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WWE SmackDown Live preview (Jan. 22, 2019): Personal

Don’t be shocked. Team Blue’s last stop on the road to Royal Rumble is in Wichita.

The Headliners

Like every wrestling fan I’ve ever met, I freaking love the Rumble.

Pat Patterson’s gift to the world has so many great facets. Surprises, big moments, stories within stories, and occasionally even some good wrestling. A personal favorites are the angles that play out leading into the match, during the Rumble itself, and afterwards on the Road to WrestleMania.

And now there are two Rumbles!

SmackDown’s midcard has laid the groundwork for a number of the narratives that will weave into, through and beyond this Sunday’s over-the-top battle royals (battles royal?). And the episode we get tonight will showcase three* feuds that’ll hopefully get some of the spotlight in Chase Field on Jan. 27.

Well, according to the official preview it will. But that told us to expect a Carmella/Sonya Deville bout last week, which should have led into the Women’s Rumble, and being the #30 entrant and a 2019 Superstar to Watch didn’t secure them time on the show, so... Naomi & Mandy Rose might want to get comfy in catering. Even if they don’t make it to the ring, though, expect this feud to get some screen time tonight. WWE’s more into this than any non-title women’s feud in a while, and Jimmy Uso teeing it up for wifey to kick the Golden Goddess’ curvy-yet-toned behind last week was a hit with all kinds of viewers.

On the men’s side, they’ll spoil us with a two-out-of-three falls match between Andrade & Rey Mysterio. Their showdown last week was one of the better TV matches we’ll likely get this year, and the Rumble will provide an opportunity to let whoever loses tonight get some mojo back by eliminating the other. Whatever extends this already excellent passing-of-the-torch feud.

Then there’s my leading candidate for “guys who hate each other so much they brawl too hard and take each other over the top rope” - Mustafa Ali vs. Samoa Joe*. Ali has a mandate from the Chairman to sell, sell, sell, and Joe kicks more ass than heel Biker Taker. With each man entered in the Rumble, the Heart of SmackDown Live is looking for revenge after Joe beat him down last Tuesday. [*This was announced as a match over the weekend, but isn’t listed on the website this morning... so it may be getting the Carmella/Deville treatment.]

Can’t wait for Sunday, but this loaded show will make the wait feel a little shorter.

The Title Scene

Speaking of the Chairman, Vince McMahon will be trying to keep the peace when our hot dog-hating WWE champ Daniel Bryan meets his Omaha Steak-loving challenger AJ Styles ahead of their fight at Royal Rumble.

Last week, Women’s titleholder Asuka and The Man Becky Lynch got ready for their pay-per-view (PPV) throw down by roughing up the IIconics in dueling singles matches. They’re not on’s docket for tonight, but Lynch will surely get into some kind of trouble...

Meanwhile, tag team champions The Bar and their opponents on Sunday, Miz & Shane McMahon will do the singles match thing again. Last week, the A-Lister took on Sheamus. This time he gets Cesaro. Shane O’Mac will be in his corner yet again, but it’s not his birthday, so don’t expect a Coast 2 Cake.

Wonder if Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura wish they could be entered in the men’s Rumble during a hot midcard feud instead of wrestling for the United States championship? There could be heat here, based on a title change and an “injury” to Lana. But WWE will need to remind us about it after they didn’t show up on our screens last week.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- At this point, the remaining Rumble match slots will be held for surprise entrants. But we thought that last night and ended up having a moment of Bliss, so...

- Will any of the new arrivals get a match like Heavy Machinery did last night, or will they get relegated to backstage shots and promo packages like EC3?

It’s the Royal Rumble ‘go home’ show!

What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?

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