The John Report: WWE SmackDown 01/26/24 Review

wwe smackdown january 26 review

This week’s WWE Smackdown saw LA Knight in action against Solo Sikoa on the final show before the Royal Rumble.

It’s WWE Royal Rumble time tomorrow (Saturday) in Tampa. I’m looking forward to it. My preview is going up after Smackdown airs and I’ll have a live review of the Royal Rumble on Saturday night. It’s been a very newsworthy week in WWE land as the TJRWrestling writing team and I continue to update the News section regularly. Thanks for supporting us.

While this show was going on, Vince McMahon resigned from TKO Group and WWE. That’s a huge story that we’ll cover in more detail in the days ahead.

From the Kaseya Center in Miami, Florida, this is Smackdown for episode #1275. Follow me on Twitter/X @johnreport. Let’s get to it.

The commentary team of Michael Cole and Corey Graves welcomed us to the show. No more Kevin Patrick in WWE. They replayed some highlights from last week’s show that ended with Randy Orton hitting RKO’s on everybody including Roman Reigns.

Let’s Hear from Randy Orton

They introduced Latin Grammy-winning artist Eladio Carrion, who sings a song called RKO with Orton in the video. Cole said that it was one night only for him on Smackdown. Carrion welcomed the fans to the show and Carrion introduced his friend, Mr. RKO himself, Randy Orton.

Randy Orton did his pose on the turnbuckle and Carrion posed with him. Orton said that he bet most of you guys didn’t think he was friends with Eladio. Orton thanked Eladio for putting him in his music video.

Orton said he was here to talk about business and The Bloodline. Orton admitted that The Bloodline has had one hell of a run in the last few years. Orton mentioned Reigns holding the World Title for nearly 1300 days. Orton spoke about how the only number that will matter to anybody is 15 because after he beats Reigns at the Royal Rumble, he’s going to be a 15-time WWE World Champion. Orton asked how do you think he’ll accomplish that? Orton said he’ll do it courtesy of the three most destructive letters in sports entertainment: RKO.

Analysis: The promo was okay. Nothing special. The usual stuff.

AJ Styles walked out saying there were other people in this match too. Styles said he asked Nick Aldis to have a match against Solo Sikoa, but instead, he gave that match to LA Knight.

Styles got into the ring and told Orton he should know better than to forget about Styles because they have history. Styles told Orton that he had a receipt coming for the RKO that Orton hit Styles with last week. Styles said he’ll step over Orton, Reigns and L…here comes LA Knight. Yeah.

LA Knight got a big ovation from the crowd. Knight got the crowd to chant his name and say “YEAH” as soon as the promo started. Knight told Styles to quit crying. Knight spoke about how there were four men in the championship match tomorrow night and only Knight was in a match on Smackdown. Knight thinks Paul Heyman set that up. Knight claimed it was because he was the biggest threat. Knight said he’s not going to complain about his match tonight. Knight said he’ll walk over Styles, Orton and Reigns to become the WWE Champion while adding that’s not an insult, that’s a fact of life.

After Knight left the ring, Styles kicked Orton in the ribs and Styles hit a Pele Kick on Orton. The fans booed that.

Analysis: I don’t know if it’s fair to say that AJ Styles is a heel at this point, but he’s certainly more of a tweener. Styles has been whining a lot and complaining about things, so maybe it will lead to a full heel turn soon. The fans absolutely love Knight right now, just as much as they love Orton. The company is loaded with a lot of popular faces on Raw and Smackdown right now. It’s cool to see.

Carlito made his entrance with fellow LWO members Cruz Del Toro, Joaquin Wilde & Zelina Vega for Carlito’s match up next.

A commercial aired for the Royal Rumble promoting the Logan Paul-Kevin Owens match.


Santos Escobar (w/Angel & Humberto) vs. Carlito (w/Cruz Del Toro, Joaquin Wilde & Zelina Vega)

Carlito worked over Escobar with punches and sent Escobar into the turnbuckles. Carlito knocked Escobar down with a chop. Escobar with a kick, but Carlito did a body attack to knock him down followed by punches. Escobar pulled Carlito into the middle turnbuckle. They left the ring where Carlito caught a leaping Escobar. Carlito was distracted by Angel & Humberto, so Escobar hit a suicide dive onto Carlito on the floor.


