1/24 WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT: Keller’s report on final Royal Rumble hype, Fiend-Bryan strap match contract signing, Reigns & Usos vs. Corbin & Ziggler & Roode

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor



Wrestling Night in America Reunion: PWTorch columnist Greg Parks is joined by former PWTorch columnist Pat McNeill for a full match-by-match preview of WrestleMania 36
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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JANUARY 24, 2020
DALLAS, TEX.
AIRED LIVE ON FOX

Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves


[HOUR ONE]

-They went right to the crowd where the augmented reality scoreboard said “DALLAS” in an extra-large font that said, unlike poor Wichita, they were PROUD of the city they were emanating from this week and wanted everyone to know it.

(1) ROMAN REIGNS & THE USOS vs. KING CORBIN & ROBERT ROODE & DOLPH ZIGGLER

The Usos came out first. Cole was bursting blood vessels in his temples to convey his excitement about how it was almost WrestleMania season and you could feel it in the air. Graves seemed slightly taken aback, but then said the WWE Universe is buzzing over what’s on the horizon. Reigns came out next and looked around the crowd before his pyro blasted. Cole said Reigns will pull double-duty at the Rumble, as he’ll face Corbin in a Falls Count Anywhere match and the Rumble match. Cole excitedly listed the places around the ballpark where the fight might go on Sunday. Corbin was then carried to the ring on a throne with Roode and Ziggler leading the way. A couple minutes in, Roode backdropped Jimmy over the top rope. Ziggler then charged and rammed him back-first into the steps and post. He was down and stayed down. The ref checked on him and told the other wrestlers back away. The ref called for medics to check on him. Jey yelled for them to “check his head.” Jimmy was helped to the back, looking concussed. Cole asked if Jey and Roman will have to continue alone. [c]

Cole reset the match and said it’s now three-on-two. Jey rallied and leaped off the top rope, but Corbin ducked and the hit a Deep Six for a two count. Jey landed an enzuigiri on Roode. When he leaped for a hot-tag to Reigns, Corbin yanked Reigns off the ring apron and threw him into the steps and then into the crowd over the ringside barricade at 11:00. [c]

Back from the break, Cole explained that Jimmy got hurt and was helped to the back. Jey reversed Corbin shoulder-first into the ringpost. Jey managed to hot-tag in Reigns. A freaked out Corbin turned and frantically tagged in Ziggler. Reigns took down Ziggler and played to the crowd. Reigns then gave Ziggler a boot to the chin. Ziggler took a great bump. Reigns looked to the crowd and waited for Ziggler to stand so he could spear him. Roode distracted the ref, then Corbin yanked on Reigns’s hair. Ziggler then caught Reigns with a superkick for a believable near fall. Corbin reacted to the kickout with frustration at ringside.  The heels isolated Reigns for a while, tagging in and out to stay fresh. Roode set up his Glorious DDT, but Reigns turned it into a roll-up. Then he lifted and slammed Roode. Graves said Reigns might have used the last of his energy to lift and slam Roode. Both were slow to get up. When Reigns leaped to tag in Uso, Ziggler yanked him off the ring apron in a rerun of Corbin doing that to Reigns earlier. Ziggler then threw Uso onto and over the announce desk. Meanwhile, Corbin tagged in and went back to work against Reigns. Graves said it is essentially three-on-one.

Ziggler set up a superkick, stomping the mat to counter-productively foreshadow his move. Reigns popped him with a Superman Punch. Jimmy hobbled down the ramp just in time to receive the tag from a leaping Reigns. He went to work on Roode with a flurry of offense. He leaped off the top rope and landed a crossbody for a near fall, with Corbin breaking up the cover. Reigns knocked Corbin out of the ring with a Superman Punch. Reigns beat Corbin through the crowd, including hitting him with a trash can. Back in the ring, Jimmy climbed to the top rope. Ziggler grabbed at his leg, but Jimmy kicked him off. Jey then leaped at him. Jimmy then landed an Uso Splash on Roode for the win. Graves called it a big win for the Usos and Reigns. “The bloodline survives,” he said.

