This week’s WWE Smackdown saw Bianca Belair in action against Bayley while Randy Orton, LA Knight & AJ Styles teamed up in the main event.
It was on last week’s New Year’s Revolution edition of Smackdown when we found out that at the Royal Rumble on January 27th, Roman Reigns will defend the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Randy Orton, LA Knight & AJ Styles in a Fatal 4-Way match.
The commentary team of Kevin Patrick and Corey Graves welcomed us to the show. Grayson Waller made his entrance for a match.
They went to a video package showing highlights of last week’s main event between Randy Orton, LA Knight and AJ Styles that ended when Roman Reigns and The Bloodline attacked all of them. That led to Smackdown GM Nick Aldis telling Paul Heyman it would be Reigns against all three guys at the Royal Rumble. After the show, Reigns told “Wise Man” Heyman to fix this.
The show returned with Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso beating up Cameron Grimes in the aisle. There were WWE Officials and Smackdown General Manager Nick Aldis on the scene. Grayson Waller and Austin Theory left the ring to give it to The Bloodline.
Analysis: There is no match between Grayson Waller and Cameron Grimes as scheduled.
Let’s Hear from Paul Heyman, The Bloodline and Nick Aldis
Paul Heyman said that they aren’t the bad guys here because Nick Aldis is the bad guy. Heyman complained about Aldis putting Roman Reigns in four-way match that could lead to Reigns losing his title. Heyman kept on calling Aldis a bad guy as Aldis appeared on the apron.
Aldis told Heyman this is not a conversation between two equals. Aldis said that the Fatal 4-Way match at the Royal Rumble is a done deal. Aldis said that this was the second match in a row that The Bloodline ruined. Aldis told Solo & Jimmy of The Bloodline are in the main event of Smackdown tonight. Aldis said that AJ Styles will team with LA Knight and Randy Orton against all three members of The Bloodline – Solo Sikoa, Jimmy Uso & Roman Reigns.
Heyman replied to Aldis that Roman Reigns is not here in Lincoln, Nebraska tonight, so the fans booed. Aldis said that Heyman is right. Aldis said that Reigns started something that he didn’t want to finish. Aldis told Heyman they have until the main event of the show to find a third man and if not then it’s a 3-on-2 handicap match. Aldis wished Heyman good luck.
Analysis: That sets up a big main event for later in the night against the babyface trio facing off against The Bloodline and whoever else they can find as a partner. Heyman was great on the microphone as always. I think Nick Aldis is doing a terrific job of being a babyface General Manager who is standing up to The Bloodline and not giving them everything that they want.
Angel & Humberto entered for tag team action with Santos Escobar. Angel & Humberto have lost the Garza & Carrillo last names.
A video aired about Santos Escobar talking about Angel & Humberto. Angel talked about how the weak are consumed by the strong. They spoke about honor and tradition. Angle told Joaquin & Cruz they saw what happened to Rey Mysterio and Carlito. Santos said their code will prevail. They said “familia” and “Legado” to end it. That match is next.
Analysis: A lot of stables in WWE these days. I don’t mind it. It gets more people on the shows and can lead to different kinds of matches whether in singles or tags.
They showed Jimmy Uso, Solo Sikoa & Paul Heyman backstage talking about the situation. Jimmy was worried about finding a partner. Heyman said that not to worry because he always has people kissing his butt. Solo said he never worries.
LWO – Cruz Del Toro & Joaquin Wilde (w/Zelina Vega) vs. Angel & Humberto (w/Santos Escobar)
Santos Escobar was on commentary and said his group is the Legado World Order. I don’t know if that’s an official name. Cruz took down Angel with a hurricanrana followed by a springboard missile dropkick. Cruz sent Humberto out of the ring. Wilde & Cruz each hit dives over the top onto their opponents. Humberto tagged in leading to Cruz hitting two arm drags. Angel made a blind tag, he opened up the ropes and Cruz took a hard bump on the floor because of that. Angel hit a running kick to knock Cruz off the apron to the floor.
