Date: January 16, 2018
Location: Laredo Energy Arena, Laredo, Texas
Commentators: Corey Graves, Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton
Please be better. The last few weeks haven’t been kind to Smackdown and I really could use a good episode to change things up a bit. The problem continues to be Daniel Bryan vs. Shane McMahon, which has dominated the show so strongly that it’s taking away from a lot of the other stories. Hopefully that starts to change tonight. Let’s get to it.
Here’s the New Day for an opening chat. Woods brings out the pancakes and stands behind a podium as all three do the tongue roll to announce Jinder Mahal’s Maharajah nickname. See, America is like a bunch of pancakes: made of flour, eggs and freedom. America is built up like Home Alone 1, 2 and 3. Big E: “Not so much with 3.” Woods talks about Jinder hating Home Alone and hating every one of you. The fans are against Jinder but the Singh Brothers come out to introduce Mahal.
US Title Tournament Semifinals: Jinder Mahal vs. Xavier Woods
The finals will now be next week instead of at the Royal Rumble. Mahal kicks him in the face to start and elbows a charging Woods in the jaw. A jumping knee gets two and we take a break. Back with Jinder holding him in a chinlock and Big E. throwing pancakes at the Singh Brothers. The fans want pancakes as Jinder forearms Woods down to the floor. Back in and a knee to the head gets two as we take a second break.
We come back again with Woods hitting a missile dropkick and winning a slugout (with those AMERICAN right hands). A discus punch drops Mahal and a Shining Wizard gets two. New Day goes after the Singh Brothers and chases the up the aisle, leaving us one on one. The top rope elbow misses though and Woods is whipped throat first into the bottom rope (kind of a dangerous move). The Khallas sends Mahal to the finals at 18:02.
Rating: D+. Well why go with the interesting choice when you can go with the boring choice? This more or less seals Roode vs. Mahal for the title next week and that’s…not the most interesting sounding match in the world. Woods’ pre-match promo was great and Mahal was every bit of Mahal you would have expected. Mahal winning was the pretty obvious choice, though certainly not the fun one.
At a house show, Baron Corbin talked about knowing he’ll win the Royal Rumble because it’s just a fight and that’s what he does best. Corbin was announced as being in the match two weeks ago.
Quick look at the media talking about Goldberg’s Hall of Fame induction.
AJ Styles dubs Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens as Kami and says he sees himself as being down 3-1 because Owens is like two people.
Carmella knows how to make history so she’ll win the Rumble.
Natalya has the catlike reflexes to win. She says Bret’s catchphrase for the second time tonight (after a Mixed Match Challenge promo).
Tamina says she’ll win.
Lana promises to make it the Ravishing Rumble.
Naomi is going to make everyone feel the Glow.
Riott knows how to create chaos and no one can stop her.
Sarah Logan isn’t running from anything.
Liv Morgan is here to make history so she’ll do it at the Rumble.
Becky Lynch promises to win. These were like the old school Rumble promos (save for the camera being hand held and a bit shaky, making them look kind of bad) and that’s a very good thing, even if most of the women didn’t have much to say.
US Title Tournament Semifinals: Bobby Roode vs. Mojo Rawley
I’m still getting used to Mojo’s new music and Jackson Pollack inspired entrance video. Roode shoves him around to start and hits the GLORIOUS pose. Back up and Mojo runs through Roode and complains at the referee for getting in his way. They head outside with Mojo hitting a long running charge to drive Roode into the barricade. We take a break and come back with Mojo putting on a pretty bad looking abdominal stretch, though he does hit Roode in the ribs a few times.
Mojo asks Roode if he’s cracked a rib before hammering at said ribs. That’s rather cruel of him. Back up and Mojo misses a charge into the post, allowing Roode to hit the Blockbuster for two. The Glorious DDT is countered into a fireman’s carry faceplant (basically an F5 without the spin) for two. The running punch in the corner is blocked with some raised boots and Roode grabs the spinebuster. Roode hits the Glorious DDT to go to the finals at 13:13.
