This week’s WWE Smackdown was the blue brand’s first show after the Royal Rumble, which saw Ronda Rousey and Brock Lesnar emerge as big winners on that show. WWE heavily promoted Rousey being on Smackdown this week.
The show began with a video recapping the Royal Rumble story for Brock Lesnar when Roman Reigns & Paul Heyman cost him the WWE Title against Bobby Lashley, who is the new WWE Champion. Later that night, Lesnar entered the Royal Rumble match at #30 and won the Rumble match. Lesnar made it clear he was going after Roman Reigns for the Universal Title at WrestleMania.
The Universal Champion “Tribal Chief” Roman Reigns made his entrance with his championship along with the “Wise Man” Special Counsel Paul Heyman back in the mix along with The Usos, who are the Smackdown Tag Team Champions. The Smackdown commentary team of Michael Cole and Pat McAfee were on hand to call the action. McAfee sucked up to Reigns as usual, which is always funny.
A video aired recapping Roman’s Universal Title defense against Seth Rollins. When Reigns realized he couldn’t beat Rollins, he held onto the Guillotine Choke too long on purpose so that he could get disqualified. Reigns attacked Rollins with a steel chair after the match. Rollins won the match, but Reigns kept the title.
Let’s Hear from Roman Reigns and The Bloodline
Reigns and The Usos stood in the ring with their titles with Heyman by their side. Heyman said he’s there to serve as Special Counsel to your Tribal Chief and the fans were booing. Heyman wanted us to acknowledge what really happened. Heyman said there was no plot, scenario or conspiracy done to make Brock Lesnar look foolish, but he does look like a fool now. Heyman said that the trajectory of this entire industry unfolded in front of your very eyes. Heyman said on December 17 he told the Head of the Table that he needed to be protected from Brock Lesnar after Paul spent 20 years of his life with Brock Lesnar. Heyman said he got fired and got a Superman Punch from it and he deserved it. Heyman said he was out there “like an unemployed Oklahoman” (cheap heat leading to boos) and then Heyman said he saw his moment when he got Lesnar to be in a Fatal 5-Way to become the WWE Champion. Heyman said everything was fine except…this. Heyman said then Lesnar wanted to do title vs. title at WrestleMania with Paul saying it was stupid. Heyman said that Lesnar looks like a shmuck and now he acts like a shmuck. Heyman said he knew he had no way out, he was stuck with a Saskatchewan farmer that wants to take everyone to Suplex City.
Heyman said that at the Royal Rumble, Lesnar took Bobby Lashley to Suplex City and then Roman Reigns showed the Conqueror that the “GOAT” (that’s Roman) can always slay The Beast. Heyman thought he’d spend his life introducing Brock Lesnar as the undisputed champion and stopped himself saying you will never hear that again. Heyman said that when Reigns smacked Lesnar in the face, Heyman realized he didn’t need to protect Reigns, he needed to protect Lesnar from Reigns. Heyman said that Reigns offered the hand of forgiveness, the hand of love, the hand of family, the hand of The Bloodline and the hand of acknowledgment. Heyman said he handed Reigns that WWE Championship, which Reigns used to smash Lesnar in the face and because of Reigns, Lashley pinned Brock Lesnar to become the new WWE Heavyweight Champion. Heyman said that you now have to acknowledge there will be no title vs. title, champion vs. champion at WrestleMania because Lesnar will not get what he wants. Heyman said that Lesnar will do what Reigns wants him to do and at WrestleMania, Lesnar will acknowledge the champion Roman Reigns. Heyman: “I, Paul Heyman, acknowledge you Roman Reigns as my Tribal Chief.” Heyman wanted OKC to acknowledge your Tribal Chief, which led to boos and cheers…and here comes Goldberg.
The familiar music of Bill Goldberg hit in the arena as the WWE Hall of Famer made his entrance through the sparklers and was greeted by “Goldberg” chants. Goldberg got into the ring with Reigns for a face-to-face showdown with the Tribal Chief.
