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WWE SmackDown Live recap & reactions (Jan. 2, 2018): Move it Along


SmackDown Live waltzed back into our lives last night (Jan. 2) from the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. You can find all the results at the best live blog in the business here.

Move it along

Overall, I’m enjoying the Daniel Bryan/Shane McMahon story (feat. KO, Sami Zayn, & AJ Styles). They’re doing a commendable job laying out the motives of those involved.

That being said, it really needs to move it along because we’re definitely spinning our wheels here. It’s a story that probably should have started later if they need to stretch things out until the Royal Rumble. Because right now, it seems like everything is moving at a snail’s pace. We did get another wrinkle added in last night, which is cool and all, but one wrinkle a week isn’t enough at this point.

Last night, the opening segment set up an AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn match with Kevin Owens, Shane McMahon, AND Daniel Bryan at ringside. May as well have put them all in a shark cage above the ring.

In the end, Owens ended up delaying the referee from making a pinfall, which led to McMahon shoving him and ordering the referee to eject KO. Bryan took a microphone and said that if Owens is ejected, Shane may as well leave too. All this hullabaloo resulted in Sami delivering his Helluva Kick to pin the WWE champion.

AJ was understandably angered and said he’ll just fight both Zayn and Owens. Bryan then made a handicap match for the Rumble where Styles will have to defend his championship against Sami and Kevin, which surely isn’t what he had in mind when he issued the challenge.

This is the first time that Bryan’s actions were this questionable. Up until last night, his actions made sense. But booking AJ Styles in a handicap match against both Sami and Kevin lends credence to the favoritism theory. It’s an addition to the story I appreciate, but at this point, it needs to really start moving at a brisker pace. And with the Rumble at the end of this month, it may not do so until then.

Dusty Finish

The Usos defended their titles against Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable. There was controversy.

After two segments of action, there looked to be a surprising title change. However another referee came out to inform that match’s ref Brian Nguyen that both men involved in the winning pin were not legal. C’mon, Brian. You should be better than that by now.

The match was restarted and the Usos were able to pick up the win the second time around. It left the challengers understandably frustrated.

This worked. Benjamin and Gable took an L in the end, but you can hardly blame them after they had already thought they won before having to get past that and fight again. Shelton and Chad don’t look bad at all with a loss like this given the circumstances. Maybe it will lead to a final match between the two teams in a couple weeks, which I certainly wouldn’t complain about.

New Day > Rusev Day

Xavier Woods defeated Aiden English to advance to the semi-finals of the US title tournament where he’ll face Jinder Mahal.

The match wasn’t too long and never got a real chance to get going. This is understandable but still a bit disappointing since those dudes put a ton of work in on Twitter building this.

But something important happened prior to the match: Rusev sang.

Yes, since Rusev’s bard would be the one competing, the Bulgarian decided to take the singing duties off his hand. It was a sweet gesture and of course, it was fantastic.

Full disclosure. I was #English2018 coming into this match, but there was no way he was winning. With Jinder already waiting for the winner, Woods was the only outcome that made sense. But my US title political leanings asides, that’s a great move. I’ve always wanted to see a Woods singles run and while I don’t think he’ll get past Jinder, seeing WWE use him as a solo competitor is great.

The Rest:

The Bludgeoning Continues: The Bludgeon Brothers were scheduled for yet another match with Breezango but they didn’t even wait for the bell to ring to dole out their special brand of punishment. The Ascension once again made the save and got taken out. It was more wheel spinning.

Stables: The Welcoming Committee tried their hands at defeating the Riott Squad but came up empty. However, after Ruby cut a good post match promo, Charlotte came out introducing a team that could have a better shot. She was soon joined by Naomi and the returning Becky Lynch, who successfully took the fight to the Squad. It’s great seeing the Lass Kicker back and even though this story has treaded water itself as of late, I’m looking forward to this three on three match up.

There was nothing going on this week that felt like it was worth tuning in for. Most of the stories seem to be in a holding pattern until... something? We’re not that far from the Rumble but, despite that, things on SmackDown seem to be sitting still. While there wasn’t anything on this show outwardly bad, there isn’t much at all of note this week. This was an episode you could have skipped and not be too lost when you tune in next week.

Grade: C

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