WINNERS: Reigns & Usos in 25:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: A heck of a match. Formulaic, yes, but it was effectively done playing to two crescendos with hot-tags, a disadvantage for an extended time, the triumphant return of an injured babyface, and a crisp and exciting finish.)

-They went to Cole and Graves at ringside. Cole threw to highlights of Kane on Smackdown last week. Then they hyped The Fiend and Daniel Bryan in the ring together for a contract signing. They showed Lacey Evans backstage posing for a photoshoot. [c]

-They showed postcard shots of Dallas.

-Graves threw to a video package on last week’s Lacey vs. Bayley match.

-Cole interviewed Lacey on the stage about her title match at the Rumble on Sunday. He asked why she questioned the leadership of Bayley and Sasha Banks. She said because they’re bullies, and she learned early on to stand up and not be intimidated by bullies. Lacey’s voice cracked as she said her father fought hard against addiction and depression, and he lost the battle, and she works hard via the platform of this company to show people you can play whatever game you sent you mind to no matter what hand you are dealt. She said the hardest part about being in this position is knowing what they are doing and what the world is going through, and she has a chance to set the proper example. “You can make it, I made it, and there is nothing you cannot accomplish if you set your mind to it,” she said as her voice cracked some more. Cole asked her if that’s why she joined the Marines. She said yes, and that journey also led her to WWE. Cole said if she becomes champion, she has to become a leader. He asked what kind of leader she’ll be. She said it doesn’t matter the hell you’ve been through, if you keep pushing, you can accomplish your goals. She said the world needs a good example and she’s going to be that champion.

Cole asked about her daughter, Summer. Cole threw to a clip of Sasha and Bayley confronting her daughter. Lacey said her seven year old daughter was crying, and she had to explain to her this is her job and this is what she does. She said she takes her to every show, and she’s more concerned than ever about her because of those two bullies. Bayley then attacked Lacey as she shifted to talking about her plans on Sunday. Bayley yelled, “Where’s your daughter now!” Two referees pulled Bayley away.

-Kayla Braxton interviewed Carmella and Dana Brooke. Carmella said it’s time to rumble. She said she won the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal last year, was the first-ever Miss Money in the Bank and cashed it in to become the Smackdown Women’s Champion. She told them not to forget that ‘Mella is money. Dana said at the Rumble, everyone has a chance to take big swings at anyone – friend vs. friend, foe vs. foe, it’s every woman for herself. She said she might be perceived as the underdog, but she knows what she’s worth and she knows what she has to do. Suddenly the camera panned over to Lacey attacking Bayley in the back, throwing her into rolling crates. Carmella and Lacey broke it up. Lacey tried to fight past them and bash Bayley with her high heel. They cut to a break. [c]

-Graves plugged the Fox Super Bowl pre-game show.

(2) ALEXA BLISS & NIKKI CROSS vs. MANDY ROSE & SONYA DEVILLE

Bliss and Cross came out first. Cole narrated clips of the Otis-Mandy stuff last Friday. Then Rose and Deville, “Fire & Desire,” made their entrance. They threw to a snippet of Mandy apologizing to Sonya for what happened to last week. Deville said it’s Fire & Desire, not Fire & Desire & Otis “because that would be weird.” Cole noted that Paige actually picked Otis to win the Royal Rumble match on “WWE Backstage” earlier this week. When the bell rang, Lacey chased Bayley to the ring. The ref called for the bell as they all brawled for the obligatory “preview of what we’ll see on Sunday in the women’s Royal Rumble match.”

WINNER: No contest in 5 seconds.

-Braun Strowman approached Elias strumming his guitar and said, “Let’s go to work.”  [c]

-Elias stood mid-ring with his guitar. He said the Royal Rumble is upon them. He said 30 enter, 1 stands victorious to go on to WrestleMania. Elias sang about sending Seth Rollins, Ricochet, Randy Orton, and others over the top rope. He invited Braun to the ring to help him sing. Braun’s music played. Cole asked if Braun is really going to sing. Cole noted Braun made the most eliminations at 13, and he will enter this Sunday.

