KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 1/23: Styles vs. KO and Styles vs. Sami, Final Royal Rumble hype, more Bryan-Shane tension

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor

WWE Smackdown Live logo - new July 2016 (c)

JANUARY 23, 2018

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton

NOTE: If you have questions or a reaction to tonight’s Smackdown, send it to for the Mailbag Segment of the #WKPWP taped tonight and available a few hours after Smackdown ends at Podcast One!


-Phillips introduced the show as the camera panned the crowd.

-Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn came out to the ring. Phillips said KO and Sami could be the first co-champions of WWE. Owens told the fans to pay attention because they’re the future of WWE, not the parade of retirees like what they saw last night on Raw 25. Sami and KO had mutual admiration exchanges with the “Yep” catch phrase being said several times. Sami said Styles isn’t the smartest, so he’ll tell him what’s in store for him on Sunday. he said they’re going to take his title and then they’ll hurt him.

Styles walked out and said instead of “Yep” the answer to whether they beat him is “Nope.” Styles said they can be cocky because they have the advantage, but they’re not facing just anyone. Sami said he’s phenomenal, but he’s also predictable. Owens got heat from the crowd when he said ignorance is the official language of D.C. KO asked Sami what it was that Styles said a few weeks ago. They pretended to struggle to remember, but then pointed to a clip. They replayed Styles telling Bryan to “make it a handicapped match.” Owens said he backtracked and tried to weasel his way out of the match once it became a reality.

Sami said for once in his life he has to be a man because he is being forced by an actual authority figure with actual convictions. He said he is making him live up to his word. Sami said with Daniel Bryan not present right now, will he be true to his word this time? Styles asked what he is talking about. They pointed at the big screen again and a clip aired from two weeks ago of Styles telling Renee Young he’ll fight both of them separately the same night. KO asked if would try to weasel his way out of that one too, or will he be the man he claims to be. KO said it’s okay that it’s not for the championship, because they’ll take care of that on Sunday, but they’re ready for their two singles matches against him tonight, one right after another.

Bryan came out to his music. He complimented KO and Sami for being great Superstars, but he has the utmost faith in Styles. Styles interrupted him and said he doesn’t need for him to advocate for him anymore. He said with everything that’s happened, he’s not sure if he’s “in bed with these two dirtbags.” Styles said if KO and Sami think they can beat him in back-to-back matches, “I say we find out.” He said he won’t just beat them, he’ll hurt them. Byron admired Styles’s confidence, but he said he’s not sure if it’s a good idea. Graves agreed and said this could be catastrophic.

-The announcers plugged upcoming matches. [c]

-Rumble Fact: “Over 900 Superstars have entered the Rumble match, almost 250,000 pounds of Superstars!”

-Backstage Daniel Bryan walked up to Shane McMahon, who was not on his phone. Remarkable. Shane asked if he seriously put the WWE Champion in back-to-back matches tonight, just days before he has to defend his title. Bryan said Styles doesn’t have anything to prove and he wasn’t going to sanction anything. Shane asked if he’s telling the truth. Bryan assured him. Shane began to walk away. Bryan asked if he just questioned whether Styles can defend himself tonight. Shane said that’s not whose ability he is questioning. The crowd “ooh’d.”

(1) JEY USO (w/Jimmy Uso) vs. CHAD GABLE (w/Shelton Benjamin)

Byron said Shelton wants to make life miserable for the Usos. Graves said it’s a good strategy because they’ve been on a higher level than anyone else in the tag team division. Gable outwrestled Uso early. Uso dumped Gable to ringside and then knocked him to the floor again with a punch seconds later when he tried to re-enter the ring. [c]

They stayed with the action on a split screen during the break. Gable outwrestled Uso some more, but Jey eventually kicked Gable off the ring apron. He then went for a running dive through the ropes, but Gable met him with a punch. Gable charged, but Jey arm-dragged him over the top rope to the floor. Jey then dove onto Gable at ringside. Jey landed a Samoan drop in the ring next. Gable ducked a kick a minute later and then pinned Uso with a rolling kick and a German suplex into a bridge.

WINNER: Gable in 9:00.

-Renee Young interviewed Shinsuke Nakamura. She asked how he plans to win the Rumble and fulfill what he says is his destiny to become WWE Champion. He said it’s simple. Everyone he sees gets a knee to the face. Baron Corbin interrupted. He said Shinsuke is all go, no show, but the WWE Universe likes him, but he doesn’t care about them because they don’t pay his bills. (Actually, they kind of do.) Corbin said his resume speaks volumes and he’s going to win the Rumble and add that to his resume. He asked Shinsuke what he’s done. Shinsuke said it is not what he’s done, it is what he will do at the Royal Rumble. He challenged him to Rumble tonight. He struck a pose. Not a big pop. Graves said it sounds like the rock star is ready to rumble.

-Graves talked as if the match was on, even though Corbin didn’t agree to the match.

