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WWE SmackDown Live recap and reactions (Jan. 9, 2018): The Land of Mediocrity


WWE SmackDown Live came crawling back to us last night (Jan. 9) from the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama. You can find the results at the live blog here.


This week, the battle between Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan continued on as they used Randy Orton, AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens, & Sami Zayn as pawns in their game.

Since Bryan made the rather inexplicable WWE championship handicap match last week, Shane made a 3 on 2 handicap match for this week’s main event, with Sami and Kevin on one side against AJ, Shinsuke, and Randy. When the heels tried to take the count out, Shane restarted the match as no count out. When they tried to use chairs to get themselves disqualified, he restarted it as a no DQ bout. In the end, Sami was a victim of Orton and Nakamura while Styles and KO fought to the back.

This is getting tiresome. I don’t even mind a story involving the authority of SmackDown, at least as much as my boss Geno does, but this is spinning in circles and going nowhere. The last number of weeks, it’s been the same thing over and over. Shane does something questionable and then Daniel does something questionable in return. Rinse and repeat.

And likely they’re going to continue spinning their wheels until the Royal Rumble pay-per-view (PPV). That’s still over two weeks away.

That’s a problem with building to the Rumble in general. There are multi-person battle royals instead of a bunch of separate matches. That means WWE doesn’t have to build a bunch of stories going into the PPV like they normally would. Instead, they can tread water while they slowly announce names and ride the coattails of the excitement of the Rumble because the Rumble is always easy to get excited about.

This leads to a good chunk of time with limited story advancement. Outside the US title tournament and the tag title picture, everyone else on this show is spinning their wheels biding time until they get to the Rumble.

Basically, SmackDown’s been getting lazy.

Mojo Rawley Advances to the Semi Finals

The amount of growth we’ve seen from Mojo since his debut in NXT is incredible. He’s really finding his groove with his more intense, serious persona. That intensity translated into the ring during his win over Zack Ryder this week. I was someone who wasn’t into Mojo during his NXT run and his early Hype Bros run. But I’ve gone completely 180 on him as he continued to improve. (Watching someone find their stride and improve in the business is such an enjoyable aspect of pro wrestling.)

He and Bobby Roode had a little stare down in the ring post match as they will meet in two weeks to decide who goes the finals. My bet is Roode goes to the finals and faces Jinder Mahal, but for my money, Mojo should be going the distance. He’s cooking right now and should get a chance to keep rolling.

Demanding Justice

Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin made an argument that they were screwed last week. If it weren’t for an official sticking his nose into things, they’d be champions. It’s an understandable gripe for the could-be tag champions.

Their complaints drew out Daniel Bryan, who didn’t care for the team bad mouthing an official. Gable asked Bryan what they needed to do to get those titles. “Defeat the Usos twice in one night?” he flippantly asked. Much like last week with Styles, DB loved that idea and booked a 2 out of 3 falls title match between the Usos and Benjamin/Gable at the Royal Rumble. No doubt that should be a good one.

When they put Gable and Benjamin together, I figured they’d either be a babyface team or Shelton would turn on Gable. Turns out they went with a different option: Making them a heel team. It’s really working for them. The only part of this segment I didn’t care for was the super smug Daniel Bryan. If they are turning him heel, it’s a questionable move. If they’re not, he shouldn’t be acting like such an arse.

Not the best Rusev Day

Breezango picked up a win over Rusev Day in a tag bout this week. Normally, I would be more pumped about the sexy cops getting a win, but the lack of Fashion Files plus the team repeatably being used as enhancement talent for the Bludgeon Brothers have taken some of the shine off them.

That being said, if creative is going to start treating them as an active part of the division, I’m all for it. Even if the last month or so has knocked Breezango down a peg, it’ll be super easy to get them back given how charismatic they are.

Also, Rusev Day still rules.


Becky Lynch got a measure of revenge last night when she tapped out Ruby Riott in a one on one match. The other members of the Squad were on the outside in Ruby’s corner while Charlotte and Naomi were in the corner of Becky. It’s great to have Becky back in full force on the Blue Brand. But this whole thing between the Riott Squad and the women’s division seems to be at a standstill currently.

In fact, it’s been weeks since the SD women’s division did something really noteworthy. I continually find myself throwing together a quick paragraph to sum up this week’s match between the Riott Squad and which ever woman/women they’re fighting.

Same Bludgeoning, Different Day

Harper and Rowan squashed the Ascension in a match that was set up on a Fashion Files segment that’s an internet exclusive (lame). Breezango didn’t help the Ascension during a post match beatdown like the Ascension did for them weeks ago.

SmackDown has lacked excitement for weeks now and it’s possible it’ll be that way until the Rumble hits. It’s been weeks of rather skippable shows.

Grade: D+

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