Angel and Humberto hit a double team neckbreaker followed by a running kick by Angel. Cuz was isolated and he tried to break free. Wilde got the tag leading to a dropkick on Angel and Wilde hit an impressive DDT for a two count. Humberto dumped Cruz out of the ring and Wilde sent Humberto to the floor. Wilde went up top, but Angel hit the ropes to knock Wilde down. Humberto tagged in as the cousins did a double team press slam on Wilde. Humberto tried a move off the top, but Wilde avoided it. Humberto hit a spinning sitout Powerbomb for two. Wilde got out of a move with a Poison Rana. Angel hit a superkick to Wilde and then Wilde sent Angel into the ring post. Cruz was back in illegally with a dropkick to Humberto to send him to the floor. Cruz hit a corkscrew plancha onto Humberto on the floor. Carlito’s music hit and he attacked Escobar from behind. Carlito went brawling with Escobar into the crowd. They went fighting into the crowd. Wilde tried a move on Angel, but Angel countered it by sitting on top of Wilde and held onto the bottom rope for the pinfall win. The referee never saw the rope grab, of course. It went about ten minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Angel & Humberto
Analysis: *** A good match by four talented wrestlers. These guys aren’t that over with the crowd necessarily, but if you give them ten minutes to have a match they are going to deliver and get the crowd into it. It was a cheap finish with Angel doing the rope grab, which is fitting for a heel. Cruz & Wilde are a talented team that deserve more opportunities. I like Angel & Humberto even more as heels with Escobar. That group has a lot of potential. Also, Carlito attacking Escobar should lead to their grudge match soon.
There was a backstage scene with Carmelo Hayes talking to Smackdown GM Nick Aldis. Hayes wanted to talk about the Royal Rumble. Grayson Waller & Austin Theory went into the room. They exchanged words and Hayes told Waller he had beaten him a bunch of times. Waller said he’s already wrestled (not really), so Theory will face him. Aldis said he liked that, so it’s Hayes vs. Theory later.
Analysis: A fresh matchup for later. I didn’t expect Carmelo Hayes on Smackdown, but that’s fine with me.
A look back at the Kevin Owens-Logan Paul situation was up next.
Paul Heyman talked to the LWO’s Carlito, who was with Cruz & Wilde along with Zelina Vega. Heyman tried to convince Carlito to team with The Bloodline and Heyman had an apple with him. Carlito said he was looking for a fight with Escobar as he walked away. Carlito also took the apple, said “thank you” and Heyman complained about it.
The Progressive Match Flo showed Kevin Owens beating Santos Escobar to win the US Title Contender’s Tournament. Owens will challenge Logan Paul for the US Title at the Royal Rumble. After the match, Owens punched Paul with his right hand that has a cast/brace on it and Paul sold it like he was nearly knocked out.
Logan Paul Promo
Logan Paul, the US Champion, did a promo from somewhere not in the arena because he said he would never go to Nebraska. Paul sold the punch by having a “black eye” and threatened legal action against Owens for using his cast. Logan said he’s ready for their fight. Logan said that Kevin Owens is a cheater and if Owens shows up with the cast on, then their match is canceled. Kevin Patrick correctly said that Logan Paul won the US Title because of brass knuckles, but Graves didn’t say anything to reply to that.
Analysis: They have done a good job of building up the story that KO’s cast is an effective weapon for him. I am assuming that Owens can’t wear the cast against Paul, so Owens will sell a hand injury and Paul will find a way to retain it in a cheap way.
Bianca Belair made her entrance for her match up next.
This Monday on Raw: Seth Rollins defends the World Heavyweight Title against Jinder Mahal. Don’t hinder Jinder. Plus, the great Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER returns. Cody Rhodes kicks off the show.
There was a scene in a restaurant with Tyler Bate and Butch having some coffee. Butch said he can handle himself, but you can’t have a tag team match on their own. Bate said that Butch is lost and trying to find his identity. Bate suggested some mindfulness technique, breath work and yoga. Butch said they had fun kicking Pretty Deadly’s heads in. Butch wanted them to focus on eachother. Bate said that they have a chance to show what British Strong Style is all about. Bate tried to motivate Butch by talking about their past together and working together. Bate said that Butch needed to find the person who told Bate what it took to make a name for himself. Bate wanted Butch to look inward and ask himself: “What is that name going to be?” The scene faded out there.
Analysis: The ending makes me think that Butch might go back to the Pete Dunne name. I also would be fine with Bate & Butch as a tag team. That’s only going to strengthen the tag team division.
Bianca Belair vs. Bayley (w/IYO SKY, Kairi Sane, Asuka & Dakota Kai)
I feel like Bianca Belair is about 20-0 against Bayley in singles matches over the last three years. I may be over-exaggerating, but Belair has beaten Bayley many times on TV. I think Bayley got a big tag team match win at some point. In singles, it’s usually a Belair win.