Goldberg told Reigns that he acknowledges him as his next victim. The fans cheered. Goldberg: “You. Me. Elimination Chamber. For the Universal Championship. You’re next!” That was it. Cole noted it was going to happen at WrestleMania two years ago, but it never took place. The fans chanted “Goldberg” as the music played and The Bloodline left the ring.
Analysis: I thought Heyman’s promo was great. Heyman explained that there wasn’t an elaborate plan for Reigns and Heyman to work together again. Heyman claimed that it happened because it was the right moment in that situation. It should be noted that Heyman saying title vs. title is not going to happen at WrestleMania is just something to say now two months before WrestleMania. As we posted on TJRWrestling earlier on Friday, the report from the Wrestling Observer reported that WWE is planning on Reigns vs. Lesnar as a title vs. title match, so Lesnar is probably going to win that WWE Title in the Elimination Chamber match at the Elimination Chamber PLE (Premium Live Event). As for the Goldberg return, that was also reported with WWE wanting to use the Hall of Famer for yet another show in Saudi Arabia. It will be the first-ever Reigns-Goldberg match, so it does feel big in that sense although it’s obvious Reigns is going to win. Goldberg’s promo was simple and straight to the point.
Ridge Holland entered with Sheamus for a singles match.
Ricochet (w/Cesaro) vs. Ridge Holland (w/Sheamus)
Holland with a body slam followed by a hard whip into the turnbuckle. Holland went for a body slam, Ricochet slipped out of it and sent Holland to the floor. Ricochet went for a sliding kick on the floor, Holland caught him and spun him face first onto the ring apron. Holland sent Ricochet into the ring, Ricochet hit the Recoil (double knees to the face) of Holland for the pinfall win after just two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Ricochet
Analysis: * That was quick. It was just a way to have a bit of a surprising finish with Ricochet hitting the double knee finisher that he uses sometimes.
There was some yelling by Sheamus after the match. It looked like there would be a tag team match after a break.
Sheamus & Ridge Holland vs. Cesaro & Ricochet
Sheamus put his jacket on McAfee for the match. Cesaro started for his team, then he broke free and Ricochet tagged in with a springboard cross body block followed by a Lionsault for a two count. Ricochet with a kick to the chest, Cesaro with a clothesline on Sheamus and Ricochet hit a dropkick on Holland. Ricochet tried a move on the floor, Holland grabbed him and sent him to the apron. Sheamus with a rollup on Cesaro, who came back with an uppercut. Sheamus with a kick that knocked Cesaro down. Sheamus up top, which led to Cesaro leaping with a dropkick. Cesaro with a superplex while on the middle rope. Holland made the blind tag and hit the Northern Grit sitout powerslam on Cesaro for the pinfall win after about three minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Sheamus & Ridge Holland
Analysis: *3/4 The heels get the win back after Holland lost to Ricochet in the match before this. Both matches were short. They should have just done a tag team match and given them more time instead. Cesaro and Ricochet are both underutilized.
A video aired about the WWE 2K22 video game that will be available in March.
The Usos made their entrance as the Smackdown Tag Team Champions. Jimmy was in a singles match against Erik of the VR team.
The Viking Raiders made their entrance with Erik joined by Ivar. The Usos defend their SD Tag Team Titles against The Viking Raiders at Elimination Chamber in two weeks on February 19.
Jimmy Uso (w/Jey Uso) vs. Erik (w/Ivar)
Erik with punches followed by an overhead suplex. Erik with a uranage slam on Jimmy for a two count. Jimmy with a lift, Erik broke free and hit a knee to the face (with a loud leg slap). Jey into the ring to distract, Ivar went after Jey, who moved and Ivar hit the floor. Jimmy slipped out of a move, Jimmy hit a superkick and Jimmy went up top to hit the Uso Splash (with Jimmy holding a finger in the air) for the pinfall win after two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Jimmy Uso
Analysis: * It was another short match on this show with Jimmy picking up the quick win. Erik got a bit of offense, a slight distraction from Jey gave Jimmy a chance to come back and Jimmy got the win.
