with Randy Orton, AJ Styles and LA Knight ending without a clear winner due to The Bloodline was interesting. I thought Orton would win. Doing a 4-way at the Royal Rumble will give it a different feel than most Roman Reigns title defenses since we have seen Reigns win singles matches so many times by cheating. Now they can push the story that Reigns could lose the title without being pinned, so that’s a different dynamic at least.
The next WWE Premium Live Event is the Royal Rumble on January 27th in Tampa. Here’s the lineup so far:
* 30-Man Royal Rumble Match
* 30-Woman Royal Rumble Match
* Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles vs. LA Knight
* United States Championship: Logan Paul (c) vs. Kevin Owens
Thanks for reading. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. You can contact me using any of the methods below.