Escobar was in control with a clothesline for two. Escobar applied an armbar on the right arm of Carlito against the ropes. Escobar hit a double knee attack against the turnbuckle along with a top rope hurricanrana for two. Escobar grounded Carlito for a few moments, Carlito got back up and Escobar did a hair pull. Carlito came back with a punch, two clotheslines and a dropkick. Carlito teased a suplex, but instead hit a twisting neckbreaker for two. Carlito hit a spinebuster. Escobar hit a back elbow, Carlito avoided a charging attack, Carlito with a knee lift and an elbow. Humberto distracted the referee, so Angel pulled the ropes and Carlito went crashing to the floor. The four guys on the floor got into a brawl. Cruz jumped off the top with a senton onto Angel & Humberto. Elektra Lopez arrived at ringside and pulled Zelina Vega down and Lopez slammed Vega on the floor. Carlito was distracted by that, so Escobar did a sunset flip pin on Carlito for the pinfall win after 10 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Santos Escobar

After the match, Santos Escobar and his Legado Del Fantasma guys celebrated with Elektra Lopez while the announcers pointed out that Lopez was in Escobar’s Legado Del Fantasma group in NXT, so it looks like she is with them again.

Analysis: *** It was a pretty good match with a chaotic finish due to everything that was going on outside the ring. Carlito isn’t here to get wins, so it’s all about Escobar picking up a win and gaining some momentum. I assume Rey Mysterio is back in the Royal Rumble to go after Escobar. If not then Rey should be back very soon. That looks like it is the main roster call up of Lopez. She’s not great in the ring, but she is a beautiful woman who looks tough, so she should play a valuable role in the group.

There was media coverage of WWE Monday Night Raw going to Netflix starting in January 2025 along with the television shows of WWE outside of the United States.

They also covered the big story of The Rock joining on the Board of Directors for the TKO Group, which is WWE’s parent company that also runs UFC.

Analysis: It’s not a shock that they would mention those news stories. They were big stories earlier in the week for sure. They were obviously not going to mention the Vince McMahon story.

AJ Styles was shown walking backstage. Jimmy Uso walked up to Styles suggesting they take out LA Knight tonight so they don’t have to worry about Knight at the Royal Rumble. Jimmy left. The OC’s Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows and Michin walked up to Styles. Karl asked AJ what was that about? Styles said don’t worry about it.

The announcers also talked about the WWE 2K24 video game cover athletes. That led to a trailer video about the game.


Nick Aldis, the Smackdown General Manager, was in his office when NXT GM Ava walked in to shake his hand. Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits walked in with Lashley opening up a ball to pick his number in the Royal Rumble. Santos Escobar and the Legado del Fantasma group walked in. Lashley told Santos he hasn’t forgotten about him. Santos picked his ball for a spot in the Rumble match.

A Progressive Match Flo video aired about Bayley talking about what the WWE Performance Center meant to her in her career. Bayley said that inside these walls, she had it all until she didn’t. Bayley talked about rehabbing an injury in the WWE PC. Bayley wanted to create something else and that led her to talk about the vision of Damage CTRL taking over WWE starting in the summer of 2022. Bayley said they became so good that Kairi Sane & Asuka decided to join them. Bayley said she’s going to win the Royal Rumble and challenge Rhea Ripley at WrestleMania and then win the gold. Bayley said that Damage CTRL will hold all the gold. Bayley said her visions are always true and it’s not a story, it’s destiny.

Analysis: That was a good video about Bayley. Damage CTRL has been a success, but I feel like they are going to kick her out of the group soon. I think some people might be picking Bayley to win Women’s Royal Rumble. I don’t think she will be my official pick. However, I think she will do well in the match.

The Kabuki Warriors team of Asuka & Kairi Sane of Damage CTRL entered for tag team action. Damage CTRL’s WWE Women’s Champion IYO SKY, Bayley & Dakota Kai walked out with them, but they appeared to go backstage. That match was next.


R-Truth was backstage in the Nick Aldis GM office with Ava there along with him. They had an iPad. R-Truth picked a number and showed the GM’s. Truth wondered if his number meant he had to quarantine. They said no. Truth confused Aldis with Adam Pearce and complimented his hair, which is funny since Pearce is bald. Truth left.