[HOUR TWO]

When Braun entered, Elias said on Sunday, it is every man for himself. He said he knows Braun wasn’t prepared, but he suggested a duet. He asked Dallas if they’d like to see Braun sing with him. Graves said they saw Braun dance, so maybe he can sing too. Braun took the mic and looked at the crowd. They cheered. “What do you say, Dallas?” he asked. He rubbed his throat and began to sing, but after the first second, he was interrupted by Cesaro’s entrance theme. Graves said he wanted to hear where that was going. Then Shinsuke Nakamura’s entrance theme played.

(3) SHINSUKE NAKAMURA & CESARO (w/Sami Zayn) vs. BRAUN STROWMAN & ELIAS

Elias got the better of Cesaro early. Graves said Cesaro could go deep into the Rumble, as he won the Andre the Giant Battle Royal in the past. Cesaro made a comeback and threw Elias to the floor where Nakamura kicked him. Strowman charged and shoulder-checked Nakamura to the mat. They cut to a break at 2:00. [c]

An XFL ad aired as they came back to the match, advertising XFL starting on Fox this spring. Apparently the talent is unprecedented. Braun hot-tagged in and took it to Nakamura, or “Shin” as Cole oddly often calls him. Nakamura avoided a charging Braun in the corner. Cesaro tagged in and beat down Braun for a while. Sami leaped onto the ring apron and created a distraction. Nakamura brought a chair toward Cesaro, but Elias intercepted him. Braun then gave Cesaro a running powerslam. He tagged in Elias who leaped off the top rope and landed a flying elbow for the three count.

WINNERS: Braun & Elias in 8:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: Not a lot of time, but what they did worked and let everyone kind of get across their personas. Elias’s flying elbow looked good at the end, especially in slo-mo. Graves compared it to Macho Man, and it didn’t sound ridiculous when watching it.)

-They went back to Cole and Graves at ringside. Cole threw to a clip of Daniel Bryan challenging The Fiend to a strap match at the Royal Rumble. They went backstage to Bryan in a locker room sitting in the corner thinking about the contract signing later.

-They went Big E oiling up his body when a man rubbed his legs and then hugged him. Kofi Kingston walked up and asked what he is doing. Big E said he always says when my boy is greasy, eliminating me cannot be easy. He kissed the man on his forehead and then he left. That was triple weird. Kofi talked about facing John Morrison. Kofi said he can’t just pick up where he left off eight years ago. They talked about the power of positivity. Big E said they’re doing it for Xavier. [c]

-Clips aired of what happened earlier in the six-man tag match. Then Braxton interviewed Corbin backstage. She asked if he’s concerned since Reigns got the better of him earlier. Corbin said that’s a stupid question. He said on Sunday he’ll embarrass Reigns and give him the beating of a lifetime and drag him throughout every inch of Minute Made park. He said Reigns won’t make the Rumble match, but he will and he will win go on to be declared the new Universal Champion “on the grandest stage of them all.”

-Cole said in 2014 Reigns eliminated 12 men and in 2015 Reigns won the Rumble. Cole said at the Rumble, it’s all about the numbers. Then an updated video package aired on the Rumble numbers including Lesnar’s history.

-New Day made their ring entrance. Cole said Kofi and Big E will both be part of the Rumble match on Sunday. Cole said Kofi is part of some of the greatest moments in Rumble history. Graves said Kofi would love another chance at the Universal Title or WWE Title. (Interesting to go out of his way to mention both titles, because one would assume if Kofi won, he’d be inclined to pick Lesnar’s WWE Title as his target for revenge.) [c]

-A soundbite aired with Sheamus along with clips of his incident with Shorty G last week. He said on Sunday he will finish what he started.

