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– The first WWE SmackDown of 2018 opens with a look at how Kevin Owens defeated WWE Champion AJ Styles in last week’s non-title main event.
– We’re live from Orlando, FL as Tom Phillips welcomes us. He’s joined by Corey Graves and Byron Saxton. They hype tonight’s show.
– We go right to the ring and out comes WWE Champion AJ Styles to a big pop.
Styles wishes us a Happy New Year and welcomes us to the House That AJ Styles Built. Fans chant AJ’s name now. Styles talks about Superstars having New Year’s Resolutions for the men’s Royal Rumble match and how he has some New Year’s Resolutions of his own – to main event WrestleMania 34 as champion and leave with the title around his waist. The other resolution is to defeat Sami Zayn tonight. Styles talks about SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan allowing Sami at ringside for last week’s main event and says Bryan has offered to come explain his decision tonight. The music hits and out comes Bryan to a pop.
Bryan is interrupted by the music before he can get going and out comes SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon. Shane gives a shout-out to Orlando and wishes us a Happy New Year. Fans chant for Shane now. Shane says he had the best intentions when he came out last week. Fans also chant for Bryan now. Shane apologizes to AJ for what happened last week. Shane says he does have a legitimate beef with Sami and Kevin Owens but he believes Bryan has something more. Shane asks why on Earth would Bryan let Shane come to ringside last week. But before Bryan answers that, Shane has a bigger question that people are asking – is Bryan turning the Yes! Movement into the Yep! Movement? Fans chant “no!” now. Bryan goes to speak but Shane interrupts him and fans boo. Shane says in the spirit of fairness and competition, he will be at ringside for tonight’s main event. Bryan says we might as well have Owens at ringside tonight too. Some fans boo. Bryan says if Shane and Owens are going to be out for the main event, he might as well be at ringside too. Shane says it looks like they’re starting 2018 off with a bang. Bryan gets a “yes!” chant going as his music hits. Bryan shakes hands with AJ and then Shane before leaving.
– The announcers show us the brackets for the WWE United States Title tournament, which will wrap at the Royal Rumble. They confirm Xavier Woods vs. Aiden English for later tonight. Also, SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos will defend against Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin. We go to commercial.
SmackDown Tag Team Title Match: Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable vs. The Usos
Back from the break and out first comes Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable. SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos are out next. They take the mic and cut a quick promo on their opponents, welcoming them to The Uso Penitentiary. We get formal ring introductions from Greg Hamilton.
Shelton starts off with Jimmy Uso and they go at it. Gable tags in but gets knocked off the apron. Jimmy goes to the top but Shelton runs up and brings him to the mat with a slam. Gable follows up with a shot from the top and a close 2 count as Jey Uso makes the save. We go back to commercial.
Back from the break and Jimmy breaks free to get a hot tag. Shelton also tags in and they go at it. Shelton gets sent out to the floor. Jey returns to the ring and unloads on Gable, sending him to the floor. Jey leaps out and nails Gable on the floor. The Usos run the ropes together but Shelton grabs Jey’s leg. Shelton launches Jey into the apron. Jimmy sends Gable to the floor. Shelton comes back in with a big knee on Jimmy. Gable and Shelton double team Jimmy with a powerbomb from the top. They get the pin for the fairly quick win and the titles.
Winners and New SmackDown Tag Team Champions: Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable
After the match, The Usos argue with the referee while the new champions leave with the titles and celebrate. Another referee runs down and says something to them. The second referee enters the ring and talks with the original referee. Apparently Jey was still the legal man. We get a replay on the big screen. The replay shows that Jimmy was not the legal man. Greg Hamilton talks with the referee and announces that he has recognized his mistake. The match is being re-started. Gable and Benjamin argue with the second referee as we return to commercial.
Back from the break and The Usos dump Benjamin and Gable to the floor for a quick brawl. They return to the ring and we get the bell. Jey nails a Samoan Drop and fights off both opponents. Benjamin returns to the ring and turns it around on Jey. Shelton with a spinebuster. Benjamin scoops Jey for another double team powerbomb from the top but Jimmy makes the save with a big superkick. Jimmy ends up joining Jey for a big double superkick. Uso goes to the top for a big splash and the pin to retain the titles.
Winners: The Usos
– After the match, The Usos celebrate the win as Gable and Benjamin recover at ringside. Gable is furious. We go to replays. The Usos continue celebrating as Benjamin and Gable argue with the referee at ringside.
– Sami Zayn is walking with Kevin Owens backstage when Renee Young approaches for comments on the main event, asking if everyone being at ringside will affect the outcome of the match. Owens talks about how AJ Styles will lose tonight, just like he did last week. Sami doesn’t care if Shane or Bryan are at ringside because it won’t change what happens. They both go on about how this is The Sami & Kevin Show and how the WWE Champion will take another loss tonight.
