This week’s WWE Smackdown featured The Usos defending the Tag Team Titles against Drew McIntyre & Sheamus, Charlotte Flair is back and more.
The big news in WWE is that Vince McMahon is back in the mix. We have written many news stories on TJRWrestling since Thursday night and all day Friday. From my understanding regarding all of this is that Vince McMahon is back to try to sell the company and try to get the best deal. Vince is the majority shareholder in the company, so he wants to be involved again because in his eyes it’s his company and he wants to be a big part of any sale they do. There will likely be many companies interested in buying WWE, so Vince wants to be part of the sale. He is not running the WWE Creative team again and from what I understand, that’s probably not going to change either. It is still Triple H running the show creatively. By the way, the WWE stock price went up about 17% on Friday since this news came out, so Wall Street likes the news about WWE possibly being sold.
With that said, I know that wrestling fans are apprehensive about believing that. In Vince’s letter, he said that he supports the management team and doesn’t seem interested in wanting to run WWE Creative again. There is also a story that I posted on TJRWrestling about what WWE management told their staff that Vince is there to try to sell the company, but he’s not running the company like he did before. The reality is that Vince is a 77-year-old man. He wasn’t going to be able to run WWE forever. He trained his daughter Stephanie McMahon to take over as Chairwoman like she’s done. He trained Triple H to take over WWE from a creative standpoint, like he’s done. I’m not ignoring the fact that Vince is a power-hungry madman that pushed people around a lot in his life. I am just saying that at this point, the facts are that Vince is not going to be running WWE from a creative standpoint. I sure hope it stays that way, but we all know that plans can change…pal.
With all of this said, while we talk about Vince McMahon as a businessman, I really hate what he did to the women that worked for him and he paid them off to keep them quiet. There is also a rape allegation against him. I do respect what he did as a businessman in building WWE. However, it’s hard to ignore that bad behavior too.
Frankly, I’m exhausted from writing and talking about this subject even though it’s just getting started. I’m looking forward to tonight’s first episode of Smackdown of 2023.
The show started with The Bloodline’s Sami Zayn, The Usos and Solo Sikoa wrecking some of the furniture around ringside to show they are angry just like they were on Raw.
Let’s Hear From The Bloodline
Roman Reigns made his entrance as the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion as we got some highlights of last week’s Smackdown when Reigns and Zayn lost to Kevin Owens and John Cena when Owens pinned Zayn with Stunner. Michael Cole pointed out it was a rare loss for Reigns and Wade Barrett mentioned it was Zayn that lost the match, not Reigns.
Roman Reigns told Memphis to acknowledge him and there were cheers with some boos. Reigns said he wanted to hear from Sami Zayn. That led to Sami saying that 2023 is their year, they are sending a message and he talked about how they won matches on Raw. Zayn mentioned Solo Sikoa winning a match on Raw while Zayn and The Usos won their match.
Reigns said he didn’t want to talk about this year because he wanted to talk about last year. Reigns mentioned last week that he teamed with Sami against John Cena and Kevin Owens. Reigns asked, “what do you think happened?” Reigns said that some say they lost with Reigns laughing about it. Reigns said that he doesn’t lose, it’s not in his makeup and not in his DNA. Reigns said that he didn’t lose, “he lost” while pointing to Zayn. Reigns said that his shoulders weren’t on the mat, Sami’s shoulders were on the mat. Reigns said he didn’t care about that because they are moving forward. Reigns wondered why he called his shot, why did he guarantee a win – Reigns said he does that and he always delivers. Reigns talked about how it’s embarrassing, so Reigns said it’s like Babe Ruth. Reigns asked Zayn if he wants to be The Tribal Chief and wondered why Zayn was doing what The Tribal Chief does. Reigns asked Zayn if he wants to be him. Reigns: “Do you think you’re me? Do you want to run The Bloodline? Do you think you’re fit to take on the burden…” and here comes Kevin Owens.