Women’s Tag Team Championships: Katana Chance & Kayden Carter vs. Kabuki Warriors – Asuka & Kairi Sane

Chance & Carter got some double team offense as soon as the bell rang. They cleared the ring of the challengers. Chance hit a twisting attack onto both opponents on the floor. They went to break one minute into this match.


The challengers got some offense going with a double team dropkick attack on Chance, who was the peril. Chance tried to fight back with strikes, Asuka charged and Chance avoided that charge so Asuka bumped out of the ring to the floor. Sane went into the ring leading to Chance sending Sane out of the ring. Asuka applied an Ankle Lock, Chance got out of it and Carter tagged in. Carter hit a cross body block off the top onto Asuka and Sane on the floor. Carter hit a running dropkick/splash onto the challengers on the floor. Carter hit a running boot to the face of Asuka. Carter hit a springboard leg drop for a two count. Sane managed to stop Carter’s offense leading to a double knee attack and a striking attack from Sane, who was legal. Chance broke up a pin attempt. Sane hit a spinning back fist on both opponents. Sane went up top and jumped off with the Insane Elbow, but Carter got both knees up. Sane was doing a good job of selling a right arm injury. Asuka was back in, Carter avoided a kick and Carter hit a facebuster into the mat. Chance got the tag and did the Keg Stand double team splash for one…two…but Sane made the save. Chance jumped off the top with a cross body block on Sane because Asuka avoided it. Asuka sent Carter into the turnbuckle and a sliding kick on Chance to knock her out of the ring. Sane slammed Chance hard onto the commentary table. Asuka kicked Carter in the gut and a kick to the head. Sane got the tag and for the Insane Elbow/neckbreaker combo for the pinfall win. It went 10 minutes.

Winners by pinfall AND NEW Women’s Tag Team Champions: Asuka & Kairi Sane

Analysis: ***1/4 That turned into a pretty good match. It wasn’t pretty early on before the break, but then they picked up the pace with some fast paced offense from both sides. I’m not surprised by the title change because Damage CTRL is pushed a lot. Carter & Chance are a fun team for sure. I just think Asuka & Sane are going to get more consistent screen time, so the title change was fine with me.

After the match, Asuka & Sane celebrated as the Women’s Tag Team Champions. They hugged Kai & Sky, but not Bayley, which is very telling. They held up their titles with WWE Women’s Champion IYO SKY. Damage CTRL celebrated together.

Solo Sikoa was in The Bloodline locker room with Paul Heyman and Jimmy Uso. Heyman told Solo to fix the problem and don’t be merciful. Solo said “Okay.” Jimmy said that was scary. Heyman said that Roman Reigns went from Big Dog to Tribal Chief because he saw the moment and he seized it. Heyman said that this weekend there’s a moment for Jimmy to seize. Heyman talked about the World Heavyweight Champion on Raw having one leg and Jimmy needs to seize this moment. Heyman told Jimmy to enter the Royal Rumble, win the Royal Rumble, challenge Seth Rollins and beat Seth Rollins for the World Heavyweight Championship. Heyman said if Jimmy brings the World Championship to The Bloodline, then you’ll understand that the line of succession with the Tribal Heir all starts at the Royal Rumble. Heyman left.

Analysis: I certainly don’t think that Jimmy Uso is going to win the Royal Rumble, but I can see him doing something with his brother Jey Uso to set up their WrestleMania match. I think Jimmy will cost Jey with a cheap attack. Something like that.

Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits entered for a segment with The Final Testament group.

A video aired featuring Hulk Hogan talking about how he’s from the area and you need to be ready for the Royal Rumble. The video said to be continued at Royal Rumble, so it’s likely Hogan narrating an opening video.


Bianca Belair was shown picking her number for the Women’s Royal Rumble match. Belair said she would be a two-time Royal Rumble winner. Bayley went into the room and picked her number as well. Bayley made a face showing she wasn’t too pleased about what she picked.

Face to Face: Bobby Lashley & The Street Profits and The Final Testament

Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits were in their wrestling gear. Lashley reminded us about their group while calling out The Final Testament for this segment.

The Final Testament’s Karrion Kross, AOP (Akam & Rezar), Paul Ellering and Scarlett walked out together. Scarlett walked into the ring while the four men were on the floor. Lashley, Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford all trashed Final Testament for being scared. Ellering said there was no fear in Karrion Kross.

