An Intercontinental Championship match is set for tonight's episode of SmackDown.
Intercontinental Champion Big E defends against Apollo Crews. Big E retained against Crews two weeks ago, but the match originally ended in a double pin before being restarted. Last week, Crews seemed to align himself with Roman Reigns. Later, Crews cheated to defeat Sami Zayn and then confronted Big E at ringside.
The build to the Royal Rumble will also continue tonight. Kevin Owens returned last week as Reigns' new Universal Championship challenger for the Royal Rumble. Initially, Reigns manipulated WWE official Adam Pearce into the Universal Championship match at the pay-per-view.
Pearce attempted to get Reigns to sign the contract for their match throughout last week's show, but he refused until Pearce agreed to a Last Man Standing match. After signing the contract, Pearce faked an injury and introduced his replacement, Kevin Owens.
Bayley and Bianca Belair will also compete in an obstacle course tonight. Bayley debuted her new talk show "Ding Dong, Hello!" last week with Belair as her first guest. After arguing back and forth, Bayley challenged Belair to an obstacle course.
Our live coverage begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
They recapped the Roman Reigns and Adam Pearce angle from last week. It ended with Kevin Owens making his return.
Universal Champion Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman made their way to the ring to start SmackDown. The fans gave Reigns a thumbs down, and they piped in fake "You Suck" chants.
Reigns noted Kevin Owens wouldn't appear tonight because he said so. He brought up Pearce and Owens's plan from last week. Reigns mentioned some fans said Owens and Pearce got one pass them. He doesn't like the phrase card subject to change.
Reigns was furious that Pearce got out of the match because of an injury. He said it took a serious health risk during the pandemic to keep him out of the ring. Reigns talked about all of his injuries and noted his back hurts from carrying the company.
Reigns said his back injury might keep him from the Royal Rumble. Adam Pearce interrupted and said things are getting out of control. Reigns got in Pearce's face and was mad that he complained of his body hurting.
Reigns pointed out that he never complains about his injuries. He mocked Pearce for complaining and said he's not surprised that Pearce never made it to the WWE.
Heyman thought that was funny and started laughing. Pearce didn't like that Heyman laughed.
Pearce said he'll back down from Reigns but won't take it from Heyman.
Reigns noted he just disrespected Heyman, which means he disrespected Reigns. Heyman got in Pearce's face and talked about his history with Reign's family.
Heyman decided to give Pearce a huge main event for tonight. Heyman then challenged Pearce to a match for later tonight. Pearce agreed, and Heyman versus Pearce is official for the main event.
This was a good opening segment. Reigns was awesome, but all three played their roles well.
Michael Cole and Corey Graves ran down the line up for tonight, but Sami Zayn interrupted. Zayn was with the documentary crew and handcuffed himself to the barricade.
Back from the break, Zayn brought up Apollo Crews cheating last week. Zayn noted he got caught cheating moments earlier, but Crews didn't get caught. Suddenly, Asuka's music hit and cut him off.
Zayn remained handcuffed to the barricade for several segments and matches.
WWE Women's Tag Team Champions Asuka & Charlotte Flair defeated The Riott Squad (w/Billie Kay) in a non-title match
They showed Natalya and Tamina Snuka watching in the back.
This was a fine match although it dragged at times.
The champions had the early advantage and isolated Riott on their side of the ring. Kay jumped on the apron and distracted Flair. Flair sent Riott to the floor and tried to drag Kay into the ring.
Morgan got the tag and hit a flying crossbody on Flair for a near fall.
Back from the break, Flair was firmly in control of Morgan. Michael Cole noted that Morgan was very impressive during the break. The Riott Squad took over and isolated Flair in their corner.
Sami Zayn's still at ringside handcuffed to the barricade.
Flair recovered and hit a suplex on Morgan. Asuka tagged herself in, but Morgan fought back. The Riott Squad regained control.
Riott rolled up Asuka and had the match won, but Kay distracted the referee. Asuka hit the hip attack on Morgan, which sent her into Kay on the floor.
Flair then hit natural selection on Riott for the win. Cole pushed the idea that the Riott Squad had the match won, but Kay cost them the match.
Cole and Graves ran down more of the line up for tonight, including Sasha Banks against Reginald.
In the back, Kay tried to apologize to Riott and Morgan. Riott pointed out she had Asuka beat, but Kay caused a distraction. Kay tried to make up with them and got them both entered into the Royal Rumble.
The Riott Squad turned down Kay and noted they're better when it's just them two. Kay was devastated as they walked away.
Daniel Bryan Segment
Daniel Bryan made his way down to the ring. He talked about the uncertainty of the Royal Rumble match. Bryan noted there are many challenges to the Rumble but the winner receives a title shot at WretleMania. He said he'd had a great career, but he never won the Rumble.
Suddenly, Cesaro's music hit, and he walked down to ringside. He noted he can speak in five different languages and briefly spoke to Zayn, still handcuffed to the barricade. Cesaro said he won the first Andre The Giant battle royal. Bryan didn't forget that he lost to Cesaro last week.
Bryan challenged Cesaro to a match right now. Cesaro turned down Bryan because he's sick of having to prove himself. He then made an open challenge to anyone in the back.
Dolph Ziggler's music hit, and he walked out. Ziggler promised to win the Rumble and praised his tag team partner Robert Roode. Ziggler told Bryan it's not 2014 anymore and accepted Cesaro's challenge.
Cesaro defeated Dolph Ziggler
Bryan joined Michael Cole and Corey Graves on commentary.
