The road to the WWE Royal Rumble continued on Smackdown this week leading to a confrontation between Universal Champion Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins while Hall of Famer Lita was on the show as well.
It was the end of last week’s Smackdown when we found out that Universal Champion Roman Reigns will face his former friend and ally Seth Rollins at the Royal Rumble. Even though Rollins is from Raw, he’s getting the next title shot at Reigns.
From the Chi Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska, this is Smackdown for episode #1169. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.
A recap aired of last week’s Smackdown with Roman Reigns arguing with Brock Lesnar/Paul Heyman and Reigns dropped Lesnar with a Superman Punch. Later in the show, Reigns found out he was against Seth Rollins at the Royal Rumble. Rollins laughed at him.
The main segment promoted for Smackdown this week is a Face to Face segment between Universal Champion Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. The commentary team of Michael Cole and Pat McAfee welcomed us to the show. They also mentioned Lita being on the show.
Let’s Hear from The Usos
The Usos – the Smackdown Tag Team Champions – started the show with a promo. Cole noted it was 180 days of The Usos as the champions, so it was nearly half a year at this point. Last week, The Usos kept their titles against New Day in a Street Fight. Cole mentioned that King Woods suffered a torn calf muscle, so he’s out of action indefinitely.
The Usos mentioned that they respect The New Day and they beat them while reminding us that they are The Ones. Jey said that they should be celebrating as well as helping the Tribal Chief in a face to face segment. Jimmy said that management is lining them up to consider the contenders for their titles. Jey said it was a Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Match for a shot at the Tag Team Titles.
They introduced the teams with Jimmy doing a great job of an announcer’s voice as he introduced Los Lotharios. Jey introduced us to a random new team of Cesaro with Mansoor. Jimmy introduced us to Jinder Mahal and Shanky. Jey introduced the final team – the Viking Raiders. I think both Usos are good talkers, but Jimmy did better. Jimmy had some funny lines about how the most important rule of all is that The Usos are The Ones. The Usos delivered superkicks and then left the ring. The four teams started brawling. That led to a break.
Analysis: A simple way to set up new challengers for the Smackdown Tag Team Titles. I don’t really like when they put random teams in there to make them one match away from a title shot, but it’s a way to get some more people on television, so I understand why it happens.
Fatal 4-Way Match: Los Lotharios – Angel & Humberto vs. Cesaro & Mansoor vs. Jinder Mahal & Shanky vs. Viking Raiders – Erik & Ivar
The first time to get the pinfall or submission gets a Tag Team Title shot. The Usos were on commentary.
Mansoor with an atomic drop on Angel, Cesaro tagged in with a backbreaker. Angel and Erik argued a bit, then Shanky tagged in with a clothesline on Erik. Mahal was back in with a clothesline. Shanky back in with an elbow, Mahal back in leading to Erik getting a punch to break free. Ivar tagged in with punches, then he knocked two teams off the apron and Ivar avoided a charging Shanky. Erik tagged in, Ivar with a splash and Erik with a dropkick. Erik shoved Ivar against Shanky, who was by the turnbuckle. Ivar back in, he went up top, Mahal tagged in and stopped Ivar’s move attempt off the top. Cesaro decided to get involved illegally and that led to Cesaro/Mahal doing a double superplex on Ivar with Erik joining in with a Powerbomb, so it was a Tower of Doom spot. A cool spot that WWE loves doing in matches with more than two teams. That led to a break.
