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WWE SmackDown recap & reactions (Jan. 21, 2022): No numbers games

Is it just me or was there a subtle hint of something when Roman Reigns held his hand out for the microphone and looked awfully displeased when Jimmy Uso was late delivering it? Missing a certain someone by his side, perhaps?

Also notable from the opening segment of Friday Night SmackDown this week — Seth Rollins referred to Jon Moxley not as “Dean Ambrose” but as “Mox.” Let everyone take that to mean all kinds of things, but I’m just going to consider it a step forward for WWE to allow at least some of its on screen talent to act like real human beings sometimes.

Meanwhile, I quite liked the story they went with on this show. Of course they would do a celebration for Reigns being champion as long as he has and of course that would break down with Rollins hitting the scene for some sort of shenanigans. Said shenanigans actually made a great deal of sense, though, and advanced the story in a way that, again, made everyone involved look like they use their brains.

Hey, it’s noteworthy when WWE so often goes the other direction with its booking of these guys.

Rollins decided to challenge The Usos to a tag team match with the stipulation that a win would mean they’re barred from ringside at Royal Rumble. That way he can actually have a singles match for the title, instead of surely falling victim to THAT DAMN NUMBERS GAME. He brought Kevin Owens along with him to help in his quest to achieve this.

Reigns, to keep some semblance of control, alpha that he is, added his own stip: a Rollins loss would mean he no longer gets a title shot at all.

That’s how you start a show to set up a main event match with high stakes.

Later in the night, they delivered on the match in the sense that it was fun and worthy of its placement. It just sucks that it ended with a disqualification, with Reigns knowing The Usos were about to lose and getting a lick in on Rollins to cause a DQ.

It wouldn’t be a WWE show without a disqualification in the TV main event, I suppose. Either way, it was a good show storyline that made sense as a way to build to the PPV match.


All the rest
  • Big E showed up to assist Kofi Kingston in his match against Madcap Moss, basically to make a mockery of Moss and Happy Corbin. There wasn’t much to it, just a babyface being smart enough to get one over on the heels after the heels did the same to him. It was satisfying for what it was.
  • As a wise man once said, there’s levels to this game. When Lita returned to SmackDown, she was given a full blown segment with the champion of the women’s division. When Summer Rae returned, she was just hanging out in the crowd in her own hometown, during someone else’s match. Of course, it was during Natalya’s match, who she’s been beefing with on Twitter, so at least they effectively used a returning Legend to make the Royal Rumble more meaningful. Anyway, Aliyah won by disqualification when Nattie couldn’t break a five count. Xia Li showed up at the end of it when Natalya wouldn’t stop, and we were all reminded “The Protector” is still around.
  • The Viking Raiders became top contenders to the SmackDown tag team titles last week but because The Usos have better things to do, the decision was made to simply have Erik & Ivar go over clean with a dominant win over Los Lotharios. This is the kind of thing WWE should be doing in situations like these, so good on them for doing it.
  • Naomi got her rematch with Charlotte Flair this week and I’ll give you two guesses on what went down but you’re only gonna need one — you got it! Sonya Deville interfered and screwed her over once again. I’d give some sort of analysis here if there was any to give but this has become the standard on the blue brand, so much so it’s become routine. Later, Eric Bischoff appeared from nowhere to advise Adam Pearce to go to upper management to get a match booked between Deville and Naomi for next week. Later, it was made official and I’ll assume the same thing happens. Why would I think any different after the past however many months?
  • Sami Zayn’s grand plan to prove he’s better than Johnny Knoxville was to show that he can do Jackass stunts just like him. Except he’s Sami Zayn, so he tried to fake his way through it. Naturally, Knoxville himself showed up, made it real, and zapped Zayn before tossing him out of the ring again. I am almost convinced that Knoxville is actually going to eliminate Zayn in the Royal Rumble this year.
  • Ridge Holland returned to hang out while Sheamus beat up the guy who broke his nose weeks back, Ricochet. There you have it.

This was a fairly average show.

Grade: C+

Your turn.