KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 1/9: Fallout from Bryan announcing a Rumble title defense with Styles defending against Sami and Bryan

By Wade Keller, editor

WWE Smackdown Live logo - new July 2016 (c)

JANUARY 9, 2018

NOTE: Send questions and comments about this show to and we might answer it on the post-Smackdown taping of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast on Podcast One tonight.

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves


-A highlight package aired of last week’s Daniel Bryan, Shane McMahon, A.J. Styles, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn saga including Bryan announcing a handicapped match.

-Phillips welcomed viewers to Smackdown.

-Renee Young stood mid-ring and introduced Styles, who made his ring entrance. Graves said Styles must have a lot on his mind after what transpired the last two weeks. Saxton said Styles is now scheduled to wrestle both Sami and KO in a handicapped match. Phillips said KO and Sami will have to tag in and out during the match. Graves said Shane pushed too hard one way, so Bryan pushed back the other “to keep the playing field even for everyone involved.”

Styles sat next to Renee in the ring who asked about the handicapped match and if he thinks that decision was fair. Styles said had he known Bryan was going to take him seriously after what he said last week, he probably wouldn’t have said what he said.

(Keller’s Analysis: To me, this seemed disingenuous of Styles. I thought when he said it last week, he meant it, but he didn’t mean for it to be for the title. I thought he wanted a chance to wrestle them both so at least he knew what he was dealing with and not having to deal with surprise illegal interference. This felt like Styles was being a weasely to put extra heat on Bryan for something he did wrong.)

He said he can’t take back his words. He said there’s a chance he’ll lose his title now, but there’s also a chance he’ll beat the crap out of Sami and KO. He said his strategy is simple – hit ’em hard and hit ’em fast so they don’t know what happened to them. He said they are professionals, and logic tells him the longer the match goes, the better chance they have to beat him because they can tag in a fresh man against him. Renee said he’s offering insight, but not answering her question: Is what Bryan did fair?

Styles paused as fans chanted “A.J. Styles!” He said no, but neither is life. He said Sami and KO have non-title victories over him, but that doesn’t mean they deserve a shot at the WWE Championship. He said he’ll fight both of them the same night, but it’s not smart booking to do it on Smackdown. That didn’t seem to make sense. He said he’s not trying to get into Bryan’s business, but it seems Bryan is pushing him into his. He said he’s not sure what he’s thinking. She asked if he thinks Shane is playing favorites. Styles said he won’t point fingers. He said he’s already in the middle of Sami and KO at the Rumble. He said the truth is, he can’t allow “those two idiots” to take his championship from him. “I have to retain,” he said. He was then interrupted by KO’s music.

(Keller’s Analysis: Even with Renee, who’s smooth, this was a clunky segment because it was so clear Styles was repeating rehearsed and memorized lines rather than speaking extemporaneously in response to the questions. It wasn’t high-end acting even in a pro wrestling setting. He also seemed too wishy-washy, which isn’t an admirable trait. It was odd wording to say he’d fight both of them on the same night, but not on Smackdown because that’s not smart booking. I think he was going for something else there and the syntax, which he was trying to recite from memorization, worked out worse than if he just understood his character’s situation and spoke more naturally from that place.)

KO and Sami walked onto the stage. KO said he isn’t phenomenal this week, he’s regretful and remorseful. He said he put his foot in his mouth last week and is doing everything he can to backtrack and take it all back. Sami unzipped his jacket and revealed his “Yep!” shirt. KO said heaven doesn’t give out miracles to people like Styles, so he can sing to high heaven all he wants, but he has no chance against them. Sami delivered another “Yep!” KO said when the night is over at the Rumble, they’ll be the first-ever co-WWE Champions. Boos from the crowd. Then came the third “Yep!” KO said they’ll turn the house that Styles built into the Sami & Kevin Show or the Kevin & Sami Show. Lots more “Yeps!” Shane McMahon’s music then interrupted.

Shane danced onto the stage. He said it’s not fair Styles has to defend the WWE Title in a handicapped match. “In my view, nope!” he said. He said he is puzzled that Bryan made that call in the first place. He called KO and Sami “Yep Clowns” and didn’t like that either of them, much less both of them, have a chance at the WWE Title again. He said he’s backing his general manager’s decision to have this match at the Rumble “for now.” He said while they’re talking about handicapped matches, he suggested having one of them tonight. He suggested KO & Sami team up against Shinsuke Nakamura, Randy Orton, and Styles. It took a moment, but Sami and KO found out what Shane was up to as he added a second and a third name to the handicapped match.

The announcers reacted. Then Shane walked through the door backstage and met up with Bryan. Bryan said he made a hell of a main event tonight. They shook hands and stared at each other. Shane patted Bryan on the back and walked away. They cut back to the ramp where Styles was walked to the back with his WWE Championship.

