The first SmackDown of the new year was also the first episode to air on BT Sport in the UK. This jampacked show was an average episode in terms of match quality and storyline build-up, but there were plenty of exciting returns that are set to elevate the Blue brand heading into Royal Rumble in 3 weeks time! Welcome to the most must-see VultureHound review in history; welcome to… the SmackDown Review.
– Dana Brooke & Lacey Evans defeated Bayley & Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross in a Triple Threat tag team match.
– Shorty G defeated Dash Wilder.
– Kofi Kingston defeated The Miz.
– Otis defeated Drew Gulak.
– Braun Strowman defeated Cesaro.
– Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns defeated King Corbin & Dolph Ziggler via disqualification.
Bradley’s Best Bits:
The duo of Bayley and Sasha Banks opened this week’s show by taunting Lacey Evans once again, who responded by coming out to the ring alongside Dana Brooke to promise to show everyone that the “good guys” can win. Feeling left out, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross also made their presence known and felt that they had to insert themselves into a match to get a win so they can back into the Women’s Tag Team title picture.
Bayley and Banks always looked like the best duo out of the 3, due to their years of friendship and the chemistry that comes with it. Bliss and Cross were a part of the match for a short while but failed to make much impact. Dana Brooke was made out to be the lesser of the women involved, but impressively, she was able to claim the win for her team when the Sassy Southern Belle hit Banks with the Woman’s Right, which allowed Brooke to tag in and hit a senton bomb from for the win.
A very surprising but welcome victory for the unlikely duo of Brooke and Evans, with Evans, in particular, beginning to look more like a star as the weeks go by. For Bliss and Cross, they must now be wondering where they go from here after previously picking up some momentum with wins over Fire & Desire in previous weeks. Despite the loss, Bayley and Banks still looked impressive but as time goes on, there must be some questions about Sasha Banks’ loyalties when it comes to Championship opportunities.
After a backstage disagreement over Elias’ song which mentioned The Revival, Shorty G challenged Dash Wilder to a match to prove he is more than what his size suggests (if I had a pound, ey?). The match itself was okay but given the technical ability of both these men, I am convinced they are capable of putting on a much better match going forward.
Though Gable who was able (poetry) to claim the win by making Wilder tap to an Ankle Lock it was what happened following the match that took all the attention. Straight afterwards, the artist formerly known as Chad Gable was set upon by both members of the Revival only for a returning Sheamus to scare them away. Just as it looked as though The Fella had made the save, he then inexplicably Brogue Kicked Shorty G straight into next week. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next for the Celtic Warrior!
Another match that was more about the moments that preluded and subsequently followed it was Kofi Kingston vs The Miz. This one was all about Miz’s head once again being turned due to the acts of The Fiend and the A-Lister is starting to seem more like his former self. Backstage, this saw The New Day try and bring some positivity back to Miz only for him to slam their offering of pancakes and joyfulness to the ground.
Again, this was less about the match itself and more so the developments around it. As Kofi was able to secure a victory over Miz, the latter immediately retaliated by beating down Kofi after his pinfall defeat only for Big E to chase him off. The crowd’s chants of “you suck” fueled the Miz’s anger further and may have solidified his heel turn. Later, in a backstage segment, a returning John Morrison was seen coming out of the dressing room of The Miz which could suggest the 2 could once again team up to bring us The Dirt Sheet Duo.
Cesaro was once again able to show off just how strong he is as he went up against his the sizable Braun Strowman. The pair clearly have some great chemistry together but then again, Cesaro can wrestle anybody and make it entertaining.
The Swiss Cyborg started off well by slowly hacking away at the Monster Among Men, but one too many distractions from Nakamura and a Fidel Castro-looking Zayn at ringside would be their downfall when Strowman would steam through all men like a powerful locomotive. The big man eventually claimed the win with his running powerslam but was struck by a Kinshasa from Nakamura which should be the setup for some more entertaining matches between these men in the coming weeks.
The build-up for the night’s main event saw Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns in a backstage interview ahead of their match with King Corbin and Dolph Ziggler. Daniel Bryan pointed out how everyone that has come up against The Fiend has changed except for himself who has promised to defeat Bray Wyatt at the Royal Rumble PPV later this month. Reigns declared that when he goes on to win the Royal Rumble match, he will challenge the leader of the Yes Movement for the Universal Championship that he never lost at WrestleMania.
The babyface duo worked well as a team until the lights began to flicker as though The Fiend was ready to interfere. The demon figure was nowhere to be seen but the distraction allowed the heels target Reigns and take over the match. The Big Dog was able to bring Bryan back into the action but just as Bryan connected with the Running Knee, The Fiend appeared and attacked his rival with the Mandible Claw leaving us wondering if “good old DB” might be left broken after his match at Royal Rumble.
Once the lights came back on, the heel duo once again attacked The Big Dog and handcuffed him. Just as they were ready to open the cans of dog food, The Usos made an exciting return and superkicked Corbin and Ziggler straight off their feet! The Bloodline vs The Kings Court promises to be a fantastic 6-man match up once Robert Roode returns from suspension.
For Fox Sake:
After a few weeks of “will they/won’t they” between Otis and Mandy Rose, insults have now started to come Otis’ way regarding his weight and this was highlighted through Drew Gulak who is otherwise better than this with humour when making PowerPoint presentations. It’s not entirely clear why these 2 were having a singles match either given Otis is a tag team competitor who’s recent beef has been with Dolph Ziggler regarding Mandy Rose. Gulak himself had no setup for the match other than his presentation whilst he was already on his way to the ring.
The match itself was a squash with Otis winning cleanly over Gulak after a trademark Caterpillar and corner slingshot splash. Whilst Gulak continues to do his job well by always getting his comeuppance after antagonising his opponents, a brilliant all-round entertainer such as himself should be getting more significant time to shine. This also does very little for Heavy Machinery as a team, as the only real story they have is Otis’ thwarted attempts at wooing Mandy Rose.
All pics and videos courtesy of WWE