After a quite messy Clash of Champions (read our review here), it was necesary SmackDown Live became the Land of Explanations tonight. But what was announced wasn’t made to give us some answers. In the main event, Clash of Champions opponents will clash in a Six-man Tag Team match, with Shinsuke Nakamura, Randy Orton and WWE Champion AJ Styles taking on Jinder Mahal, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin will try to knock off The Usos in a non-title match. Dolph Ziggler will celebrate his US title win and The New Day should be ready for Holidays Season. Well, action, matches, but nothing to move forward… let’s see…
Welcome to the most must-see Vulture Hound weekly review in history; welcome to… The SmackDown Review brought to you this week by “Doctor Frenchy” Steph (yes, again…)
Before discussing what happened at Clash of Champions, Daniel Bryan opened the show to confirm SmackDown Live Superstars will be in the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble match, a turning point in WWE history he stated, and to announce the matches for tonight. But Commissioner Shane McMahon was waiting for an answer and joined him in the ring. Shane agreed with Daniel Bryan on how amazing the women’s Royal Rumble will be.
But the PPV is on January 28 and they had another PPV to talk about, mostly the match they were both the referees of. Shane was happy of the match, of the beautiful RKO from Orton on Zayn, but not of Bryan breaking the count when he landed on top of him after tripping. Bryan said it was an accident, what Shane knew. Shane confessed he let his emotions ran too high, coming to the 3-count (when Sami rolled up Randy) with all the bad remembers of Owens attacking his dad Vince McMahon, Sami interfering in Hell In a Cell and Sami & Owens screwing Team Blue at Survivor Series. Shane said his emotions got the best of him and his hand stayed up at the 2-count. And Bryan’s reaction heated up too. Shane asked what went through his mind the same way he just did.
Bryan said he did what he did to protect Shane from himself, even if Shane thought he didn’t need his protection, with all due respect. But Bryan added his passion for the Blue Brand was making him become a hot head and Bryan did what he did not only to protect Shane but their vision of SmackDown Live, of a Land of Opportunities for everyone and not only the ones Shane likes. In threatening Sami and Kevin to be fired, he threatened to take away what they promised to everyone. Shane warned Bryan that Zayn and Owens would stab him once, because of his empathy for them, and not to show any favouritism to them, “from a business standpoint”.
Bryan mocked the business standpoint comment, asking Shane if he should have done what’s best for business on Sunday. Bryan stopped the words fight, claiming he believes in Shane and their vision for SmackDown Live. Shane could fire anyone, he would let do. But he didn’t want to see Shane turn into his Dad. Shane expressed his respect and trust in Daniel Bryan, before leaving the ring after a handshake.
HERE ARE THE OTHER THINGS THAT HAPPENED:
– Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable defeated SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos in a non-title match. Two days after their impressive demonstration at Clash of Champions, Gable and Benjamin proved they’re serious contenders for the Championship and become the next tag Team Champions. Jimmy and Jey were good, taking control right in the match and stopping every offensive attempt from their opponents. But Gable got his knees up when one of the twins went for the big splash, blocked a superkick from the second, and went for the same German Suplex that impressed on Sunday. Shelton lifted Gable for the big double team and the win.
The Queen’s speech
Charlotte Flair talked about the pride of having the title still on her shoulder. The first women’s Rumble match made Flair think there is nothing the women of WWE can’t do and the fans helped them make it all possible as the management listened to their requests. Flair congratulated the fans and the women of the SmackDown division but announced whoever won the Rumble match, she will be waiting to defend her title at WrestleMania 34. Here came Naomi who congratulated Flair on retaining her title. She also announced she will be the first blue brand Superstar to be in the Rumble match, so she will see Flair at WrestleMania. Here came now The Riott Squad. Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan were mocked by Naomi who told them as the Rumble match is about surviving and not sneak-attacking, they’re Three Stooges who won’t be in the match. Naomi then challenged any 2 of them to step into the ring with her and Flair, so they could teach them how to rumble.
