The January 30th episode of WWE SmackDown Live aired live from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. It was the first episode of SmackDown following WWE Royal Rumble 2018. Here are 4 takeaways from this week’s episode of SmackDown:

A Big Main Event Was Announced For Next Week

The winner of the 2018 Royal Rumble made his way down to the ring as the crowd sang along to his theme. Shinsuke Nakamura grabbed a microphone as the crowd chanted “Nakamura!”. Shinsuke went over the Superstars he eliminated with a knee to the face at Royal Rumble. Nakamura added “at WrestleMania, AJ Styles knee to the face and new WWE Champion”.

Shinsuke posed in the ring and pointed at the WrestleMania sign. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn interrupted and came down to the entrance ramp. Owens mockingly asked the crowd to give it up for Nakamura. Owens claimed that they were screwed out of their title on Sunday and then rolled footage of the controversial finish in the WWE Championship Handicap match at the Royal Rumble. Kevin Owens was pinned by AJ Styles, but Owens wasn’t the legal man in the match.

Owens stated that they were once again victims of the “vendetta machine” Shane McMahon trying to hold them down. Zayn called the referee incompetent for not realizing that AJ Styles pinned the wrong man. Nakamura called AJ Styles a winner and Owens & Zayn losers.

WWE Champion AJ Styles came down to the entrance ramp as the crowd chanted his name. Styles said that Zayn and Owens can cry and complain all they want but there will be a dream match between him and Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania 34. Styles got into the ring and proposed a tag match tonight. Owens and Zayn got out of the ring and then decided to hop back on the ring apron. Owens and Zayn shouted “nope” and then got punched in the face by Nakamura and Styles.

SmackDown GM Daniel Bryan informed Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn that will face Nakamura & AJ Styles later tonight. Bryan added that the referee’s decision was final and that he made a mistake.

Daniel Bryan then added that Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn will face off next on SmackDown to determine who will face AJ Styles at WWE Fastlane. Owens and Zayn weren’t too happy with Bryan’s decision.

It would be shocking if AJ Styles lost the title before WrestleMania 34. That isn’t going to happen, but we are guaranteed a solid main event for WWE Fastlane now. It is either going to be Styles versus Owens or Styles versus Zayn. Owens and Zayn facing each other could turn the now best friends into bitter enemies once again.

Rusev Earned A Shot At The United States Championship

Rusev, Zack Ryder, Kofi Kingston and Jinder Mahal faced off to determine the #1 contender for the United States Championship. Bobby Roode joined commentary for the match. Big E & Woods were ringside and kept launching pancakes Corey Graves.

Kofi connected with a Dropkick to Rusev as Ryder leveled Mahal with a Clothesline. Mahal got back up and started beating down Ryder. Zack battled back and Clotheslined Ryder out of the ring. Ryder hit a Dropkick to Mahal through the ropes. Kofi then leaped onto everyone outside the ring. Rusev was about to do the same but Sunil Singh grabbed his foot as he bounced off the ropes.

Aiden English got in Sunil’s face and pushed him into the New Day, which caused Big E to drop the tray of pancakes. Sunil, Big E, Woods and English all started shouting at each other and the referee decided to kick them all out from ringside.

When SmackDown returned from a break, Jinder Mahal was beating down Zack Ryder in the ring as Rusev and Kofi were on the floor. Rusev got back into the ring and leveled Mahal with a kick. The crowd chanted “Rusev Day!” as Rusev knocked Jinder out of the ring. Ryder connected with the Broski Boot to Rusev but Mahal got back in the ring and booted Zack out of the ring.

Kofi got back in the ring and connected with an SOS. Rusev launched Mahal out of the ring and then went for the Accolade on both Ryder and Kofi. Jinder hopped back in the ring and walked into a Rough Ryder. Rusev knocked Ryder out of the ring and then locked Kofi in the Accolade for the submission victory. Rusev will face Bobby Roode next week for the US Title. After the match, Rusev walked up to the announce table and pointed at Roode’s title and said that he was going to take it from him.

I’m looking forward to this match next week. The crowd might even be more behind Rusev than Roode at this point. Bobby Roode has been saying that it is his goal to become the greatest United States Champion of all-time. He has a big challenge next week going up against Rusev.