Kevin Owens was in the aisle in the microphone while The Bloodline was in the ring. Owens told Reigns to calm down because he’s got some misdirected anger going on. Owens said that the last time he saw Reigns like this, he was the cause of it and tonight, he is the cause of it. Owens told Reigns that his problem is with Owens, so he thinks it’s time for Reigns to take care of that KO Problem. Owens suggested that Reigns can take care of that KO Problem at the Royal Rumble in a match for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. Reigns said “yeah, sure, whatever” and he didn’t care about him because he wants Owens to go away forever. Owens said he’ll leave, but not forever. Owens told Reigns he’ll see him at the Royal Rumble and he’ll see Sami whenever he digs his balls out of Roman’s pocket. Reigns talked to Heyman, but we couldn’t hear what he said. Reigns also stared at Zayn. That led to a break.
Analysis: That was an interesting opening segment with Reigns getting mad at Zayn and looking like he wanted to kick his ass, but Kevin Owens was there to save Zayn in a way. I’m not surprised that Reigns would say that it was Zayn that got beat rather than himself, which is what a top heel should say in that position. Owens saying he was the cause of Reigns being angry last time could have been a reference to Reigns being mad at Owens after the WarGames match or maybe a reference to their title feud two years ago. I liked what Owens said about being Roman’s problem and suggesting the Rumble match, which Reigns accepted without much of an argument. Anyway, Owens probably won’t beat Reigns at the Royal Rumble, but I’m certainly intrigued to see how Sami plays a role in all of this since it is rumored he’ll be against Reigns at the Elimination Chamber PLE in Montreal in February. There was a lot of drama in that segment with the crowd hanging on every word. They are invested in this story, that’s for sure.
They showed Charlotte Flair arriving at the building in a convertible.
Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods made their entrance as the NXT Tag Team Champions. They showed a backstage interview earlier in the day with Santos Escobar telling Kofi he’s going to eliminate him in the Royal Rumble. That led to those two guys being put in a match.
Kofi Kingston (w/Xavier Woods) vs. Santos Escobar (w/Zelina Vega, Cruz Del Toro & Joaquin Wilde)
Santos with some punches, Kofi got a headscissors takedown and Santos kicked Kofi off the apron to the floor. Kofi walked on his hands to show how he can avoid elimination in the Royal Rumble. Kofi went back into the ring and tossed Santos over the top to the floor to tease how it can happen in the Royal Rumble match.
Santos was in control with a running attack in the corner, but Kofi came back with a springboard dropkick off the middle turnbuckle. Kofi sent Santos to the apron, Kofi punched him, Santos went on the steps, Woods did a trombone nose and Santos went to the floor as if he was eliminated. Back in the ring, Santos hit a jumping kick for a two count. Kofi countered a move by flipping Santos over for a two count. Kofi with two chops, then a jumping kick to the face and Santos punched Kofi in the gut. Kofi hit the SOS trip for a two count. Santos charged, Kofi with two boots to the head and they battled on the turnbuckle with Kofi headbutting Santos to knock him down. Kofi jumped off the top, Santos hit him with a knee to the head and that got a two count. Kofi jumped onto Santos with a double foot stomp for a two count. Kofi hit the Boom Drop leg drop on Santos followed by Wilde and Cruz causing distractions on the floor. Santos with a superkick followed by the Phantom Driver for the pinfall win after nine minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Santos Escobar
Analysis: *** A good match between two talented veterans with Santos getting the win after the distractions at ringside. Triple H books distraction/interference finishes a lot. It’s a meaningful win for Santos due to Kofi’s standing in WWE as a veteran that has done it all. Perhaps it will lead to a tag team match between these teams in the future.
It’s official: Roman Reigns will defend the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Kevin Owens at the Royal Rumble on January 28th in San Antonio.
They showed Sami Zayn outside of The Bloodline’s dressing room. Sami knocked, Paul Heyman answered and Sami said he had to talk to him. Sami said he’s not trying to be the Tribal Chief or do anything. The Usos walked up, looked at Sami and they went into the room. Heyman said last week he told Sami that life on the Island of Relevancy is always staying three steps ahead, then he added that even three steps down the road would be bad timing. Heyman told Sami he still loved him. Sami was left outside the room on his own.
