WWE kicks off 2019 with a taped New Year’s Day episode of SmackDown.
On Christmas Eve, Vince McMahon announced the return of John Cena to Raw and SmackDown. Tonight, Cena makes his return to WWE TV to start off the New Year.
The Christmas Day SmackDown ended with AJ Styles attacking Mr. McMahon. McMahon slapped Styles to bring out Styles' inner animal. Styles snapped and knocked McMahon to the ground. Tonight, Styles faces the fallout for his actions.
The Miz finally convinced Shane McMahon to be his tag team partner last week, telling a heartbreaking story about never receiving his father’s approval. The story was enough to get Shane to finally agree to be partners.
Rusev defeated Shinsuke Nakamura to win the United States Championship on Christmas Day. Tonight, Rusev celebrates his championship win, the New Year and Rusev Day. Plus, The New Day host a special New Day New Year’s Day Celebration.
Our coverage begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
The commentators announced a Fatal Five Way Number One Contenders match between AJ Styles, Mustafa Ali, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio and a fifth particpant. The winner goes on to challenge WWE Champion Daniel Bryan at the Royal Rumble. Samoa Joe takes on Jeff Hardy to determine the fifth participant.
The New Day came out for their New Year Day Celebration to start SmackDown. Big E’s dressed like a baby. Xavier Woods announced that all three New Day members are entering the Royal Rumble. Kingston noted that one of them is going to win the Rumble for a shot at the WWE Championship. Woods noted they could also challenge for the Universal Championship but Brock Lesnar might not show up. Kingston was angry that he hasn’t missed a day in eleven years but can’t get a title shot.
Woods then announced that due to doctor’s orders they could no longer eat pancakes. Regardless, Big E kept finding pancakes to eat. Big E then discussed the upcoming match to determine the fifth participant in the fatal five-way. They introduced Jeff Hardy.
Samoa Joe defeated Jeff Hardy To Be The Fifth Participant in the Fatal Five Way
Joe had the early advantage and was firmly in control. Hardy fought back with a jawbreaker. Hardy rammed Joe’s knee against the ring post. He attempted a figure four but Joe rolled to the floor.
Back from commercial, Joe’s regained control and slowed the pace down. Hardy went up for Whisper in the Wind but Joe caught him in the tree of woe. He followed up with a dropkick. Hardy made a comeback and hit the Twist of Fate.
Hardy hit the Swanton Bomb but Joe rolled to the floor. Hardy attempted a dropkick through the ropes but Joe caught him in the Coquina Clutch. Joe tried to get a count out win but Hardy beat the ten count. Joe locked on the Coquina Clutch again and Hardy passed out. Joe joins AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio and Mustafa Ali in the Fatal Five Way in the main event.
Backstage, Mr. McMahon and Shane McMahon were discussing Joe’s victory and the main event. AJ Styles entered and teased apologizing for attacking McMahon last week but didn’t. He threatened Mr. McMahon and Shane stood up. Styles promised to show the “real” AJ Styles in the main event. After he left, Shane asked his father if he’s sure he wants the real Styles. Mr. McMahon confirmed that he does.
In the ring, Kayla Braxton introduced the new United States Champion Rusev and Lana. Rusev promised to defend the title against anyone and he will win using his power, strength and animal magnetism. Rusev started chanting “Rusev Day U.S.A.”
Suddenly, Shinsuke Nakamura attacked Rusev from behind. Lana jumped on his back to pull him off of Rusev. Rusev then hit the Machka Kick on Nakamura with Lana still on his back. Nakamura fell backwards and landed on Lana. Rusev checked on Lana and Nakamura hit the Kinshasa on Rusev.
Sonya Deville (w/ Mandy Rose) defeated Naomi
Originally, Rose was scheduled to take on Naomi. Before the match, Rose took off her shirt to reveal a Usos t-shirt. Naomi went after Rose but she left the ring. Deville then jumped in to take her place.
Deville was firmly in control and wore down Naomi. Rose continued to taunt Naomi during the match. Naomi made a comeback but Rose grabbed the mic. Rose said that while she was getting ready earlier she was thinking of Jimmy Uso. She decided to send him a picture of herself in only a towel. She showed the picture on the big screen. Naomi was angry and distracted, which gave Deville the chance to win the match.
Backstage, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio and Mustafa Ali gave separate interviews and promised to win the main event.
