WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER 1/29: Royal Rumble Fallout, “The Man” is gunning for “The Rowdy One,” Shane & Miz celebrate, Bryan wants to change the climate, Next for Asuka, Rusev & Lana

By Frank Peteani, PWTorch Specialist


Rusev
Rusev (photo credit Wade Keller © PWTorch)

WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER
JANUARY 29, 2019
PHOENIX, ARIZ. AT THE TALKING STICK RESORT ARENA
AIRS ON USA NETWORK, 8:00 P.M. EST
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH SPECIALIST

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton

Arena, Royal Rumble Results Pertinent to Smackdown, Items Advertised by WWE

As I said yesterday, the Royal Rumble is now behind us and we have officially kicked the tires and gotten on the road to WrestleMania.  We have our Rumble winners and champions in place for now and will begin to discuss the potential matches for ‘Mania come this April.  As Raw did last night, Smackdown will take place in the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, AZ.  Smackdown followed Raw in this arena in February of last year.

Here are the Royal Rumble results pertinent to Smackdown:

  • Asuka defeated Becky Lynch to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship
  • The Miz & Shane McMahon defeated The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) to become Smackdown Tag Team Champions
  • Becky Lynch won the women’s Royal Rumble.
  • Daniel Bryan defeated A.J. Styles to retain the WWE Championship.  Erick Rowan returned to WWE television to help Bryan.

Here’s what is advertised by WWE.com.  No matches are announced as of this writing:

  • What will be the fallout of Lynch’s WrestleMania challenge to Rousey
  • Shane McMahon & The Miz to throw The Best Tag Team Celebration in The World
  • Daniel Bryan vows to change the climate of WWE forever
  • Who will step up to Asuka
  • Can Rusev & Lana bounce back from a crushing Rumble

“The Man” Becky Lynch to Challenge “The Rowdy One” at WrestleMania

Asuka’s Next Challenger

These items are related for sure, and thus I’ll tie them together for the purpose of this report.

Last night on Raw, we learned that “The Man” Becky Lynch, former two-time Smackdown Women’s Champion, will challenge “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey for the Raw Women’s Championship.

As we recall, these two were to face at Survivor Series in a champion vs. champion match when Becky held the Smackdown gold.  Becky was injured by “The Facebreaker” Nia Jax prior to the event and was replace by Charlotte Flair in the match.  Ronda went on to win via DQ when Charlotte attacked her with a kendo stick.

Becky came up short at the Royal Rumble in her attempt to regain the Smackdown gold against Asuka, who made her tap out.  She then entered the Royal Rumble by replacing an injured Lana and went on to win by eliminating Charlotte.  She did so after her knee was “injured” by Nia Jax on the outside of the ring.  Charlotte could contend that Becky wasn’t originally in the Royal Rumble and make her case to challenge Ronda or at least say Becky’s win is tainted.

Now you know I can’t do a Smackdown primer without a Becky tweet.  It’s already starting between these two and we still have two and a half months to go:

Frank’s Analysis:  Let’s keep this simple.  There is NO NEED TO INCLUDE CHARLOTTE FLAIR IN THIS.  The fans clearly want a one-on-one offering, and the match is sufficient to be on the card as such and even main event the show.  Charlotte has a very nice WrestleMania rematch waiting with Asuka that would give us two top-flight women’s title matches on the “grandest stage of ‘em all.”  Think about it, against whom else would you like to see Asuka defend the title?  You could do Lacey Evans I suppose if she ends up on Smackdown.  Nikki Cross is a different match.  I would suggest Sonya Deville, but they haven’t done much to build her up.  Everyone else on the roster feels like a TV match at best. 

There is the issue of Ronda possibly leaving WWE after WrestleMania so they may want to squeeze Charlotte into the match knowing the opportunity may not present itself in the future.  There’s also the remote possibility of wanting to unify the women’s titles considering there’s only going to be one women’s tag team championship.  If Becky or Charlotte beat Asuka before WrestleMania, and you set up the triple threat, you can have a winner-take-all match.   

Shane McMahon & The Miz’s Best Celebration in the World 

First there was a birthday celebration, now a tag team championship celebration.  Are they getting a cake for this?  That’s going to rev up those night cravings for us viewers you know.

At any rate, “The Besties” (that is their tag team name, right?) Shane McMahon & The Miz walked away with the Smackdown Tag Team Championship at the Royal Rumble after defeating The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro).  They did so by Shane hitting a shooting star press on Cesaro and scoring the three-count.

(Word is that Brock Lesnar was stewing in the back after botching this move at WrestleMania 19 and seeing 49-year old Shane doing it successfully.  Yeah probably not true, but I couldn’t help it.)

After the match, both Shane and Miz celebrated with Miz’s father at ringside.  Dana Warrior, the wife of the late WWE Hall of Famer Ultimate Warrior, was also present and got a hug from the Miz.  Tonight, the celebration continues as the new champs throw the “best celebration in the world.”  Here’s a tweet from Shane following the big win:

Frank’s Analysis:  Shane and the Miz look like a genuinely cohesive tag team, and Shane looks thrilled to be doing this.  This will undoubtedly lead to something at WrestleMania but what that is remains to be seen.  I’m still dead against all of this because with a roster as deep as WWE’s is, you won’t get me to sign off on Shane McMahon at 49 years old in 2019 occupying a championship.  The Usos and New Day I agree need a break from the tag team title scene.  You have Sanity, the Good Brothers, and the Colons all barely getting TV time.  Are they the best teams in the world?  No, but attempts have not been made to at least try to build them up through the years.  Fans seem to be into this and thus, we’ll just enjoy the ride and see where it goes.  I’m not sure it’s Miz turning on Shane at some point, but that does seem logical at the moment.

