WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER 1/8: Usos vs. The Bar, Women’s Triple Threat #1 Contender match, A.J. to confront Bryan, Rusev may want retribution, Rumble momentum

By Frank Peteani, PWTorch Specialist

Cesaro (art credit Grant Gould © PWTorch)


JANUARY 8, 2019

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves

Arena and Items Advertised by WWE

Smackdown returns to the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena for the first time in two years.  Raw emanated from here back in August of 2018 in the runup to SummerSlam.  We continue to get ready for the Royal Rumble which of course kicks off WrestleMania season.  Here’s what advertised for the show tonight according to WWE.com, subject to change as the day goes on:

  • Triple Threat Match to determine who will square off against Asuka at the Royal Rumble
  • The Usos to battle the Bar for a Smackdown Tag Team Championship opportunity
  • A.J. Styles to confront WWE Champion Daniel Bryan
  • Who will gain momentum heading into the Men’s Royal Rumble Match?
  • Will Rusev be looking for retribution

#1 Contender Triple Threat Match: Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Carmella

Last week, three former Smackdown Women’s Champions made their case to Triple H to be the #1 contender to current champion Asuka at the Royal Rumble.  Charlotte Flair was the first to make her case, followed by Carmella who claimed she should be the one considering her long reign as champion and the fact that she defeated both Charlotte and Asuka.  “The Man” Becky Lynch then walked in and said it should be her.  Triple H said all women make good cases, and it would be taken under advisement.

Tonight, all three women will go at it in a triple threat match where the winner will challenge Asuka for the title at the Royal Rumble.  I can’t cut a Smackdown primer without a little Becky Lynch trash talk on Twitter:

Here’s Charlotte:


Finally, here’s Carmella:

Frank’s Analysis:  Did Carmella have to remind us that she defeated both Charlotte and Asuka last year?  Thankfully that didn’t do long-term damage to both women as we’re still anticipating Charlotte and perhaps Becky to go at it with Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania.  Asuka’s popularity didn’t wane, and now she’s finally champion.  Overall this is fine as Carmella is calling on history and trash talking in a way that works for the feud by saying she doesn’t come from a legacy like Charlotte, wasn’t part of the horsewomen, etc.  I’ve always thought Charlotte was smart in how she utilized her family lineage, and Becky always delivers.  It would be WWE to have Carmella win this match, which would be fine if they want to keep the title on Asuka through the Rumble. 

Non-Title Match: Smackdown Tag Team Champions the Bar vs. The Usos

It was announced by WWE this past weekend that the Usos will take on the Bar for a future opportunity at the Smackdown Tag Team Championship.

The Usos last held the titles from October of 2017 until WrestleMania of last year.  The Bar have been champions since the 1000th episode of Smackdown when they defeated New Day with the assistance of the Big Show (in one of his many turns).  Recently, the Usos unsuccessfully challenged the Bar and New Day in a triple threat match at TLC.

WWE has indicated that a victory will give the Usos a future championship match.

Frank’s Analysis:  While we’ve seen the Usos vs. the Bar before, they always deliver and thus we can expect the same tonight.  It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the championship match takes place at the Royal Rumble should the Usos win tonight.

A.J. Styles Confronts Daniel Bryan

Last week, A.J. Styles won a fatal five-way to earn a WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble against current champion Daniel Bryan.

A.J. dropped the championship to Bryan just prior to Survivor Series and was unsuccessful in his attempt to regain it at TLC.  A few weeks ago, WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon challenged A.J. to find the “animal” inside of him.  Vince slapped him in the face, to which A.J. responded with a punch on the boss.

Tonight, A.J. confronts Bryan in advance of their match at the Rumble.  In browsing Twitter, I found this picture, which I found interesting:


Frank’s Analysis:  It didn’t dawn upon me in regard to the possibility of A.J. facing Triple H at WrestleMania, but his involvement with Vince recently could certainly lead in that direction especially if A.J. is not going to regain the championship.  Typically, when they want to give someone the “big rub” after losing a championship, Triple H is usually on the docket.  That’s what was planned for CM Punk at WrestleMania 30 before he left following the Rumble.  At any rate, thus far the work between A.J. and Bryan has been very well done, and I expect more of the same tonight. 

Momentum Heading into the Royal Rumble

Last week, we learned that all three members of the New Day will enter the Royal Rumble (along with a troll job on Universal Champion Brock Lesnar.  Couldn’t help getting a kick out of that).  This past weekend we learned the currently feuding Samoa Joe and Jeff Hardy have both thrown their names in the hat.  We also learned Andrade “Cien” Almas is in thanks to his business manager Zelina Vega on Twitter:

Also, from the Smackdown side of the ledger, we know that R-Truth will enter at #30 thanks to he and Carmella winning the recent Mixed Match Challenge.  Carmella enters at #30 for the women’s Rumble.  “Free agent” John Cena threw his name in last night.