Rating: C-. This was longer than it needed to be and there was no drama after Mahal won earlier. Roode vs. Mahal isn’t an interesting title match but that’s never stopped them before. For the life of me I’m still not sure what the point was in giving the title to Ziggler in the first place but at least they’re giving us a new champion fast enough.
Post match the Singh Brothers come in to beat on Roode but are dispatched fairly quickly. Mahal comes out to say he’ll be champion next week. Roode wants to fight now and we get the standard heel response. You know, because why would Mahal want to face a banged up Roode who just finished a long match? Daniel Bryan pops up from behind and says the finals are on TONIGHT.
Randy Orton, in a ring in an empty arena, likes to be surrounded by chaos, so the Rumble is his match.
Charlotte/Becky Lynch/Naomi vs. Riott Squad
Charlotte suplexes Morgan for two to start and does her Figure Four neck lock flips to Riott. The Squad gets sent outside and we take a break. Back with Lynch being sent into Morgan’s knees for two and Liv grabbing the hair to cut off a hot tag attempt. Becky finally dives over and brings in Naomi to speed things up. The spear cuts Logan down but Riott kicks Naomi into the one kneed Codebreaker for the pin at 8:10.
Rating: D+. Another instance of throwing the women out there with nothing interesting happening. It feels like we’ve seen this match or some combination of it for months now and that’s the big problem with this division: almost no one gets to stand out to the point where I can’t even remember that Charlotte is Women’s Champion more often than not. I know the Rumble is what matters but if I don’t care about the characters, it really doesn’t make much of a difference.
The Usos think Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin got together on Tag Team Tinder. They can’t remember which Uso is which though and get beaten down by Gable and Benjamin. Chad knows who they are: the former champions.
Long video on AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens.
Shinsuke Nakamura says he’ll win. Is there a reason none of the big wrestlers are actually here tonight?
Next week: Rusev Day vs. Ascension.
US Title: Bobby Roode vs. Jinder Mahal
The title is vacant coming in, Roode’s ribs are banged up, there are no Singh Brothers and Shane McMahon/Daniel Bryan are at ringside. Feeling out process to start with Mahal’s cheap shot to the ribs being cut off. They head outside with Mahal driving the bad ribs into the barricade and getting in a few more shots as we take a break.
Back with Mahal bending the ribs around the post and then slapping on an abdominal stretch (take notes Mojo). Some knees to the ribs keep Roode down and Mahal puts a knee in the back. You can’t fault the psychology here but you can fault the fans being dead bored after this lame show.
Roode gets two off a sunset flip but a superkick gives Mahal the same to keep him in control. Bobby finally sends him outside for a clothesline from the apron as the crowd is just gone here. Back in and Mahal rolls through a high crossbody for two of his own, followed by a Blockbuster for the same. Roode’s spinebuster plants Mahal again and the Khallas is reversed into the Glorious DDT to make Roode the champion at 15:44.
Rating: C. This was as exciting as Mahal working the ribs for about thirteen minutes was going to be. Roode winning was the only way they could go here with the story they were telling though and it’s nice to see Mahal fall further down the card. This win gives Roode a big marquee thing on his resume, though you can probably pencil him in for a defense against Ziggler at the Rumble. The match was watchable, but they had killed the show a long time before.
The bosses present Roode with the title to end the show.
Overall Rating: D-. Oh just no in every sense of the word. This was a great illustration of everything wrong with Smackdown as of late, with the focus completely missing and no reason to watch. You think the low attendances of late might have been bolstered by guaranteeing you get to see a new champion? Not happening here of course, because we need to do something like this instead with almost no big name talent appearing instead.
This show felt like they weren’t trying at all, presumably (and hopefully) because Smackdown was having another show somewhere else. Even if that’s the case though, there needs to be some kind of effort put into these shows. This came off like the C level house shows of the 80s with anything they could come up with thrown out there to fill in a night. I stopped caring very quickly into this one and that’s not good when it’s supposed to be a big time for the company.
Jinder Mahal b. Xavier Woods – Khallas
Bobby Roode b. Mojo Rawley – Glorious DDT
Riott Squad b. Charlotte/Becky Lynch/Naomi – Codebreaker to Naomi
Bobby Roode b. Jinder Mahal – Glorious DDT
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