Humberto was in the ring with Mansoor, who broke free to bring in Cesaro. Running uppercut by Cesaro on Humberto and a double axhandle on Angel. Cesaro with a Samoan Drop on Humberto. Ivar tagged himself in, Cesaro with an uppercut and Cesaro teased doing the Swing on Ivar, which led to a big pop from behind, but Mahal went into the ring and hit The Khallas on Cesaro. Mansoor kicked Mahal out of the ring, Shanky threw Mansoor out of the ring, Erik sent Shanky out of the ring. Angel/Humberto hit double superkicks followed by suicide dives on the floor. Ivar teased a dive, but Angel/Humberto hit a double dropkick. Ivar fought back with a senton attack out of the corner and then Erik/Ivar hit the Viking Experience double team powerslam with Ivar getting the pinfall win after ten minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Viking Raiders – Erik & Ivar
Analysis: *** A good match. They ignored tag team rules a bit, but not that much The Viking Raiders were the obvious team since they were the only regular babyface team in the match, so it made sense for them to get the win and the next title shot. I thought it was booked well although it would have been better with some more nearfalls and near submissions in the match. I liked seeing Cesaro get some moments of offense for his team with the crowd responding well to him. The Viking Raiders are a good babyface team that’s easy to like.
The Usos did a promo on the commentary table. The Viking Raiders stared back at them for a staredown and it led to The Usos music playing to end it.
Analysis: I don’t expect a title change out of this rivalry, but it does feel fresh at least.
A Progressive Match Flo replay was shown of Naomi’s issues with Sonya Deville and Charlotte Flair.
Sonya Deville was in her office saying it was cold with Naomi showing up saying she has yet to hear a reason why Sonya hates her. Sonya warned Naomi that when she has the jacket on because she is Naomi’s boss. Sonya said that Naomi has main character vibes when everybody knows she’s just an extra. Sonya warned her to stay away from her or she may lose her spot in the Royal Rumble match. Naomi left. Adam Pearce also walked in to say it was cold in there.
Sami Zayn made his entrance for a segment up next.
A video aired about the history of Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins as part of The Shield. The video said “ten years ago” and they showed some clips of them in action with Dean Ambrose. Great memories. Truly one of the best groups in WWE history.
Let’s Hear from Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn was standing in the aisle saying that the conspiracy against him has gone on for too long, but it all started when he was robbed for his Intercontinental Championship. Zayn said now he’s the number one contender, so he’ll get back what is rightfully his. Zayn mentioned Johnny Knoxville coming into his life last week and they showed a replay of last week when Zayn told Knoxville he wasn’t qualified to be in the Royal Rumble. After Sami’s match, Knoxville tossed Zayn over the top to the floor. Knoxville was announced for the Royal Rumble after that.
Zayn said that he has officially entered this year’s Royal Rumble match. Zayn said that he can do anything that Knoxville can do. Zayn had a ramp set up by the ring. Zayn said when it comes to being a jackass, nobody can compete with Sami Zayn. Nice line. Zayn welcomed us to the first-ever episode of In-Zayn.
Zayn went to the back and came back out in a shopping cart while wearing a helmet and some elbow pads. Zayn had two random guys there with him. Zayn said he was going to jump the ring in that shopping cart. Zayn had the microphone in his hands saying it was dangerous while mentioning the ramp looked pretty small. Zayn asked his guys to push him, they did and Sami stopped them. The guys pushed Zayn in the shopping cart, they got close to the ramp and Zayn stopped it. Zayn left the shopping cart as the fans booed him. McAfee: “This guy stinks.”
Zayn was in the ring saying he was tougher than Johnny Knoxville, but he’s not going to get hurt over nothing. Rick Boogs appeared on the apron (with a haircut). Shinsuke Nakamura appeared behind Zayn, so when Sami turned around, Nakamura hit Sami with a Helluva Kick. Boogs pressed Sami over his head and tossed him onto a crash pad in front of the commentary table because Sami had set it up for his stunt. McAfee did some air guitar playing to celebrate Zayn getting humiliated.
Analysis: Poor Sami Zayn. It was mildly entertaining, but mostly the same kind of comedy segment that he usually has. They are clearly setting up for a Sami/Knoxville spot in the Royal Rumble match.
