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SmackDown recap & reactions (Jan. 5, 2024): Head of a full table

How would Roman Reigns react to what The Rock said on Monday Night Raw this week? That was one of the biggest questions going into Friday Night SmackDown this week, a special “New Year’s Revolution” episode with a lot going for it.

We didn’t have to wait long to find out.

The show came on the air, Reigns pulled up to the building, and Kayla Braxton asked him straight away for a response to “The Great One’s” words at “Day 1.” He simply laughed and walked off.

That was it.

Surely there would be more to come, right?

Later, Paul Heyman was interviewed backstage and asked for his comments on the situation. He said The Rock only wants to sit at the head of the table because he’s just like everyone else — he just wants a shortcut to all the biggest headlines. The best way to do that is either date Taylor Swift or call out Roman Reigns.

Rock, obviously, chose the latter.

But it doesn’t matter, just like it doesn’t matter that there are multiple men competing on this show for a shot at Reigns, just like it doesn’t matter that even CM Punk had something to say. They’ll all be smashed.

Levels to this and all that.

Speaking of, there was still a number one contender to find on this show, and they did a fine job of building up Randy Orton, AJ Styles, and LA Knight as worthy contenders in video packages throughout the evening in advance of the triple threat main event. The match was great fun too, a close affair that saw all three clearly showcase themselves as worthy opponents, with near victories from all of them.

And then The Bloodline showed up to just beat all of them up.

I suppose it’s the kind of thing that makes sense, the champion attempting to rid himself of every challenger after they spent the evening trying to take each other out just to get to The Tribal Chief. Meanwhile, you remember Aldis making clear that he runs this show? That came into play here, as he responded to The Bloodline’s actions by booking all three contenders in a Fatal 4-Way at Royal Rumble.

It led to a good TV moment — Reigns was laying waste to everyone in the ring in the background and in the foreground Aldis told this information to Heyman and Heyman alone. So we got a great shot of Reigns in the back thinking he successfully dealt with his problem and Heyman in the front deeply concerned knowing he didn’t.

This was pretty good, despite the unsatisfactory finish.


I really enjoyed how they handled the United States Title Tournament final.

Kevin Owens, seemingly a man on an island, was up against Santos Escobar, who just recruited two new friends in Angel Garza and Humberto Carrillo for a new Legado del Fantasma. It appeared they would give Escobar all the edge he needed.

And then the LWO ran in to fight them off before the match even started, leaving us with a straight up 1v1 situation with the U.S. Champion, Logan Paul, watching from ringside on commentary (he was great fun there too).

I get that this is pro wrestling, of course, but I quite like when they play it straight like this, especially when it’s in a format like a tournament. This also served to protect the new faction, giving Owens a reasonable obstacle to overcome as a strong babyface without sacrificing credibility before the new trio can even get off the ground.

Escobar is uber talented and the match was a ton of fun. You could very clearly see why Triple H so believes in this guy as a future star.

For now, it’s Owens vs. Paul, and that should be a lot of fun.


The Suit Profits, looking like a million bucks, came to this show to say that while 2023 wasn’t the best year for them — because they didn’t get the results they were looking for — 2024 would be their year. You might say they made a resolution!

Yeah.

Lashley declared for the Royal Rumble to kickstart his journey while Ford & Dawkins threatened The Judgment Day and their tag team title reign. This was all forgotten in short order because the lights went down and suddenly Karrion Kross arrived with his new faction.

The returning Authors of Pain, complete with Paul Ellering.

We didn’t get to see much here, just the kind of physical destruction you would expect from a group with this much muscle. Kross has struggled to find his footing on the main roster, even under Triple H, and leading this group could be just what the Cerebral Assassin ordered.

I, for one, am super excited for this.


All the rest
  • Corey Graves did a better job of selling Michin as a legit challenger to the women’s championship in the seconds before the bell rang than WWE did in the entire past week leading up to this show. Then she went out and had a pretty damn good match with Iyo Sky, a solid showcase that should prove she deserves more of these opportunities. That said, she was never really a threat here and Sky won clean. They should do matches like this, with Sky defending her title in this manner, more often!
  • After, they went backstage to give us a segment where Bianca Belair confronted all of Damage CTRL to announce she will be entering the Royal Rumble. From there, she’ll be challenging Iyo for the title at WrestleMania, foiling Bayley’s big plan in the process. This led to some more tension within the group, with Sky making clear that Bayley, as the leader, needs to handle Belair to clear any obstacles to the aforementioned plan. So it goes.
  • Tyler Bate made his SmackDown debut on this show as Butch’s mystery tag team partner against Pretty Deadly. A match like this on a major episode of SmackDown is noteworthy because, well, it really does show that it’s Triple H’s world and we’re just living in it. Hey, no complaints here! Bate & Butch scored the victory after a decent TV match — the fans loved Bate doing the helicopter — and we may have a new tag team on the main roster.
  • Ashante Thee Adonis is embarking on a singles run, as he approached General Manager Nick Aldis

An eventful show!

Grade: B+

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