Tonight, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are put in a handicap match against three of the biggest stars on Smackdown Live, thanks to Shane McMahon. The WWE United States Title Tournament continues when former partners collide. Plus, Chad Gable and Shelton want justice! All this and more!
World Wrestling Entertainment presents Smackdown Live
From: Birmingham, AL
Renee Young is in the ring and introduces WWE Champion AJ Styles to start the program with an interview. They have chairs in the ring and they sit down, which is a new look. Young asks if Styles thinks Daniel Bryan’s decision last week to make a handicap match for the Royal Rumble was fair. Styles says he was being sarcastic and didn’t think Bryan would make the match. There’s a possibility he could lose his championship but also kick Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn’s ass. Styles doesn’t think the match is fair, but life isn’t fair. Just because Owens and Zayn have won non-title match doesn’t mean they deserve a title match in a handicap match. He’d rather wrestle them in singles match in the same night. AJ doesn’t know what Bryan’s problem is and doesn’t know what he’s thinking. Renee asks if Shane McMahon is playing favorites but AJ isn’t going to speculate on that. He has to retain the championship and can’t allow either Owens or Zayn to win the title. AJ gets cut off by…
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn make their way out to confront Styles from the aisle way. Owens thinks that Styles is the regretful AJ Styles tonight for getting himself in a handicap match. Kevin says it would take a miracle for Styles to beat them in a handicap match. They are pretty confident about their chances of winning the WWE Championship. Owens says they will be the first ever co-WWE Champions.
Shane McMahon comes out as well to get in on the talkfest. Shane doesn’t think it is fair that Styles has to defend the championship in a handicap match. Shane’s puzzled and baffled as to why Daniel Bryan would give Owens and Zayn another chance to win the title. Despite that, McMahon backs Bryan’s decision… for now. Shane suggests we have a handicap match tonight on Smackdown Live. Shane makes a match where Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn will take on Shinsuke Nakamura, Randy Orton and WWE Champion AJ Styles in a handicap match. Owens and Zayn aren’t very happy about that.
Backstage, Daniel Bryan is waiting for Shane McMahon and shakes his hand for making a great handicap match. McMahon just walks away. That felt very awkward and may haven mistimed.
A pre-tape promo by Becky Lynch says that tonight Ruby Riott will get burned for messing with her. She is also going to be in the Royal Rumble match and be the last woman standing.
Smackdown Live Women’s Champion Charlotte and Naomi get entrances to be in Becky’s corner for the singles match.
Opening Contest: Ruby Riott vs. Becky Lynch: Becky starts the match with a hip toss and takes Ruby down to the mat a few times with a go-behind takedown. Becky slams Ruby to the mat and gets distracted but still tosses Ruby to the floor. We get a split screen with commercials. Becky comes off the apron with a forearm strike to knock Ruby down. Ruby misses an elbow drop and Becky takes her down with a dragon screw leg whip and arm drags. Becky comes off the ropes with a leaping forearm strike for a two count. Ruby drives Becky into a corner and drops Becky throat first over the top rope to get the advantage. Ruby keeps Becky on the mat with an arm lock trying for a submission. Becky fights to her feet but Ruby is able to send her face first into the middle turnbuckle and then shoulder first into the ring post. Ruby ties Becky up in the ropes to deliver strikes to her ribs. Ruby keeps Becky on the mat with a body scissors.
Becky kicks Ruby in the corner but gets yanked down by her hair. Becky hip tosses Ruby and gets an inside cradle for a near fall. Becky drops Ruby with an uppercut. Becky delivers a kick to the gut followed by an exploder suplex. Lynch continues with another overhead suplex but Ruby is able to kick Lynch in the ribs. Becky gets the Dis-arm-her locked in and Ruby taps out. (**. I thought it was a decent women’s match and they told a story with the rib work. I’m kind of confused why Ruby and her friends haven’t been getting much momentum in recent weeks.)
Earlier today, Ascension thought they’d have Tyler Breeze and Fandango in their corner for their match tonight, but they have a match later and that will leave Ascension on their own.
