The January 16th episode of WWE SmackDown aired live from the Laredo Energy Arena in Laredo, TX. Here are 4 takeaways from this week’s SmackDown:

Jinder Mahal Advanced To The Finals Of The US Title Tournament

Xavier Woods came down to the ring alongside Big E and Kofi Kingston for his second round match-up against Jinder Mahal in the United States Championship tournament. New Day surrounded a podium in the ring decorated with American flags. New Day cut a promo on Mahal and Woods declared that he will defend the principles that make this great nation fantastic.

New Day compared America to pancakes in how they can bring everyone together. Woods said that Mahal despises everyone in the arena right now and asked the crowd if that is the type of man they want as their US Champion and the crowd chanted “no!”. Woods asked the great people of planet earth to lend him their strength so that he can defeat Jinder Mahal. The Singh Brothers came down to the entrance ramp and asked the crowd to welcome their next United States Champion, Jinder Mahal.

The match started off with Mahal in control as he booted Woods right in the face. Mahal followed it up with a knee to the back and then a knee drop to Woods’ midsection. Jinder connected with an elbow to the face and went for the cover but Woods was able to kick out at two.

Woods hit a Dropkick that knocked Mahal to the corner but Jinder quickly recovered and leveled Woods with another elbow as SmackDown went to a commercial break.

When SmackDown returned, Mahal was still in command of the match and had Woods locked up in a submission hold. Xavier broke free but was knocked back to the canvas with a Clothesline. Mahal once again kneed Woods in the back and then put his weight on Woods’ back while he was against the middle rope. Mahal knocked Woods back down and delivered a couple more knees to his chest.

New Day started throwing pancakes at the Singh Brothers ringside as Mahal applied a Chin Lock to Woods in the middle of the ring. The crowd chanted “we want pancakes!” as Woods battled back to his feet. Xavier charged at Jinder but Mahal was ready and dropped him on the top rope.

Mahal put the ring apron across Woods’ throat and smothered him for a moment before knocking him to the floor outside the ring. Jinder returned to the ring as the referee started counting. Woods got back into the ring at the last second to beat the count but rolled right into a boot from Mahal.

Woods hit a couple of jabs but Mahal shook them off and launched Xavier into the turnbuckle. Jinder once again applied a Chin Lock but Woods quickly broke free. Mahal connected with a knee to the face for a two count as SmackDown went to another commercial break.

When SmackDown returned, Mahal and Woods were battling on the top rope. Xavier hit a headbutt that sent Mahal crashing to the canvas. Woods followed it up with a Dropkick and both Superstars fell to the mat.

Jinder was the first Superstar to his feet and went after Woods. The two traded punches and Woods got the upperhand and knocked Mahal to the mat with a forearm to the face. Woods connected with an Enziguri after Jinder blocked his attempt at a DDT. Woods hit a Shining Wizard for a two count. The Singh Brothers jumped up onto the ring apron but Big E and Kofi chased them backstage.

Back in the ring, Woods planted Mahal with a Belly to Back Suplex and then made his way to the top rope. Xavier went for the Elbow Drop but Jinder got out of the way and Woods crashed to the canvas. Mahal then launched Woods throat-first into the bottom rope and planted him with the Khallas for the pinfall victory. Jinder Mahal has advanced to the finals of the United States Championship tournament next week on SmackDown.

Woods and Mahal had a decent match to kick off this week’s SmackDown. The pace of the match was quite slow, but it is a Mahal match so you can’t really expect anything different. Bobby Roode and Mojo Rawley will have a match later on SmackDown to determine who Mahal will face for the vacant US Title.

Riott Squad Won Another 6-Woman Tag Match

Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Naomi faced off against the Riott Squad in a 6-woman tag match tonight on SmackDown.

Charlotte and Liv Morgan started off the match. Charlotte was in control early and connected with a flurry of chops. Charlotte connected with a Belly to Back Suplex and Morgan tagged in Ruby Riott out of desperation.