-The announcers talked about the U.S. Title Tournament and hyped Zack Ryder vs. Mojo Rawley coming up later. Also, Becky Lynch vs. Ruby Riott was up next. [c]

-A soundbite interview with Becky aired during her ring entrance. “I’m baa-ack” She said Ruby was playing with fire and now she’ll get burned. She said she is entering the Rumble, and she’s the last Smackdown woman to announce it, which is appreciate because she’ll be the last woman standing. Phillips grossly overstated this announcement and called it “incredible.” I think he meant to say it was “expected.”

(1) BECKY LYNCH (w/Charlotte, Naomi) vs. RUBY RIOTT (w/Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan)

After Becky’s ring entrance, Charlotte made her ring entrance. They cut to the announcers at ringside who talked about the Women’s Royal Rumble. Out next was Naomi for her full ring entrance. They’re really trying to fill time here. The bell rang to star the match 24 minutes into the show. Logan tried to trip Becky. Becky saw it and avoided it. Then she ducked a charging Ruby Riott, who spilled to the floor. They cut to a break, but keep the action on a split screen. [c]

Becky dove onto Riott and controlled the action in the ring for most of the break. Riott made a comeback briefly. After the break, they fought back and forth. Byron and Graves bickered over who would be more loyal to their friends in the Rumble. Eventually Riott tapped out to Becky’s signature armbar. A fan held up a sign that said, “Ruby Riott is my Future Ex-Wife.”

WINNER: Lynch in 8:00.

-They went to Becky meeting fans outside the arena earlier in the day. Someone showed up dressed up in a disguise. It turned out to be Sami who said he didn’t want an autograph, he wanted a partner. Becky was super-excited for some reason.

(Keller’s Analysis: Why is Becky excited about teaming with Sami? It makes no sense. They’re producing this like it’s some exciting reality show where contestants are excited to be chosen to participate, and it’s cheesy and doesn’t fit the tone of pro wrestling, and it doesn’t deviate from it in a way that seems the least bit interesting or productive.) [c]

-A clip aired of the Ascension talking to Breezango about being in their corner. Breezango broke the news to them that they have a match against Rusev Day and can’t. The Ascension were slightly worried.


The Ascension jump-started the match, but it didn’t work and they lost seconds later. The Bludgeon Brothers pinned Viktor and then gave their finisher to Konnor afterward.

WINNERS: Bludgeon Brothers in 1:00.

-Bobby Roode made his glorious ring entrance. [c]

(3) MOJO RAWLEY vs. ZACK RYDER – U.S. Title Tournament match

Roode sat at ringside and watched, but didn’t join in on commentary. Graves said Mojo believes Ryder was holding him back, so he’s now more focused and aggressive than he’s ever seen him. Ryder hit Mojo with a dropkick at the start. Mojo threw a fit at ringside and then charged back in and aggressively took over on Ryder. Graves said Mojo is a different human being in and out of the ring than the person he first met at the Performance Center. Ryder eventually made a comeback. When he went for the Broski Boot, Mojo bailed to ringside. Ryder went after him and threw him back into the ring and scored a two count. Mojo came back with an inverted atomic drop and then threw Ryder hard into the ringpost. He finished Ryder with his running elbow to the side of Ryder’s head.

WINNER: Mojo in 4:00 to advance in the U.S. Title tournament.

-Roode entered the ring and had a staredown with Mojo. The “Glorious” theme song played for some reason. Then Mojo left the ring and Roode posed.

-In a backstage segment, Jinder Mahal stood with the Singh Brothers and he said he was everyone’s champion for 185 days and he defined 2017. He said no one thought it was possible and no one thought he was deserving other than himself. He said in 2018 he has his eyes on a new prize – the United States Championship. He said next week he faces Xavier Woods of New Day. He said he hopes he knows how to play Taps on his trombone because he’s already lost. He said Xavier and New Day are a fad, but the Modern Day Maharaja is forever.

(Keller’s Analysis: Yawn. No show in WWE history may have felt more canned and scripted and antiseptic and without any human emotional qualities this one. It’s bland, flat, stretched thin, and almost unwatchable.) [c]

-A commercial aired for the 25th Anniversary of Raw in two weeks. [c]

NOTE: Send questions and comments about this show to and we might answer it on the post-Smackdown taping of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast on Podcast One tonight.


-They went to the announcers at ringside. Graves announced that Steve Austin will be at the Raw anniversary show. Phillips then threw to Natalya getting surprised by who her partner is going to be. Shinsuke Nakamura photobombed her selfie. She asked if he was her partner. She said it’s better than Rusev. Shinsuke asked if she’s ready to win. She said yes and celebrated with song that she didn’t end up with Sami Zayn. Then she asked for a “proper selfie.”