Analysis: The slow build to Sami getting his ass kicked continues unless they are building to something where Sami proves himself again. There can certainly be twists along the way too. That’s why it is such a good storyline.
Liv Morgan was shown backstage doing a promo about the Royal Rumble saying she lives for chaos. Liv delivered a confident promo about how she was going to be in the Rumble match.
A replay was shown of last week on Smackdown when Uncle Howdy gave Bray Wyatt the Sister Abigail neckbreaker while LA Knight was in the ring with them.
LA Knight was interviewed by Kayla Braxton backstage with some “Walking In Memphis” song lyrics, then he insulted Memphis and he said he felt good last week. Knight said that nobody is going to talk about Bray Wyatt’s return match because they’ll be talking about LA Knight. That led to Knight saying it’s not an insult, it’s a fact of life.
Bray Wyatt will meet LA Knight in the Mountain Dew (gotta mention the sponsor) Pitch Black Match at the Royal Rumble.
Analysis: I don’t know much about the Pitch Black Match, but I would be surprised if Bray Wyatt loses to Knight.
Karrion Kross and the lovely Scarlett made their entrance as we got a clip from two weeks ago when Emma slapped Scarlett in a backstage segment. It’s a mixed-tag team match after the break.
Madcap Moss & Emma vs. Karrion Kross & Scarlett
This is Scarlett’s first WWE TV match. She is married to Kross. Emma and Moss are dating. The guys started the match in progress with not match happening. Emma got a running cross body block on Scarlett in the corner. Scarlett hit an overhead suplex. Emma hit a double underhook suplex along with a running kick, so Kross pulled Emma off the cover for the save. Emma slapped Kross in the face. Moss tagged in so he was legal against Kross with Moss hitting a shoulder tackle. Scarlett tripped Moss leading to Kross hitting a clothesline. Scarlett sent Emma into the ring post and over the announce table. Kross sent Moss into the turnbuckle, then a forearm to the back and the Kross Jacket submission lead to Moss passing out. That was it after four minutes.
Winners by submission: Karrion Kross & Scarlett
Analysis: *1/2 Easy win to put over the pushed team over the babyfaces that don’t get featured on TV much. Scarlett looked fine in her TV debut match since she’s been a wrestler for many years even though WWE doesn’t use her in that role much. Moss barely got any offense against Kross, which doesn’t surprise me.
After the match, Kross and Scarlett put a mask on Madcap’s head that said “619” on it repeatedly as a message to Rey Mysterio. Kross had a tarot card that had Rey Mysterio drawn on it. Kross spoke to the camera saying Rey knows that is going to be him…tick tock.
It was mentioned by Cole that Smackdown was a juggernaut for Fox again and it was the most-watched episode in two years.
A Progressive Match Flo replay was shown of last week when Ronda Rousey beat Raquel Rodriguez to retain the Smackdown Women’s Title. After the match, Charlotte Flair showed up to challenge Rousey for the title and Flair won in under one minute thanks to ROLLUP OF DEATH~! while grabbing the trunks.
The announcers talked about Money in the Bank taking place in London, England on July 1st while they showed some media coverage of the news. That’s Canada Day for me.
They showed Drew McIntyre and Sheamus hanging out at Jerry Lawler’s bar in Memphis earlier in the day. They talked about their unique friendship while also hitting eachother. Sheamus talked about how they beat eachother up while talking about their Fastlane and Donnybrook matches. Sheamus and Drew kept on hitting eachother. Drew said when the lads are in town it’s “banger after banger” with the whole bar joining in on the “banger after banger” chant. The Banger Bros are in action against The Usos later in the show.
Analysis: I liked that promo. Drew and Sheamus are great opponents, but I like seeing the best friends together like that. “The Banger Bros” name probably won’t have that much longevity. Don’t google it, kids.
Let’s Hear from Charlotte Flair
Charlotte Flair made her entrance in her ring gear for a match with the Smackdown Women’s Title around her waist again.
