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WWE SmackDown live results: AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn

Date: January 2, 2018
Location: Amway Center in Orlando, FL

The Big Takeaway --

Sami Zayn beat AJ Styles in a non-title match, thanks to plenty of distractions. Styles was pissed and wanted a handicap match against Zayn and Owens. This led to Daniel Bryan announcing that Styles would defend his title in a handicap match at the Royal Rumble (not a triple threat).

Becky Lynch returned to help Charlotte and Naomi attack the Riott Squad. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin appeared to have won the tag team titles, but the match was restarted after the officials realized the legal men were not involved in the pinfall. The Usos retained the titles after the restart.

Show Recap -- 

After a recap of last week’s angle, they plugged AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn, and The Usos vs. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin for the tag titles.

AJ Styles came out to start the show. Styles wished everyone a happy new year and welcomed everyone to his house. The crowd chanted for him. Styles knows there are wrestlers on both brands with new year’s resolutions of winning the Rumble, but his resolution was to keep the title right through WrestleMania.

Styles’ second resolution was to beat Zayn tonight. He wanted to know if Daniel Bryan would allow Kevin Owens to be at ringside, and that brought out Bryan. Before he could say anything, Shane McMahon entered.

Shane began to speak but stopped when the crowd chanted his name. He started again but again was stopped, this time by a chant for Bryan. Shane apologized to Styles for his interference leading to his defeat. Styles gave him a fist bump and seemed fine with this apology.

Shane acknowledged his issues with Owens and Zayn, but also accused Bryan of having a kinship with them. Shane asked if Bryan was turning the Yes Movement into the Yep Movement. This led to a mixture of No/Yep/Yes chants. Bryan was about to answer, but Shane kept going. Shane figured Bryan would allow Owens at ringside, so Shane was planning on being there too.

Bryan said he had other thoughts but was going to allow Owens at ringside if Shane planned on being there. The people booed, which seemed to surprise Bryan. Bryan then said he would be at ringside too and led a Yes chant.

Xavier Woods vs. Aiden English will take place tonight in the US Title tournament.

WWE congratulated themselves on Smackdown being the number one show on social media last week.

Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos vs. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin

During his pose in their entrance, Shelton Benjamin slipped slightly on the top rope but regained his balance. He laughed off the potentially embarrassing moment. The Usos cut a pre-match promo saying they were about to become 3-time tag team of the year and referred to Jimmy as the iron man of WWE (stat courtesy of Someone on Twitter).

Saxton said the Usos made a resolution to get in better shape and that Jimmy has lost 40 pounds. Gable and Benjamin got a nearfall right away after a top rope suplex from Benjamin and a moonsault by Gable, but the pin was broken up. They went to commercial 34-seconds into the match.

The Usos made a comeback after a break hitting dives to each of their opponents. Benjamin abruptly cut them off, tossed one Uso into the barricade and kneed the other one in the head. Benjamin and Gable then hit their powerbomb/clothesline combo for the quick win (5:33). Gable and Benjamin were announced as the new champs as the Usos complained to the referee.

As Benjamin and Gable celebrated up the ramp, another referee ran down to try to sort things out. They claimed that neither man was legal. The referee acknowledged his mistake and restarted the match.

The Usos retained their titles. The match was restarted after a break despite protests from Gable and Benjamin. The Usos nailed superkicks to Benjamin and finished him off with a splash for the win. (The second match went 1:24.)

Backstage, Renee asked Zayn and Owens if Shane and Bryan being at ringside would affect tonight’s match. Owens said there would be nothing different about tonight’s outcome--he beat Styles last week, and Zayn will do the same.

Zayn said Bryan isn’t showing favouritism, he’s just being a good GM. Zayn said this was still the Sami and Kevin Show, but before he said that, he slipped and almost called it the “seven” show, combining their two names. Owens picked up on this said it was weird that he said “seven” instead of “Sami.” Owens said Zayn would destroy the house that AJ Styles built.

Breezango vs. Bludgeon Brothers

The match never happened. Harper and Rowan attacked Tyler Breeze and Fandango before the match could start (as replays were being shown, in fact). Ascension ran out to confront Harper and Rowan, but they were easily taken out.