(Keller’s Analysis: Why are people who normally wouldn’t get along or share anything in common so happy to be seemingly randomly matched with one another. Ugh. These segments are a result of someone who doesn’t get the tone of the shows and the value of characters being consistent.)

-Clips aired of the Usos retaining their tag team titles last week after a controversial restart last week against Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable.

-Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin stood mid-ring. Gable asked if anyone in the crowd knows what it takes to be a winner. “Honestly, the hours of training, neglecting your family and friends, all to chase one goal. Do any of you know? Do you know what it takes to be a success and show your risk paid off and your life means something? Anyone? I’m asking. Seriously.” Shelton looked around as if he was looking desperately for someone who might resemble a winner. Shelton said just because the University of Alabama won a national championship that they’re winners themselves. “All you did is sit on your couch and stuff your faces,” he said. He then said Georgia was robbed “due to a bad referee call, just like us last week.” Gable talked about the exhilaration they were feeling last week when the second referee stole their victory. Gable asked why this second referee came out. Shelton said he was jealous of them because he doesn’t know what it takes to be a winner. Gable said that man is no hero, he’s a thief who stole their dream. They called him a tattletale and a rat. Shelton said he smells like a rat and where he comes from snitches get stitches. They demanded justice. Chad said they didn’t lose last week to the Usos, they lost to Instant Replay. He called for “Generic Referee Number Two” to come out there and bring them their tag team titles.

Bryan’s music played and he walked out as fans began a “Daniel Bryan” chant. He said he understands the euphoria of thinking you won and what it’s like to work so hard for something only to have it taken away. He said he doesn’t care about what they say about their opponents, but when they start knocking management, that’s another thing. Gable said they were talking about the referee, not management. Bryan said referees represent management. He said referees’ decisions are final. Benjamin said that’s right, and they won the tag team championships and the first referee’s decision should have stood. Bryan said they didn’t win the match – because they pinned the wrong Uso. Bryan said that referee return to the back, then came out and reversed it. (That’s not what happened.) “He felt like he was doing the right thing and we stand behind him,” Bryan said. Gable, in a snide sarcastic voice, asked if that’s really how the referee felt. Shelton asked Chad how he feels. Gable said they feel like they’re already won the tag titles and he feels like they’ve done everything there is to do. He asked if he feels they need to beat the Usos twice in one night. Bryan lit up and said he loves that idea. He booked Gable & Benjamin against The Usos in a Two out of Three Falls match. He started a “Yes!” chant. Chad and Shelton reacted like they weren’t sure whether they should be happy or sad. Graves said they should be happy because they have a chance to right a wrong.

(Keller’s Analysis: That was a long ten minutes. I’m happy to hear Shelton get some mic time, and it’s nice to finally hear Chad be a heel on Smackdown, but that just went on and on. I like Chad’s delivery and attitude, but the material just wasn’t there for the time they had to fill, and it got worse with Bryan. Bryan’s part in this was clunky and the end result didn’t really make sense sense. Chad & Shelton having to beat the Usos twice was treated as Bryan turning the tables on their complaining, but it’s not a disadvantage as the Usos also have to beat them twice.)

-Backstage Styles asked Randy Orton if he wants to talk strategy or if he’s just going to go in the ring and RKO everyone in sight until Sami and KO wish they had gotten fired. “That works for me,” Orton said. As Styles was about to leave, Orton said they’re on the same page tonight, but he plans to win the Rumble and he’s coming after whomever the champion is at WrestleMania. In walked Shinsuke Nakamura who said, “Not so fast.” He touched the WWE Title belt and nodded. “Good talk,” he said with a grin. Then he walked away.

(Keller’s Analysis: Finally, a hint that Shinsuke wants to be champion and should be in the conversation.) [c]

-Aiden English and Rusev stood mid-ring. English sang that they have an announcement to make. They said it’s official, they’re in the Rumble, and they’re going to win it. Rusev whispered something to him. English then sang, “The Rusev Rumble match!” He said they’ll do it on Rusev Day. Rusev tore off his t-shirt Hulk Hogan-style and threw it.


Byron said Breezango are so busy solving cases, they helped him find his iPhone last week after it went missing for 45 minutes. Graves said he wishes Saxton would go missing for 45 days. Phillips said a fashion atrocity is the shirt Byron is wearing tonight. Byron said, “You don’t mean that.” They debated how loyal English and Rusev would be to each other in the Rumble. English bailed out to ringside after a stereo kick by Fandango and Breeze. They cut to a break, but stayed with the action on a split-screen.

During the break, Rusev took over on Breeze with stomps. English settled into a chinlock as they came back live from the commercial. The announcers drove into the ground Rusev Day. Fandango tagged in and chopped and punched English. Rusev tagged himself in and dropped Fandango with round kicks and a leaping wheel kick. He fired up and the crowd chanted “Rusev Day!” When Rusev lifted Fandango for a bodyslam, Breeze dropkicked him. Rusev turned and round kicked Breeze, but then Fandango rolled up Rusev and scored the three count. Phillips wondered if Rusev Day was now cancelled.