The IIconics and Gallows and Anderson gave their New Years Resolutions. Shelton Benjamin thought the Resolutions were a waste of time. He put a stop to it by pulling down the set.
Backstage, Samoa Joe bragged about beating Jeff Hardy earlier and promised to win the fatal five-way before winning the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble.
John Cena made his return and headed down to the ring. He looked back on the last year. He punched his ticket to WrestleMania, his personal life played out on TV and he lived in China. Cena noted he doesn’t have a reason to be here. He mentioned that some man’s music is going to play and interrupt him. He pointed out they’ll make fun of his hair and bring up that he's a broken down part-timer. He called out someone to interrupt him.
This brought out Becky Lynch. She noted he expected a man but instead got The Man. She said in 2018 she didn’t just target Charlotte Flair but him too. She wanted to take Flair and Cena’s place on the posters. She noted she’s going to take his place and if he has a problem with that Nikki Bella won’t be the only woman to drop him.
Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega interrupted. Vega called them old news and noted The McMahon family promised new faces but all she sees is an old face and a broken face. She introduced herself and Almas to Cena. She called 2019 the year of Tranquillo. Cena challenged Vega and Almas to face Cena and Lynch right now.
Becky Lynch & John Cena defeated Andrade “Cien” Almas & Zelina Vega
Lynch was firmly in control and caught Vega with a dropkick. Vega tagged out and Lynch wanted Almas. Lynch was forced to tag in Cena. Almas slowed the pace down and wore down Cena. He isolated Cena in their corner and distracted the referee. Vega took the chance to nail Cena with a boot.
Almas missed the double knees in the corner and Cena tagged in Lynch. Lynch ran wild on Vega and backed her in the corner. Lynch hit a missile dropkick for a near fall. She went for the Dis-arm-her but Almas broke it up. Cena hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle, Attitude Adjustment and Lighting Fist on Almas. Lynch then threw Cena out of the ring. Finish came when she locked on the Dis-arm-her on Vega for the win.
In the back, Shane McMahon was in the middle of a meeting when The Miz interrupted. He showed a series of pics for them as a tag team. It featured Miz and McMahon in matching gear. McMahon noted the body Miz used for McMahon was Goldberg’s. Miz said McMahon’s body’s way better. McMahon told Miz to tap into his creativity and sneaked out of the room.
Backstage, HHH approached the Woman’s Champion Asuka. He asked Asuka who she thinks deserves a title shot at the Royal Rumble. Asuka’s willing to take on anyone. Charlotte Flair, Carmella and Becky Lynch all appeared and demanded the title shot. HHH noted he’s going to take it under consideration.
AJ Styles defeated Rey Mysterio, Mustafa Ali, Samoa Joe and Randy Orton To Earn A WWE Championship Title Shot At The Royal Rumble
Ali attacked Joe to start the match. Joe sent Ali to the floor. Styles cleared the ring and went after Orton. Ali pulled Styles out of the ring and hit the rolling X-Factor on Orton for a near fall. Styles and Mysterio squared off. Mysterio sent Styles to the floor and attempted a dive. However, Orton caught Mysterio with a power slam.
Back from commercial, Orton stomped away on Styles. Styles made a comeback and sent Orton and Mysterio to the floor. Styles set up for the Phenomenal Forearm on Ali but Joe knocked Styles off the apron. Orton then slammed Styles on the apron. Joe then followed up by slamming Styles on the announce table. Ali took out Joe with a dive and Mysterio took out Orton with a dive off the apron.
Mysterio and Ali then had an awesome exchange in the ring. Ali and Mysterio fought on the top turnbuckle. Mysterio shoved him off but Ali landed on his feet. Ali ran back up and hit the Spanish fly on Mysterio. Joe broke up the pin. Ali fought back and caught Joe with the Satellite DDT. Ali missed the 054 and Joe locked on the Coquina Clutch.
Ali made it to the ropes and Mysterio hit the 619 on Joe and followed up with one on Ali. Orton hit the RKO on Ali but Mysterio broke up the pin with a huge springboard leg drop. Finish came when Mysterio hit the 619 on Orton. Joe tired to power bomb Mysterio off the apron but he reversed into a hurricanrana. Suddenly, Styles hit the springboard 450 on Orton for the win.
AJ Styles challenges WWE Champion Daniel Bryan for the title at the Royal Rumble.