WWE's SmackDown Live was broadcast from Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. on January 23, 2018.
WWE SmackDown Live main event: AJ Styles def. Kevin Owens, but loses to Sami Zayn in separate singles matches
This circumstance was signed up in the opener... more of AJ Styles asking for too much?
Anyways, Kevin Owens submitted to Styles QUICKLY, selling an injury to his leg. This became important, as Owens was at ringside for the entire next match of Styles vs. Zayn, despite commissioner Shane McMahon saying before the matches that Zayn and Owens could be fired if they interfered in the matches at all.
Well, that turned out to not be too important, as Styles instead went berserk on Owens when he could. This included keeping the calf crusher on after their match was over, and attacking Owens ringside multiple times during the match with Zayn. Styles even flipped over a gurney that the injured Owens was resting on ringside near the end of the match.
The move of aggression proved to be Styles' downfall, as Zayn hit a Helluva Kick as soon as Styles re-entered the ring. In perhaps the biggest shocker of the night, Zayn actually won the match after hitting the Blue Thunder Bomb. HE NEVER WINS WITH THE BLUE THUNDER BOMB!
Zayn and a still limping Owens made it clear afterwards: they believe they both will be the next WWE Champion.
Whose side is Daniel Bryan on?
As is status quo for the past several weeks, Bryan's true allegiance was put to the test. After AJ Styles argued with Owens and Zayn in the opening segment, Bryan emerged on the ramp and it appeared he was going to announce Styles for separate singles matches against both competitors during the show. Styles, expecting this, just accepted his fate before Bryan announced it.
Afterwards, Bryan ran into Shane McMahon backstage, and Bryan tried to convince Shane that really wasn't going to sign those matches. Suffice to say, Shane was left unconvinced, and Bryan's true motivations still remain a mystery.
Chad Gable (w/ Shelton Benjamin) def. (pin) Jey Uso (w/ Jimmy Uso)
To no surprise, these two had a great match with a fantastic display of smooth ground wrestling and athletic big moves. Probably the best part? Neither guy actually hit all of their big moves, meaning there's a lot they can still do when the respective teams face off in a 2 out of 3 falls match at the Royal Rumble on Sunday.
Gable got the win in the match after the rolling German suplex. The way Gable does it is such a unique move, but seriously, when was the last time we saw a German suplex win a match in WWE? It was definitely a great change of pace for a good match.
Naomi def. (pin) Liv Morgan (w/ the Riott Squad)
I thought this was a fun match, mainly because of a couple of clever spots like this.
Anyways, point of this match wasn't about the match at all... eventually all the SmackDown Live women were out ringside, and a contrived Royal Rumble match simulation took place afterwards, eventually ending with Becky Lynch throwing a surprised Naomi over the top rope. This eventually brought out the champ, Charlotte Flair, who wished good luck to the competitors in the match... and even more luck to the winner that will have to face her at WrestleMania.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin ends in a DQ after Randy Orton interferes
This was surprisingly a good match... honestly didn't expect that since Corbin isn't great and Nakamura can be known to uh... not care. However, the two hit some REALLY good looking moves, including this vicious clothesline from Corbin.
Afterwards, Nakamura was going for the Kinshasa when RKO OUTTA NOWHERE! Orton's interference caused the DQ, but Orton wasn't finished there; he laid out Corbin with the RKO as well, and the announce team pushed Orton as one of the favorites for the Royal Rumble match.
WWE SmackDown Live best of the rest
- The New Day officially entered the Royal Rumble match. Not sure if that means all three are in, or just one of the three like they've done before.
- Afterwards, New Day (Xavier & Kofi) and Bobby Roode def. (pin) Jinder Mahal, Rusev, and Aiden English in a tag match
- There were recaps of last night's historic RAW 25 show. As always, WWE puts together a damn good video package.
WWE SmackDown Live leading up to the Royal Rumble
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