Bayley got a rollup on Belair for a two count. Belair got three straight rollups for one counts. Bayley hit a clothesline. Belair did a shoulder tackle to knock Bayley down. Bayley reversed a hammerlock against the middle rope. Belair got a waistlock takedown. Bayley ran the ropes leading to a Belair back body drop and a standing moonsault. Bayley knocked Belair down leading to a clothesline to the back of the head. Belair hit three body slams in a row. Bayley sent a charging Belair into the middle ropes. Bayley pulled Belair off the ropes. Belair tried for KOD, Bayley got out of that and Belair sent Bayley into the turnbuckle. Belair did a slingshot attack over the top onto Bayley on the floor. A nice move leading to a break.
Bayley was in control of the action with a clothesline on Belair against the turnbuckle. Belair came back with a spinebuster. Belair fired up with the comeback including two shoulder tackles and a dropkick. Belair went for corner punches, but Bayley got out of that and Bayley hit a running knee for two. Bayley tied Belair’s long hair onto the bottom rope. Belair hit a running knee to the face. Belair avoided a knee and used her hair to trip Bayley against the rope. Belair freed her hair from the bottom rope. Belair pulled back on Bayley’s body against the ring post, but Bayley managed to send Belair into the ring post. Belair got a hold of Bayley on the floor, Belair had Bayley on her back and Belair sent Bayley into the ring post. Belair delivered multiple running shoulder tackles to Bayley along with a delayed vertical suplex. Belair worked over Bayley with punches, so Bayley pulled the hair and Belair connected with ten more punches. Belair hit a backbreaker for two. Belair went for the cartwheel moonsault, but Bayley got he knees up. Bayley sent Belair spine-first into the turnbuckle. Belair slammed a charging Bayley into the mat. Belair hit the cartwheel moonsault onto Bayley for two. Belair with a forearm to the face. Bayley countered Belair and sent Belair into the turnbuckle. Bayley went up top and hit a top rope elbow for two. Bayley went for a pin attempt with her feet on the ropes, but the referee Dan Engler saw the feet on the ropes. Bayley tossed Belair onto the floor and Bayley wanted her friends to attack Belair, but none of them did. Back in the ring, Belair got a rollup for two. Belair ran the ropes leading to a Spear. Belair hit the Kiss of Death (KOD) slam on Bayley for the pinfall win after 16 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bianca Belair
Analysis: ***1/4 They got a lot of time and had a pretty good match with Belair getting the predictable win. It should lead to Belair getting a title shot against IYO SKY. Bayley did a nice job of countering a lot of Belair moves throughout the match as the announcers pointed out the familiarity of the two women. That Spear by Belair looked impressive, so I assume she’s going to add that as a regular move during her matches. The other story in this match is that Bayley wanted her friends to cheat for her twice in the match, but they didn’t help her at all. That will likely continue the story of Bayley possibly getting kicked out of the group.
Kevin Owens Promo
Kevin Owens did a taped promo saying he sees what Logan Paul is doing and he gets it. Owens said that the cast is an advantage for Paul because Owens has a broken hand. Owens said that it won’t keep him from being at the Royal Rumble. Owens gets what Paul is trying to do. Owens invited Paul to Smackdown next week so they can talk about it on the Kevin Owens Show. Owens said he hopes to see Logan there.
Analysis: That’s a good way to add more to that story going into the Royal Rumble.
The six-man tag team match main event is still to come.
A commercial aired for the Royal Rumble on January 27th.
Bayley went up to Damage CTRL backstage wondering why they didn’t try to help Bayley during the match. Dakota Kai talked to Bayley saying they didn’t want to cause a DQ. Kai said that Bayley’s plan to win all the gold involves Bayley winning the Royal Rumble. Kai said forget this and that Bayley should look ahead.
Analysis: It sure seems like the split is coming with Damage CTRL turning on Bayley after Bayley doesn’t win the Royal Rumble. It will be interesting to see how Bayley does as a babyface again after five years as a heel.
Let’s Hear from Bobby Lashley & The Street Profits
Bobby Lashley did a promo with The Street Profits telling Karrion Kross & AOP they got into a fight that they can’t win. Lashley said that they don’t take a cowardice approach or lurk in the shadows. Lashley said that if you and your boys want to settle this, you can settle this right here and right now.
The lights went out as Paul Ellering appeared by the entrance area. A video aired featuring Karrion Kross and Scarlett talking about how they broke people from the inside. Kross said that they will destroyer Lashley and The Street Profits. Kross spoke about how dangerous Akam & Rezar as well as Paul Ellering. Kross said that they are The Final Testament. There was some music played to end it.
