This week’s WWE Smackdown featured Kevin Owens facing Solo Sikoa, Rey Mysterio taking on Karrion Kross and more Tag Team Tournament matches.
It’s the Friday night before Saturday’s Royal Rumble Premium Live Event taking place at that Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. I’m fired up about it. Our TJRWrestling Royal Rumble PLE Preview is posted, so check that out in case you haven’t done so already.
A video package aired recapping the Trial of Sami Zayn segment from Raw this past Monday. It was such a great segment. During the segment, Reigns said he didn’t want to see Zayn again until the Royal Rumble on Saturday, which means he didn’t want to see him at Smackdown.
They showed a Cadillac driving up to the building with The Usos (Jimmy was driving) along with their brother Solo Sikoa. Jimmy and Solo walked into the building. Sami Zayn was there wearing a hoodie talking to Jey Uso with Jey telling him that Roman Reigns didn’t want to see Sami tonight. Sami told Jey that what he did for him, it meant so much to him and Sami told Jey if he ever needs anything then Sami’s got him. Jey shook his hand, told Sami to go and Jey walked into the building.
Analysis: That is an interesting tease about something that might happen later in the show.
The Smackdown intro video aired after that.
The commentary team of Michael Cole and Wade Barrett welcomed us to the show hyping up the Kevin Owens-Solo Sikoa match as the main event.
It was singles action to start the show with Rey Mysterio up first in a match that has been built up for several weeks. Karrion Kross was next making his “fall and pray” entrance along with his lovely wife Scarlett. They recapped two weeks ago when Kross choked out Rey in the ring.
Karrion Kross (w/Scarlett) vs. Rey Mysterio
Kross and Rey are both in the Men’s Royal Rumble match. Rey wit ha dropkick to the leg, then a headscissors and Kross was back up with a clothesline. Kross tossed Rey over the top to the floor as a bit of a Rumble preview. Kross followed Rey to the floor, but Rey sent Kross into the ring post. Rey hit a sunset flip that sent Kross into the barricade.
Kross was in control with a powerslam into a backbreaker for two. Kross set up Rey on the top rope, Rey tried to fight back and Kross tripped him up to crotch Rey on the top. Kross charged, Rey moved and Kross hit the ring post. Rey hit an enziguri kick to the head, Scarlett went for a trip, Rey set up Kross against the ropes again and Rey hit a 619 kick. Rey jumped off the top with a splash for a two count. Kross hit a suplex, Rey countered a move and got a crucifix pin for the pinfall win after eight minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Rey Mysterio
Analysis: **1/2 A solid match with Rey finding a way to win after Kross was on offense for most of the second half of the match. Kross isn’t really known for having great matches, but as a character he’s an effective heel. Rey loses plenty, so having him win once in a while is certainly fine with me.
Rey celebrated the win while Kross and Scarlett were furious about it.
A Progressive Match Flo replay aired showing highlights of Austin Theory beating Bobby Lashley to keep the US Title thanks to Brock Lesnar hitting an F5 on both guys. Lesnar gave Theory an F5 onto Lashley to cost Lashley the match.
Austin Theory made his entrance as the United States Champion even though he’s a Raw guy. It’s not like the roster split is that strict as we see people all the time from different shows.
There was a “Digital Exclusive” promo from Damage CTRL’s Bayley, Dakota Kai & IYO SKY about how they are going to dominate the Women’s Royal Rumble match while Bayley laughed about beating up Becky Lynch on Raw.
Let’s Hear From Austin Theory…And Others
Austin Theory started his promo saying “The Champ Is Here” again. There’s the tease for his WrestleMania match with John Cena. Theory bragged about retaining his US Title and said that he’s going to win the Royal Rumble.
Analysis: Theory vs. Cena is pretty much confirmed for WrestleMania at this point with Theory continuing to say stuff like “The Champ is Here” to start promos. The plan is to do that match, so it’s not like Theory is doing it for nothing.