WINNERS: The Fashion Police in 6:00.

-They showed Bryan backstage watching on a monitor and nodding. He said, “Good for them.” The director awkwardly and inexplicably stayed with Bryan another second or two and then in walked Shane McMahon. Bryan said it’s amazing how much Breezango connects with the audience. “Our whole tag team division is on fire, and our show so far has been great,” he said. He complimented Shane on a great main event. Shane told Bryan his decision-making is coming across as impetuous and irrational at times. He talked about the two title Royal Rumble matches so far. He said neither KO or Sami belong in the match. He said Shelton & Gable don’t deserve the tag team title shot because they lost last week. “They shouldn’t have the opportunity now, let along two-out-of-three falls,” he said. He asked Bryan if he’s okay. He said he’s coming across as unstable. Bryan said he could say the same thing about him, especially considering his gene pool. He said he’s made irrational and impetuous decisions himself and will probably make more in the future. “That’s just who you are,” he said. Shane said they’ll just agree to disagree and left.

(Keller’s Analysis: What’s irrational and impetuous is the writing that went into this show in general and this storyline in particular.)

-A Raw 25 commercial aired advertising John Laurinaitis, The Godfather, Brother Love, The Boogeyman. Teddy Long, Ted DiBiase, and Sgt. Slaughter.

(Keller’s Analysis: Well, if you were excited about Raw’s 25th Anniversary, are you still?) [c]

-The announcers talked about the Rumble line-up. They commented on the Women’s Rumble, the Men’s Rumble, the WWE Title match, and the Smackdown Tag Title match.

-Ring entrances took place for the main event. First A.J. Styles. Then Orton. Then Shinsuke. The announcer bickered over Shane booking this match. KO and Sami began their ring entrance as they cut to a break. [c]

-The announcers told fans to vote for which member of New Day that Carmella should team with on Mixed Match Challenge.


Orton went for an RKO on Owens at the start. Owens bailed out. Orton pursued him and threw him into the ringside barrier twice. KO stomped on Orton as he reentered the ring and then he tagged in Sami. Saxton said it’d be disgusting to have co-champions. Graves said it’s the advancement of the industry and compared it to the Freebirds and New Day where there are three members. Saxton said this is the WWE Championship and the most prestigious prize, not tag team wrestling. A few minutes in, when KO escaped a Styles Clash attempt with help from Sami, both Sami and KO teased just walking out on the match. The ref began to count. Shane stepped out and said that is not happening on his watch. He said it’ll be a no countout match and told the ref to restart the match.

(Keller’s Analysis: How can a match be restarted that never ended? The ref did’t actually count out Sami and KO.)

The three babyfaces went after KO and Sami in the aisle and they quickly cut to a break. [c]

Sami had Styles in a chinlock after the break. Graves called Sami and KO “heroic” for fighting in this situation. Graves said they are an inspirational story and could be a Hallmark movie. Graves said due to a very irrational decision Shane has made, Bryan has countered with common sense and logic. Orton got the hot-tag from Styles and landed a snap powerslam on Sami. He delivered a DDT off the middle rope, then pounded the mat to signal for the RKO. KO hit Orton in the gut with a chair. The ref called for the bell. Graves said there is nothing wrong with an equalizer when you’re outnumbered. KO hit Styles and Nakamura with the chair, then threw it out of the ring. Sami staggered over to KO at ringside as the ring announcer said Styles & Nakamura & Orton were the winners by DQ.

Shane came out and said the match is now no countout and no disqualification and anything goes. He ordered the match restarted. Styles bashed KO with a chair on the ramp. Saxton said KO & Sami are trying to get out of this match, but it keeps backfiring. Graves said Shane is trying to ruin their lives. Styles chased KO to the back. Shinsuke then chased Sami at ringside. Sami found himself between Shinsuke and Orotn, so he ran into the ring and right out of it. When he tried to escape over the ringside barrier into the crowd, Orton and Nakamura caught him. Orton picked up the steel steps and threw it into Sami’s head. Then Orton and Nakamura threw Sami over the announce table. Orton dropped him onto the table. He threw Sami into the ring where Nakamura gave him his Kinshasa Kick. Orton finished him with an RKO.

WINNERS: Orton & Nakamura & Styles in 17:00.

NOTE: Send questions and comments about this show to and we might answer it on the post-Smackdown taping of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast on Podcast One tonight.

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3 Comments on KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 1/9: Fallout from Bryan announcing a Rumble title defense with Styles defending against Sami and Bryan

  1. People who read this article don’t even know the difference between lose and loose. Don’t melt their brains with extemporaneously.

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