Cesaro and Ziggler had a fun short match.
Cesaro gained the early advantage with an uppercut in the corner. He followed up with the giant swing.
Ziggler recovered, and they traded a series of pin attempts. Cesaro avoided a superkick, but Ziggler hit the Zig-Zag for a near fall.
Ziggler slowed the pace down with a sleeper hold. Cesaro broke free and lifted Ziggler in the air. Ziggler countered with a hurricanrana, but Cesaro reversed into the neutralizer for the win.
SmackDown Women's Champion Sasha Banks defeated Reginald (w/Carmella)
Carmella sat at ringside and drank some chamgpange.
This was a fine match. It was mostly Reginald using different rolls and moves to avoid Banks. The match had a Cirque du Soleil feel to it.
Reginald gave Banks a flower at the start of the match. Reginald blocked a slap from Banks, so Banks rocked him with the other hand. Reginald avoided Banks with a series of rolls and dives. Banks sent Reginald to the floor and hit a Meteora off the apron.
Banks got in Carmella's face and slapped the glass out of her hand. Banks attempted the backstabber, but Reginald rolled out. He lifted Banks in the air, but she hit a second Meteora. The finish came when Banks locked on the Bank Statement for the win.
In the back, Paul Heyman gloated that their plan worked out perfectly. He knew what Reigns wanted him to do and challenge Adam Pearce to a match.
Reigns noted there isn't a plan. He hired Heyman to do a job but also expects him to be a man. Reigns told him to handle his business and to be a man.
Intercontinental Champion Big E vs. Apollo Crews ended without a winner
Big E got in Sami Zayn's face as he entered the ring.
Big E and Crews had a good short match until the finish.
Big E hit a belly to belly suplex to gain the early advantage. Crews fought back and hit an enziguri and standing moonsault for a near fall. He followed up with rolling German suplexes, but Big E fought out.
Crews charged at Big E, but he caught him with a uranage for a close near fall. They fought around ringside. Crews regained control with a standing moonsault off the apron.
Big E attempted a superplex, but Crews knocked him off with a series of headbutts. Crews then hit a missile dropkick.
Zayn took off the handcuffs and jumped in the ring. He rocked Crews with a helluva kick and gave one to Big E as well. The referee called for the bell as Zayn yelled at Crews and Big E.
Michael Cole and Corey Graves noted that Roman Reigns left the ThunderDome and won't be around for the Paul Heyman and Adam Pearce match. They pointed out that Kevin Owens isn't at the ThunderDome either.
They showed a promo from Owens from earlier today.
Owens noted that Reigns couldn't beat him without help from his family. Owens talked about his tattoos and his grandfathers. He admired both of them and was disappointed they never got to see him make it to the WWE. He learned from them and won't stop fighting. He promised to be the last man standing at the Royal Rumble.
In the back, The Street Profits were walking down the hallway with a fruit basket. They approached Sonya Deville. Ziggler walked away as they walked up to Deville. They congratulated Deville on her new job and office.
They requested a return match for the titles. Deville turned them down because of Montez Ford's injury. She told them to stick to doing funny segments in the back and let other teams have a chance. She promised them a match once he heals up.
They reluctantly agreed but seemed uneasy as she walked away with the fruit basket.
Obstacle Course Challenge: Bianca Belair defeated Bayley
Michael Cole hosted and introduced the participants. Bayley grabbed the mic from Cole and sent him away. Bayley walked Belair through the course and pointed out that Chad Gable is going to help out.
Bayley went first, but her course was easier. Bayley did a tire flip, tiny hurdles, ran around the walls, carried Gable on her shoulders, and dunked a basketball, although she missed the first time.
Bayley then made the course more challenging for Belair, including having to carry Otis on her shoulders. Belair easily beat Bayley's time and dominated the course. Bayley jumped Belair from behind and beat her down.
Bayley then dropped the basketball net on Belair.
In the back, Rey Mysterio gave Dominik last-minute pointers for his match with King Corbin. Dominik's confident in his abilities.
King Corbin defeated Dominik Mysterio
Corbin and Mysterio had a fine match.
Mysterio caught Corbin with a dropkick to gain the early advantage. He attempted a plancha, but Corbin avoided and rocked Mysterio with a clothesline. Corbin backed Mysterio into the corner and rocked him with body shots.
Corbin attempted the end of days, but Mysterio fought back. He set up for the 619, but Corbin blocked the move. Corbin then hit the end of days for the win.
Michael Cole noted Dominik might want to start doing things his father's way.
In the back, an angry Paul Heyman headed towards the ring but doesn't seem dressed to compete.
Paul Heyman vs. Adam Pearce
This wasn't a match and was more of an angle.
Heyman taped his fists as he walked towards the ring but tripped on the steps.
Heyman tried to get in the ring again but pretended to have an injury. Heyman then noted that the card is subject to change.
Roman Reigns music hit, and he walked to the ring. He rocked Pearce with the superman punch. Pearce tried to fight back, but Reigns hit a low blow. He tossed Pearce into the screens and beat him into the stands.
Reigns put Pearce in the stands. Suddenly, Kevin Owens in a hoodie jumped Reigns. They fought down the ramp and into the ring. Owens avoided the superman punch and hit the stunner.
Referees tried to hold Owens back, but he continued to attack Reigns. Owens hit a second stunner, and a pop-up powerbomb through the announce table. Owens yelled at Reigns as SmackDown went off the air.