Aliyah was shown backstage for an interview with Megan Morant noting it was Aliyah’s singles debut on Smackdown. Aliyah said she was all nerves and tonight she gets to go into the ring against Natalya while Aliya said she tried not to embarrass herself. Natalya had the Guinness World Records 2022 in her hand. Natalya said there was no shame in losing to her since she is a world record holder. Aliyah said she didn’t even know that was a thing anymore, so Natalya was mad about that. Aliyah left.
Aliyah made her entrance for the match.
Natalya was interviewed backstage. Natalya said that the Guinness Book of World Records is still a thing. Natalya said she’s going to win the Royal Rumble. Natalya said she has the most matches of any woman in WWE history, most pay-per-view matches of any woman in WWE history and the most victory of any woman in WWE history. Natalya claimed she’s going to beat the record of 3.8 seconds for the fastest victory of any woman in WWE history.
Natalya made her entrance with the Guinness Book of World Records in her hands. Natalya beat up Aliyah with punches and kicks along with Natalya whipping Aliyah neck-first into the ropes. The referee checked on Aliyah, he said she wasn’t going to be able to compete, but she said she was able to compete. Aliyah was ready to go.
Natalya vs. Aliyah
The bell rang, Aliyah did the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! and got the pinfall win for the record time.
Winner by pinfall: Aliyah
Aliyah celebrated the win while looking shocked about it. Natalya was angry about the loss. The new ring announcer Samantha Irvin said that Aliyah said that she set the record for the fastest victory of 3.17 seconds.
Analysis: Match of the year! No rating since it was so quick. The story was about Natalya bragging about the records, then she said the line about the fastest match win, so of course, Aliyah was the one that got it.
The WWE Officials Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville continued to complain about the temperature in their office. Lita’s return was up next.
A commercial aired for Raw with Bobby Lashley responding to Brock Lesnar. Plus, is The Miz making promises he can’t keep? They did not advertise a match.
There was another Reigns/Rollins history moment from eight years ago when Seth Rollins turned heel on Reigns and Ambrose. Rollins joined The Authority led by Triple H after that.
Let’s Hear from Lita
Michael Cole was in the ring introducing us to a four-time WWE Women’s Champion and WWE Hall of Famer Lita. It’s nice to see the lovely Lita as usual and she got a big pop from the crowd. Lita is 46 years old in case you’re wondering. She’s in great shape.
Lita was asked how does it feel to be in a WWE ring again and Lita said she was home. There were “Lita” chants for her. Lita said that still gives her chills every time. Cole complimented her on her great career. Cole said that current stars like Bayley, Liv Morgan, Becky Lynch, Naomi and others have talked about Lita’s influence. Lita was asked about why she’s back for the Royal Rumble while noting she was the first woman to main event Raw with her bestie Trish Stratus (they were not the first, but it’s WWE so they say it is). Lita said she was proud to end up in the WWE Hall of Fame. Lita talked about how during the prime of her career, there was no Royal Rumble match for the women. Lita claimed that she had one more run left in her, so she was going to enter the Royal Rumble, win it and go on to main event WrestleMania.
Charlotte Flair, the Smackdown Women’s Champion made her entrance in a full body suit outfit that was not wrestling gear. Charlotte took her time getting down to the ring to join Lita. Cole left.
Charlotte asked Lita how she was doing, then she cut off Lita and said she didn’t know it was Flashback Friday. Charlotte mentioned she’s in the Royal Rumble as the champion and when she wins, she gets to pick the opponent to main event WrestleMania with. Charlotte said when she tosses Lita out, her fun little run is going to be over. Charlotte asked how Lita is going to end the humiliation of a short-lived comeback and her WrestleMania dreams. Lita said she heard about this Charlotte noting she was a Tonya Harding in that outfit. Lita wondered how Charlotte can throw anybody out with the giant head that she has while fans chanted “giant head” at Charlotte. That led to Charlotte saying she can’t hear them. Charlotte mentioned she beat Trish Stratus in a match at SummerSlam 2019 with Charlotte claiming that she was so broken that she actually retired. Charlotte said that’s exactly what she’ll do to Lita. Lita teased a slap, Charlotte ducked to avoid it, then Lita hit a kick to the gut and Lita hit a Twist of Fate on Charlotte. A decent sell by Charlotte, but not great. Lita celebrated to end that while Charlotte was down in the ring.