Charlotte wrapped her legs around Riott’s neck and slammed her to the mat a few times. Becky Lynch tagged in and delivered an uppercut to Riott. Naomi quickly tagged in and connected with a Clothesline that knocked Riott out of the ring. Becky tagged in and leaped onto Riott outside the ring as SmackDown went to a break.

When SmackDown returned, the Riott Squad had taken control of the match and Lynch isolated in the corner. Liv Morgan perched up on the top rope and Riott drove Becky’s face into her knees. Becky tried to escape but Liv grabbed her by the hair and dragged her back to the mat.

Sarah Logan tagged in and leveled Lynch with a shoulder tackle. Becky threw Logan over the top rope and started crawling towards the corner to tag out of the match. Logan sprinted back into the ring and knocked Charlotte off the ring apron and prevented the tag.

Naomi and Morgan tagged into the match and Naomi dropped Liv with a boot to the face. Naomi hit a few kicks and knocked Morgan to the canvas with a Dropkick. Naomi connected with another kick and hit a springboard Crossbody for a two count. Charlotte Speared Sarah Logan out of the ring and Riott booted Naomi in the face from the ring apron. Liv Morgan dropped Naomi face-first into her knee for the pinfall victory.

I feel like there have been absurd amount of 6-woman tag matches on RAW and SmackDown as of late. Last night on RAW, Sasha Banks lost to Sonya Deville, but Absolution, Bayley and Mickie James were ringside. It is the same thing with the Riott Squad and Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Naomi on SmackDown.

There is no emotional investment in these feuds. In theory there should be, as the Riott Squad took out Becky Lynch and caused her to miss several weeks. Everybody knows that Becky Lynch missed time to film The Marine 6, but storyline-wise Becky Lynch should have a vendetta against the Riott Squad for brutally attacking her and injuring her. Instead, we just get matches like this every week where I dont care who wins. It doesn’t matter because it is not leading to anything and it comes across as a waste of everyone’s time.

It is looking like the RAW and SmackDown Women’s Championships will not be defended at the Royal Rumble PPV. Thus, Alexa Bliss is trying to repair her friendship with Nia Jax on RAW and Charlotte is wrapped up in this feud that doesn’t matter at all. It’s just not good television for a wrestling fan because there is nothing to get invested in. Most people will forget this match ever happened by tomorrow.

Bobby Roode Advanced To The Finals Of The US Title Tournament

Bobby Roode faced Mojo Rawley in the semi-finals of the United States Championship tournament tonight on SmackDown.

Mojo slammed Roode to the mat to begin the match and then shoved him to the corner. Roode knocked Mojo to the canvas and posed in the ring. Mojo got pissed off and charged at Roode but Bobby got out of the way and connected with a chop to Rawley’s chest.

Roode got Mojo in a Chin Lock in the middle of the ring. Mojo broke free and caught Roode with an elbow to the side of the head. Rawley followed it up with a shoulder tackle and then got into a brief argument with the official in the ring.

Rawley headbutted Roode to the mat and started taunting him. Mojo stayed on the attack and slammed Roode’s face into the turnbuckle. Mojo shoved Roode out of the ring and then sprinted at him and delivered a shoulder tackle that knocked Roode into the barricade as SmackDown went to a break.

When SmackDown returned, Mojo was still in control and had Roode in an Abdominal Stretch in the center of the ring. Roode broke free with an Arm Drag and went for an elbow but Rawley got out of the way. Mojo connected with a big boot for a two count and then elbowed Roode in the ribs.

Rawley drove his shoulder into Roode’s ribs in the corner and then casually launched him across the ring. Roode continued to target Roode’s ribs for the next couple of minutes. Mojo charged at Roode in the corner but Bobby got out of the way and Rawley crashed into the ring post at full speed.

Roode hit a Neckbreaker and then hopped up on the second rope and connected with a Blockbuster for a two count. Roode went for the Glorious DDT but Mojo countered into a Fireman’s Carry and then dropped Roode face-first into the mat for a two count. Mojo slammed Roode into the turnbuckle a few times and continued to taunt Bobby.