Second Contest: The Ascension vs. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan: Ascension attack Harper before the bell to get the early advantage. Harper nails Victor with a running big boot that shocked the fans. Rowan gets tagged in and splashes Victor. Harper finishes Victor off with a sit down powerbomb. That was a complete squash, but entertaining and impressive. After the match, Harper and Rowan attack Konnor with a double powerbomb.
Bobby Roode makes his way down to the ring to join commentary for the next match.
Third Contest: Zack Ryder vs. Mojo Rawley in a WWE United States Title Tournament match: Mojo tosses Ryder into a corner but Ryder connects with a dropkick to send Mojo to the floor. Mojo comes back in and rams Ryder in the corner but runs into a double knee. Mojo yanks Ryder off the middle rope. Mojo drives Ryder back first into the corner a few times before dropping him to the mat again. Ryder counters a suplex attempt with a neckbreaker. Ryder back elbows Mojo followed by forearms. Ryder misses a running boot in the corner but knocks Mojo down with a baseball slide dropkick. Ryder tries for a cover but Mojo kicks out. Mojo atomic drops Ryder and sends him shoulder first into the ring post. Mojo nails Ryder with a running forearm strike in the corner for the win. (*. There was no excitement here and I don’t think anyone took Ryder seriously. It was rather obvious we were going to get Roode/Mojo in the next round.) After the match, Bobby Roode enters the ring to confront Mojo. Mojo points at Roode and walks out of the ring. Roode plays to the crowd.
Backstage, Jinder Mahal and the Singh Brothers cut a promo. Mahal talks about being the WWE Champion for 185 days. He has his eyes on a new prize, and that’s the WWE United States Championship. Mahal believes that Xavier Woods has already lost and that the New Day is just a fad. Mahal will last forever.
Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin make their way out to start the second hour. They aren’t happy about not winning the tag titles last week. Gable asks if the fans know what it takes to be a winner. He talks about the hours of training and ignoring family and friends. Gable really wants to know if anyone understands what it takes to be a winner. Benjamin says that just because Alabama won a national championship it doesn’t make them champions. Benjamin thinks that Georgia was robbed, just like them. Gable wants to know why the second referee was involved in their match last week. They conclude that the second referee was jealous of them and that’s because he doesn’t know what it takes to be a winner. They demand justice for the crime that occurred last week. Gable calls out the “generic referee #2” to free the tag titles…
Instead, Smackdown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan makes his way to the ring to talk to the disgruntled superstars. Bryan understands where they are coming from. Bryan doesn’t like when they start knocking management. Gable and Benjamin don’t think they were, but Bryan reminds them that officials represent them. Bryan stands behind the official reversing his decision. Gable thinks that Bryan is taking his frustration with Shane McMahon out on them. Gable feels like they won the titles and asks if they should beat the Usos twice in one night. Bryan says that’s exactly what he wants. So, at the Royal Rumble the Usos will defend the tag titles against Gable and Benjamin in a best two out of three falls match. Gable and Benjamin don’t look as excited.
Backstage, WWE Champion AJ Styles walks into the same room as Randy Orton. Orton tells Styles that he needs to trust him when he says they are on the same page. However, Orton is coming after the title when he wins the Royal Rumble. Shinsuke Nakamura chimes in and does a too sweet to the championship before saying, “good talk” and leaving.
Aiden English and Rusev announce that they are in the Royal Rumble and they will in the Rusev Rumble match. As usual, English sang the announcement.