-Morrison’s music played and he came out accompanied by Miz. Miz said last week, Morrison made his in-ring return after being away for eight years. He complained about fans not blowing the roof off the place and instead booing him. Boos. Miz said he hasn’t changed. He said he’s still the same guy who let them into his personal life. He plugged “Miz & Mrs.” He said their winners because Morrison beat Big E last week and he’ll beat Kofi this week. Miz said they are officially entering the Rumble. He said when one of them wins, it’ll be awesome.

(4) KOFI KINGSTON (w/Big E) vs. JOHN MORRISON (w/The Miz)

A minute in Morrison side-stepped Kofi and sent him to the floor. Morrison made a twisting dive over the top toward Kofi, but Kofi moved. Kofi then flipped himself over the top rope and landed on Morrison. Miz cheered on Morrison. Kofi told him to back off. Morrison shoved Kofi into the ringpost. They cut to a break. [c]

Morrison controlled the action after the break. Kofi came back with a head scissors off the top rope followed by a double stomp to the chest for a two count. When Kofi went for Trouble in Paradise, Morrison ducked down and hook kicked Kofi in the head and scored a two count. Kofi inadvertently knocked Morrison into the ref, then poked Kofi in the eye. Then he gave Kofi a Spanish Fly off the second rope and scored a believable near fall. Kofi hit the S.O.S. on Morrison for a two count. Morrison tried to pin Kofi with his feet on the middle rope. Big E pushed his feet off. Miz then shoved Big E from behind. Big E chased Miz around the ring. Miz jumped onto the ring apron. Kofi gave him a Trouble in Paradise. Morrison gave Kofi an elbow to the back of his neck, then landed Starship Pain for the win.

WINNER: Morrison in 10:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: That Starship Pain looked better than last week’s. Another match where everyone effectively played up their personalities. Miz and Morrison are easy to boo.) [c]

-Cole stood mid-ring for the contract signing between Bryan and Fiend. Bryan came out to cheers as Graves talked about how Bryan believes he has solved the enigma that is “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. He wondered if the plan will actually work. Cole then introduced Bray Wyatt. The “Firefly Funhouse” jingle played. Bray was trying to send a fax of the contract backstage. He said he couldn’t get this fancy thing to work. It went through finally, but was ripped. He wrinkled it up and threw it away. He said it might be a blessing in disguise. He asked why Bryan would agree to wrestle “him.” He said he’ll be destroyed. Bray called customer service to fix the fax machine. Bryan told Bray to cut the crap because he’s a sick man. He told him to come right out there and sign the contract. Bray said that’s not very nice, he’s not sick. He grabbed his belt and said he’s never been better. He said his attorney Mercy the Buzzard has instructed him to stay right there.

Bryan said he likes to live in his fantasy show to hide from reality, but he made a mistake because this Sunday he’s going to be tied to The Fiend “and he won’t be able to run.” Bray interrupted him and said “mistake” is the world of the day. Bray said this is all about his big mistake and he never learned his lesson. He said he betrayed him and is a liar, “so it’s time to pay.” He said he won’t be competing against him this Sunday, so it’s only fitting that “he” sign the contract. Fans cheered. Cole immediately left the ring. The lights went dark. The red lights came on and The Fiend was standing opposite of Bryan. They fought. Fiend put the Mandible Claw on Bryan in the corner of the ring and yelled. Then he gave Bryan a Sister Abigail. He tore off Bryan shirt and then whipped him with the strap. Graves said Bryan asked for this and he will regret this on Sunday.

Fiend sat at the desk and signed the contract by driving a pencil through his hand and laughing uproariously. He threw the pencil away and then signed the contract by wiping his blood on the contract. “You’ve got issues!” chanted the fans. They went to a close-up of The Fiend, then the lights went out. They came back on and Bryan’s back was covered with red marks. The contract with blood on it was next to Bryan. Bryan sat up and looked at the contract. Cole called Fiend dangerous and demented as he talked about how The Fiend will be strapped to Bryan. “What terror is in store for Bryan this Sunday at the Royal Rumble,” said Cole. Graves said, “Be careful what you wish for.”

(Keller’s Analysis: Strong angle as a final close to the Rumble hype.)

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