Analysis: The promo by Lashley and The Street Profits was fine. Lashley didn’t mention their group name The Pride, but that’s what they are going to be called. Karrion Kross did a good job of talking about his group The Final Testament. That name was trademarked earlier in the week. No physicality this week, but I’m sure it’s coming in the future.
Paul Heyman was backstage with his head in his hands when Pretty Deadly walked up to Heyman saying they think they would make a great team. Heyman said that it’s only one person teaming with Jimmy Uso & Solo against Orton, Knight & Styles. When Heyman reminded them of who the opponents were, Pretty Deadly backed away like cowards.
A video aired about former NXT Champion Carmelo Hayes ahead of his match.
Carmelo Hayes entered for singles action.
Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits were shown walking backstage. Paul Heyman said that he’s been a longtime friend of Lashley. Heyman suggested that Lashley can team with Solo Sikoa & Jimmy Uso. Lashley said that the only time he wants to be in the ring with The Bloodline is when he’s standing across from Roman Reigns. Lashley and friends left.
Analysis: Poor Heyman. I don’t know if Lashley will get that match against Reigns any time soon, but it would be fun to see.
Austin Theory (w/Grayson Waller) vs. Carmelo Hayes
Melo hit an impressive leapfrog followed by a dropkick. Theory came back with a running elbow smash. Theory to the apron, Melo delivered a kick to the ear and Melo hit the Fadeaway leg drop off the ropes. Melo jumped over the top with a DDT on the apron. That led to a break.
Theory was in control with his rolling dropkick that knocked Melo out of the ring. Melo got back into the ring leading to a suplex while putting his feet on the bottom rope. Cool move. Melo hit a facebuster, atomic drop and chops to the body along with some punches. Melo hit a springboard clothesline off the middle rope. Melo spun around Theory’s body leading to a facebuster into the mat for two. Waller with a distraction, Theory with a punch and Melo countered it into a pin attempt. Theory got a pin attempt for two. Melo hit a superkick. Melo went to the top rope and Theory went for a Spanish Fly slam off the top turnbuckle. Theory landed hard on his head/neck. The referee Brian Tran checked on both guys and I think it was Theory, who was hurting. They replayed the spot. It went about ten minutes.
Match Result: Referee Stoppage
Analysis: **1/2 It’s tough to rate a match that ends with an injury. We saw it happen on Raw with Giovanni Vinci and it happened here as well. Doing a springboard Spanish Fly off the top rope is a tough move to do. I think Theory landed hard on his head/neck area and something was so wrong that the referee called for the bell. I assume that Carmelo Hayes was going to win, but I don’t know that as a fact.
Next week on Smackdown in Atlanta:
* Kayden Carter & Katana Chance defend the Women’s Tag Team Titles vs. Alba Fyre & Isla Dawn
* Kevin Owens Show with US Champion Logan Paul
* Royal Rumble Contract Signing with Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, LA Knight and AJ Styles
The Bloodline was shown backstage. Jimmy Uso asked Paul Heyman who their partner would be. Heyman said he interviewed everybody in the locker room and nobody is worthy of teaming with them. Jimmy said he was worried, but Solo said he was not worried. Jimmy said he was if Solo wasn’t worried then Jimmy wasn’t worried too.
Analysis: The real reason they don’t have a partner is because Paul Heyman couldn’t find anybody to team with them due to how hated The Bloodline is. Having Heyman admit that would show weakness, so instead they had Heyman say that nobody was worthy of teaming with them.
Randy Orton made his entrance for the main event. Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso attacked Orton from behind. Solo hit Orton with a Samoan Spike in the aisle.
There was a replay of Solo & Jimmy attacking Randy Orton before the break. Orton was shown walking to the back after the match. It looks like it will be a regular tag team match…or so it seemed.
Randy Orton, AJ Styles & LA Knight vs. The Bloodline – Jimmy Uso & Solo Sikoa (w/Paul Heyman)
Styles and Knight argued before the match began. Jimmy worked over Knight with punches and Knight came back with a neckbreaker. Styles tagged in leading to a double elbow smash on Jimmy. Styles chopped Jimmy and Knight tagged in with punches. Knight set up Jimmy against the ropes followed by a running splash to the back. Styles tagged in with a running forearm for two. Jimmy with chops, but Styles came back with a dropkick. Styles clotheslined Jimmy out of the ring. Solo attacked Styles, so Knight went into the ring and the faces double teamed Solo with strikes along with a double clothesline to knock Solo out of the ring. The show went to break.