The replay of Jimmy’s splash showed Jimmy with the finger in the air with McAfee pointing it out. That was cool.
Aliyah beat Natalya in 3.17 seconds on Smackdown a few weeks ago. When they had the rematch, Natalya got disqualified against Aliyah. Those two ladies will have another match now. Aliyah made her entrance for a match.
Natalya entered with the 2022 Guinness World Records book or at least a book that had that on the cover.
Aliyah vs. Natalya
Aliyah was wearing a 3:17 chant and tried a rollup right away, but Natalya kicked out at two. Natalya worked over Aliyah with repeated kicks in the corner. Aliyah came back with a rollup for two. Aliyah with a forearm, Natalya approached her in the corner and Aliyah hit a headscissors. Aliyah came back with a Thesz Press followed by punches. Aliyah countered a move into a bulldog for two. Natalya came back with the spinning discus clothesline. Natalya sent Aliyah into the apron, the barricade and the apron again. Aliyah sent Natalya into the barricade, the referee was counting them out and Aliyah got back in before the ten count. Natalya lost by countout. It went about three minutes.
Winner by countout: Aliyah
Analysis: * They worked hard, but it was another bad finish to a match just like their last match when Natalya lost by DQ. I get that the story is about Aliyah picking up wins and having the advantage over Natalya. I just think it’s lame while making a veteran wrestler like Natalya look dumb instead of like an experienced wrestler.
Shotzi was shown backstage looking at something on her phone. Drew Gulak went up to her, then the camera panned over to show Drew McIntyre with his sword. Drew McIntyre was up next.
Analysis: Bad first hour of this show. Other than Heyman’s promo, there really wasn’t anything interesting. The matches were all short and largely forgettable.
Let’s Hear From Drew McIntyre
Drew McIntyre made his entrance in street clothes along with his sword in his hands. Drew was taken out by Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss on January 1, so when Drew was back at the Royal Rumble last Saturday, he eliminated Corbin and Moss easily. Drew missed four weeks with a neck injury.
Drew said it felt damn good to be back. Drew said that you may have seen the headlines that Drew was out for a long time, needed surgery or was not coming back. Drew said a doctor told him he’s not making the Royal Rumble or WrestleMania, so Drew told him to kiss his ass. Drew said he went to rehab three times a day, he worked hard and he is back. Drew said he came back to face off against Brock Lesnar, then Brock got one over on him, so now they’re even and they can go back to that down the road. Drew mentioned Corbin and Moss, so here’s the interruption.
Happy Corbin appeared saying by some miracle, Drew eliminated Corbin and Moss. Corbin asked if it was worth it to have Brock Lesnar throw him out like a bag of garbage. Corbin said Drew is not going to WrestleMania, so he failed and Moss tried to attack Drew from behind, but Drew held his sword up. Drew asked Moss to tell a funny joke. Moss tried an Oklahoma joke, so Drew cut him off saying he wanted to hear a Drew McIntyre joke. Moss told a terrible joke, the crowd booed and Corbin laughed about it. Drew laughed about it sarcastically and then Drew gave Moss a Claymore Kick. The crowd loved that. Drew told Corbin he’ll make his life hell every single week with Drew adding this is just the beginning. Drew pointed his sword at Corbin.
Analysis: That was a good promo from Drew, who remains a popular babyface that the crowd likes a lot. I’m sure the time will come where he has that feud with Roman Reigns, but it’s not going to be until after WrestleMania. Later in the show, they announced Drew against Moss at the Elimination Chamber PPV even though Drew already beat him at Day 1 last month. I assume it’s going to lead to McIntyre vs. Corbin at WrestleMania although I wish they had something better for Drew. I’m just not sure what else they would have for Drew at WrestleMania.