Big E and Kofi Kingston had a new year’s gift for Xavier Woods. They were pancakes in the shape of “2018” and a candle for him to make a wish. Woods thanked them and said when he becomes US champ, they all become US champ.

Before he could blow out his candle, Aiden English and Rusev showed up. English said he wanted every day to be Rusev Day and that would become a reality when he wins the US Title. Rusev mocked New Day for acting like children and he blew out Woods’ candle.

They aired a quick pre-taped promo by Mojo Rawley who said he would send Zack Ryder back to the past where he belongs.

US Championship Tournament First Round Match: Xavier Woods (w/Big E & Kofi Kingston) defeated Aiden English (w/Rusev)

English was going to sing a song before the match, but Rusev stopped him because he had a song for English:

Mark your calendars, save your dates
This is your new champion of the United States
He’s so tall, he’ll make Woods pay
For Aiden English brings the victory to the Rusev Day

The crowd cheered and English hugged Rusev. The crowd also chanted “we want pancakes” during the match.

Woods won with a springboard elbow drop. He’ll face Jinder Mahal next. Mahal was shown watching the match with the Singh brothers. As they showed replays of the finish, Corey Graves started cracking up because Kingston chucked a pancake in Saxton’s face.

Dasha Fuentes interviewed Natalya, Carmella, Lana and Tamina. Natalya reminded us that they were the Welcoming Committee before there was ever a Riott Squad. They ran down the Riott Squad and Carmella said their party was over. This was lame. Also, the four women stood shoulder-to-shoulder-to-shoulder-to-shoulder which looked real dumb.

Karl Malone was shown at ringside. He did DDP’s diamond cutter pose.

There was a graphic for the women’s Royal Rumble and the participants shown were Ruby Riott, Carmella, Naomi, Asuka, Natalya, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Paige, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Lana and Tamina.

Riott Squad defeated Natalya, Carmella & Tamina (w/Lana)

Sarah Logan got the pinfall win on Tamina after hitting a Hail Mary (kneedrop to the back of the head).

Afterwards, Ruby told the Orlando crowd that magic wasn’t real. She said they pretend to be happy but they’re all miserable. She called the Riott Squad a dose of reality and said their destruction was real. Ruby announced that Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan were both entering the Rumble. Ruby has good delivery and did her best with the material.

Charlotte Flair interrupted. Charlotte wanted to give them a dose of reality and said actions have consequences. Naomi came out, but that wasn’t all, as Becky Lynch returned to a good reaction. They ran down and attacked the Riott Squad. Charlotte took out Logan with a big boot and Naomi took out Morgan with a Disaster kick. Lynch then gave Exploders to both Ruby and Morgan.

They announced John Cena as an entrant in the Royal Rumble.

Baron Corbin’s big face showed up on screen and he said he can’t wait to win the Rumble and main event WrestleMania. That seems unlikely.

Non-title: Sami Zayn (w/Kevin Owens) defeated WWE Champion AJ Styles (13:44)

Styles was in control when Zayn countered a Styles Clash into a Blue Thunder Bomb for a nearfall. Styles then countered a Helluva Kick into a Calf Crusher but Zayn managed to get a rope break.

They traded forearms until Styles nailed a Pele kick. After Zayn ducked a Phenomenal forearm, Styles pushed Zayn towards the referee who fell outside the ring. Styles applied a roll-up while Owens tried to distract the ref. The ref jumped back in to count the fall, but Zayn kicked out at two.

Shane freaked out and shoved Owens to the ground. He demanded the referee toss Owens from ringside, so he did. Bryan got on the mic and told Shane that if Owens was tossed from ringside, then Shane should leave too. This drew a big reaction from the crowd.

Owens jumped on the apron before leaving, so Styles knocked him down. The distraction allowed Zayn to hit a Helluva kick for the win.

A pissed off AJ Styles grabbed the mic, looked at Bryan and told them to stop bickering like children. Styles didn’t know whose side Bryan was on but didn’t care. He said we should just make everyone happy and give him a handicap match with Zayn and Owens.

Bryan thought this was a great idea and announced that Styles would defend his WWE title in a handicap match against Owens and Zayn at the Royal Rumble. The crowd didn’t seem to know how to react. Shane looked perplexed as Bryan led a Yes chant from the announce table.