Charlotte Flair and Naomi defeated Ruby Riott & Sarah Logan (w/ Liv Morgan).
Riott and Logan focused on Flair’s leg, preventing her from doing the tag for long minutes. Naomi was finally tagged in and grounded her opponents with flying moves. Flair came in and hit a big boot on Riott while Naomi nailed Logan with a headbutt. Liv Morgan rushed to the apron but Naomi moved to make Logan spear Morgan to the ground. Naomi got the pin on Logan with the Rearview.
– Backstage, Big E the elf, Xavier Woods the reindeer and Kofi Kingston the Gingerbread Man were handing out tee-shirts and pancakes but Santa Claus Rusev and Snowman Shakespeare in Love (Aiden English…) claimed people prefer their shirts, not The New Day’s shirts. Rusev put them on their naughty list, English sang, the match was made.
A very special Ziggler celebration
Ziggler in the ring said people thought he couldn’t win the title but he added they mustn’t have been watching all the titles he has been winning over the last 12 years. He won his first US Title in 2011, the second last Sunday. And 5 Intercontinental Championships in 2010, 2014, 2014, 2014 and 2016. He also is a 2-time Money In the Bank winner, in 2012 and 2013, and cashed in successfully to become a 2-time World Heavyweight Champion. And he also was a Tag Team Champion. Ziggler said he’s one of the most decorated Superstars in WWE history and night after night, year after year, he proved it to the rest of the world but went unappreciated. The WWE Universe has never been worthy of him, never deserved him. He stared at the title and did something he wanted to remember of… laying the title of the mat. Ziggler officially relinquished the title and walked to the back.
– Backstage, Daniel Bryan was offered a bottle of champagne by Kevin Owens and Daniel Bryan. Sami said Bryan did the right thing for them and for their legions of fans, but Bryan said he did it for all of SmackDown Live. The Orton-Owens rivalry was back in the conversation as Owens claimed Bryan had the last laugh on Orton and Shane at Clash of Champions. Bryan told them they were unbelievable and if they didn’t wipe the smiles off their faces, he might have to fire them himself.
The New Day defeated Rusev & Aiden English.
A goofy moment more than a match on his own. The New Day threw Santa’s sack t-shirts to the crowd, sent Snowman face-first into a plate of pancakes with whip cream and cherries. Reindeer Woods hit a big flying elbow drop from the top rope for the pin. Tom Phillips claimed The New Day saved Christmas…
AJ Styles, Randy Orton & Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Jinder Mahal (w/ The Singh Brothers), Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Big brawl to start the match, in and out of the ring. Nakamura sent Zayn into a barrier while Orton slammed Mahal on the announce table. Interesting teamwork from both teams. Orton made his 3 opponents suffer quite hard but Owens answered the rough way outside the ring. Mahal followed. Orton spent a very bad moment before being able to tag in Styles but Owens, thanks to Mahal, made him fall to the floor.
Owens, Zayn and Mahal were in control until Styles tagged in Nakamura. The Artist on fire unleashed load of kicks on his 3 opponents. Knees and boots too (it was Christmas Strong Style gifts…). The Singh Brothers interfered with a shot on the neck of Nakamura, the referee ejected them from ringside. Orton offered each of them a RKO before they left. AJ went for the Phenomenal Forearm on Owens in the ring, receiving an assist from Orton as he pushed Styles into the move. Nakamura ended up hitting a Kinshasa on Sami as Orton watched from a few feet away. Nakamura covered Sami for the pin. Nice match, a little messy when so much people are involved, but a good one.
The New Day saved Christmas, Naomi is in the Rumble match, The Usos are in serious danger, Nakamura and Orton had a kind of revenge. Okay but and then? Did Ziggler really relinquish the US title? Where were Roode and Corbin? Who’s going to be the new #1 contender AJ Styles was asking for on Talking Smack after Clash of Champions? They may have shaken hands, it seems like the war between Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon has just begun. No answers in this episode, just a new amount of question marks… May the Christmas magic be with the Blue brand next week…
All pics and screencaps courtesy of WWE.com