The promo started with Charlotte asking if the fans missed her and the fans cheered a bit. Charlotte mentioned “payback’s a bitch” while saying that Ronda knows while the fans chanted “Thank You Charlotte” for her. Charlotte said she never thought she’d hear that. Charlotte talked about how she was overwhelmed by the fan reaction when she won the title last Friday. Charlotte said whether you like to cheer, boo or “woo” her, she’s always been about three things: Passion, Consistency & Dedication for what she does in this ring. Charlotte said she is not complacent. Charlotte said she’ll do more, ask for more and knock down anyone that stands in her way. Charlotte said that’s what a champion does because they expect the unexpected and rises to the occasion. Charlotte said that is what she’s done 14 times while referencing her title reigns.
Sonya Deville showed up for the interruption while trashing the fans for being hillbillies. Sonya said that there should be an asterisk for number 14 since she beat a “half-dead” Ronda Rousey. Sonya wondered how Charlotte would fare against a fresh fighter. Sonya wanted Charlotte to put her title on the line right now. Charlotte did the babyface thing by asking the fans, then said that the challenge was accepted and the match was on.
Analysis: I will have to get used to babyface Charlotte promos. She was a heel for so long and was better in that role too.
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair vs. Sonya Deville
Sonya attacked Flair with a forearm to the back to knock her down. Flair came back with a big boot to the head leading to Deville going to the floor.
Deville was in control with a running knee. Deville grabbed a chinlock. Flair got out of that, sent Deville into the corner and hit a jumping kick. Flair hit clotheslines, several chops leading to “woo” chants and a belly-to-back suplex. The fans popped after a kip up. Deville took way too long for a move off the ropes and Flair did a cartwheel into a clothesline for two. That spot looked a bit too silly although I get it. Deville with a necksnap across the top rope, then back in the ring and Flair hit a Spear. Flair applied the Figure Eight submission leading to Deville tapping out. The fans cheered for Flair winning after seven minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Charlotte Flair
Analysis: *1/2 A dominant win by Flair while Deville didn’t come close to winning the match. For a match that short they should show the whole thing instead of doing it with a commercial in the middle. I guess they have already moved on from Flair having to deal with Ronda Rousey because they didn’t even mention Ronda. I’m not sure who the next title challenger will be, but I think it’s fair to assume that Flair will hold the title until at least WrestleMania.
They showed the Cody Rhodes video that also aired on Raw showing his WWE return at WrestleMania last year. It also featured comments from Cody talking about his comeback to WWE. However, Cody got hurt before the Hell in a Cell match and missed the last seven months.
Analysis: This is all about building to Cody’s return. The fact that they showed this on Raw and Smackdown tells me that they are really going to push him a lot when he comes back. They didn’t need to air it on Smackdown since Cody is a Raw guy, but I guess it’s just a case of wanting to get Cody more exposure. That’s fine with me.
Ricochet made his entrance for singles action.
This Monday on Raw: We find out if Austin Theory is ready for what’s next and Alexa Bliss explains her vicious attack on Bianca Belair.
A video aired showing Lacey Evans beating up some women in a ring with somebody instructing Evans to use the Cobra Clutch submission, so she did. I guess that means Evans has a new finisher whenever she comes back.
Analysis: It’s a simple way to tell the audience that Lacey has a new finisher. It’s easy to do on any opponent, so Evans should do well with it.
Royal Rumble Qualifying Match: Ricochet vs. Top Dolla (w/Ashante “Thee” Adonis & B-Fab)
Dolla used his size advantage to grab Ricochet on the top rope and slam him across the ring. Dolla hit a boot to the face for two. Dolla choked Ricochet across the middle rope with Barrett saying this is what we’ve been waiting for with Top Dolla. Dolla bounced off the ropes, did a dance, Ricochet with a kick and a rollup for two. Ricochet with a leaping neckbreaker. Ricochet went up top and jumped off with a Shooting Star Press for the pinfall win after three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Ricochet
Analysis: * It was another match with an easy, obvious winner since it only took Ricochet a few moves to put Top Dolla away. Ricochet’s top rope moves always look great. The fans like him too. He should have won this match.
