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WWE Smackdown preview (January 9, 2015): Who authorizes The Authority?

What you need to know

Humble and contrite, John Cena just wanted to apologize to the WWE locker room and Universe for going back on his word and bringing back The Authority.  Stephanie McMahon and Triple H were so heelishly delighted to be back, however, they dedicated the whole night to appreciating the man who returned them to power rather than watch Edge get his neck snapped.  The guy who threatened to do the snapping was really responsible for our new/old overlords, and he got the real prize - Seth Rollins was added to the Royal Rumble title match, making it a triple threat with Cena and champ Brock Lesnar.

A theme would very quickly emerge for John Cena Appreciation Night, as soon as Dolph Ziggler had seemingly quickly defeated Bad News Barrett to retain his Intercontinental title.  Kane emerged to destroy the champ, and to make the defense a two-out-of-three falls affair.  BNB took care of business on the weary Show-Off, and earned his fifth IC reign as a result.

Roman Reigns cut a promo that drew mixed reviews, while The Ascension cut one that got almost uniformly negative ones.  Konnor & Viktor at least got to beat up a couple of jobbers afterward, though.  The Big Dog had to work a match with Big Show, and try to keep his heat through another disqualification win and standing tall after Show's dropped his new signature weapon on his own head.

It's been a bit of a rough week for the Bellas.  Nikki had relationship drama on the season premiere of Total Divas, watched Brie lose to Natalya on Monday and came up short herself on Main Event against Natty's new bestie (and new TD cast member) Paige.  Alicia Fox also turned on Naomi for 'reality' show-related reasons to set-up a six-person mixed tag between Foxy & Mizdow against The Uso family.  The heels won, and many were said to be hot for the former tag champs.

Cross "an ambulance" off the list of things from which you've always wanted to see Dean Ambrose do an elbow drop.  It's not clear whether we can cross his gimmick-filled feud with Bray Wyatt off of WWE's booking sheet, but the Eater of Worlds victory in their Ambulance Match seemed more definitive than past outcomes.

Two other members Survivor Series Team Cena got Authority-booked matches.  Erick Rowan was screwed by J & J Security's poor officiating in his match against his ex-brother Luke Harper, and Ryback did his Secret-inspired best, but couldn't overcome both Kane & Seth Rollins in a handicap match.  Meanwhile, Ryback's regularly scheduled feud-mate, United States champ Rusev, got some free time to cut promos with his Social Ambassador Lana.

Elsewhere in the mid-card, Fandango's Tuesday night push continued with a win over R-Truth, and Titus O'Neil beat Jack Swagger in a solid bout that probably won't lead anywhere except to a bunch of hits for posts about The Real American's hair.  And we finally discovered how to make Tyson Kidd & Cesaro look capable of botching moves - put them in full body stockings.  They did that to disguise themselves as Rosebuds for some reason, and start a program with The New Day.

The big story, or angle, as the dirt screens have been promising, was The Authority's final punishment for Ryback, Ziggler, Rowan and Cena.  Amidst confetti and parade music, the prinipal owner and her COO hubby relished the opportunity to make the face who thinks he runs the place squirm, as they fired his teammates and passive aggressively rubbed his face in it.

What to look out for

Laredo, Texas was the place to be on Tuesday night.  We won't get to see why until tonight, but some folks were actually there, and their reports went into these spoilers, which you can peruse at your leisure.

Up until yesterday, non-spoiler readers would have thought that even the Smackdown crowd would be hot for Mizdow, since our announced attractions were Seth Rollins addressing his opportunity on Miz TV and a triple threat for the tag titles with The Usos defending against the former champs and The Dust Brothers.  But Trips is giving Seth his own microphone to speak (and probably set up a tag match, playa), so the Awesome One and his equally awesome stunt double will just have to work their butts off in the six-man bout to heat up this Texas audience.

We got some reactions from the fired trio online and on Main Event this week, and we can expect those to continue - or just get replayed - tonight.  There probably won't be much movement on that story though until The Authority, Cena and Daniel Bryan return for next week's shows.

Keep an eye on what they do with Rusev to keep him looking important headed into the Rumble match.  His feud with Mr. Back is on hold, however temporarily, and the roster isn't full of guys he hasn't already beaten or who can afford to take a big loss even in a mini-program with the Bulgarian.

They can always feed Swagger to that he's got a new do, that's practically a fresh feud.

(Note: I know some folks have come looking for a more definitive match listing - that will be posted behind spoiler text in the comments. If releases more information on anything that's officially going to take place on tonight's show, that'll be updated here)

It's the ultimate Friday Night Smackdown - will anything other than that status make it memorable?

Find out along with your fellow Cagesiders in our live blog!

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