A clip was shown from last Tuesday in Los Angeles when Sami Zayn was on the red carpet for the Jackass Forever movie premiere. Johnny Knoxville and his friends kicked Sami out saying he was asked not to come. Knoxville had a taser that he used to make Zayn back away. Zayn was escorted out of there.
Sami Zayn was in the WWE Officials office with Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville. Sami asked when he’s going to get the Intercontinental Championship match against Shinsuke Nakamura that he earned two months ago. Sonya suggested the match should happen next week, Sami said he just got electrocuted this past week and then Pearce said they can do it two weeks on February 18. Pearce wondered if they should invite Johnny Knoxville, Sami didn’t like that and left. Natalya showed up asking for another match against Aliyah next week that is pinfall or submission only. Sonya said that’s fine, so it’s on next week.
Analysis: I hope Sami wins the IC Title. I like Nakamura, but the title reign hasn’t been good. Zayn gets booked like a fool a lot, so at least if he has a title he may be taken a bit more seriously in the future.
Rick Boogs introduced Shinsuke Nakamura, the Intercontinental Champion. The guitar wasn’t working, so that was awkward, but the music played in the building so it was okay. Pat McAfee was dancing on the table as usual. Nakamura’s against Jinder Mahal in a match after a break.
A commercial aired for WWE Elimination Chamber from Saudi Arabia on Saturday, February 19.
Jinder Mahal entered with Shanky by his side. Do they know when Veer will arrive on Raw? I don’t know. I don’t think the creative team knows. Sami Zayn made his way to ringside since he’s challenging Nakamura for the IC Title in two weeks, so Zayn was on commentary.
Shinsuke Nakamura (w/Rick Boogs) vs. Jinder Mahal (w/Shanky)
Mahal went for a body slam, Nakamura slipped out of it and hit a sliding kick to the head. Nakamura charged, set up Mahal into the ropes and Nakamura hit a sliding German Suplex. Nakamura charged, Mahal moved and Mahal lifted up Nakamura into a move with his knees hitting Nakamura in the ribs. Mahal drove his knee across the throat of Nakamura. Mahal sent Nakamura into the ropes leading to a jumping knee for two. Mahal grabbed a chinlock while Zayn complained about being electro-shocked earlier in the week. Nakamura got back up with a jumping kick and then a spinning back kick. Nakamura hit the Kinshasa knee to the face for the pinfall win after three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Shinsuke Nakamura
Analysis: *1/2 It was yet another quick match on this show. Mahal got some basic offense, easy job by Nakamura countering with some kicks and the Kinshasa knee got the win as expected against a guy like Mahal, who is not pushed at all.
A graphic was shown confirming Roman Reigns defending the Universal Championship against Bill Goldberg at Elimination Chamber.
A video aired letting us know WrestleMania 38 was 57 days away as of Friday.
A Progressive Match Flo replay was shown from the Royal Rumble with Naomi eliminating Sonya Deville. When Naomi tried to save herself shortly after, Sonya pulled Naomi’s arms to prevent the save.
Naomi walked up to WWE Officials Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville. Naomi wanted Sonya to meet her in the ring in five minutes. Naomi challenged her to a match next week with Sonya telling Naomi she has a match next week against Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Naomi didn’t believe it, then Pearce said you may not believe Sonya, but Adam made it official. Naomi told Sonya that keeps her safe for now.
Analysis: Naomi gets an SD Women’s Title match because Sonya Deville fears her. Interesting booking decision there. I don’t expect Naomi to win, but I’m all for more title matches on TV.
A video package aired showing Goldberg’s career highlights going to his WCW rise in the late 1990s all the way to the recent WWE run.
The New Day’s Big E and Kofi Kingston made their entrance. Big E was moved to Smackdown without any explanation. They didn’t move anybody to Raw yet to counter the move. They may not move anybody.
A video aired about WWE supporting Black History Month. Bianca Belair was shown meeting Olympic legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
It was announced that Drew McIntyre will face Madcap Moss at Elimination Chamber. I’ll pick Drew there. Tough choice, huh?
