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SmackDown recap & reactions (Jan. 26, 2024): Whoop that Trick!

There was a dark cloud hanging over Friday Night SmackDown this week, and I won’t pretend like it wasn’t more difficult to watch the show considering outside circumstances, let alone review it. Vince McMahon resigned in disgrace and let’s hope he’s finally gone now.

The show, however, goes on.


We will, of course, cover The Bloodline and its story as the main feature of this week’s episode, as it usually is, but first I have to mark out a bit.

Because:

WHOOP THAT TRICK!

I’ve long been a huge supporter of Trick Williams — just ask our NXT reviewer, Marcus, who has had to listen to me gush over him in the company Slack since he showed up there — and seeing the reaction to him here makes me feel even more justified in my belief that he’s a huge star in the making. He’s got the look, the skills, and the charisma of someone who should be on a much bigger stage than the Performance Center, with all respect to what they’re doing in NXT.

Carmelo Hayes is fantastic himself but you simply cannot tell me Trick doesn’t have the main event in his future. You just can’t. The faster this man gets up to the main roster for good the better off we’ll all be.

He’s got a championship to win in NXT just yet, but they need to get him up here sooner rather than later!


Roman Reigns was not in Miami for this show, and that left the other three men in the Fatal 4-Way at Royal Rumble to sell the match. Randy Orton opened the night to cut a brief promo hyping the crowd at the idea that he’s going to emerge victorious. Naturally, AJ Styles hit the scene to voice his disagreement with that.

He was also unhappy about that RKO from last week, and promised a receipt was coming.

They did a really great bit of timing when Styles said that come Rumble he would be stepping over Reigns, Orton, and — cue the music — LA Knight. It was incredible and earned a big pop.

The man is still just as over as he was a couple months ago, at least with the live crowds.

For his part, Knight claimed Paul Heyman lobbied for him to fight Solo Sikoa on this show to soften him up for the Rumble because they know he’s the biggest threat. He bailed, and Styles used the distraction to deliver that receipt he promised.

A fairly standard segment, and there really isn’t much they can do to convince us any of these guys have a chance. But they made it entertaining enough.

Later on, Styles was approached backstage by Jimmy Uso, who asked for some assistance in dropping Knight later in the evening. It would help them both at the Rumble, after all. When the rest of The O.C. approached and asked about it, Styles simply said “don’t worry about it” and stormed off.

Intrigue?

Meanwhile, Heyman was telling Sikoa to fix the problem this week, something he failed to do last time, and “don’t be merciful.” Then he was hyping Jimmy to enter the Royal Rumble, win it, attack a wounded Seth Rollins, and bring the world heavyweight championship to The Bloodline. And then, hey, perhaps the next Tribal Chief could be…

Intrigue!

So how did the main event play out?

Well, Styles actually went ahead and did exactly as Jimmy asked him to do — helped take LA Knight out. When Jimmy made like he was going to take a chair to AJ, he waited and instead handed it over to him, telling him to continue the assault on Knight. Solo then outright demanded he take care of it “or I’m gonna take care of you.”

This wouldn’t be a full blown turn, as Styles turned the chair on The Bloodline. Finally, Orton joined the party and, well, he ran the rest of the show, standing tall as the credits played.

Only for Knight to recover, hit him with a Blunt Force Trauma, and have his music play just as FOX hit the fade out.

A pretty damn good final segment leading to the match, especially considering Reigns wasn’t involved.


All the rest

  • Carlito and Santos Escobar’s match turned into an absolute melee that saw the LWO and Legado del Fantasma battling it out on the outside of the ring. That ended up being a distraction for the big news coming out of this one — the debut of Elektra Lopez, who showed up to take out Zelina Vega and assist Escobar in rolling up Carlito to score the win. It would appear she has realigned with Legado, and it makes all the sense in the world to have her in this role again.
  • New NXT General Manager Ava made an appearance on this show asking Nick Aldis for advice. She got to hang out for the evening taking notes while they went back to doing the bit where wrestlers get their number for the Royal Rumble from the tumbler. You know the deal — some liked their draw, others not so much.
  • The Kabuki Warriors won the women’s tag team titles from Kayden Carter & Katana Chance, beating them clean in a fun match and giving Damage CTRL nearly all the gold in the women’s division. The timing of this is perfect, considering this means Bayley is the only active member of Damage CTRL without a championship and she’s been promising to win the Royal Rumble so she can challenge Rhea Ripley for her title. It adds another layer to that story, and adds some stakes to a match with plenty of them already. Well played all around here. Feel a bit bad for Carter & Chance, however, who were still just trying to get their footing. They showed they can hang, though.
  • Lashley & The Profits were supposed to have a face-to-face with The Final Testament but instead Karrion Kross sent Scarlett to the ring and hung back to say they wouldn’t be giving them the fight they want tonight. Of course, it was all a distraction, and when the Profits rushed to get the fight started anyway, Scarlett jumped Lashley’s back and it allowed Kross to get the drop on him. The trap was laid, the plan executed to perfection, and they got a ton of great heat for it. This was pretty great, and fit well with the general theme of Kross’s recent promos. Who is really in control here?

This was a weird show, considering news of McMahon’s resignation dropped in the middle of it, but apart from the outside distractions it was actually a fun show with a great crowd.

Grade: B+

Your turn.

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