Analysis: It was fine as a segment to show that Lita was in good shape and ready to go. This was a simple way to get heat on Charlotte by being disrespectful to Lita while also trash-talking Trish Stratus, who could be a surprise in the Rumble match. Anyway, it was nice to hear the crowd response for Lita and she did fine with her promo while also hitting a Twist of Fate as well.
Sheamus was interviewed backstage. Sheamus said his protégé Ridge Holland wasn’t there because Ricochet broke his nose, so Sheamus will see how Ricochet likes it when Sheamus breaks his nose.
Sheamus made his entrance for a match against Ricochet after the break.
Ricochet made his entrance for singles action. A few weeks ago, he broke Ridge Holland’s doing a moonsault splash, so they turned it into a storyline.
Sheamus vs. Ricochet
Ricochet locked on a tight side headlock and Sheamus came back with a shoulder tackle. Sheamus teased a Powerbomb, so Ricochet gave him a hurricanrana over the top to the floor. Ricochet with a kick while on the apron. Ricochet jumped over the top with a twisting splash onto Sheamus. That was impressive. Sheamus got back into the ring, then left on the other side of the ring and Sheamus tripped up Ricochet on the apron. Sheamus did a catapult move that sent Ricochet into the steel bars under the ring. That led to a break.
Sheamus was in control as he pulled back on Ricochet’s arms, but then Ricochet did a flipping kick to break free. Ricochet with a jawbreaker, then a springboard cross body block, kicks to the body and a kick to the chest. Sheamus went for a Brogue Kick, Ricochet moved and Sheamus went to the apron. Ricochet with a kick, Sheamus was up against the ropes and Ricochet hit a Lionsault onto Ricochet’s back for a two count. Ricochet went up top, he went for a Shooting Star Press, Sheamus moved and Sheamus hit an Irish Curse backbreaker. Sheamus worked over Ricochet with forearms to the chest while on the apron followed by a clothesline over the top into the ring. Sheamus lifted Ricochet on his shoulders, he climbed to the middle rope and Ricochet delivered two kicks to the face. Ricochet sent Sheamus into the top of the ring post. Ricochet back into the ring with a Sunset Flip Powerbomb for a two count. Ricochet tried a lift, Sheamus got out of that, Sheamus went for a slam, Ricochet got a rollup and that got a two count. They each went for a move, Ricochet went for a move off the ropes, but Sheamus was there with a Brogue Kick for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sheamus
Analysis: ***1/4 A pretty good match here. These guys wrestled many times in the past when they were on Raw, so they had some chemistry together. Ricochet’s offense is great, Sheamus is willing to sell and that’s why you get some cool nearfalls like what Ricochet got in this match. Sheamus’ Brogue Kick was awesome because it came while Ricochet was going for a twisting dive off the ropes. I liked that finish a lot.
There was a replay of Aliyah beating Natalya in a “World Record” tie of 3.17 seconds. Cole claimed, “the world was talking about this.” Sure they were.
The WWE Officials Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville were in their office noting that it was really hot in there now. Pearce left, Deville took off her jacket and Naomi showed up noting that Deville didn’t have her jacket on now. Naomi said no jacket, no boss. Pearce was there to split them up. Naomi said that Sonya abuses her power and nobody does anything about it especially when it comes to Naomi. Pearce said that Naomi deserves another opportunity and said that next week, Naomi will face Charlotte Flair. Naomi was happy about that and left.
Analysis: That’s cool as a match for next week. I guess Naomi somehow controlled the temperature in the room by making it hot so that Sonya could take her jacket off. For all of these months of this Sonya/Naomi feud, Pearce never seems to be around, but he was this time.
Kofi Kingston entered for singles action without Xavier Woods, who is out with a leg injury. Kofi in action after a break.