After the match, Top Dalla and Ricochet shook hands, but then Top Dolla held his hand up. Adonis superkicked Ricochet and B-Fab kicked Ricochet as well. Top Dolla talked trash saying he’s not a joke. Top Dolla hit a double team slam on Ricochet leading to more trash talk. Braun Strowman made the save, so Hit Row ran away.
Analysis: That should set up a tag team match. Hit Row turned heel in this segment because Top Dolla botched a dive a few weeks ago, everybody mocked him for it and now he’s a heel because of it. That’s fine since Hit Row wasn’t getting cheered that much anyway.
They showed The Usos in The Bloodline locker room with Roman Reigns, Solo Sikoa and Paul Heyman. The Usos touched knuckles with Reigns and left with Solo. Reigns told Heyman to bring him Sami.
A video aired about next week on Smackdown with GUNTHER defending the Intercontinental Title against Braun Strowman. GUNTHER said that Braun is an overgrown meathead with no skill. GUNTHER said no matter if he faces a man or monster, he’ll remain the Intercontinental Champion.
Next week on Smackdown: GUNTHER defends the Intercontinental Title against Braun Strowman.
It was back to The Bloodline’s locker room where Sami Zayn sat down on the couch near Roman Reigns while Paul Heyman was in the background. Sami acknowledged Reigns, he said he’s not trying to take power and if there’s anything that he did to give Roman that impression, then Sami is sorry. Roman said he didn’t accept his apology. Reigns said he holds himself to a very high standard. Reigns said that at the end of the day, he has to control his anger and nobody deserves to be spoken to like that. Reigns said he didn’t accept Sami’s apology because Reigns should be the one apologizing. Reigns said he was sorry to Sami. Zayn said it’s fine because you’re under a lot of pressure as the Head of the Table. Reigns said it’s no excuse. Reigns said that “he was right” (referring to Sami) saying that KO was right. Reigns said that he’s mad at Owens and he’s taking it out on Zayn, so they will fix it. Reigns said that the “KO Problem” is done and we’re going to fix it. Heyman told Zayn that next week on Smackdown, Sami Zayn has a chance to redeem himself against Kevin Owens. Zayn: “Yeah, let’s do it.” Zayn said he will take care of him for Reigns. Sami wanted to go out there, but Reigns told him to stay so they can watch it together.
Analysis: An apology from Reigns isn’t what most viewers were likely expecting, so it’s another example of how smart this storyline is with how they keep viewers guessing. It set up a Zayn-Owens match that has been done many times in WWE, but their matches are always great. It’s likely a way to give Owens another win on the road to his Royal Rumble match against Reigns. The Bloodline segments this week were great as usual. They weren’t major angles or anything like that, but they progressed the story. The slow build helps a lot. They aren’t rushing through it and it slowly keeps building. Very entertaining every week.
The Usos made their entrance as the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions with Solo Sikoa. Sheamus & Drew McIntyre were next as the opponents. As Cole mentioned, this was supposed to happen a few weeks ago, but Drew was hurt, so now that he’s back, they are doing the match in the main event this week. That’s cool with me.
Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships: The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) (w/Solo Sikoa) vs. Sheamus & Drew McIntyre
It is 537 days for The Usos as the champions. Sheamus with a clothesline on Jimmy followed by Drew hitting a chop. Drew hit a belly-to-belly suplex on Jimmy across the ring. Jey tagged in with Drew greeting him with a punch along with a clothesline. After Drew punched Jimmy down, Jey hit Drew with a Samoan Drop. Jey suplexed Drew while they showed Reigns & Zayn in the locker room while Heyman was staring at Zayn. Jimmy worked over Drew in the ring with Jey hitting a cheap shot. The Usos hit a double headbutt on Drew, then Drew fought out of the heel corner as best he could including a clothesline on Jimmy. Jey hit a suicide dive onto Drew sending him into the barricade. That led to a break.