Kross said when he looks at those three, all he sees is frustration and desperation. The fans were chanting “WHAT” so Kross told them to shut up and they yelled it again. The fans booed loudly as Kross spoke again. Kross said they are standing face to face with the prettiest face in the world. Kross said you are not getting the fight you wanted tonight. Lashley said that they were fighting. The Street Profits left the ring while Scarlett jumped on Lashley’s back and raked his eyes. Kross sent Lashley into the ring post.

AOP’s Akam & Rezar beat up Dawkins and Ford, who was drilled with a Powerbomb. Lashley tried to fight back, but AOP beat him up with forearms leading to Kross hitting the Kross Hammer elbow on Lashley’s back to end it. The Final Testament left to end it.

Analysis: It was a good way of booking the segment to get the heat on the heels to make them look like threats. This should lead to a match at some point in the coming weeks. Lashley hasn’t wrestled that much on Smackdown, but at least he has a rivalry now.

Jimmy Uso was in the GM office to pick his number for the Men’s Royal Rumble match. Jimmy looked at his number, said “no yeet” and showed it to the GM’s Aldis and Ava. Jimmy looked frustrated about it.

Austin Theory entered for his singles match.


A video aired recapping the Logan Paul-Kevin Owens story from last week that saw Paul ram KO’s right hand into the ring post.

Austin Theory (w/Grayson Waller) vs. Carmelo Hayes

Their match two weeks ago ended early when Theory suffered a concussion in their match. They each went for moves but there were counters and Melo hit a springboard clothesline. Theory regrouped on the floor, then he went back in and hit a forearm to the head. Theory distracted the referee while Waller punched Melo on the floor. They went to break.


The match continued with Melo spinning around Theory’s body and slammed Theory into the mat. Waller with a distraction and Theory pulled Melo off the middle turnbuckle. Theory hit a spinning slam on Melo for a two count. Waller was on the apron again, so Melo punched him off the apron. Melo countered a Theory pin attempt, but then Theory countered that and sat on top while holding onto the tights for the three count. It went about seven minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Austin Theory

Analysis: **3/4 It was okay. I don’t think it ever got going to the point where I would call it that interesting, but they did have good chemistry together. Cheap win for Theory due to the distraction of Waller. Not surprised by that ending.

After the match, Theory & Waller attacked Melo a bit until Trick Williams arrived for the save. Trick cleared the ring. The fans were all about Trick Williams with the “WHOOP THAT TRICK” chant. Melo wanted to touch fists, but Trick didn’t do it and Trick said he was saving him since they had a big tag team match this Tuesday on NXT. Trick left while Melo was alone.

Analysis: That crowd reaction for Trick Williams was great. The catchy theme songs helps.

There was a Royal Rumble card rundown for Saturday, January 27th.

* 30-Man Royal Rumble Match with Cody Rhodes, CM Punk, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Lashley, Drew McIntyre, Gunther, Damian Priest, Kofi Kingston and others.

* 30-Woman Royal Rumble Match with Becky Lynch, Nia Jax, Bayley, Bianca Belair and others.

* United States Championship: Logan Paul (c) vs. Kevin Owens

* Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles vs. LA Knight

Kayla Braxton was backstage with Eladio Carrion, who said it was exciting to be in a WWE ring. Eladio picked Randy Orton to become the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion. Solo Sikoa, Jimmy Uso & Paul Heyman interrupted the interview. Heyman told Solo to leave because Carrion was respectful. The Bloodline left.

LA Knight made his entrance for the main event. A big pop for him again.


Solo Sikoa (w/Jimmy Uso & Paul Heyman) vs. LA Knight

Solo attacked with strikes, but Knight came back with punches. Knight hit a shoulder tackle to the ribs and a running dropkick to the legs. Knight hit a running kick to knock Solo out of the ring. Knight slammed Solo’s right hand into the ring apron and into the barricade. Knight slammed Solo’s right hand into the commentary table along with the steel steps. Knight went back into the ring, so Solo recovered with a punch. Knight sent Solo into the ring post and Knight rammed Solo’s right hand into the ring post. Knight was on the apron, Jimmy with a distraction and Solo hit an uppercut punch on Knight to take control.