The names keep accumulating.  Perhaps we get more tonight as well as some talk from those already in the match.  The winner gets a championship match for the world title of his choosing at the upcoming WrestleMania.

Frank’s Analysis:  For the most part, I usually don’t predict Rumble winners especially in recent years with two world titles in play.  There are too many variables and possibilities, and thus I make a list.  This year I’m including Andrade on that list.  I think about how he’s lost a lot recently, but all matches have been highly competitive and against the top stars (A.J., Bryan, Hardy, Rey, and a mixed tag last week against Cena).  Granted that’s basically the entire Smackdown roster but my point is sometimes we’ve seen something like this lead to a big push, and with cautious optimism I hope that’s where Andrade is headed.  As I said I’m not predicting him to be the winner, but I’d certainly put him on the list.  It rings of Alberto Del Rio in 2011.

Rusev and Nakamura

Last week, U.S. Champion Rusev came out with his wife Lana to discuss his winning the championship from Shinsuke Nakamura on Christmas Day which is also his birthday (Christmas Day is Rusev’s birthday, and thus Christmas Day is also Rusev Day!  I’ll remind my wife when she orders the Christmas cards next year.  Or are they Rusev cards?  I’ll see myself out now…)  Anyway, he talked about being proud to be the U.S. Champion, his animal magnetism, his beard, and bacon flavored cinnamon buns before being attacked by former champion Nakamura.  Here’s the clip:

Tonight, we’ll look to follow up on this feud which appears to be heating up.  Here’s a WWE.com exclusive with Nakamura following the attack:

Frank’s Analysis:  One has to wonder if a match between these two at the Royal Rumble is in the cards.  Nakamura was last year’s Rumble winner which doesn’t disqualify him from winning this year, but he’s not in as of yet and I wouldn’t be surprised if WWE skips having him in this year’s offering in favor of a rematch against Rusev.  Rusev is not in the Rumble either.  Now there are no automatic rematches according to the McMahons, which is fine, but does the attack on Rusev earn Nakamura the rematch?  Seth Rollins recent attacks on Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush earned him an Intercontinental Championship rematch on Raw.  One would only such ruthless aggression would earn the same for Nakamura.  By the way, has the United States of Nakamerica been dismantled?

Other Items from Last Week:

  • John Cena returned to Smackdown and teamed with “The Man” Becky Lynch to defeat Andrade “Cien” Almas and his business manager Zelina Vega.  After the match, Cena tried to shake the Man’s hand, but she had none of it.  Here’s a WWE.com exclusive with Cena after the match:

  • New Day regretfully informed us their doctor told them not to eat pancakes anymore.  Big E, dressed as a New Year’s baby, proceeded to eat a few that were stored in his diaper.  No, you don’t get a YouTube clip of that.  Go find it yourself if you want to waste two minutes of your life.
  • Samoa Joe defeated Jeff Hardy to get into the fatal five-way main event to determine the #1 contender to Daniel Bryan’s WWE Championship.  Look for this feud to continue.
  • Sonya Deville defeated Naomi.  We expected Naomi to face Mandy Rose, but Mandy and Sonya switched out on the authority of ……. yeah, I still don’t know.  During the match, Mandy revealed a photo of her wrapped in a towel she claimed she sent to Naomi’s husband Jimmy Uso.
  • Miz and Shane McMahon discussed potential matching ring gear.
  • Shane warned his father Vince to be careful what he wishes for in pushing A.J. Styles’ buttons, referring to their feud of two years ago heading into that WrestleMania.

NXT Callups

We didn’t get any NXT callups last night on television; however, ECIII and Lacey Evans worked matches on Main Event filmed prior to Raw.  It’s hard to know if anyone will show up on Smackdown or in dark matches tonight.  As we were reminded again last night, the following are on their way up to main roster:
  • EC3 (likely to Raw)
  • Lacey Evans (likely to Raw)
  • Nikki Cross
  • Lars Sullivan
  • Heavy Machinery (Otis Dozovic and Tucker Knight)

Start Time & Matches Advertised by the Arena Website

The arena website shows a start time of 7:30 but doesn’t specify when doors will open.  No matches are advertised.

Follow me on Twitter @FrankPeteani.  My e-mail is fpeteani@gmail.com.  Questions and discussion are welcome.  Thank you for reading!

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