– Still to come, The Riott Squad vs. Natalya, Tamina Snuka and Carmella. Also, Breezango vs. The Bludgeon Brothers in a rematch from last week’s SmackDown. Back to commercial.
Breezango vs. The Bludgeon Brothers
Back from the break as Tyler Breeze and Fandango make their entrance. Harper and Rowan are out next.
The Bludgeon Brothers attack before the bell as we are seeing a replay from last week. They destroy both Fandango and Breeze as the referee tries to calm things. The music interrupts and out comes The Ascension to the ring.
Konnor and Viktor jump on the apron but get knocked right off. They send Konnor to the floor and hit a big double team on Viktor in the middle of the ring. Harper and Rowan stand tall as their music hits without the match starting.
– We see The New Day backstage. Kofi Kingston and Big E have a surprise for Xavier Woods as he prepares to face Aiden English in a tournament match tonight. Woods talks about how they will all three become WWE United States Champion tonight. They tell him to blow out the candles on a “2018” made out of pancakes but English walks in with Rusev to interrupt. They talk some trash and Rusev blows out the candles, stealing Woods’ wish, before walking off. Back to commercial.
– Back from the break and Mojo Rawley is backstage. He says he will defeat Zack Ryder in their United States Title tournament match next week, putting Ryder where he belongs – in the past.
WWE United States Title Tournament Match: Aiden English vs. Xavier Woods
We go to the ring and Aiden English looks to start singing as fans chant Rusev Day. Rusev takes the mic and asks if he can do the singing this time. Rusev does a quick song about how English will become the next United States Champion. The New Day is out next.
English takes control to start but Woods fights back. Back and forth now. Woods drops English and covers for a 2 count. English charges but Woods throws him to the floor. Woods misses and ends up on the floor as well. Rusev approaches but backs off as Kofi Kingston and Big E are there on the other side of the ring. Woods misses an Honor Roll on the floor and goes down hard. English brings it back into the ring and covers for a 2 count. We see Jinder Mahal and The Singh Brothers backstage watching the match.
English unloads with strikes on Woods now. English with more offense before keeping Woods grounded with a headlock. Woods gets out and they both end up going down at the same time. Fans chant for The New Day. Woods and English get to their feet and trade shots in the middle of the ring now. English kicks Woods but Woods catches him in a rack. Woods drops English from the rack into a backbreaker for a 2 count. They trade pin attempts after more back and forth. English drives Woods down with a powerbomb for another close 2 count.
English takes Woods to the top for a super Facebuster but Woods counters and backdrops English to the mat. Big E yells at Woods to finish English off. Woods climbs up and points down at Rusev before nailing the big elbow drop on English for the win. Woods advances in the tournament.
Winner: Xavier Woods
– After the match, The New Day celebrates at ringside as Woods goes to the US Title that is on display. We go to replays.
– Dasha Fuentes is backstage with Carmella, Lana, Tamina Snuka and Natalya. They’re all confirmed for the Royal Rumble match now. They all also cut promos on The Riott Squad ahead of tonight’s six-woman match. They walk off and we go to commercial.
– Back from the break and NBA Hall of Famer Karl Malone is shown at ringside.
The Riott Squad vs. Natalya, Tamina Snuka and Carmella
We go to the ring and out comes Natalya, Carmella and Tamina Snuka with Lana. The Riott Squad’s Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan and Ruby Riott are out next wearing their new t-shirts.
Liv starts off with Natalya and they go at it. They trade holds and Liv taunts Natalya after showing off some and talking trash. They lock up again and trade holds. Liv ducks one clothesline but Natalya hits the discus clothesline for a 2 count. Natalya goes for a Sharpshooter but Liv scrambles to the floor. Ruby and Logan check on her as we go back to commercial.
Back from the break and Logan takes Carmella down and keeps her grounded. The hold is broken but Logan stops Carmella from tagging by knocking Natalya off the apron. Tamina gets the tag and comes in unloading on Logan. Tamina knocks Liv off the apron. Ruby runs in but Tamina drops her with a superkick. Ruby rolls to the floor. Tamina catches Logan in a Samoan Drop for a pop.
Tamina goes to the top as Lana cheers her on. Liv pushes Tamina off the top while Ruby distracted the referee. Logan hits a big knee to the back of Tamina’s neck and covers for the win.
