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SmackDown Recap 1/28: All That's Left Now Is The Royal Rumble
This week's SmackDown was in the interesting position of being the Royal Rumble go-home show within 24 hours of the event itself. That means if any of the WWE Superstars had any last-minute issues to cover before the big day, they were rapidly running out of time to do so. This is why Raw star Seth Rollins announced ahead of time that he was heading to the blue brand to personally deliver a message to Roman Reigns less than a day before he will challenge him for the Universal title. And what was this important message? Let's find out.
We start things off with the SmackDown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair heading out to the ring for a promo about her entry in the Women's Royal Rumble Match.
She's interrupted in order by Shayna Baszler, Aliyah, Natalya, and Shotzi, who each explain why they take umbrage with Flair's early declaration of victory. They're all joined then by the returning Sasha Banks, who has been sidelined with an injury for weeks. Banks announces her entry in the Rumble match and slaps Flair. All of them start brawling then and we've got a donnybrook to open the show, which eventually sees Banks standing tall.
We next get a backstage interview with Sheamus and Ridge Holland ahead of their tag match against Cesaro and Ricochet, where Holland promises revenge against Ricochet for breaking his nose.
Cesaro & Ricochet vs Sheamus & Ridge Holland
We get an ok match here. These guys in some varying combination have been having very solid matches for the past several weeks on SmackDown, so the comfort and skill with one another are there. It just kinda feels like we've seen it all before and they don't do anything crazy here, which honestly, no one can blame them for the night before a major event. Eventually, Holland headbutts Cesaro while wearing the protective facemask and hits him with Northern Grit for the pinfall.
Winners: Ridge Holland & Sheamus
Naomi vs Sonya Deville
Ok so, this match is pretty decent. They tell a really solid shithead heel versus empathetic babyface story that is a continuation of the larger story they've been on for a while. The problem is, why is this on free TV when there's a Pay Per View less than 24 hours later? That kind of diminishes it a bit. You've been building this rivalry for months and months and you give the payoff away as a mid-card match on weekly TV? Kinda weird. Eventually, Naomi hits the Rearview followed by the Split-Legged Moonsault for the pinfall.
After the match, Naomi grabs the mic, cuts a promo celebrating her win, and says she'll win the Rumble match. Deville responds, saying she too will be entering the Rumble match.
We now get a backstage interview with The Usos where they mock Seth Rollins and promise Roman Reigns will win. They're confronted by The Viking Raiders (Hey kids! Remember they're facing each other at the Rumble, despite there being literally zero build towards the match?) who say some weird shit about axes and cutting The Usos' beards.
Sami Zayn now heads out for another edition of his InZayn show, where this time he does a podcast with guests Jinder Mahal and Shanky.
This leads to Rick Boogs and Zayn's opponent at the Royal Rumble for the Intercontinental Championship, Shinsuke Nakamura, heading out for a tag team match against Mahal and Shanky.
Rick Boogs & Shinsuke Nakamura vs Jinder Mahal & Shanky
This one isn't getting five stars, let's just say that. Everyone except Boogs feels pretty limited here and eventually Boogs nails Shanky (why is this guy on weekly TV?) with the Boogs Cruise for the pinfall.
Winners: Rick Boogs & Shinsuke Nakamura
Next, we go to a backstage interview with a very animated Kofi Kingston and Big E, where Big E announces he's back on SmackDown (I'm not sure if he means permanently or not?).
The New Day vs Happy Corbin & Madcap Moss
A pretty fun tag match here with some big spots and a lot of fast-paced action. This one really moves from beginning to end without any dead spots, so that makes it decently exciting to watch. Eventually, The New Day puts Corbin and Moss away when they hit the Midnight Hour on Moss and Big E gets the pinfall.
Winners: The New Day
The Universal Champion Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins meet in the ring now for one final chat before their title match at the Royal Rumble. Rollins relishes that he thinks he's in Reigns' head for all the times he's beaten him or stolen the spotlight from him, but Reigns says he doesn't sweat it. Rollins then brings up when he betrayed the SHIELD and has since beaten Reigns every time in a big situation, but says he'll always love him.
Reigns gets pissed now and says he'll never forgive Rollins for what he did to the SHIELD and that he hates him.
Rollins loves this and then goes on a tirade screaming that everything about Reigns, from his title run to his faction to his family are all a joke and that at the Rumble, "it all goes up in smoke!" Reigns shoves Rollins and then tries the Superman Punch, but Rollins dodges it and runs off, laughing at Reigns as SmackDown ends.
A good ending segment here. Both guys did a good job selling the heat between them and Rollins especially has found a new gear with this "freak" character, who can honestly work very well as an obnoxious, grating heel or as an eccentric face.
Well, all that's left to do now is rumble and that's just what they'll all do tonight at the 2022 Royal Rumble. Will we see new Champions crowned as we start the road to WrestleMania? Only one way to find out!
Till next time friends.