The next Reigns/Rollins moment was shown from WrestleMania 31 seven years ago. Rollins cashed in Money in the Bank during the Brock Lesnar/Reigns main event match and hit The Stomp on Reigns to pin him to become WWE Champion. Great moment.
Kofi Kingston was in the ring to read a proclamation from King Xavier Woods. Kofi said that Woods suffered a calf injury while carrying the tag team division on his back. Kofi noted that Woods will miss the Royal Rumble, but on a positive note he has decreed that Kofi Kingston shall enter the Royal Rumble match. The fans cheered.
Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss made their entrance with Corbin saying he was happy while adding he bought himself a $50,000 watch. Corbin said he’s going to toss Kofi out of the Royal Rumble. Corbin said that they haven’t been this happy since they destroyed Drew McIntyre’s neck. They showed a clip from Day 1 on January 1 when Drew was beaten up by Corbin/Moss. Drew is out with a neck injury.
Madcap Moss did one of his jokes about Kofi Kingston being scared to face him and said it was “The Poo Day” because Kofi was scared. Kofi did a fake laugh response to them. Kofi fired back saying he’s going to drop a royal deuce on his forehead.
Kofi Kingston vs. Madcap Moss (w/Happy Corbin)
Moss went for power move, but Kofi used his legs to send him over the top to the floor. Kofi hit a running dive over the top and landed back first onto Moss and Corbin on the floor. They went to break less than one minute into the match.
Moss was in control with a chinlock, Kofi ran the ropes and Moss caught him with a fallaway slam. Moss worked over Kofi with punches while Cole said that Kofi will be in his 14th Royal Rumble, which is second to Kane with 17 Rumble matches. Kofi made the comeback with clothesline, a dropkick and a jumping clothesline. Kofi with a kick to the chest and a Boom Drop leg drop. Corbin on the apron to distract, Moss avoided a Trouble in Paradise kick and Moss with a punch. Kofi with a jumping kick to the head. Kofi went up top, he went for a cross body block, Moss caught him, Kofi got out of that, Kofi went for the SOS, but Moss grabbed the hair and hit a Punchline neckbreaker for the pinfall win after six minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Madcap Moss
Analysis: *3/4 A six-minute match where we only got to see three minutes due to the pre-match promos that killed some time. It’s a big win for Moss over a former WWE Champion like Kofi, but it’s not like Kofi is being pushed that much these days. Kofi had the match won most likely until Corbin provided a distraction, so that means it was a bit of a tainted win for Moss. It’s still a win.
A clip aired letting us know what’s happening on Raw on Monday as I noted earlier in the review. It was a way for the wrestlers to get to the back so that the main event entrance could take place.
Seth Freakin’ Rollins made his entrance wearing one of his ridiculous suit jackets that was sparkly. The fans booed. The official name is Seth “Freakin’” Rollins in case you don’t know. Rollins entered the ring for the main event segment.
Next week on Smackdown: Charlotte Flair vs. Naomi in a non-title match. That’s all they have announced so far.
Face to Face: Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins
Roman Reigns made his entrance as the Universal Champion. Big reaction for Reigns in the “Needle Mover” shirt with Cole noting he was a few days away from breaking Brock Lesnar’s record for days as the Universal Champion. It’s Reigns vs. Rollins for the WWE Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble. Reigns got in the ring with Rollins. I guess they didn’t want to book a contract signing segment, so it’s just a “face to face” segment.
Reigns told Omaha to acknowledge him. The fans booed and even had some cheers. Rollins extended his fist for a Shield salute for old times sake. Reigns: “That’s beneath me now.” Rollins wanted to acknowledge the look on Roman’s face when Seth showed up in his office last week. Rollins noted that their record in singles matches is one-sided because Seth has won them all and he understands why Rollins doesn’t want to see him.