Daniel Bryan Wants to Change the Climate of WWE

In an unexpected turn of events, Erick Rowan returned to WWE programming and assisted Daniel Bryan in retaining the WWE Championship over A.J. Styles at the Royal Rumble.  It’s not the first time Bryan and Rowan were aligned in WWE, as Bryan briefly spent time in the Wyatt Family (Rowan, Bray Wyatt, and Luke Harper) from late 2013-early 2014

Here’s Daniel Bryan in a WWE.com exclusive with Cathy Kelley after the match with Styles:

Last night on Raw, Bryan and Rowan were in attendance and did a brief interview in the back with Charly Caruso as Seth Rollins was set to choose his WrestleMania opponent.  With Rollins choosing Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, which we learned after the show, that leaves Bryan open for business.  Tonight, we’ll begin to learn his path as WWE will determine a #1 contender for the man who wants to change the climate of WWE.  Perhaps he’ll want to ban the sale of hot dogs and soda at the concession stands.

Frank’s Analysis:  It’s not the first time in WWE history we’ve seen a heel champion get a “heater.”  Rowan is certainly big enough to play the role and his alignment with Bryan could work (it’s the beard thing).  You just wonder if Bryan’s heel role is working.  The matches with Styles at the past two PPVs were good but nothing that wowed us in the way a lot of us expected.  I would think the character is getting over, but for them to give Bryan a heater suggests it may not.  You wonder about Luke Harper upon his return, and whether or not he will join Rowan by Bryan’s side.  Word is he is not medically cleared to return but will be any day now.  Harper and Rowan recently held the Smackdown Tag Team Championships as the Bludgeon Brothers.

Can Lana & Rusev Bounce Back?

Sunday night was not a good night for Mr. and Mrs. Miroslav Barnyashev, better known to us as Rusev and Lana.

During the Royal Rumble pre-show, Rusev dropped the U.S. Championship back to Shinsuke Nakamura after gaining it from him just one month ago on a pre-taped episode of Smackdown aired on Christmas Day.  That ended his third reign with the championship.  During the match, Rusev inadvertently knocked Lana off the ring apron while she trying to point out Nakamura tearing off the turnbuckle cover to the referee.  She suffered an apparent “ankle injury.”

Later on, Lana was making her way out for the women’s Royal Rumble but struggled to get to the ring.  She was deemed unable to compete and was replaced by eventual winner Becky Lynch.

Rusev and Lana did send out these tweets although I don’t think there’s much to read into here:

 Frank’s Analysis:  Lana could make issue that Becky took her spot in the Rumble, although I don’t see where that would go.  She could “recover” and vie for the Smackdown women’s title, but do we see her beating Asuka?  As far as Rusev goes when it comes to the U.S. title it’s so diminished that I don’t read much into him dropping the title even if it is back to Nakamura after one month.  They’ll probably have rematch as early as tonight given how WWE has handled these things historically. 

 Possible Items to Anticipate Tonight:

I decided to rebrand this section of the report a bit and sort of speculate on things, in a freestyle way, that may or may not get covered during tonight’s show.  More often than not by the time I submit these reports, little to no matches are announced.  WWE likes to wait until later in the day to be more specific about their shows.  As a writer of the primers I feel it is my job to at least in some way predict what we may or may not see, aside from what WWE advertises.  Here are some items:

  • Last night Tamina & Nia Jax and Sarah Logan & Liv Morgan qualified for the elimination chamber match to determine the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship.  Look for more qualifying matches tonight.
  • Mustafa Ali eliminated Samoa Joe but was also eliminated himself by Nia Jax.  Last week, Joe defeated Ali.  Look for follow-up.  Joe could point out Ali’s being eliminated by a woman as a way to further the feud.
  • Last week Mandy Rose defeated Naomi in a rather weak seven-minute match.  She did so by shoving Naomi into the ringpost and scoring the pin.  Jimmy Uso came out to console his wife was visibly frustrated.  I apologize but something tells me this situation isn’t over based on this tweet:

Mandy and Sonya Deville, I would imagine, are earmarked for a qualifying match but you could say the same for Naomi.  Carmella is a likely partner.  Those two teams facing each other could be a way to keep the feud going.

  • Rey Mysterio and Andrade wrestled to a no-contest in their two-out-of-three falls match last week.  I would technically call it Rey winning via DQ since Samoa Joe attacked Rey during the “third fall.”  Nonetheless Joe continued to attack Andrade as well but was treated to an RKO out of nowhere by Randy Orton.  During the Royal Rumble, Orton eliminated Rey after they collectively eliminated Nia Jax.  Andrade eliminated Orton.  Ali & Rey could team up again to take on Andrade and Joe.  I don’t rule out a six-man putting Jeff Hardy with Ali & Rey and Orton with Andrade & Joe.  Any combination of matches is possible.

Start Time & Matches Advertised on the Arena Website

The Talking Stick Resort Arena is advertising a start time of 5:45 p.m. local time.  They advertise a six-man tag match featuring A.J. Styles & Rey Mysterio & Jeff Hardy vs. WWE Champion Daniel Bryan & Randy Orton & Samoa Joe.


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

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