After a few weeks that saw their tires spinning, Smackdown Live returned last week with a stellar episode following the Royal Rumble. Tonight’s episode comes at you live from Kansas City, and is headlined by Sami Zayn battling Kevin Owens in a #1 contenders match for the right to face AJ Styles next week.
Last Week’s Smackdown:
The big news coming out of last week’s Smackdown was the tension between best friends Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. After failing to capture the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble, the duo was put into a tag-team match in the main event of Tuesday’s show - but not before it was announced that the two would battle next week for the right to fight AJ Styles in a championship rematch. It instantly shifted the dynamic between the two; the night’s main event against Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura was rife with arguments between the two French-Canadians, with Zayn walking out on Owens near the end of the match. It led to Owens taking a Kinshasa from Nakamura, and a lot of unanswered questions heading into tonight’s episode. Will Owens and Zayn make up before tonight? Will they argue heading into their match? Either way, I’m excited.
More Quick Hits:
- Rusev Day! Rusev is the new #1 contender to the United States Championship after winning a fatal four-way last week.
- Carmella attempted to cash in her Money in the Bank Briefcase after Charlotte was left laying by the Riott Squad, but was unable to cash in
- The Bludgeon Brothers defeated WWE Legend “Local Talent” in a squash match, after a tense exchange with the Usos
- Gable & Benjamin defeated Breezango
- Baron Corbin defeated Tye Dillinger in a match set up backstage
State of the Belts:
I doubt I’ll get over it until it actually happens, but Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles are going to wrestle at WrestleMania. If that doesn’t delight you as a wrestling fan, I don’t know what will. While the current champion and the Royal Rumble winner have nothing announced for tonight, Sami Zayn will battle Kevin Owens for the right to challenge Styles at Fastlane. It was a move that cause tension between the co-founders of the “YEP!” movement; will the best friends continue to feud prior to their match?
As mentioned, Rusev is now the #1 contender to Bobby Roode‘s United States Championship. I’m really hoping that this is more than a one-off match; I think there’s a lot of potential for a great feud between the two, and I think this could be a perfect vehicle for a double turn between the two. Roode is a fantastic heel, and I think that it’s about time we give Rusev the babyface run he deserves. The WWE Universe loves him, and Rusev Day may be the most popular thing in WWE since the List of Jericho. Conveniently, the match happens to fall on Rusev Day, which bodes well for the Bulgarian Brute.
Charlotte Flair is the Smackdown Women’s Champion, but we have no idea who she’ll be facing at WrestleMania thus far. With RAW’s Asuka holding out until post-Elimination Chamber to decide which female champion she’ll face, the Smackdown women’s division is in a holding pattern. Flair will battle Liv Morgan of the Riott Squad tonight in singles action, that I’m sure will break down.
The Usos cut a fantastic promo last week, stating that there was no one left in the tag-team division to defeat. When the brothers were leaving the ring post-promo, the Bludgeon Brothers hit the ring in a nice little piece of timing. Foreshadowing?
Here and There:
One thing that I’m truly interested in tonight is the reveal of the first-ever Top 10 Superstars List. I’m a big fan of lists in wrestling - hello, Jericho! - but GM Daniel Bryan has headed up this list. According to his rules, locker room leadership, athletic skill and overall talent should be considered when voting for your peers. Additionally, no Superstars were allowed to vote for themselves, and neither Bryan nor Commissioner Shane McMahon were able to vote as part of the proceedings. I’m thoroughly excited for the storyline possibilities; will we see new feuds develop out of this? Will there be an issue with #1? Either way, I’m eager.
Three Things to Watch For:
- Dolph Ziggler made his return in the #30 spot at the Royal Rumble. However, we haven’t seen the Showstopper on Smackdown Live since his return; is tonight the night? Until then, #DolphWatch continues.
- Even though he defeated Tye Dillinger last week, Baron Corbin is like a rudderless ship - he’s absolutely directionless. While he’s never been a personal favourite, there’s always a spot for a guy like him on the roster. Hopefully, he gets some storyline development sooner rather than later.
- Not really something to watch for, but one year ago today John Cena was the WWE champion. How far we’ve come.
That’s our show! You watching, Win Column’ers? Let us know your thoughts throughout the show by tweeting me at @SpennyLove, or at @WCSportsCA - and don’t forget to send in your questions for next Saturday’s edition of Over the Top Rope!
WWE: Last Five
- Monday Night Hayden: Preview of the 05/02/18 RAW
- Over the Top Rope Podcast: Episode One
- What’s New in WWE: February 2nd
- NXT Tapings: February 1st (SPOILERS)
- Prince’s Thoughts: The Best Triple Threat of All Time