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SmackDown recap & reactions (Jan. 6, 2023): Whoop that trick

The big question coming into Friday Night SmackDown this week in Memphis was how exactly Roman Reigns would respond to Sami Zayn taking the pinfall to lose to the team of John Cena & Kevin Owens last week. We didn’t have to wait long to find out, as The Bloodline opened the show throwing furniture around before the man himself showed up to make his feelings clear.

As expected, he was pissed.

He was pissed the loss but like a true egomaniac he found a creative way to explain it away — his shoulders weren’t pinned, so he didn’t lose. No, that was Zayn, who made the fatal mistake of calling his shot and then failing to deliver on his promise.

“Do you think you’re me?”

This supported the idea of Reigns growing to disdain Zayn’s previously charming zest for his position in the group, now that he’s acting a bit too big for his britches and failing to deliver victory while doing so. It doesn’t matter if Roman’s issue is real or imagined, there’s now enough smoke to know a fire has been lit and without any signs of it being put out the big boom is coming sooner rather than later.

When will that be?

Kevin Owens hit the scene to interrupt the Chastising of Sami Zayn by The Tribal Chief Roman Reigns and ultimately challenged the Bloodline leader to a match for his title at Royal Rumble, a challenge that was quickly accepted with a wave of the hand. Reigns is fed up with all of this and ready to cast Owens aside once and for all.

Now we have a date for that.

As it turned out, later on in the evening Reigns brought Zayn back around and apologized for airing him out in front of everyone. It felt like a big admission from the leader of the crew, holding himself accountable in the same way he would those underneath him, but the kicker came not long after — Heyman revealed they got a match booked pitting Zayn vs. Owens for next week.

As always, the master manipulator is just pulling the strings.

What happens if Zayn loses next week?

They sure do know how to keep us staying tuned.


All the rest

  • Santos Escobar beat Kofi Kingston in a singles match thanks to a lot of interference from Legado del Fantasma. This came about after a pre-tape backstage argument where Escobar promised to eliminate Kingston from the Royal Rumble. It was a decent match.
  • Scarlett wrestled her first match in WWE, teaming up with her man, Karrion Kross, in a mixed tag match against Emma and Madcap Moss. This came together after Emma smacked Scarlett hard across the face two weeks ago for calling Moss a “fool.” The babyface team barely put up a fight, with Kross putting Moss down and Scarlett following it up by putting one of Rey Mysterio’s masks on him. The message was clear. Tick tock.
  • I like that Charlotte Flair was showered with “Thank you Charlotte” chants simply for taking the title off Ronda Rousey last week. Fans are happy about this, for multiple reasons, and WWE is using that to its advantage, as it should. It will probably be forgotten about later, but for now we are free of Rousey at the top of the card. Instead, Sonya Deville hit the scene to call Flair a liar for playing the babyface and Memphis responded by asking Charlotte to “whoop that trick.” So she did. All of this was great.
  • They were supposed to debut Lacey Evans with her new gimmick last week, didn’t even mention it, and then just started playing vignettes for her again this week. Some things change, and some things stay the same, I suppose.
  • Ricochet earned entry into the Royal Rumble by basically squashing Top Dolla, and then got beat up by Hit Row for his troubles. Braun Strowman hit the scene to run them off. Hit Row continues to be made to look awful and it’s hard to see a future that makes sense for them anymore, even with doing a turn here.
  • The Usos defeated Sheamus & Drew McIntyre to retain the tag team titles. This was a good match that could have been great if it had more time. There was interference from Solo Sikoa, of course, and even with Ridge Holland and Pete Dunne there to even things out The Usos still managed to cheat their way to victory. This was always how this was going to go but I wouldn’t mind a rematch at Royal Rumble with more time to operate with. Banger after banger after banger and all that.

Another strong effort from the blue brand.

Grade: B+

Your turn.

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