Solo grounded Styles in a chinlock, Styles broke free and Solo delivered an elbow smash on Styles. Solo hit the running hip attack on Styles against the turnbuckle. Solo held Styles against the ropes, so Jimmy kicked Styles as a cheap shot. Jimmy tried to work over Styles, but Styles came back with strikes ending in a clothesline. Knight went after Solo on the floor when Styles was ready to tag out. Knight sent Solo into the steel steps. Styles hit a Pele Kick on Jimmy. Styles yelled at Knight for not being on the apron earlier. Jimmy got up and superkicked Knight when Styles avoided it. Styles and Jimmy ran the ropes leading to Styles/Jimmy hitting a double cross body block. Randy Orton’s music hit as The Viper walked out to the ring while holding his throat. Orton went on the apron, Styles tagged him and Orton nailed Jimmy with two clotheslines. Orton hit a snap powerslam on Jimmy, who rolled to the apron for the next move. That was Orton hitting the draping DDT. Orton was back up, Jimmy hit a superkick, Orton didn’t sell that much and Orton hit an RKO for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Randy Orton, AJ Styles & LA Knight
Analysis: ***1/4 The babyface team was obviously going to win this match since it was 3-on-2. I figured Orton was coming back out there and that’s what he did about ten minutes after he got dropped in the aisle. The heel side of Solo & Jimmy worked well together while Styles & Knight didn’t get along. Orton was dominant after he tagged in and got the easy win. Solo rarely loses, so of course Jimmy took the pin.
After the match, Solo attacked Orton from behind with a forearm to the back. Styles hit a Phenomenal Forearm on Solo. Knight hit the BFT (Blount Force Trauma) on Solo. When Solo got back up after that, Orton nailed Solo with an RKO. Orton left the ring and nailed Jimmy with uppercuts. Orton picked up the steel steps and nailed Jimmy with them. Knight sent Jimmy over the barricade. The trio of Knight, Styles & Orton worked together as they hit a Triple Powerbomb on Solo through the table. The fans popped big for the table bump. Orton’s music played as Paul Heyman was shown talking into his phone: “Call Roman Reigns.” Orton, Knight & Styles stood together, and Orton said, “screw The Bloodline.” That was the end of the show.
Analysis: There’s some babyface revenge after Roman Reigns & The Bloodline beat up Styles, Orton & Knight at the end of the show last week. I liked it as a way for the babyfaces to stand tall. They might use it as a way to say that Solo & Jimmy were injured in those attacks, so they won’t be with Reigns next week. That’s an option. I like how this was done and the babyfaces were certainly justified in their actions because of what happened last week.
THEY ALL WANT TO END #THEBLOODLINE!
— WWE (@WWE) January 13, 2024
Three Stars of the Show
- Randy Orton, AJ Styles & LA Knight
- Bianca Belair
- The Bloodline – Jimmy Uso & Solo Sikoa
7.25 out of 10
Last week: 7.5
2024 Average: 7:38
Final Thoughts on WWE Smackdown
A good show that continued the story of Randy Orton, LA Knight & AJ Styles battling against The Bloodline. They started the show, that set up a tag team match in the main event and there were segments throughout the night building that up. The main event was good with Orton getting the win. Post match, the babyface trio destroyed Solo Sikoa & Jimmy Uso without Roman Reigns there, so that’s some babyface revenge after The Bloodline dominated last week.
The other matches were solid with Bianca Belair beating Bayley as usual. They have wrestled many times. It sucks that the Austin Theory-Carmelo Hayes match was stopped due to injury, but that’s what happens sometimes. The tag match with Angel & Humberto beating the LWO guys was fast paced and had a cheap finish. It was an entertaining match.
If you watch Raw & Smackdown every week, Raw has way more people talking about wanting to win the Royal Rumble matches. On Smackdown, it’s not mentioned much at all except Bayley briefly. You need to tell the audience that these wrestlers want to win the Royal Rumble. I get that the Royal Rumble match sells itself, but we should be getting more promos talking about it too.
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
* Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles vs. LA Knight
* 30-Woman Royal Rumble Match
* United States Championship: Logan Paul (c) vs. Kevin Owens
You can watch the Royal Rumble on Saturday, January 27, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Peacock in the United States and on WWE Network everywhere else.
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