SmackDown airs tonight (Jan. 28) with a live show from the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri. This is the final SmackDown episode during the four week build towards Royal Rumble on January 29.
Big E might just be a member of the SmackDown roster again
The SmackDown roster is a huge mess these days, so WWE sent over some reinforcements from Raw. It started with Seth Rollins coming over to get involved in Roman Reigns’ business. But it expanded last week in the form of both Big E and Kevin Owens making the journey from Monday nights. WWE tried to explain away this clear violation of last October’s draft and current roster rules by saying anything can happen when it’s Royal Rumble season. Okay then.
Something strange has happened with Big E’s booking over these last two weeks. He did not appear at all on the Jan. 17 or Jan. 24 episodes of Raw. That’s supposed to be his home base. However, he did appear last week on the Jan. 19 episode of SmackDown, and he is scheduled for a match tonight. So former WWE champion Big E is heading in to the Royal Rumble event absent from Raw and relevant on SmackDown. It’s weird.
Does this mean Big E is now a member of the SmackDown roster? Or will he return to Raw next week? Is he just filling in on Friday nights until King Xavier Woods is back? Does any of this matter? The answers to these questions may be obvious to some fans, but others are understandably left scratching their heads every time WWE violates their own established roster rules like this.
Big E is scheduled to team up with Kofi Kingston tonight to take on Madcap Moss and Happy Corbin. Kofi and Madcap have traded wins over the last two weeks, and Big E capped off last week’s segment with a Big Ending for Moss. Regardless of who wins the match, these four men will likely cross paths again tomorrow night inside the 30-Man Royal Rumble match.
The title scene
Roman Reigns is in big trouble. The Usos lost a tag team match against Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins last week, and that means Jimmy and Jey are banned from ringside when Reigns defends the Universal title against Rollins at Royal Rumble. The Tribal Chief might have to punish his cousins for accepting that tag match without his approval. Rollins loves to point out that he always beats Reigns when a title is on the line; he will surely make his presence known to rub it in Roman’s face one last time before their match.
The Viking Raiders are suddenly receiving a push and have earned a future match against the Usos for the SmackDown tag team titles. After beating Los Lotharios last week, maybe it’s time for Erik and Ivar to send a direct message to the champs this week. If not, Jinder Mahal and Shanky are hanging around backstage waiting for their chance to be pinned by some babyfaces.
There is nobody on the active women’s roster who is currently a credible threat to SmackDown women’s champion Charlotte Flair, so The Queen has joined the Royal Rumble match. She plans to toss out 29 other women and choose her own opponent at WrestleMania 38. WWE legend Lita recently took Flair out with a Twist of Fate. Will any other women try to make a statement at Flair’s expense before tomorrow night’s Rumble event?
Sami Zayn is the number one contender to Shinsuke Nakamura’s Intercontinental title, but the champ hasn’t wrestled in over a month due to injury. Zayn has instead spent his time trying to show up Jackass star Johnny Knoxville, who happens to be in the Royal Rumble match. Knoxville zapped Zayn last week and tossed him over the top rope. Zayn’s obsession with Knoxville isn’t working out well for him so far, but we know that won’t stop him from trying to get the last laugh.
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- After months of ducking and dodging, Naomi is finally getting a match against Sonya Deville tonight. WWE has already booked this match multiple times without ever delivering on it, so it’s hard to blame any fans who remain skeptical that the match will actually take place tonight.
- Sheamus has defeated that loser Ricochet on consecutive episodes of SmackDown. WWE wants you to know that Sheamus won the Royal Rumble match 10 years ago in St. Louis, and beating Ricochet every week means he can win it again in that very same city.
- Xia Li disappeared from SmackDown for over a month, but then she reappeared last week to save Aliyah from Natalya. Li has yet to wrestle a match on SmackDown television. Will she make her debut in a singles match against Natalya, a tag team match with Aliyah against Natalya and some other heel, the Royal Rumble match, or none of the above?
- It’s the Royal Rumble go home show! Which SmackDown wrestlers will get to toss each over the top rope tonight to remind us about the rules of the Rumble match?
What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?