The New Day’s Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods entered as the NXT Tag Team Champions. Kofi trashed Theory while listing other Austin’s he likes like Stone Cold Steve and Austin, Texas where Kofi lives. Woods said that on Smackdown they have to speed things up unlike on Raw. Kofi and Woods got into the ring laughing at Theory for thinking he would win the Royal Rumble. Kofi and Woods both said that one of them was going to win the Royal Rumble. Theory yelled at them while saying that he is the biggest star in WWE.
The Miz made his entrance in a suit taking exception to Theory saying he was the biggest star in WWE. Miz said he’s been competing in Royal Rumble matches before Theory hit puberty. Theory said that just means that Miz is old. It led to Miz doing a promo about how experienced he is and how great he is. Miz and Theory attacked New Day.
Bobby Lashley ran out to the ring for a save. Lashley took care of business against Theory and Miz easily. Woods was happy to see Lashley, but Lashley hit a spinning elbow on Woods and a spinebuster on Kofi. Lashley hit a Spear as well to clear the ring.
Lashley did a promo saying that since Brock Lesnar attacked him during his US Title, Lashley is going to terrorize everybody around here until he gets Lesnar. Brock Lesnar ran into the ring from the crowd and Lesnar told Lashley he’ll see him in the Royal Rumble.
Analysis: There was a lot going on there with the typical “I’m going to win the Royal Rumble” style promos we always get this time of year. I liked the Xavier Woods line about how on Raw you have more time to talk, but on Smackdown you have to get to the point quicker. Anyway, Lashley cleared the ring easily and then Lesnar showed up with another cheap attack on Bobby. Lesnar was always expected to be in the Royal Rumble match since he was advertised for it for a long time, so now Lesnar’s inclusion in the Rumble match is confirmed.
They showed Kevin Owens and Solo Sikoa getting ready in separate parts of the arena.
A promo aired from Rhea Ripley about how she’s going to win the Royal Rumble and this is her year. Ripley is my pick to win.
Lacey Evans vs. Jazmin Allure
Lacey is in heel mode still since she refused a high five with a kid and told some other fan to shut up on her way to the ring. Evans tossed Jazmin across the ring and sent Jazmin into the mat. Evans did an armbar followed by a jumping knee and the fans booed her. Evans block a kick and punched Jazmin in the gut. Evans hit the Woman’s Right punch followed by the Cobra Clutch submission and Allure tapped out to give Evans the win.
Winner by submission: Lacey Evans
Analysis: * A squash match to put over Evans after she was featured in videos showing she was back in training for several weeks. I think my favorite thing about that match was Lacey’s outfit. Just saying it was a good choice.
Lacey Evans did a promo about how her deadly Cobra Clutch submission and how she’s going to win the Royal Rumble match. Evans picked up Jazmin and dumped her over the top to the floor.
Drew McIntyre and Sheamus were interviewed by Kayla Braxton. Drew and Sheamus picked eachother to win the Royal Rumble. They kept on slapping eachother in the chest during the promo. Braxton asked them about facing Hit Row. Sheamus said they’ll send them to skid row and they walked off saying “banger after banger” referring to their matches.
A Cody Rhodes video return aired. It’s the same one that aired on Monday’s Raw as well. Cody is my pick to win the Royal Rumble, but I would certainly be happy with Sami Zayn winning too.
Sheamus and Drew McIntyre made their entrance. The Viking Raiders showed up with Valhalla for a cheap attack from behind. Erik and Ivar sent Drew into the barricade at ringside. Erik sent Sheamus into the barricade. Erik hit his knee strikes (with hard slapping) on both guys. Ivar hit running cross body blocks against Sheamus & Drew back to back as well. Some WWE Officials showed up to check on Sheamus & Drew as the show went to break.
Analysis: It was supposed to be Sheamus & Drew vs. Hit Row in tag team action, but that’s off now thanks to the Viking Raiders. Sheamus & Drew beat VR last week on Smackdown, so VR did the heel thing by doing a cheap attack.
Hit Row made their entrance. Sheamus and Drew McIntyre were shown walking to the back to go after the Viking Raiders.
Adam Pearce did a promo saying that Sheamus and Drew have willingly left the tournament after what Viking Raiders did to them, so they have been replaced by another team.
It’s Braun Strowman and Ricochet taking the place of Sheamus and Drew McIntyre in the tournament. The fans popped for the replacements. Barrett complained about it.