Solo remained in control as he caught a running Knight and gave him a Samoan Drop. Knight kicked Solo in the chest, but Solo came back with a clothesline. Knight delivered a kick to stun Solo a bit followed by Knight hitting a bulldog off the middle ropes. Knight worked over Solo with a punch combo while the fans chanted “YEAH” for all of it. Knight hit a jumping clothesline followed by a side Russian legsweep. Knight delivered the “YEAH” stomps along with a running knee. Knight punched Jimmy off the apron. Knight avoided a Samoan Spike and hit a DDT. Knight clotheslined Solo over the top to the floor followed by a running kick that knocked Solo into the commentary table. Knight rammed Solo’s head (more like hands) into the commentary table repeatedly while the fans chanted “YEAH” for all of it. Knight hit a running knee to the head. AJ Styles appeared at ringside and jumped off the barricade with a Phenomenal Forearm on Knight on the floor. The referee Charles Robinson called for the DQ. It went nine minutes.

Winner by disqualification: LA Knight

Analysis: **3/4 I figured there would be no winner here since WWE isn’t going to have Solo lose for the second week in a row and the way Styles spoke about Knight earlier in the night. A DQ was the obvious result here.

After the match, Styles sent Knight into the steel steps. Styles cleared off the commentary table. Jimmy and Solo had a steel chair. They told Styles to take care of Knight, but Styles hit both Jimmy & Solo with chair jabs. Randy Orton went out to the ring, he knocked Styles out of the ring and hit a powerslam on Jimmy. Solo tried to put Orton through the commentary table, but Orton picked up Solo and Orton slammed Solo onto the table. It wasn’t enough to break the table. Orton went back into the ring and gave Jimmy a draping DDT off the ropes. Styles tried to hit Orton with a Phenomenal Forearm, but Orton avoided that and Orton hit a draping DDT on Styles. Orton hit Styles with an RKO to a huge pop from the crowd. Orton held up one finger in the air as the fans chanted “RANDY” for him. Orton’s music played to end it…but wait there was more. Orton was celebrating on the ropes, the SD logo was on the bottom of the screen and LA Knight hit Blount Force Trauma on Orton. Knight ended the show looking at Orton on the mat. That was the end show.

Analysis: It was the second straight week where Randy Orton stood tall to end Smackdown…until LA Knight arrived to drop him at the end of the show. It would have been nice if Roman Reigns was there to try to build the match more, but I thought that Orton, Styles & Knight all did a fine job in the last month of building this story where there is animosity between them. Reigns will win at the Rumble. However, I think as a story they all did a tremendous job of making the 4-Way match a big deal.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. Kabuki Warriors – Asuka & Kairi Sane
  2. LA Knight
  3. AJ Styles/Randy Orton


The Scoreboard

7 out of 10

Last week: 7.25

2024 Average: 7.25


Final Thoughts on WWE Smackdown

I’ll be honest with you, dear reader, when I say it was tough to concentrate on the show because Vince McMahon resigned from TKO/WWE while this episode was going on. I got so many messages on my phone and social media. I also wrote a news story about it on TJRWrestling during the commercials of this show. I apologize if the review isn’t as detailed in some spots, but when the guy who created the company as we know it has to resign due to his awful behavior, it’s tough to focus on anything else. I’m glad he did it. Stay away, you creepy old man.

Anyway, I thought Smackdown was solid most of the way. I’m happy for the Kabuki Warriors as Women’s Tag Team Champions again. They’re awesome and it turned into a fun match. The main event with Knight/Solo ending in a DQ was an obvious result. As I wrote in the review, I think that Knight, Styles & Orton have done a fine job of building up the 4-way match at the Royal Rumble even without Roman Reigns around.

Bring on the Royal Rumble. I’m ready for it.

The next WWE Premium Live Event is the Royal Rumble on January 27th in Tampa. Here’s the lineup:

wwe royal rumble 2024 reigns orton knight styles

* 30-Man Royal Rumble Match with Cody Rhodes, CM Punk, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Lashley, Drew McIntyre, Gunther, Damian Priest, Kofi Kingston and others.

* Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles vs. LA Knight

* 30-Woman Royal Rumble Match with Becky Lynch, Nia Jax, Bayley, Bianca Belair and others.

* 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.


Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. You can contact me using any of the methods below.

John Canton


Twitter/X: @johnreport