-Naomi made her ring entrance. Byron said Naomi’s is his favorite entrance in all of WWE. Graves said it’s his least favorite because it makes Bryon dance. [c]

-A soundbite aired with Tye Dillinger. He said he remembers entering at no. 10 last year and 2017 had its ups and downs, referring to himself in the third person. He said 2017 has shown him anything is possible, and 2018 will be nothing short of a perfect ten. He played up that he couldn’t hold up both hands to do the ten signal because he was doing a selfie video, so he flashed his one hand twice.

(Keller’s Analysis: Rock could get away with referring to himself in the third person. Tye shouldn’t be doing that.)


A couple minutes in, Natalya, Lana, and Carmella made their way to the ring. Becky Lynch came out shortly thereafter. Naomi landed a sunset flip for the win.

WINNER: Naomi.

(Keller’s Analysis: Yikes. That wasn’t good.)

-Afterward Ruby Riot and Sarah Logan attacked Naomi. Becky made the save. The other heels at ringside just stood and watched. The crowd chanted “Becky!” Lana delivered a running boot to Riot’s chest. Natalya entered and dumped Lana. Then Carmella superkicked Morgan. Byron said this is what the scene could be like on Sunday. Carmella knocked Liv out of the ring, then Natalya hit Carmella. Becky and Naomi stood alone in the ring, but then Becky threw Naomi over the top rope. Naomi turned and looked at her and waved her finger. Becky waved her finger back and they shared a little laugh.

Charlotte walked out and told Becky she was fierce and it’s clearly every woman for herself on Sunday when they’re battling to face her at WrestleMania. She wished all of them luck, “eck-specially” the winner.

-Soundbites aired with Asuka & Miz and Carmella & Big E.

(Keller’s Analysis: New Day are approaching that Hype Bros. level of obnoxiousness.)



Corbin bailed out a couple minutes in, frustrated with the way things were going. Shinsuke pursued him, but Corbin caught him with a strike to the throat. Then he threw him into the turnbuckle thr0at-first. They cut to a break. [c]

Corbin had Shinsuke grounded after the break. Graves said Corbin told him he didn’t see what all the hype was about regarding Shinsuke’s Japan reputation. Shinsuke began a comeback and hit a series of kicks. Corbin grabbed his leg, but Nakamura landed an enzuigiri with the alternate leg. Then he hit a running knee to the ribs in the corner followed by a running knee lift to the ribs for a two count. Corbin surprised Shinsuke with a Deep Six for a two count. Corbin caught a charging Nakamura with a boot and then a nasty clothesline for a near fall. Corbin expressed frustration rather than going for another cover. Nice bump by Nakamura on that clothesline. When Corbin set up an End of Days, Nakamura rolled through and went for an armbar. Corbin leveraged Nakamura into a pin position for a two count. Nakamura was about to go for his Kinsasha kick when suddenly Randy Orton ran in and gave Nakamura an RKO out of nowhere. Then he gave one to Corbin. The crowd went nuts. They played Orton’s music and didn’t announce a decision. Byron said, “What a way to make a statement!”

WINNER: No contest (?) in 12:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: If nobody cares about a hard-fought match not having an ending because Orton interfered in an exciting way, what does that say about how invested fans should be in any match? I get that it was “exciting” for Orton and fits the Rumble hype, but shouldn’t one of the announcers lament a little bit that because of Orton, they won’t get to see how that fight would have ended? If NFL games that were close in the fourth quarter ended with a third team running and just stealing the football and blindsiding other players, it’d be exciting of course, but wouldn’t someone say something about what this means regarding the importance of the score and standings?)

-The announcers talked about last night’s Raw 25 as headlines flashed across the screen from various major media outlets. Phillips said without Raw, there would be no Smackdown, and they have “so much love” for what Raw has become.

(Keller’s Analysis: But remember, they have a fierce rivalry you should care a lot about next November. Sigh.)

-A several minute long video highlight package aired from Raw 25.

-They went back to the announcers. Phillips said they hope there are 25 more years of Raw. Then they shifted to a Royal Rumble plug. [c]

-New Day came to the ring and threw pancakes to the crowd. Big E said they were part of history last night by being in attendance for the 25th Anniversary of Raw. Kofi said they’ll be part of history again at the Rumble because they are entering the Rumble match. Roode came out next. Graves said he hasn’t had a pancake in the last six years because look at those abs. He said Roode and New Day share nothing in common. He said New Day are glory hogs. Roode did some mic work. He said his goal is to be the best U.S. Champion in history, but that is no easy task. He said his reign is going to be – and as he got ready to say glorious, New Day made three other superlative suggestions. Roode said “No!” Then the crowd joined in and New Day joined in as they all said “Glorious!” together.

-Jinder Mahal came out next with one Singh Brother. Then Rusev and English came out next.