Carmella Did Not Have A Fabulous Night

Photo Credit: WWE.com

SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair came down to the ring with for an interview with Renee Young. Flair stated that she was proud to see the other women make history at the Royal Rumble and added that it was the first time in her career that she wished she wasn’t champion so that she could have been a part of it.

Charlotte brought up Ronda Rousey showing up after the women’s Royal Rumble match but quickly interrupted by the Riott Squad. Ruby Riott told Charlotte to forget about Ronda Rousey and Asuka. Riott added that Charlotte’s ego was as big as her father’s and stated that Charlotte was a cheap imitation of Ric. Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan then entered the ring.

Flair asked if Ruby was done yet and shouted “woo!”. The Riott Squad tried to attack Charlotte but Flair was able to fight them off and send them out of the ring. Ruby, Liv and Sarah quickly got back into the ring and this time they were able to beat her down. Ruby connected with the Riott Kick and then the trio posed to the dismay of the crowd.

Carmella’s music hit as the Riott Squad was on the entrance ramp. Carmella sprinted to the ring with her MITB briefcase. Carmella tried to cash in but accidentally kicked the referee before he could make the match official. Carmella spent a minute shouting at the referee to get up and that allowed Charlotte to regroup. Charlotte got up and stared Carmella down. Carmella then backed away with her briefcase and exited the ring. Carmella technically didn’t cash in so she still has the MITB briefcase.

I wouldn’t be shocked if Carmella winds up joining the exclusive club of MITB winners that failed to cash in. Time will tell, but everything seems to go wrong when she tries to cash in.

Sami Zayn Abandoned Kevin Owens

Owens and Styles started off the match and the two Superstars locked up. AJ got the upperhand and that caused Owens to quickly tag out. Zayn and Nakamura were now in the ring and they locked up. Nakamura knocked Zayn to the corner and stomped on him with Good Vibrations. AJ tagged back in and planted Sami with a Dropkick.

AJ trapped Sami in the corner and tagged Nakamura back in. Sami battled back and knocked Shinsuke to the opposite corner. Kevin Owens tagged back in. Owens stomped on Nakamura in the corner and the referee broke it up. While the referee wasn’t looking, Sami Zayn connected with a cheap shot on Nakamura.

Owens was knocked to the mat by knees from Nakamura. Zayn got into the ring but was quickly knocked to the floor outside the ring by Shinsuke. Owens capitalized on Nakamura being distracted by Zayn and took back control of the match. Owens started shouting at Zayn and asked what the hell he was doing. Owens connected with a Clothesline for a two count. Nakamura then knocked Owens out of the ring next to Sami. Owens and Zayn started arguing ringside. Zayn starts to back up the entrance ramp and appears to be leaving Owens to fight for himself in the match as SmackDown went to a break.

When SmackDown returned, Owens was back in control of the match but Sami was still on the entrance ramp. AJ battled back and connected with a forearm. AJ went for a cover but Zayn sprinted back into the ring to break it up at two. Sami tagged back in and connected with a Back Body Drop for a two count.

Owens was getting pissed off on the ring apron and started shouting at Sami to tag him back in. Sami finally obliged but certainly wasn’t happy about it. Owens connected with a Senton to Styles for a two count. Zayn was tagged back in but Owens did so by slapping Sami in the chest. Owens began barking instructions from the entrance ramp for Sami to take it to AJ. Sami opted to tag Owens back in with a slap across the chest.

Sami was on the apron and was still arguing with Kevin Owens. AJ Styles came up from behind and shoved Owens into Sami and Zayn fell off the apron. Owens leveled Styles but Sami Zayn walked up the entrance ramp and said that this was all on Owens now.

 

Owens connected with a Gutbuster and followed it up by dropping an elbow for a two count. Owens went for the Pop-Up Powerbomb but Styles countered into a Pele Kick. Shinsuke tagged in and connected with a flurry of kicks. Nakamura went for the Kinshasa and Owens tried to run away but AJ got in the way. Nakamura then hit the Kinshasa for the pinfall victory.