Rawley set up for his running punch but Roode countered with a Dropkick. Roode followed it up with a Spinebuster and the Glorious DDT for the pinfall victory. Bobby Roode will face Jinder Mahal in the finals of the United States Championship tournament next week on SmackDown. After the match, the Singh Brothers sprinted to the ring and attacked Bobby Roode.

Mahal came down to the entrance ramp and vowed to defeat Bobby Roode next week to become the next United States Champion. Roode grabbed a microphone and challenged Mahal to have the match tonight. Jinder Mahal declined and stated that he will have the match whenever he decides. SmackDown GM Daniel Bryan came down to the entrance ramp and announced that the match will go down tonight on SmackDown.

I enjoy Mojo’s style in the ring, but his gimmick is terrible right now in my opinion. Mojo Rawley is no longer a part of the Hype Bros, so I don’t get the point of giving him an aggressive techno theme. He’s not bopping around in the ring with a smile on his face anymore. He is taunting his opponents and beating the hell out of them with shoulder tackles and running punches. His ring attire is bright yellow as if he is still a part of the Hype Bros. I can get behind Mojo Rawley as a singles competitor because his in-ring style is different and I find it entertaining. However, his in-ring work, attitude, attire and theme are all over the place and I don’t think this gimmick is going to work at all as presently constructed.

Bobby Roode Won The United States Championship

Bobby Roode faced Jinder Mahal in the finals of the United States Championship tournament. SmackDown GM Daniel Bryan and SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon were ringside for the match. The Singh Brothers were banned from ringside for the match. Both Mahal and Roode already competed tonight, but Roode took a lot more damage thanks to Mojo Rawley. Mahal pretty much dominated against Xavier Woods to kickoff SmackDown.

The match started out back and forth. Roode connected with ten right hands to Mahal’s face in the corner and then knocked Jinder out of the ring. Roode limped to Mahal outside the ring and Jinder slammed Roode’s ribs into the steel steps. Mahal followed it up by dropping Roode ribs-first onto the barricade as SmackDown went to a commercial break.

When SmackDown returned, Mahal was still in control and knocked Roode into the barricade once again. The action returned to the ring and Mahal locked in the Abdominal Stretch as Roode grimaced in pain.

Roode broke free but Mahal stayed on the attack and kneed Roode in the ribs a few times. Roode connected with a right hand but Jinder knocked him to the mat with a knee to the face for a two count.

Bobby rolled up Jinder for a two count and then Mahal got back to his feet and booted Roode in the face for a two count. Mahal kicked Roode in the ribs a few times while Roode was on the mat in the corner of the ring. Jinder took a break to glance at the US Title and it cost him because Roode Clotheslined Mahal out of the ring.

Roode connected with a Clothesline off the ring apron and brought Jinder back into the ring. Bobby climbed to the top rope and hit a Crossbody but Mahal rolled through into a cover for a two count. Roode hit a Splash in the corner and followed it up with a Blockbuster off the second rope for a two count.

Mahal countered out of the Glorious DDT and then both Superstars connected with a Clothesline at the same time and both fell to the mat. Roode blasted Mahal in the face with an elbow and followed it up with a Spinebuster. Roode went for the Glorious DDT but Mahal reversed into a roll-up for a two count. Mahal went for the Khallas but Roode countered into the Glorious DDT for the pinfall victory. Bobby Roode is your new United States Champion.

This was a cool moment for Bobby Roode. If you have been a fan of Roode’s for a while, you know how talented he is. He was great in TNA in Beer Money alongside James Storm and as a singles competitor in that promotion as well. I thought his work as a heel in NXT was awesome and I’m hoping we get to see that character on the main roster. There is one episode of SmackDown left before the Royal Rumble. I’m expecting Dolph Ziggler to show up next week and claim that he never relinquished the title.