WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER 1/16: U.S. Title semi-finals with Roode vs. Mojo and Xavier and Mahal, more Shane-Bryan, six-woman tag

By Joey Galizia, PWTorch Specialist

Jinder Mahal (art credit Joel Teach © PWTorch)


JANUARY 16, 2018
By Joey Galizia (@RamJam89), PWTORCH SPECIALIST


  • United States Championship tournament semifinals including Jinder Mahal vs. Xavier Woods and Bobby Roode vs. Mojo Rawley
  • Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Naomi take on the Riott Squad in a six-woman tag match.
  • Will Owens and Zayn respond to Shane’s meddling?


While a solid storyline or mega-comeback angle always serves its purpose, nothing excites me more in the sport of professional wrestling then a tournament. It has the ability to tell a multitude of stories while also giving certain superstars chances to really shine even in defeat. (See Cedric Alexander’s shining moment losing to Ibushi in the CWC as an example.) So when Dolph Ziggler walked out on an episode of SD Live a U.S. title tourney began to find his replacement. With recent word that the finals will take place on next week’s SD instead of the Rumble on the 27th, both semifinal bouts will take place this evening.

First up, we have “The Glorious One” Bobby Roode going up against a newly resurged/confident Mojo Rawley. Roode defeated Baron Corbin via roll-up to earn this spot in the conference round (sorry my brain is still focused on the NFL playoffs) and Rawley vanquished his old tag-team partner Zack Ryder to earn his. Should be an interesting fight since Roode’s elusive offense should be a nice foil for Mojo’s hard striking and ferocious intensity, but don’t count the Hype-Man out. With WrestleManiaseason upon us, upsets are bound to happen.

The other semifinal will see the trumpet playing third of the New Day Xavier Woods, who was able to best Aiden English in his opening qualifier matchup, take on the former WWE Champion Jinder Mahal. The Maharaja was able to best Tye Dillinger with his “devastating” Khallas finisher in short time to advance to this spot, and will look to capture his second major title since his newest transformation. Can Xavier’s quickness help him avoid Jinder’s dangerous power move-set? Should be a fun sprint either way.


At this point it is safe to say that Daniel Bryan AND Shane McMahon are both guilty of abusing their positions within the company, especially in regards to the current Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn problem. Shane’s issues with K.O. stem back months now, and has made it a primary goal to rid the WWE Universe of Kevin’s dangerous antics. Sami Zayn entered the picture when he assisted his former rival in a matchup at Hell in a Cell, and has been square in Shane’s sightline since. Enter the champion A.J. Styles, who for the last month has had a tough time feuding with K.O. and Sami because of their eagerness to help each other. Finally A.J. declared that he would rather just face them at the same time in a handicap match. Daniel Bryan agreed… and put A.J.’s WWE Championship on the line in Philadelphia. Shane wasn’t too crazy about his general manager’s decision, so he put the Canadians in a no-win situation seven days ago where they not only lost, but took a good amount of punishment. Expect Zayn, and especially K.O., to call out the injustices done against them tonight in Texas.


-Speaking of injustices, the duo of Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin have been campaigning that they were screwed out of the tag team championships. Their constant nagging obviously worked because they were granted a rematch with the Usos at the Royal Rumble, this time in a two-out of-three falls bout. Until then, look for either team to try and gain a physical or psychological advantage.

-Also in the tag team division are the Bludgeon Brothers who continue to do just that: BLUDGEON. Last week they disposed of the Ascension fairly easily. Will anyone be able to stop Luke Harper and Erick Rowan once they put their focus on the titles? Don’t forget about Breezango. They pulled out a massive upset when they stole a “W” from the very popular Rusev & Aiden English, and on RusevDay to boot!

-While team Absolution’s future may be up in the air, the Riott Squad seems poised to stay around. Ruby, Sarah, and Liv will have quite a challenge ahead of them this evening though as they prepare to face Naomi, Becky Lynch, and the Smackdown Champion Charlotte in a six-woman tag.

-When they’re not stomping in the heads of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, Shinsuke Nakamura and “The Viper” Randy Orton are declaring themselves for the Royal Rumble. Will anyone else throw their name into the mix?

-Friendly reminder that Carmella still holds a Money in the Bank briefcase!

Two weeks until the Rumble!! What will you be looking for tonight on Smackdown?

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

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