Winners: The Riott Squad
– After the match, The Riott Squad stands tall in the middle of the ring as we go to replays. Fans start booing as Ruby takes a mic. Ruby bets everyone here in Orlando believes in magic, right? Wrong. Magic isn’t real, it’s just like everyone in the crowd – phony. Fans continue booing. Ruby says they all pretend their way through their lives and pretend to be happy but they’re just miserable. Ruby says they all need a strong dose of reality so take a good look – The Riott Squad is real, their destruction is real, their success is real. Fans are giving her the “what?!” treatment now. Ruby announces that Liv and Logan will be joining her in the women’s Royal Rumble match. Ruby goes on but the music interrupts and out comes SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair. Flair takes a mic and speaks from the stage as fans cheer. Flair says that was quite the speech but she is a dreamer and she believes in the power & magic of her dreams. Flair says to find something you’re passionate about and your world can change. Flair says Ruby believes in reality so here is a dose – actions have consequences. Flair introduces her to someone that wants to teach all three of them a lesson – Naomi. Naomi comes out for a pop and joins Flair on the stage. Flair wants to introduce them to someone that wants to make The Riott Squad pay for their actions next. Fans chant for Becky Lynch and out she comes making her return. The two teams meet at ringside and go at it. Flair brings Logan in and hits a running big boot to end her to the floor. Naomi takes out Liv in the ring. Becky brings Ruby in and hits a Bexploder. Becky grabs Liv and hits her with a Bexploder. Becky, Flair and Naomi stand tall as Becky’s music hits. The Riott Squad looks on from the ramp.
– Still to come, Sami vs. AJ. Back to commercial.
– Back from the break and the announcer hype the Royal Rumble.
– We go backstage to Baron Corbin, who confirms his Royal Rumble spot. Corbin goes on about why he can’t wait for the match, to go on and main event WrestleMania 34.
AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn
We go to the ring for tonight’s non-title main event and out comes WWE Champion AJ Styles. SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan is out next to watch the match. Bryan greets fans at ringside. SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon is out next. We go to commercial.
Back from the break and AJ’s music is playing again. Out comes Sami Zayn with Kevin Owens right behind him. The bell rings and AJ immediately drops Sami. AJ works Sami into the corner and keeps control as fans chant his name. AJ drops Sami again for a 2 count. Sami drops AJ with a cheap shot as Owens talks some trash from ringside. Sami works AJ over but AJ fights back with chops. Sami counters and AJ goes down off a back drop for a quick 1 count.
Sami works AJ around as fans chant for the WWE Champion. They run the ropes and AJ connects with a dropkick. Sami goes to the floor and Owens checks on him. AJ follows and has words with Owens. Shane and Bryan come over to make sure nothing breaks out. AJ rolls Sami back into the ring and turns to Owens for just a second. AJ turns to re-enter the ring but Sami catches him and drops him on his neck for a 2 count. Owens yells words of encouragement at Sami as we go to commercial.
Back from the break and Sami has AJ grounded. AJ fights up and out before dropping Sami as Owens cheers his friend on. AJ gets up and nails Sami in the corner. AJ goes on and hits a Gutbuster for a 2 count. Owens yells at the referee, saying that was a 1 count. Sami counters a move and retreats to the apron. Sami drops AJ as he approaches. Sami goes to the top as fans do the “ole!” chant now. AJ cuts Sami off and crotches him. Styles ends up dropping Sami with a neckbreaker for another close 2 count.
Styles goes on and calls for the Styles Clash. Sami counters and ends up hitting a Blue Thunderbomb for a close 2 count. Sami waits for AJ to get up as fans rally for the WWE Champion. Sami charges for the Helluva Kick but AJ counters and rolls him into the Calf Crusher as fans pop. Sami goes for the rope but AJ rolls him back into the middle of the ring and keeps the hold locked in.
Sami finally makes it to the bottom rope and breaks the hold. Owens is relieved. They trade shots in the middle of the ring now. AJ nails a pele kick but Sami is still up as he falls into the ropes. AJ charges in the corner but Sami sends him to the apron.AJ with a forearm. AJ springboards up for the Phenomenal Forearm but he is forced to land on his feet. The tangle on the apron and the referee gets knocked to the floor. Owens checks on him while AJ has Sami rolled up. Owens prevents the referee from entering the ring to make the count. He finally goes in and Sami kicks out at 2.
Shane comes over and asks Owens what the hell is going on while AJ argues with the referee. Owens goes down but it looks like he’s trying to make it look like Shane pushed him down. Shane gets on the apron and talks to the referee, ordering him to eject Owens from ringside. Owens isn’t happy. Bryan takes the mic and says if Shane is ejecting Owens then maybe Shane should leave too. Owens gets on the apron but AJ knocks him off with a forearm. Sami takes advantage of the chaos and nails a Helluva Kick on AJ for the non-title win.
Winner: Sami Zayn
– After the match, Sami and Owens celebrate to the ramp as we go to replays. AJ takes the mic and tells the blue brand bosses to stop bickering like children. AJ says he’s the WWE Champion and he wants to come entertain without others getting involved. AJ asks them to make him a Handicap Match against Owens and Sami. Bryan announces a Handicap WWE Title match for the Royal Rumble with AJ defending against Sami and Owens. AJ looks a bit shocked. Bryan stands on top of the announce table and gets a “yes!” chant going. Sami and Owens celebrate with a “yep!” chant. SmackDown goes off the air with Saxton saying AJ was just joking about wanting a handicap match.