Smackdown Tag Team Title Contender’s Tournament Semifinals: Braun Strowman & Ricochet vs. Hit Row – Top Dolla & Ashante “Thee” Adonis (w/B-Fab)
Ricochet bounced off the ropes with a cross body block on Adonis. Ricochet with a body slam followed by an elbow drop. Ricochet with a headscissors, then a dropkick to send Adonis out of the ring and Dolla blocked a dive. Ricochet kicked Dolla off the apron. B-Fab held Ricochet’s foot while Dolla distracted the referee and Adonis hit Ricochet wit ha dropkick. Dolla tagged in with a boot to the face for two. Adonis tagged in with some choking against the middle rope and B-Fab did a cheap shot punch on Ricochet. Dolla and Adonis made some quick tags working over Ricochet, who got a rollup on Adonis for two. Strowman finally got the tag with Strowman punching Dolla, splashing Adonis in the corner and clotheslining Dolla over the top to the floor. Strowman with a back body drop on Adonis. Ricochet hit a somersault dive over the top onto Dolla and Strowman hit a Monster Bomb (almost like a Last Ride Powerbomb) for the pinfall win after five minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Braun Strowman & Ricochet
Analysis: **1/2 It was good for a shorter match with Ricochet selling for most of it until Strowman got the hot tag and that was it. The Ricochet-Strowman team is a good idea since the crowd is going to pop huge every time Strowman gets the hot tag and they did that here too. Hit Row is decent as a team, but it’s not like they are going to get a big push any time soon. I like them better as heels at least with B-Fab interfering a lot. That’s good to see. Braun and Ricochet definitely could get the title shot in this tournament now since they just need to win one more match and make sense as babyface opponents against The Usos.
Braun Strowman & Ricochet are in the tournament finals even though they were just added to the tournament.
Kevin Owens was interviewed by Kayla Braxton, who asked Owens about facing Solo Sikoa just one night before his Royal Rumble match against Roman Reigns. Owens said he wanted to right a wrong that happened two years ago at the Royal Rumble, but Roman Reigns, Paul Heyman and The Bloodline made sure that wasn’t he case. Owens said tonight he needs to take out The Bloodline. The Usos showed up to interrupt the interview, which led to Adam Pearce and other WWE Officials arriving to prevent a fight. Pearce told The Usos to leave the building and Owens to prepare for his match.
Analysis: It was more storyline progression to build up to the main event of the show.
A commercial aired for the Royal Rumble on Saturday night.
The Usos were shown leaving the building and they were in their Cadillac. Jimmy got into the driver’s seat. Jey called somebody on the phone saying “my dawg” and told him he needs a favor. The Usos went into their car with the belief that they were leaving. The announcers figured that Jey was talking to Sami Zayn.
Analysis: It was earlier in the show when Sami told Jey if he ever needs anything then Jey should let Sami know so that’s what happened here.
Let’s Hear from LA Knight
LA Knight made his entrance wearing some old Bray Wyatt gear. Knight had a small lamp with him too. Knight complained about what happened on Raw saying that The Undertaker and Wyatt didn’t want to face him one on one. Knight told Wyatt to bring every bit of advice that The Undertaker whispered in his ear. Knight said that when the Alamodome goes pitch black, Bray Wyatt isn’t coming back.
Bray Wyatt appeared in the aisle sitting on a rocking chair. The lights were out in the building with a spotlight on Wyatt. Bray said that the time for talking has come and gone. Wyatt said that he will finally get to meet the man that he’s been looking for. Wyatt told Knight to have a great night, joke all you want and said that tomorrow night when the lights go out, oh…you’ll see.
Wyatt looked up to the rafters and there was Uncle Howdy waving his hands around in the air. Wyatt just looked at Knight from a distance to end it.
Analysis: They were solid promos from both guys. Knight was confident as usual while Wyatt did his best to try to strike fear toward Knight going into their Pitch Black Match at Royal Rumble. I think Wyatt should win over Knight and if he doesn’t I’ll be surprised by that.