The match continued with Sheamus knocking Jimmy over the top to the apron. Sheamus delivered the ten forearms to the chest with the fans chanting along, but then Sheamus went with twenty beats to the chest instead. Zayn offered Reigns and Heyman some popcorn, but Reigns didn’t have any. Jimmy got a kick to the head of Sheamus, Jimmy made the tag and hit an Uso Splash for two. Jey tagged in, both Usos went up top and that led to Drew & Sheamus each hitting the White Noise slam off the turnbuckle leading to Sheamus pinning Jey for two. Jey hit a spinning kick on Sheamus, Drew tagged in and hit neckbreakers on both Usos, who rolled to the floor. Drew hit an incredible somersault dive over the top onto both Usos on the floor. Drew hit a Claymore Kick on Jey for one…two…but Jimmy broke up the pin! Great nearfall there. The Bloodline’s locker room was shown with Reigns, Zayn and Heyman all eating popcorn. Sheamus tagged in, Jimmy made a blind tag and The Usos hit a double superkick on Sheamus followed by 1D on Sheamus for the one…two…and no! Drew broke up the pin. Another great nearfall there. Drew with a headbutt. Solo Sikoa attacked Drew with a Samoan Spike and a Spinning Solo on Drew. Butch and Ridge Holland attacked Solo. Sheamus battled with Jimmy leading to Sheamus hitting a Brogue Kick for a two count, but Jey saved his brother from being pinned. Sheamus jumped off the top with a forearm on both Usos. Sheamus picked up Jimmy, he couldn’t hit a move because Jey got involved. Jimmy rolled up Sheamus while Jey put his foot on his brother’s back while the referee counted the pin (he didn’t see the cheating) and Sheamus was pinned to give The Usos the win. It went about 14 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso)
Analysis: ***3/4 It was a very good tag team match with The Usos cheating to win like they have done many times during this title reign. While I didn’t expect Drew & Sheamus to win, I’m glad they came so close to winning like when Drew hit the Claymore Kick for a two count. The Usos almost won too before the finish. Build up the match with nearfalls like that and you’re going to get the crowd into it, which is exactly what happened since the fans got louder. I expected an entertaining match here and that’s what we got. Great stuff by all four veterans in this match. Another #banger by Sheamus & Drew as usual.
They showed The Bloodline’s dressing room with Zayn being so excited that he spilled popcorn everywhere. That was pretty funny while Reigns laughed at him. The Usos celebrated the win while Cole plugged Owens vs. Zayn as Sami’s biggest match of his career. That was the end of the show.
Three Stars of the Show
- The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso)
- Drew McIntyre & Sheamus
- Roman Reigns/Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens
7 out of 10
Last week: 8.25
It was a good show for the most part although last week was better. That’s fine, though. There were some shorter matches to push certain people like Charlotte Flair, Ricochet and Karrion Kross/Scarlett while the losers were obvious. Santos Escobar beating Kofi Kingston was good for him even though it was due to distractions from the Legado crew. No Bray Wyatt this week, but LA Knight did a promo against him.
The main event tag team match was the best match with The Usos keeping their titles against Drew McIntyre & Sheamus. That was a lot of fun to watch. A couple of good nearfalls in the match led to The Usos cheating to win. I didn’t expect a title change, but I like that it was such a competitive and entertaining main event match.
They also progressed The Bloodline story very well throughout the show. Roman Reigns was mad at Sami Zayn to open, but by the end of the night, Roman was apologizing to Sami while realizing that he was mad at Kevin Owens. For now, Zayn is liked by The Bloodline, but I assume he’ll lose to Owens next week and that will lead to more problems in the group. The best storyline in wrestling.
The next WWE Premium Live Event is the Royal Rumble on January 28th in San Antonio. Here’s the lineup so far.
* 30-Man Royal Rumble Match
* 30-Woman Royal Rumble Match
* Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Kevin Owens
* Pitch Black Match: Bray Wyatt vs. LA Knight
You can watch the Royal Rumble on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 8 ET/5 PT, streaming live exclusively on Peacock in the United States and WWE Network everywhere else!
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