Natalya was interviewed by Kayla Braxton. Natalya was asked to give a preview of next week’s Dungeon Style match with Aliyah. When Natalya opened the Women’s Locker Room door, Xia Li walked out and had a staredown. Xia Li left. Natalya said “next week” and left.
Los Lotharios were shown doing a photoshoot earlier in the day. New Day interrupted them and mocked them. That led to this match.
The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) vs. Los Lotharios (Angel & Humberto)
Kingston jumped off Big E’s back for a corner splash and Big E hit a clothesline. Kofi jumped over Big E for a splash on Angel. Humberto tagged in with Big E dropping him with a back elbow. Kofi hit a running kick to Humberto’s chest. Humberto set up Kofi upside against the ropes, Humberto kicked Big E off the apron. Kofi avoided both Lotharios guys while on the apron, then Kofi went for a springboard attack on the floor leading to Angel hitting a superkick. Ouch. That led to a break.
The match continued with Kofi as the face in peril, Angel hit Kofi with a leg drop and then Angel whipped his pants at Big E (he had the shorts on underneath). Humberto tagged in with a belly to back suplex. Humberto with a body slam. Humbert took a while to go up top, he jumped off with a moonsault and Kofi got the two feet up to block. Big E got the hot tag leading to his familiar offense on Angel including the two belly to belly suplex, belly to belly side slam, some clapping and the running splash. Big E with a lift, Angel slipped out and hit a Backstabber double knees to the back. Big E hit a uranage slam. Big E held Angel up and Kofi jumped off the ropes with a bulldog for a two count because Humberto made the save. Big E went for a Spear, Humberto moved and Humberto jumped onto Big E on the floor. Angel with an inside cradle on Kofi for two. Humberto tagged in leading to a missile dropkick while Angel had Kofi on his shoulders and Humberto’s pin only got a two count. Kofi avoided a double team attack leading to a stomp to the chest of Humberto. Angel with a superkick. Big E tagged back in, Kofi with a kick to the face and Big E picked up Angel for the double team Midnight Hour for the pinfall win in a match just under ten minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston)
Analysis: ***1/4 It was the longest and best match on the show although it was still under ten minutes. The final few minutes were awesome with some big moves from both sides and even Los Lotharios got a couple of nearfalls there. I doubt anybody watching thought that New Day would lose. It wasn’t a match to advance a story or anything like that. It was just a way to give New Day another win. This show really needed a good match like that.
A video aired showing Women’s Royal Rumble match highlights with Ronda Rousey entering at #28 to make her WWE return after nearly three years. Rousey was in the final two with Charlotte Flair and eliminated Flair to win.
Charlotte Flair made her entrance as the Smackdown Women’s Champion for the main event promo segment. They promoted Ronda Rousey during the show with Cole saying Charlotte wasn’t going to let Rousey steal the spotlight.
Two weeks away on Smackdown: Shinsuke Nakamura defends the Intercontinental Title vs. Sami Zayn. That Smackdown is going to be taped next week and air one night before Elimination Chamber. Sami won’t work the Saudi show.
Next week on Smackdown: Charlotte Flair defends the Smackdown Women’s Title vs. Naomi.
Let’s Hear from Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey
Charlotte Flair was in the ring wearing her Smackdown Women’s Title. Sonya Deville, the WWE Official, was in the ring saying that Becky Lynch expects Ronda Rousey to choose Lynch to face for the Raw Women’s Title at WrestleMania. That means Charlotte will need to choose an opponent.