Smackdown Tag Team Title Contender’s Tournament Semifinals: Legado Del Fantasma – Cruz Del Toro & Joaquin Wilde (w/Zelina Vega) vs. Imperium – Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci
They are both heel teams. The winners face Strowman & Ricochet in the finals of the tournament.
Wilde and Kaiser started with an armbar into an arm drag, but Kaiser decked Wilde with a punch to the face. Vinci tried a suplex, Wilde landed on his feet and brought Cruz into the match. Vinci caught a kick attempt leading to a stiff lariat knocking Cruz down. Cruz tried a move off the turnbuckle, but Kaiser punched him followed by a headbutt. Cruz hit a step up enziguri to the head, Vinci tagged in and Wilde got a spinning takedown. Legado tried hitting dives onto their opponents, but Imperium was back up with both team members hitting clotheslines as the show went to break.
The match continued with Kaiser working over Wilde with a jumping kick to the head followed by a suplex. Kaiser hit a running kick to the chest for two. Vinci tagged back in with a hard chop on Wilde along with a body slam. After Kaiser tagged in, Wilde hit a Tornado DDT. Cruz tagged in to cheers as he hit a cross body block on Vinci. Cruz hit a headscissors along with a running kick in the corner. Cruz with a spinning kick, then Cruz went up top and hit a missile dropkick on both Imperium guys. Legado each hit dives onto both Imperium guys on the floor. Cruz with a rising kick, a hurricanrana and Wilde tagged in with a top rope splash on Vinci for a two count because Kaiser made the save. Cruz gave Kaiser a headscissors out of the ring, Kaiser avoided a charging Cruz and Kaiser gave Cruz a body slam on the floor. Vinci gave Wilde a powerslam off the top rope, but Vinci was selling a right knee injury. Kaiser tagged back in, Vinci with a lift and Kaiser hit an uppercut into the Powerbomb for the Imperial Bomb for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Imperium – Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci
Analysis: ***1/2 This was a very good match that started off a bit slow, but the fans were backing Legado thanks to their fast-paced offense and Imperium worked well together as usual. The Legado boys are so talented in the ring and can work any style you want so they’re always going to have an awesome match if they get the time to show what they can do. That powerslam off the top by Vinci was very impressive leading toward the finish. The Imperial Bomb is also a great tag team move and better than some of the others we see in WWE these days.
It’s Braun Strowman & Ricochet vs. Imperium next week on Smackdown in the Tag Team Title Contender’s Tournament Finals.
Analysis: I think Strowman and Ricochet will win, but it’s possible they go with Imperium.
The Royal Rumble “By The Numbers” video narrated by Jackie Redmond. I watched it on YouTube earlier in the week. They mentioned it was 1,250 competitors in Royal Rumble history and only 2.5% have won it all. Out of 32 winners, 19 have won championships at WrestleMania. There were plenty of other stats like that.
Kevin Owens was shown walking backstage ahead of his match.
There was a promo from Xia Li saying that looking past her isn’t just dangerous, but painful. Good luck with that.
Charlotte Flair, the Smackdown Women’s Champion, was being interviewed by Ryan Satin of WWE On Fox, but Sonya Deville interrupted the interview. Sonya was pulled away before she could do anything.
Charlotte Flair was shown in Adam Pearce’s office. Charlotte said if Sonya wants a match, she’ll give her a match and it can be a title match. Pearce told Charlotte they can do it next week because Charlotte asked for it. Charlotte thanked him and they did a high five.
Analysis: I think it’s fair to assume Charlotte will beat Sonya on Smackdown next week. It’s been booked in a weird way since Sonya already lost to Charlotte, but Sonya has been trying to get another match and now she’s got it.
Next week on Smackdown:
* Braun Strowman & Ricochet vs. Imperium in the Smackdown Tag Team Title Contender’s Tournament Finals.
* Charlotte Flair defends the Smackdown Women’s Title vs. Sonya Deville
Kevin Owens made his entrance for the main event. Solo Sikoa entered for this match while Roman Reigns was shown as a guest on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon later on Friday night on NBC.