Fourth Contest: Aiden English & Rusev vs. Tyler Breeze & Fandango: English and Fandango start the tag match and Fandango taking English down with a hip toss. English is put over the top rope and kicked to the floor. We go to a split screen. Rusev tags in and works over Breeze with strikes. Breeze nails Rusev with a leaping kick to the face and remains on the apron where Rusev knocks him to the floor. English gets tagged in and beats on Breeze on the floor leading to a near fall. English kicks Breeze in the midsection before heading to the top rope. English misses a denton splash and Breeze sends him to the apron. Breeze tags in Fandango and Fandango chops English followed by a backdrop out of the corner. Rusev tags in and nails Fandango with several kicks. Rusev back splashes Fandango followed by a spinning heel kick. Rusev tosses Breeze to the floor and is nearly pinned by Fandango after a dropkick by Breeze. Rusev kicks Breeze to the floor and Fandango is able to pin Rusev with a rollup. (*1/4. This is just some confusing booking. They got destroyed in their matches against Harper and Rowan and then they go over perhaps one of the hottest acts on Smackdown in Rusev. I like Fandango and Breeze, but Rusev needs to be winning these matches.)
Backstage, Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon talks about the tag division being on fire. Shane wants to be honest with Bryan and says that they aren’t on the same page. He thinks that Bryan has been irrational with his decisions lately. Shane really doesn’t think Owens and Zayn should be in a title match and doesn’t like the idea of them as co-champions. Shane asks if Bryan is doing okay mentally. Shane thinks that Bryan is a little unstable. Bryan says that Shane could be accused of the same thing because of his genes. Shane decides to leave Bryan alone.
Main Event: WWE Champion AJ Styles, Randy Orton & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn in a handicap match: Orton and Owens start the match with Orton working over Owens with strikes in the corner. Owens boots Orton in the corner but misses a clothesline and is nearly met with an RKO. Owens instead bails to the floor to regroup but Orton attacks from behind. Orton rams Owens chest first into the guard railing before getting back in the ring. Owens stomps away on Orton and Zayn tags in. Orton yanks Zayn down to the mat by his hair and delivers several stomps before tagging out to Nakamura. Nakamura knee lifts Zayn followed by a knee drop. Nakamura connects with a spinning heel kick and kicks to the chest of Zayn. Styles tags in and works over Zayn with a strike to the midsection. Zayn drives Styles into his corner and Owens tags in delivering strikes. Styles avoids a slam but is knocked to the mat anyway. Styles connects with a head scissors and a discus clothesline. Styles comes off the ropes with a forearm strike. Styles attempts the Styles Clash but Zayn pulls Owens to the floor. They decide to walk up the ramp and have had enough of the match.
However, Shane McMahon comes out and says the match is now a no count out match as we go to commercial. Zayn has kept control of Styles with a chin lock. Zayn switches to a headlock to keep Styles on the mat. Owens tags back in and elbow strikes Styles to keep the champ on the mat. Owens clotheslines Styles managing a near fall and goes back to a headlock. Styles drops Owens neck first over his knee and both men are down. Styles tags in Orton as Zayn gets tagged in as well. Orton drops Zayn with clotheslines and a snap power slam. Orton grabs Zayn on the apron managing to hit an elevated DDT over the middle rope. Orton tries for the RKO but Owens enters with a chair and hits Orton in the midsection. Owens whacks Orton with the chair and does the same to Styles.
Shane McMahon comes out again because the match isn’t going to end like that. McMahon adds no disqualification and anything goes to the match. Owens and Zayn are pissed. Styles hits both men with a steel chair. Styles hits Owens with the chair several times and they go backstage. Zayn is left at ringside with Nakamura and Orton. Zayn gets in the ring and tries to runaway but can’t escape through the crowd. Zayn gets sent face first into the ring post. Orton has the ring steps and nails Zayn with them. Zayn is tossed over the announcers table and Orton drives Zayn onto the table with a back suplex. Nakamura nails Zayn with a running knee strike in the ring. Orton hits the RKO on Zayn to win the match. (**1/4. As soon as Shane McMahon came out I kind of expected the match to end up going the way it did. Why must the storytelling be so simple and basic in the WWE? I think this is easily leading to Owens and Zayn splitting and feuding for the millionth time. I’m not looking forward to that.)
Just as I had feared going into the show, it came across rather bland and lacked energy. Benjamin and Gable got the biggest reaction of the crowd, but their segment ran too long and sucked the life out of the crowd by the end of it. I’d say this was a forgettable Smackdown.
Thanks for reading.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.