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WWE SmackDown Live recap and reactions (Jan. 30, 2018): Fracturing

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WWE SmackDown Live returned to us last night (Jan. 30) from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Find all the results in the live blog here.

Fracturing

The show opened this week with the 2018 Royal Rumble winner, Shinsuke Nakamura. He has a nickname, but I don’t remember what it is at this moment.

Ah that’s right.

Nak cut a short, simple promo about he delivered plenty of knees at the Royal Rumble. And at WrestleMania, he’ll do the same to AJ Styles and become the new champion.

He was then interrupted by Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, who were out once again to cry and moan about not winning the WWE title because they were screwed. Man, these two are insufferable. They come out and I groan because I know they’re about to whine a bunch. And that’s actually a good thing. These two guys are heels and they’ve successfully turned me, someone who absolutely appreciates the talent of both these men, against them.

AJ Styles soon came out to even the numbers. And I’m happy to announce some great news: Styles FINALLY stopped trying to make Kami happen.

This set up a tag match that Daniel Bryan made official when the friends approached him in his office. More importantly, Daniel decided to give them another shot at AJ’s championship. But Kevin and Sami will have to fight each other to decide which one gets the opportunity. After a month of Daniel making supremely questionable decisions, it looked like he’s back to not playing along with KO and Zayn’s BS. Will we learn why he was so erratic the last month? Who the hell knows. While never a fan of dropped story threads, sometimes it may be better to drop it if the idea sucked and it wasn’t working.

This news immediately started creating issues between the team of Kevin and Sami. The idea of having to face each other after failing on Sunday had these two at odds the entire main event. Eventually, after enough bickering, Sami just bailed and Kevin ended up taking a Kinshasa from the Rumble winner.

I’m curious to see where this is headed. Even if they break up, neither of them are in the position to be a babyface. They’re both way too obnoxious and way too unlikeable for either to be cheered. The crowd booed Sami when he bailed on Kevin. (Zayn then went on to act like the douchiest douche during the Mixed Match Challenge.)

It’ll be interesting to see how this match plays next week.


Teased Cash In

Ruby Riott and her Squad interrupted a promo from Charlotte Flair. There were words exchanged and then came the fighting. Initially the champion held her own, but the numbers inevitably caught up and the Squad left Charlotte laying in the middle of the ring.

Then things got exciting.

With the champ down, Carmella ran down with her briefcase and a referee in tow. Flair was down and out, and it looked like it was curtains for the champ.

Unfortunately for the Princess of Staten Island, when Charlotte was stirring, she went for a drop kick that accidentally hit the referee and knocked him out of the ring as he was handing over the briefcase. The ref fell to the floor and Charlotte came to her feet so Carmella decided better try another day.

This was a really fun tease spot for the Money in the Bank. If they happen too much, they lose their effect. But this one was set up perfectly that when Carmella came out, it felt entirely possible that the gold was changing hands.

After many weeks of repetitive women’s segments, this week’s injected some life into the division.


Elated Rusev Day!

Rusev won a fatal 4-way to become #1 contender to Bobby Roode’s United States championship. This match will happen on Rusev Day. (Next week.)

The first part of the match was highlighted by the men not in the match.

What did you do, Sunil?!

In the second segment of the match, an entertaining closing sequence concluded with Rusev submitting Kofi Kingston with the Accolade.

Now Glorious Bobby Roode has to go up against Rusev next week to try to stave off the wave that is Rusev Day and keep his title.


Tag Team Scene

Looming

The Usos cut a promo and, surprise, surprise, it was superb. Honestly, I’m not always entirely sure what they’re saying but I can’t stop listening. After claiming they’re the best there is, they went to leave the ring. At this time, the Bludgeon Brothers came out for their match.

They didn’t directly come out to confront the Usos. They came down for their already scheduled bout, they just did so a minute or so early. It wasn’t directly saying “We’re coming for you, Usos.” But it served a reminder that the Bludgeon Brothers are looming and sooner than later, the champs are going to have to face their fate.

That fate was demonstrated by yet another squash beating by the Bros against some local talent.

Files Interrupted

Elsewhere in the tag division, Breezango and Shelton Benjamin/Chad Gable had themselves a match. This was set up earlier in the evening when Benjamin and Gable crashed a Fashion Files social media lounge, accused Breezango of making the tag division a joke, and then flipped a table full of computers. That’s a way to get some heat.

Unfortunately, the match never connected. Gable and Benjamin picked up the win, which is all well and good, but it never really clicked.


Fallout

Baron Corbin defeated Tye Dillinger with an End of Days.

This match was set up by a backstage segment stemming from the Royal Rumble. Tye Dillinger was in Shane McMahon’s office requesting a chance to get back at Sami Zayn, who cost him his spot in the Rumble on Sunday. Corbin stormed in and was angry as well, but it was probably misplaced anger that should have been directed at himself because he dropped the ball yet again.

I dig that they bothered to give us a reason for this match. It was something that helped this episode of SmackDown as a whole. Everything on screen had a purpose. They weren’t just matches for matches sake. This match happened because of events from Sunday that culminated backstage. It gives us a reason to get behind it.


This was one of the better episodes of SmackDown in a bit. One of its strengths was there weren’t any wasted motions. Every match and bit had a reason and served a purpose and that helped the show flow and feel like it mattered.

Grade: B+

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