Solo Sikoa vs. Kevin Owens
They started out exchanging punches, then they did shoulder tackles repeatedly and Owens hit a running back elbow. Owens hit a senton on Solo, who bailed to the floor. They battled on the floor with Solo tackling Owens into the barricade followed by Solo running Owens into the ring post. Solo whipped Owens into the barricade leading to a break.
Solo remained in control with a headbutt that staggered Owens into the turnbuckle. Solo went for a charging attack, Owens moved and Solo went back-first into the turnbuckle. Owens with a kick, atomic drop and two clotheslines. Owens hit a DDT for two. Owens went up top, but Solo stopped him with a punch. They battled on the turnbuckle, Owens elbowed Solo down and Owens jumped off the top with a Frog Splash for a two count. Owens with a superkick, Solo with his own superkick, Owens with another superkick, Solo avoided a Stunner and Solo hit a Samoan Drop for a two count. Solo charged, Owens moved, Solo hit the turnbuckle, Owens with two more superkicks and Owens hit a cannonball splash in the corner. Owens went up top again and hit a Swanton Bomb this time. Sami Zayn showed up at ringside and pulled Solo out of the ring. The referee didn’t call anything, but I think that was it. This match went about ten minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Kevin Owens
Analysis: *** A physical match that was on their way to have a really good match before the DQ finish. I thought the announcers and referee could have done a better job of making it clear that it was a disqualification because it wasn’t announced. I’m not surprised that both guys avoided getting pinned and they went with a non-finish ending.
The action spilled to the floor. Solo superkicked Zayn because Owens moved out of the way.
— WWE (@WWE) January 28, 2023
Solo sent Owens into the ring post. Solo jabbed Owens with a chair leading to KO going onto the table. Solo went to the barricade for an attack, but Owens got up with a punch. Owens kicked Solo when Solo tried a jumping attack. Owens gave Solo a Popup Powerbomb onto the table, but the table didn’t break. Owens grabbed the steel chair and hit Solo in the back to knock Solo over the barricade. Owens tossed the chair down at Zayn rather than use it against Zayn.
Owens was fired up as he spoke into the camera saying that he’s bringing everything he’s got against Roman Reigns. They showed some replays of what happened.
A graphic was shown about Roman Reigns defending the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Roman Reigns along with graphics for the Men’s & Women’s Royal Rumble matches. Owens was shown in the aisle saying he’ll see Sami tomorrow night. Sami Zayn was back up to his feet with Cole wondering where Sami stands. Owens was shown one more time as the show ended there.
Analysis: It was smart to have Owens look strong going into the Royal Rumble match. Owens not attacking Zayn with the chair was very interesting as well, which is only going to make Reigns think that they are working together. That’s my way of saying it fits the story very well.
Three Stars of the Show
- Kevin Owens
- Braun Strowman & Ricochet
7.25 out of 10
Last week: 7
2023 Average: 7.06
I thought they did a nice job of building up the Royal Rumble taking place on Saturday night. That promo segment with a bunch of guys ending with Brock Lesnar hitting Bobby Lashley with another F5 was well done because it was a way to inform people that Lesnar is in the Rumble match too. The Bray Wyatt-LA Knight promos were quick and effective.
The in-ring action was pretty solid with Braun Strowman & Ricochet making the finals of the tag team tourney after Drew McIntyre & Sheamus were taken out by the Viking Raiders. Imperium beat Legado in the best match of the night. Rey Mysterio finding a way to beat Karrion Kross was a bit of a surprising result, but I liked how it was booked The women’s division wasn’t featured much other than Lacey Evans winning a squash match.
Kevin Owens did a great job in the match with Solo Sikoa as well as the post match fight that involved Sami Zayn with Solo accidentally superkicking Zayn at one point. Owens beat up Solo with a chair, but didn’t hit Zayn with it. No Roman Reigns since he was at the Tonight Show. I’m certainly intrigued by Reigns-Owens at the Royal Rumble on Saturday night.
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
* Raw Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (c) vs. Alexa Bliss
* Pitch Black Match: Bray Wyatt vs. LA Knight
You can watch the Royal Rumble on Saturday, January 28th, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, streaming live exclusively on Peacock in the United States and WWE Network everywhere else!
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