(Keller’s Analysis: How is WWE still booking Rusev & English as heels? How is that fair to the babyfaces they’re facing?) [c]

(4) BOBBY ROODE & THE NEW DAY (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods w/Big E) vs. JINDER MAHAL & RUSEV & AIDEN ENGLISH

They stayed with the live footage of the match starting on split screen during the break. Roode hot-tagged in eventually, but when Roode did his “Glorious” routine, it gave Jinder a chance to recover and cut off his momentum. Rusev then kicked Roode in the head. English rolled him up for a near fall. Kofi dove over the top rope onto both Rusev and Jinder at ringside. Xavier blind-tagged in and kicked English in the face. Roode then gave English a spinebuster as a set-up for Xavier to leap off the top rope with a flying elbow drop for the win.

WINNERS: New Day & Roode in 5:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: Roode is always looking like an idiot for doing his “Glorious” routine when he’s on a roll in a match, giving heels a chance to recover. It makes him seem like the NFL player celebrating and dancing and holding the ball out before he gets into the end zone and a defender catches up to him and knocks the ball out of his hands.)

-The announcers plugged the Rumble line-up and plugged WWE Network including a 30 day free trial. Phillips said, “It’s more Rumble than ever!”

-Styles made his ring entrance. Then Sami and KO came out together. Shane walked out and told Sami if he comes anywhere near the ring during KO’s match, he’ll lose his opportunity at the WWE Title this Sunday at the Rumble. Fans gasped and booed. Shane threatened to fire him on the spot tonight. He said the same goes for KO later when Sami wrestles him. They bickered as they cut to a break. [c]


Owens tweaked his knee on an early cannonball and then Styles applied a Calf Crusher. KO tapped out quickly. Styles didn’t let go at first, but did after about five seconds. Sami then ran out and attacked Styles.

WINNER: Styles in 2:00 via submission.

-Sami pounded away on Styles until the ref pulled him off of Styles. Sami checked on KO. KO struggled to return to the back at ringside as Sami charged at Styles. The ref backed him off yet again. Graves called for medical help for KO. The ref checked on Styles, meanwhile, and insisted Sami stay back. Sami went after Styles anyway. He whipped him into the ringside steps. [c]


The ref called for the bell. Graves said Styles only has himself to blame. A medic checked on KO at ringside. Fans chanted “A.J. Styles!” They showed Shane and Bryan watching on a monitor backstage. Medics continued to try to get KO on a gurney. Styles slingshot himself onto Sami with a forearm at ringside near KO. Styles then attacked KO with some stomps. They cut to a break. [c]

Graves said Styles was classless for his attack on KO at ringside. They cut again to several medics and refs trying to get KO safely onto a gurney. They fought back and forth for a few minutes. Sami scored a near fall after a Michinoku Driver. Sami escaped a Styles Clash attempt. Styles went at him at ringside with a knee to the jaw off the ring apron. Styles threw Sami into the ring, then turned back to KO again. He tipped over the gurney. The fans cheered. Graves said, “Enough is enough!” Sami then surprised Styles with a Helluva Kick and a Blue Thunder Bomb for the victory.

WINNER: Sami in 16:00.

-After Sami was announced as the winner, KO climbed up onto the ring apron, still selling a knee injury. He embraced Sami in the ring as Graves celebrated the idea of co-champions being crowned on Sunday. KO and Sami stood over Styles and trash-talked him a bit, then KO raised Sami’s arms.

(Keller’s Analysis: I’m not sure how we’re supposed to feel about anyone involved in that last 30 minutes of the show.) 

NOTE: If you have questions or a reaction to tonight’s Smackdown, send it to for the Mailbag Segment of the #WKPWP taped tonight and available a few hours after Smackdown ends at Podcast One!


4 Comments on KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 1/23: Styles vs. KO and Styles vs. Sami, Final Royal Rumble hype, more Bryan-Shane tension

  1. (Keller’s Analysis: I’m not sure how we’re supposed to feel about anyone involved in that last 30 minutes of the show.)

    Fans like faces attacking heels on stretchers/in ambulances/whatever. You can probaby blame Austin for starting that one with the attack on Vince in the hospital. Anyway, Styles is still a face and Sami/Owens are still heels.

    Given they had to book the main event to work around Owens’ injury limitations, they did a pretty good job of giving Styles an out (he was too busy getting revenge on Owens to finish the job against Sami) while making Sami look more credible as a threat with a relatively clean win over Styles which included him finally using the Helluva Kick to set up the Blue Thunder Bomb instead of using the better-looking move to set up the weaker-looking one.

  2. I thought this show was pretty bad. I didn’t expect much after all the effort was put into the big Raw show, so this show met my expectations. The Royal Rumble doesn’t have the big event feel that it once had. It seems like just another show on the network.

  3. Wade, you may have just come up with the idea to save the XFL. Let’s allow a third team to run on the field, interfere with everything and knock a few players out and then leave. The NFL purists going nuts would be worth it.

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