Date: January 16, 2018
Location: Laredo Energy Arena in Laredo, TX
The Big Takeaway --
Not only did both US title semifinal matches take place, but the finals did as well. Bobby Roode challenged Jinder Mahal to the match after they each won tonight, and Daniel Bryan made it official. Roode won the title clean in the main event. (Shane McMahon was there as well and there were no issues with the two this week.)
Also, Jey Uso appeared despite his arrest on Sunday.
If you missed it, this was the worst Smackdown show in quite a while.
Show Recap --
The New Day came out to start the show. Tom Phillips announced that the finals of the US Title tournament would happen next week. I was amazed to see a WWE show might actually start with a wrestling match, but New Day made sure to cut a promo first.
They had a podium set up in the ring draped in the American flag and pancakes sitting on top. They mocked Jinder Mahal and reminded the crowd how much he hates them. Woods said he would become United States champion. This was one of the weakest New Day segments in a while.
US Title Tournament Semi-Finals Match: Jinder Mahal (w/Singh Brothers) defeated Xavier Woods (w/Big E & Kofi Kingston) (18:01)
This match actually went through two commercial breaks. Mahal had the heat from the very beginning. The Singhs got a little too close to the action at one point, so Big E whipped pancakes at them like frisbees.
The crowd chanted “we want pancakes” as Mahal and Woods botched a spot by the ropes. Mahal went to give Woods a back body drop to the outside but he just sorta fell on the top rope instead.
After the second break, Woods headbutted Mahal off the ropes and hit a missile dropkick, then followed with clotheslines and a forearm. Woods then hit an enziguri and shining wizard for two. The Singhs got on the apron so Big E and Kingston chased them up the ramp.
Woods hit a back suplex but Mahal dodged his springboard elbow drop attempt. Mahal then slid Woods into the bottom rope like Enzo Amore to knock him out and followed with the Khallas for the win. This sucked.
Baron Corbin cut a promo backstage where he held the camera himself, kind of like the old Shield promos. He said the Royal Rumble would have no distractions or Smackdown politics and anyone who got in his way would be eliminated. Corbin said it was his time to main event WrestleMania. This was fine.
They announced Goldberg would be inducted into the Hall of Fame by showing us how many news outlets wrote articles about it.
Renee Young interviewed AJ Styles. Styles said his match at the Rumble was a 3-on-1 handicap match because he counted Kevin Owens as two people. He said the “yep” movement made them sound like muppets and gave them the nickname “Kami” (Cammie). Styles said the idea of those two being champion made him sick, but he would overcome another obstacle and reminded us this was his house.
They aired a video of the Smackdown woman cutting quick promos about the Rumble match in selfie videos. And here’s what they said: Carmella said the Rumble would be fabulous, Natalya said it would take cat-like reflexes to win, Tamina said she would make everyone believe they could fly by throwing them over the ropes, Lana said she would crush the competition, Naomi said everyone would feel the glow, Ruby Riott said nobody could stop her, Sarah Logan said she doesn’t run from anything, Liv Morgan said she would live (liv) forever, and Becky Lynch said she would be the last woman standing. This was no good.
US Title Tournament Semi-Finals Match: Bobby Roode defeated Mojo Rawley (13:15)
Like the earlier match, the heel took the heat almost right away. After 10 minutes, Roode made a comeback after Rawley ran shoulder-first into the post. Rawley cut him off briefly, but Roode nailed a spinebuster and Glorious DDT for the win. A nothing match.
The Singhs attacked Roode after the match and scampered off. Samir might’ve twisted his ankle leaving the ring because Sunil had to help him up the ramp. Mahal told Roode he would win the title next week. Roode grabbed a mic and said they should do the match tonight. The crowd chanted for Roode.
Mahal said no, because they would do it when he decides (even though the match has already been announced, which he just acknowledged a moment ago). Daniel Bryan showed up and announced that the match would happen tonight and the crowd chanted Yes. (Should be noted that Roode is selling a rib injury.)
Like Corbin and the women did earlier tonight, Randy Orton cut a selfie promo about the Rumble. Orton said he likes being surrounded by chaos which makes the Rumble his match and he would win it for the third time.
6-Woman Tag Match: Riott Squad defeated Women’s champion Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch & Naomi (8:09)
The babyfaces had control before a break, but not after. The Riott Squad worked over Lynch until she made a hot tag to Naomi, who ran wild on Morgan. Charlotte speared Logan to get her out of the ring, but the referee was distracted by something which allowed Riott to hit a Naomi with a kick on the apron, and Morgan followed with a jawbreaker for the win.
Dasha Fuentes interviewed The Usos. Both of them. They wondered how Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin even became a team. They said it must’ve been Tag Team Tinder because Gable has been on the rebound since Jason Jordan left.
Jimmy and Jey claimed Gable and Benjamin couldn’t even tell them apart, when Gable and Benjamin suddenly attacked them from behind. Gable said they knew exactly who the Usos were--former tag team champions. After Gable and Benjamin left, officials ran in to check on the Usos, who got to their feet on their own. After they stood up, they just stood there seething.
They should’ve had the Usos stay down after the beating. There’s no reason why they couldn’t have just chased after Gable and Benjamin other than they exited the frame already.
They aired a long video package for the WWE title match at the Rumble.
Shinsuke Nakamura cut a selfie promo of his own. "Thirty men. One destiny. One winner. Me. Let’s Rumble.”
Shane McMahon came out. Phillips said the Singh brothers were banned from ringside for the US title match, but Shane and Bryan would be out there.
They aired a clip from the Fashion Files where Aiden English (with Rusev) challenged Breezango to a match next week on Rusev Day. Tyler Breeze appeared to be doing his Renee Young impression. Fandango accepted the match on behalf of the Ascension, who were minding their own business in the locker room reading Gluten Free magazine.
Bobby Roode defeated Jinder Mahal to become United States Champion (15:44)
Both guys are wearing blue trunks and knee pads, with black boots and wrist tape (and neither guy wears elbow pads). Roode is really selling his ribs. Mahal worked him over by driving him into the side of the ring and dropping him rib-first on the barricade. Then they went to commercial 3 minutes into this important title match.
After the break, Mahal worked over Roode’s ribs for an hour. Roode eventually hit a blockbuster but Mahal slipped out of a Glorious DDT and they took each other out with clotheslines. Mahal countered another DDT attempt and went for the Khallas, but Roode countered that into the Glorious DDT for the win.
McMahon and Bryan stood and applauded as Roode celebrated. After a replay, they presented him with the title and he posed to end the show.
Final Thoughts --
This was a really bad show. There were two Jinder Mahal matches totalling 33 minutes and 45 seconds. None of the main event acts were featured on the show, outside of one lame promo from AJ Styles and quick backstage promos from Orton and Nakamura (who, to be fair, was busy with the Mixed Match Challenge). The women were presented as one-note characters with nothing interesting to say.
The only positive, I guess, is that Roode won the title. I don’t like Mahal, but even if you’re okay with him as a mid-card champion, it’s too early to give him another title reign after we just endured one. One negative to that reign was it cut off Nakamura’s momentum, and they ran the risk of doing that with Roode (whatever momentum he does have).