Charlotte said she’s not surprised that Ronda chose Becky because Charlotte has been on top since 2015 becoming the most dominant champion in WWE. Charlotte talked about how Ronda has been playing video games, farming and she had a baby. Charlotte congratulated Ronda while saying she would be worried for Ronda if she didn’t choose Becky because “mom vs. mom is an easier route.” Charlotte said she’s never been more faster, stronger and more confident in herself while Charlotte said she’s the main event of WrestleMania. Charlotte said if Ronda wants to choose Becky, she can go ahead. Charlotte said she had to pick her opponent for WrestleMania and she picked Sasha Banks. Charlotte said she wished Sasha was there to thank Charlotte for the opportunity. Charlotte told Banks it will be the best and worst day of her life while adding that she’ll have a contract waiting for her.
Ronda Rousey, the Royal Rumble winner, made her entrance in a black leather jacket. Good ovation from the crowd. Rousey got in the ring with Flair and Deville with the announcers noting it was Ronda’s first time on Smackdown.
Rousey said she won the Royal Rumble, so she gets to choose her opponent. Rousey noted she flew halfway across the country into an ice storm with her baby and she didn’t come for a chat. Rousey said she came to teach her baby the family business of kicking ass while adding that Charlotte is one of may that she owes an ass-beating to. The fans were chanting for Rousey.
Rousey told Flair that she is not special while adding that she is just first. Rousey: “I’ll see you at WrestleMania, bitch.” That was it as Rousey dropped the microphone for a staredown with Flair. Charlotte: “Well the opportunity is back in the main event of WrestleMania. And this title is my baby…and she’s prettier than yours.” The crowd let out an “ooohhh” reaction for that shot.
Rousey took off her jacket, so Sonya got in Ronda’s face telling her she has a terrible temper and Sonya tells her what to do, not the other way around. Rousey put Deville on her shoulders leading to a spinning slam to the mat. Rousey applied an armbar on Deville’s arm, who was writhing in pain right away. Rousey had a staredown with Flair. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: Flair vs. Rousey was expected after it was reported last week with WWE’s plan being to do that this year and then Lynch vs. Rousey next year. I don’t mind it because it’s a big match and they had an impressive showing against eachother at Survivor Series nearly four years ago. They’ll probably headline the first night of WrestleMania together. Charlotte was her usual cocky self in the promo, Rousey was in the badass babyface role and Deville was the authority figure trying to show off the power she has, but Rousey shut her up easily and the fans liked that. Maybe they’ll do an angle saying Rousey is suspended for a few weeks for attacking Deville in order to build up Ronda’s return. It will make Rousey more popular if she has to deal with the heel champion along with a heel authority figure.
Becky Lynch tweeted about it after the show.
Smart choice, Ronnie. Go for the gazpacho. https://t.co/i05oZCtSql
— The Man (@BeckyLynchWWE) February 5, 2022
Three Stars of the Show
- Paul Heyman
- The New Day
- Charlotte Flair/Ronda Rousey
5.5 out of 10
Last week: 6.75
A weaker show due to the lack of good in-ring action because they booked so many short matches. It was newsworthy because of Ronda Rousey making her WrestleMania decision to face Charlotte Flair and Goldberg facing off with Roman Reigns, but both things were already known as well. The fans did respond well to Goldberg and later for Rousey as well, so I’m sure WWE will be happy with the crowd reactions.
The only match I really liked was the New Day/Los Lotharios match because they got time while others were so rushed. I know there are people reading this that might say “it’s more about the matches” and I understand that, but when you only have three-minute matches during the show, it’s tough to really be entertained by it.
I think Raw has been better than Smackdown to start the year. It continued this week.
The next WWE Premium Live Event is the Elimination Chamber from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Saturday, February 19. Here’s what we know so far:
WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins vs. Austin Theory vs. Riddle vs. AJ Styles
WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Bill Goldberg
Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Lita
WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Usos (c) vs. The Viking Raiders
Drew McIntyre vs. Madcap Moss
You can watch WWE Elimination Chamber streaming LIVE from Jeddah beginning at 12p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT on Saturday, Feb. 19, on Peacock in the United States and on WWE Network everywhere else.
Thanks for reading. Please check out my reviews of every WWE PPV ever listed in order. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. My contact info is below.