Reigns told Rollins that he’s talking about the past, but he must be sleeping under the rock and Roman said he’s in God-mode now. Reigns said that he’s the provider. Reigns said that he’s the greatest of this generation, no questions asked, he’s the Universal Champion and he’s the greatest to do this. Rollins said that he was there to acknowledge Reigns for all of his success, championships and main events. Rollins wondered if Reigns can look at the mirror and say he did it all by himself. Rollins noted that he was climbing the ladder while Reigns was riding the pine in the CFL. Rollins said that he was holding Roman’s hand in The Shield. Rollins said when he let him go, Roman needed The Bloodline to help him stand. Rollins said that he created Reigns and he can destroy him.
Reigns said that this is a waste of his time. Reigns told Rollins he looked like a clown and he sounds like a clown. Reigns said that Rollins doesn’t have the star power that Rollins has and he said if he was looking for a megastar, he wouldn’t have chose him from Raw. Reigns said if he wanted to main event the Royal Rumble with a megastar, he would have chose Seth’s wife (Becky Lynch). That drew a big “ohhh” reaction from the crowd. The Usos showed up to try to attack Rollins, but Seth avoided them and sent Jimmy into the steel steps. The Usos tried to attack again, then Seth got out the other side of the ring and left happily. Reigns had an angry look on his face while Rollins was laughing. That was it.
Analysis: They both made some good points in that segment. Rollins bragged about beating Reigns every time they wrestled, how Seth helped Reigns in the Shield days and how Reigns needs help from The Usos now. Reigns fired back with some great lines of his own saying he’s in God-mode now and if he wanted to face a megastar then Becky Lynch would be a better choice than Rollins. Good lines from both guys throughout the segment. I’m sure they spent some time coming up with that trash talk. Anyway, Rollins avoided The Usos cheap attack and stood tall. I think their match at the Royal Rumble should be great. Maybe there will be a title change too. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was.
Three Stars of the Show
- Roman Reigns/Seth Rollins
- Viking Raiders
6.5 out of 10
Last week: 7
It felt like a slightly above-average show this week. The first hour only had about ten minutes of in-ring action since there was the Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Match, then the women’s match was done in three seconds and the rest of hour one was talking. More action would be nice. They have a talented roster. I thought Sheamus/Ricochet had the best match of the show. Cool finish there.
The two main promo segments between Reigns/Rollins and Charlotte/Lita were both effective in getting the stories across. The fans reacted well to the trash talking from Rollins bragging about how he’s beat Reigns every time in the past while Reigns just blew him off saying he’s a much bigger star and saying Seth’s wife Becky Lynch is a bigger star than Seth too. Reigns couldn’t get the upper hand on Rollins while Lita dropped Charlotte with a Twist of Fate to end their interaction.
As of right now, Raw has three non-Rumble matches at the Royal Rumble while Smackdown only has one. I assume we’ll get more from Smackdown before we get to the Rumble event.
The next WWE pay-per-view (or Premium Live Event) is the Royal Rumble on Saturday, January 29 from St. Louis. Here’s what we know so far:
WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Bobby Lashley
WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Seth Freakin’ Rollins
30-Man Royal Rumble Match – Big E, AJ Styles, Damian Priest, Johnny Knoxville, Sheamus, Angelo Dawkins, Montez Ford, Kofi Kingston, Rey Mysterio, Dominik Mysterio, Sami Zayn, Austin Theory, Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss.
Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Doudrop
30-Woman Royal Rumble Match – Charlotte Flair, Naomi, Rhea Ripley, Nikki A.S.H., Brie Bella, Nikki Bella, Carmella, Queen Zelina, Lita, Michelle McCool, Kelly Kelly, Dana Brooke, Natalya, Mickie James, Tamina, Shayna Baszler, Summer Rae, Aliyah and Shotzi.
Edge & Beth Phoenix vs. The Miz & Maryse
You can watch WWE Royal Rumble streaming LIVE on Saturday, January 29 at 8pm ET / 5pm PT on WWE Peacock in the United States and WWE Network everywhere else.
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